Break Through!!!

Yay me!  Woohoo!  I’m happy.  Can you tell I’m happy?  I’m happy.  To some this may be eye-roll worthy, but to me it’s huge.  I’m a little perplexed, but I’ll take it. After three flirtations with breaking the downward 230 lbs barrier, I finally did it this morning.

Honesty Check:  Yesterday I had a couple small cheats.  I wasn’t expecting much.  Maybe even a slight weight gain from the day before.  But yesterday wasn’t a throw-away day, either.  I ate decently, probably what I might after the program is over, and I did some medium-level exercise last night, so I’m sure that helped.  I had been down to 230.6 three times, then would gravitate back up a bit.  This last time, yesterday, I was back up to 232.4, and I expected a slight gain, and was not looking forward to stepping on the scale.  I was kind of discouraged and dreading it, actually.  Weighed myself this morning and… 228.6!!!

A loss of 3.8 lbs.  I weighed myself six times to make sure it was right, I wasn’t expecting it.

Now I know they don’t recommend you weigh yourself every day.  It’s discouraging they say when you rise a little.  The human body does funny and illogical and inconsistent things with weight.  I have found in the last couple months that you don’t see the true effects of a bad-eating day until two days later, not necessarily the next day, and if you get yourself right again you won’t see the positive until two days later, as well.  But I started weighing daily at the direction of my cardiologist regarding sodium monitoring and it works for me.

I also know that 3.8 lbs in a single day is a lot, maybe an aberration, and my body may “correct” itself and give me 2 lbs back tomorrow, but for now I’ll take it!  I broke through the barrier.

The Plateau

Still struggling, though not as bad or as much as I was for awhile.  Which is frustrating because I seem to have reached “The Plateau”, that point where you’ve lost the ‘easy’ weight and now have to actually work at it.  <full body shudder>

I think I mentioned before that I normally hovered in the 242-ish range.  I got down to just over 230… on the edge of the 220s cliff that I wanted to hit for the first time in almost two decades… and I regressed.  Shot back up into the upper 230s, then worked my way back down to the low 230s, only to shoot back up to the upper 230s again, which is where I’m at right now.

In the interest of full honesty, I think this last jump is not so much from bad meals (though there were a couple), but rather from stopping watching my sodium and missing a few days of my water pills.  Apparently even with losing weight I still need to watch my sodium intake and take my pills and squeeze as much water out as I can.

There’s also been some family heath issues that have been weighing heavily, no pun intended.  I am not a stress eater, per se, but there were times where I’ve figuratively thrown up my hands and thought, “Screw it.  I’m eating.”

On the positive side, in the work category, I’ve started exercising again.  The treadmill a couple times in the last week, for about 40 minutes at a time.  Put on a good Alice Cooper concert DVD and off I go!

Another positive aspect is that, today whenever I looked in the mirror, I swear I looked visibly thinner than I have in years.  I got kinda giddy every time I saw myself.  This matches what a friend told me several days ago, she told me it was visible in my face, my face was thinner.  The numbers notwithstanding, I can feel it, I feel good.

An Anniversary and an Update

The Anniversary

Today is the one year anniversary of my heart surgery, and I have to say that things are going generally well.  Not without some speed bumps, of course, but overall I feel better.  As I mentioned in a previous post it’s hard to imagine that something so… big… could end up being such a positive.  And for all that I really am thankful.

The scars are fading.  I have regained most of the feeling in my left wrist… wasn’t expecting that, but it’s a good thing, right?  Stamina hasn’t fully returned, but to be fair I have not been exercising like I should.  All in all, I’d say an A-.

The Update

Ah, the weight loss program.  More speed bumps, but not without solid progress.  My issues with the food consistency is increasing.  My palatable options are becoming more limited.  Anything with a bread-like consistency is still off-putting to me.

I have been branching out and trying more dessert-like options, and some are very good.  There’s a recipe for lemon bars that is absolutely awesome.  I’m still making shakes.  There’s a handful of other recipes that are good.

I have also been cheating more often.  Not every day, but more often than I should.  The positive side is that I have been making better choices than when I started cheating.  Instead of a Wendy’s Baconator or some Arby’s half-pound beefy-cheesy thing or a Popeye’s 4 pc meal, all of which weigh in at 900 to 1700 calories, I’ve discovered Jimmy John’s Turkey “Unwich” (no bread, wrapped in lettuce).  I add cucumbers, onion, peppers, and pickles, and it’s a whopping 260 calories!  Nice, and surprisingly tasty.  Add a 20 calorie pickle and we’ve got a satisfying meal for under 300.  I could see myself doing this more often even after the program is over… which is kind of the point.

