Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise

I figure one out of three of those, healthy-wealthy-wise, will be pretty good. Wise I hope for, and keep working toward by accumulating knowledge and trying to rightly apply it. Wealthy seems to be escaping me, though through frugality I'm working on that as well.

That leaves health. That's not totally within our control. Genes and environment have something to say about it. But more and more I'm learning that much of it is within my control, through eating, exercise, and daily regimen. I feel that this year I'm healthier than I've been for many, many years, at least a decade.

Last Tuesday, the day I left for Nashville and the annual conference of the IECA, I weighed in at 231 pounds, in jeans. This is the lowest I've been in years. In 2001, while trying to lose weight before out daughter's wedding, I got down briefly, for one day, to 230 before going back up to around 242 at the time of the wedding. Before that I have to go back to 1992 when, in contest with another man in the office, I got down to 222 before ballooning up again. I peaked at 304 in 2004, tried to get down and did, to about 259, but then went back up again to 304 in March 2006. At that point I said Enough, and began a program of trying to live healthier.

I started being more faithful at exercise, and more careful about what I ate. Slowly, over several years, the weight started coming off and I felt better. I purposely wanted the weight loss to be slow, to hopefully be more permanent. Also over these several years some rules for weight loss and better health came into focus for me. I'm sure I reported them to this blog before, but to make this an all inclusive post I'll repeat them. These did not come to me all at once, but over several years.

1. Eat a little better
2. Exercise a little more
3. Drink a little more water
4. Eat a little less
5. Get a little more sleep
6. Exercise a little better
7. Solve my "free food" problem.

Simple rules, but effective for me. I started my better health quest with eating a little better and getting a little more exercise, mainly walking. And it seemed to work. In 2006 I lost 20 pounds, kept it off in 2007, lost 10 more in 2008, etc. I had some challenges along the way. My pre-diabetes came into full Type 2 diabetes. I started taking medicines for it, some of which work against weight loss. I contracted ehrlichiosis, not once but twice, the second time causing a severe flare-up in my rheumatoid arthritis. This included an especially painful right knee, which my rheumatologist said will someday need to be replaced. I had a mild case of pneumonia once, the flu once, and more than my normal number of colds. I had a few ups and downs on weight, but mostly down, like stocks in a bear market.

January 2013 found me up a little in weight from twelve months before, my blood sugar again rising, and having a general lack of energy. I decided that was it, I was going to go back to my rules and re-apply them. It seemed to me that each one could be applied in any situation. If my weight loss stalled, I could eat a little better and a little less. I could exercise a little more and a little better (meaning, exercises that stressed the body more). It worked, and slowly through the year I went down from about 265 to 242 (I think; my weight log is at work, I'm typing this at home).

In November 2013, at a corporate leadership retreat, we had a couple of exercise ladies come in and put us through a set of exercises and talk with us about healthy lifestyles. They had us doing lunges, thrusts, and planks. I liked the lunges and planks, not so much the thrusts, and have incorporated those two into my regimen. Not a whole lot, but some. It seems to be working. I'm feellng better.

Also, my blood sugars have been excellent of late, which I think is a combination of eating better, exercising more and better, and a change in medications in January 2013. I'm now taking Byetta, which, as I understand it, delays the emptying of the stomach, which is supposed to equalize blood sugars. It is also conducive to weight loss, unlike other diabetes medicines. My sugars in 2014 have been mostly between 130 and 90, and for the last month have averaged around 104. In March so far they are 111-91-107. Even while I was out last week during the convention, with somewhat overeating, my sugars weren't bad.

So, I won't say I'm healthy at this stage, but I'm healthier than I was. I feel younger than I did eight years ago. I'm motivated to keep going. Next week or the week after I hope to weigh-in below 230 for the first time in 22 years. When I see the doctor in April I hope to be given six months before needing to come back to see him. That will be a moment of triumph if that happens. I need to get to 219 before I will be considered overweight rather than obese. That will be the next goal. The doctor set 200 as the upper end of my ideal weight goal, but I think 180 is a better goal for me, and what I'm working towards.

So, I'm now waiting for the weather to break a little more so that I can do more outside work. I saw up deadfall and fell dead trees and saw them up, all with a manual bowsaw. It's mainly for exercise, though we take some to Oklahoma City on some trips for the kids to burn. I'll get back on my 3.7 mile walks soon, and see how they affect me. And I'll walk a little more consistently on noon hours. All while eating a little better and a little less. Next time I report, hopefully I'll be reporting to you from south of 230.

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