With all that I have, so far and as of this morning, lost 33 lbs.  I’m on the edge of slipping into the 220s, a place I haven’t been in near 17 years.  So, even with the frustration, I am able to adjust and still make it work in my favor.

…the world hasn’t ended… yet, anyway

It just occurred to me that I haven’t given a update.  We need to fix that, so here we go.

Overall the weight loss is going well.  It’s not a liquid diet.  There are shakes involved, sure, but not exclusively.  You don’t even have to do shakes if you don’t want to, but I find them convenient, and since I’m not really a breakfast person I find drinking a meal more palatable than eating a meal.  So, no, there’s real food involved.

Now, let’s not front, the food is not gourmet.  I’ve been able to make some pretty decent things, like an enchilada bake that is surprisingly good, and some banana walnut muffins that were awesome, and there have been a couple things that were absolutely horrible, but overall the food is… meh.  Let’s be real, even a ‘foodie’ like myself can sacrifice a few months of culinary enjoyment for my end goal of being a slimmer trimmer Ken.  We’re on track.

We are on approximately Day 21, and so far I have lost 16-ish lbs.  Was 19 lbs, but there’s been a couple ‘cheat days’ (including yesterday where I gained 3 lbs back in one day, that’ll teach me!), but overall I’ve been trending steadily down, and it feels good.  I’m finding (‘that’ deleted for Michele) I have more endurance and stamina for routine daily activity like climbing stairs and just doing simple chores.

Missy has lost just over 12 lbs as of the last weigh in.  We’re not supposed to weigh ourselves every day, but I have been.  I’ve gotten used to doing it since I was monitoring my sodium.

While encouraging so far, what is frustrating to me is that I am now down to what I weighed before my weight starting jumping up back in February.  I feel like I haven’t actually gained anything (pun semi-intended), but have merely got back to my ‘base’ weight, so now I am actually starting.  I know that’s probably not the right attitude to have, but that’s how I feel.

At least I can fit into my work clothes again and don’t have to wear my ‘fat jeans’.  🙂

It’s the end of the world as I know it… and I feel fine.

Ok, maybe not the actual end of the world, but these song lyrics make it sound a little more dramatic, a little more interesting, so we’ll run with that.  Life has taken a drastic change of course, however, and we’ll get to that later.  First, a sodium update.

I have successfully stymied my cardiologist.  My weight basically has not budged.  Even, as he put it, we have squeezed all the water out of me there is to squeeze.  Every time he checks I’m not bloating, so that’s good.  End result, he’s perplexed.  There is no higher dosage or stronger medication, so we’ve decided to maintain for the foreseeable future.  Which brings us to…

THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!  TA DA!!!

Missy and I both have embarked on a medically-supervised weight loss program.  We had our first meeting this past Thursday and started the actual plan today.  We’re doing the Health One (HNT) Meal Replacement Plan.  It’s medically-supervised (I already said that).  You’re held accountable.  You have accountability with both a coach and peers in weekly meetings.  There is no surgery.  (I have been told it’s based on a Mediterranean diet, but I cannot find anything to back that up.)  So… we’re taking the big leap.

Missy’s and my motivations are very similar.  It’s not just losing weight and being healthy, though there is that, too.  But there’s more to it.  Ever since I was about 7 yrs old I’ve wanted to go skydiving.  I even had Missy and Matt convinced to treat me for my birthday the last two years with a skydiving trip.  It never happened because I weigh too much (for tandem skydiving).  I want to be able to go to a concert or a ball game and fit in the damn seats, reasonably.  From what I see even skinny ‘normal’ people have trouble fitting in them, they make them so narrow now trying to shoehorn everyone in to maximize profit.  We’d like to lose our CPAP machines.  I’d like to get back into routine walking and hiking like I used to.  Basically daily life things that make life a quality life.

Oh, and I’d like to stop taking these industrial strength water pills, too.  I’m sick of running to the loo every 30 minutes.  One day I went 18 times between 7am and noon.  I am not kidding.

Anyway, about 25+ years ago I started Weight Watchers .  I did very well, lost 11 lbs the first week, and that was with eating an entire medium pizza by myself the last day of the week.  But after a few weeks I slowly fell off the boat, and never did another weight loss program… other than occasional instances of just trying to choose healthier options in general… until now.

So what’s kept me from doing anything about my weight all these years.  Well, I’ll tell ya…

First, most ‘diets’ I do not find credible.  Most people gain the weight back afterward, and I don’t want to hear that even if I know it’s true.  And I know that people will either tell me that to my face or say it to others behind my back.  But if you think about it, if you go back to bacon cheeseburgers every other day afterward, of course you’re going to gain it back, even with this program.  Duh!  Granted seaweed and garlic smoothies are not sustainable long-term, but the idea is to change your eating habits.  There’s no getting around that.

Second, and I won’t front, fear of failure.  I like to eat.  I like to eat good food… a lot!  I never had the confidence that I could succeed.  And to be honest, I still have concerns.  But with recent events and other concerns, and the fact that I believe I have more self-discipline at this stage of my life, something inside me is telling me I can do it.  The program is 24 weeks, almost six months.  This will take us through both Missy’s and my birthdays, Thanksgiving, and right up to somewhere around Christmas.  Oh, and we will have to forego our weekly Thursday routine of eating out with friends after Toastmasters while the program is going along.  Holiday eating will be in moderation this year.

The first 10 weeks is relatively draconian.  The next 8 weeks we add in more fruits and vegetables.  The final 6 weeks we add in more meats and everything else that resembles a more practical diet.

Having expressed those two concerns, I believe that this program is different.  It’s not a guarantee.  It’s not a panacea.  But it’s reasonable and safe, and worth a shot.

I will make one promise.  I won’t run to Facebook and regale you all with how tasty and wonderful the recipes are.  (I wrote about people who do that in my other blog.)  I will, however, give random updates from time to time.

So that’s it.  That’s our big announcement.  Interesting where life leads you.

My View on Ken’s Sodium Struggle

It has been hard to watch Ken with this latest frustration. He is the heaviest he has ever been and it is water. He knows this, but it doesn’t make it feel any better when you don’t fit in your clothes. He cuts out a lot of sodium foods. Still nothing budges. I see how frustrated he is and can do nothing but encourage and pray.

This is something I have not had too much experience with. I have high blood pressure so I don’t add salt myself. I just have never had the water weight like this. I continue to support and do my best. I just know we will get past it. One more trial that we will win!

It’s been awhile…

…yes, indeed, it has.  You’ve heard the old cliches… life gets busy, you feel better and start forgetting, yada yada yada.  And all that’s true.  I have been feeling better.  Life has been busy.  You forget things as mundane as keeping up a blog.  All that stuff.  And while things have been going in a generally positive direction, for which I am deeply grateful, all has not been perfect.

Back on December 18th I talked about water weight, sodium, and weight in general.  My cardiologist and I got things worked out pretty quickly and things were going along well… until mid February of this year.  Nothing had really changed, and I started gaining weight in leaps and bounds.  Long story short I gained about 22 lbs in just over two months.  I usually hover around 242-ish, give or take a pound, or two, on any given day.  Now I’m hovering in the 260 to 265 lb range, the highest I have ever been.  At least I seem to have plateaued, but it still feels defeating.

For about two months I didn’t think it was water weight, so I didn’t contact my cardiologist, which was a mistake.  I wasn’t showing any of the other symptoms.  I wasn’t bloated (heavy, uncomfortable, but not bloated), I wasn’t achy, I wasn’t short of breath, or any of that other stuff, just gaining weight rapidly.

Once I woke up and realized what was going on, to the doctor I went.  We decided to change one of my medications, the ‘water pill’, and increase it and my potassium to twice a day, lower my sodium intake as much as possible, and go from there.  I’m still hovering, which is kind of disappointing.  I owe him a new blood test next week, and we will reassess then and move forward.

The moral of the story:  Don’t be proud.  Don’t be stubborn.  Stubborn is dumb!  Stubborn is dangerous.  Stubborn could lead to congestive heart failure.  That’s not a real fine option.  Don’t be stubborn!

Upcoming:  Rehab & glucose monitoring.  (For my own reminders, more than anything.)

Consciousnesses

I honestly consider myself very fortunate that everything has gone so well, regarding surgery and recovery. I do struggle with maintaining a proper diet, but I am doing better in a relative sense, so I’m telling myself that’s going in a positive direction.

I don’t remember if I mentioned this before, but in my rehab class I’m probably one of the better/best “in shape” people, which makes me feel good, but on the flip side I’m also clearly the youngest, which I do not consider to be a badge of honor.

You never know, though, just by looking at someone.  There was one guy, 79 years old and super nice, who could run circles around me and everyone else, but he’s done now.  He left early because his insurance wouldn’t pay for anymore and he could walk at home for free.  Can’t say that I blame him on that one, though I was sorry to see him go.

It’s interesting to me that there’s a couple guys in rehab that you can tell are concerned with their macho image. As part of our “cool down” at the end there’s a little weight training, just really minor. These guys will pick the biggest weights, and the way they work them you’d swear they think they’re on Venice Beach, or something, posing for the babes. ?

One of these guys, who finished just last week, I believe has had a couple minor “events” during his rehab workout. He always has the biggest weights, his treadmill was always set at the highest incline and a high speed, and so on. I felt like he was showing off as much as anything, but the “events” told me he needed to be smarter about it.

As for me, I’m quite content just doing my thing and working in a smooth and steady progression.  That’s fine by me.

It’s the little things… and some TMI

Checking in before the big Christmas holiday and thought I’d share some random stuff, just some random observations and experiences.  So, let’s get started…

Water Weight

No, I’m not talking about weight gain from water retention due to increased sodium.  Technically.  This time, anyway.  Though that is part of it.  I’m talking literally how much water weighs, and how this relates to your body weight.

As part of my water retention regimen my doctor has me weighing myself once a day every day and recording the results.  I had always been told that when on a weight loss program that you should weigh yourself no more than once a week, or else you become too obsessed with the numbers and start making bad choices and veer off-track.

But I’m not trying to lose weight, per se, I’m monitoring water retention in my body, which is most easily measured by body weight, and since water retention from sodium can fluctuate drastically from day to day, then a daily weight measurement is justified.  Plus, to keep an accurate comparison you should weigh yourself at the same time and same circumstances every day.  My choice is to weigh myself before I get into the shower.  Naked, of course.

In my quest for ‘encouraging’ numbers, I became curious the difference between before and after peeing.  Turns out there’s quite a notable difference… 1.0 to 1.8 lbs difference, in fact.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I got kind of excited.  I could shave one to two lbs off my weight in an instant.  The numbers looked now ever so slightly better.  Obviously nothing had really changed, I was merely gaming the numbers, but at the same time I’m not cheating, either.  I’m still weighing myself under the same circumstances every day.

Sometimes it’s the little things, the little “victories”, that serve as unexpected encouragement.  LOL!

Reasonable Eating… Holiday and Otherwise

As a heart bypass surgery patient I have doctor instructions to consume less sodium, as little as possible, knowing that one’s body needs some sodium to survive and that some level of sodium is in virtually everything.  This has been placed as an even higher priority than watching my carbohydrates (carbs) for my diabetes.

The key, of course, is to strike a sensible balance.  Too many people freak out and try to do zero sodium, and that’s simply not realistic.  On the flip side, many people completely ignore the advice and warnings and go back to what they’ve always done… go back to what got them where they are to begin with.

I’m trying to strike a reasonable balance, a happy medium, if you will.  I want to be healthy, but I also want taste, and given that a person literally needs some sodium I think that’s a reasonable quest.  Here’s my current plan of attack, as preliminary as it is…

  • Virtually eliminating adding salt when cooking.
  • Eliminating added table salt on most dishes where it really doesn’t make a difference and I was adding it for added flavor.
  • On a small handful of dishes where it does make a difference, I keep adding table salt, just not as much.
  • Seeking and trying various low-sodium recipes… which is a very hit-and-miss prospect.

This whole process doesn’t necessarily have to be rocket science.  That’s why I’m thinking my approach above is reasonable… and realistic.

And be wary of various pre-packaged low/no-sodium and low/no-fat and low/no sugar.  Read the labels.  Read the ingredients.  If they cut the fat, they might have increased the sodium.  If they cut the sodium, they might have increased the sugar.  You can’t win for losing.  “Diet products”, I call them, generically.  I prefer to eat the real thing and watch my portion control.

Here’s a recipe that I found that is quite tasty AND low in sodium, 150 mg per serving, Green Beans Amandine with Almonds and Garlic.  The only modification I made was using regular fresh green beans instead of haricot verts.  It was a nice edition to my Thanksgiving dinner.

For every yin there’s a yang.  Another new recipe I tried was a low-sodium turkey gravy.  Long story short, I’ll never do that one again.  I’m going to guess that it is for people who have to aim for almost nothing in sodium because they’re in an even more dire health situation than I am.  It literally had no taste, even after I added pan drippings to enhance the turkey flavor.  My dressing and mashed potatoes actually tasted better without the gravy than with.

There’s going to be a lot of testing, triumphs and failures, as you work out your new diet.  The primary point that I’m trying to convey here is to be reasonable and realistic.  You will never find the ideal food or recipe, the one that combines perfect sodium, carbs, vitamins, and taste.  Work out something you can live with… literally.

Note:  This is just what I am doing.  I am not a doctor, and this is not medical advice.  Please consult with your physician before making any changes.