Follow me on my journey to lose weight and get healthy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Beer Cheese Soup

With Abi being sick, I've had to do the cooking. Thankfully, it's something I enjoy. And I'm great at making terrible-for-you food. My staple breakfast menu is bacon and eggs, with either toast or some sort of potato on the side. MMMmmmMMM! There's nothing wrong with that menu...until you eat half a package of bacon, half a dozen eggs, three potatoes or four slices of toast, and then watch movies for six-twelve solid hours. Of course, breakfasts like that don't happen every day, or even every week; once a month, at most.

Just like last night's meal, Beer Cheese Soup. This is the fist time I've made it in probably three years. Enough to get my fix and move on. Granted, I couldn't find a single 12 oz can or bottle of beer for purchase at the store, so I bought a single 24 oz can, and since that's twice what the recipe calls for, I did what anyone would do...doubled the recipe. A single batch is supposed to make roughly 4 quarts, so there's a fair amount still in the fridge. It freezes well, thankfully, so I'll be putting a few bowls away there and will have a couple ready-made meals for when Abi goes with her siblings to visit her brother and sister-in-law in Arkansas in a couple of weeks (I can't go as it'll be a four-day trip and I don't have the vacation time).

For now, I have less than 30 minutes before I need to leave for work, and I haven't eaten yet. Where's that bacon...?

Physical Therapy

I had my four-week follow-up appointment at the orthopedist's office yesterday. In the time between visits, I've improved 85-95%, at least in how I feel. No surprise (to me, at least; others with a less optimistic view of traditional medicine might be surprised), he didn't recommend surgery, the verdict I was wanting. What he did recommend was physical therapy, and I had my first appointment yesterday afternoon.

First of all, I didn't realize that PT was something a doctor could actually prescribe. I guess you learn something new every day. And second, PT is expensive. I'm going to PhysioTherapy Associates, which must be affiliated in some way with Mercy Hospital. It's $100/session and the therapist wants to meet three times a week for three weeks. Thankfully I can pay half the cost per week and be billed for the rest, which should get us through until our taxes are finished.

My lower back is somewhat sore from being worked on, but it's that kind of sore you experience from exercising, so I'm not worried about it at this point. The first goal is to work on my flexibility, particularly in my hamstrings, which have always been tight but are ridiculously so now. One advantage of going to the therapist is that she has leverage when it comes to many of the stretches. Another advantage is that she has already shown she will push farther than I likely would on my own; not in a painful way, but enough to get a more effective stretch. When Abi is feeling better I want her to come to at least one of my appointments so she can see what is being done and do the same for me at home.

I have a few stretches to be done at home, and I'm looking forward to the increased flexibility. My goal is to improve enough in three weeks that I can stop going and continue on my own, or, at the very most, go once every week or two for a few weeks for some follow-up and direction.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

First exercise of the year...

I got out for a walk today, and it was quite enjoyable. It also demonstrated that I am very much out of shape. It took me about 23.5 minutes to walk 1.25 miles. I'm very much looking forward to doing better in that regard, as well as not being somewhat winded by the time I get home.

Bonus for today, I found a mostly empty pop can on the road just before I got home. I dumped the rest down the sink and rinsed it out, and now I have a free nickel coming my way whenever we stop by Hy-Vee and I put it through the recycler. Yay!

The beginning is never pretty...

I thought that it would be appropriate to share a couple of pictures to get things started. Now, weight loss and being muscly is not what I'm necessarily about. Body composition is more of what I'm after. I mean, I'd rather weigh 220 and be all muscle than 170 and mostly fat. With that being said, I caution you to view the following images at your own risk.

First, this is what I look like when I'm clothed: 
It's not really that bad of a picture when you think about it. There's a bit of a paunch showing, but that's to be expected with the level of inactivity that's been present in my life coupled with my fondness for sweets and my love of food in general. You can also see that my midsection is kinda cocked to the right. This is likely still some residual effect from my issue with the not-totally-resolved herniated disc. I expect that will improve with time and further visits to Dr. Crivaro (who has done an amazing job, by the way; if you're in the Des Moines area, I recommend you give him a call if you're in need of chiropractic care [515-277-0746]; I am impressed with his philosophy of letting things settle down after an adjustment and not seeking to get you in his door 2-5x a week).

Now the following image is rather disturbing, so if you are at all squeamish, I suggest you point your browser in another direction. You have been warned.

This, then, is how I look without a shirt:
I know what you're thinking, and you're right, I could stand to lose a couple of pounds. As the weeks and months go by, I fully expect things to improve. One can only hope...

A new blog for a new life

Welcome to my new blog, devoted to my pursuit of weight loss and an overall healthier lifestyle. While I haven't ever been what I would consider obese (even though the medical height/weight charts would put me in that category), I've struggled with being heavier than I ought to be and a general level of unfitness. My goal isn't to be a muscle-bound he-man, nor to have a washboard stomach with six-pack abs. I simply want to be healthy so that I may serve my wife, my future children, and, most of all, God Almighty, to the best of my ability for as long as I am allowed to live on this earth.

There are two main aspects to my unhealthy life up to this point:
1) overeating, particularly of things like candy and pop
2) inactivity

The past few months have been a struggle for me. On November 21st, 2011, I started the P90X program for the second time. I had originally started the program in July and made it about six weeks in before being hired for a new job, looking for a new place to live, and moving some 200 miles interrupted my routine. It's a poor excuse, but I used it well. So, after 10-11 weeks of general inactivity, I restarted the program, having noticed considerable results in the six weeks from before. During the workout, however, I felt a twinge on the outside of my right knee while doing some push-ups. I figured I had overdone it and so backed off the push-ups, but finished the rest of the routine (two days later, when I could hardly lift my arms, I knew I had overdone it).

My leg was sore, and my gait was affected, so I decided I would wait a few days for it to improve. A few days became a few weeks, and finally on December 27th I got in to see a chiropractor, assuming my back was part of the problem (an additional symptom was that every time I rolled over in bed, pain would shoot down my right leg). X-rays showed a scoliosis-type curve to the right in my lower back, and that my right hip was significantly higher than my left. I went through a few adjustments and was starting to feel better, until January 5th. That morning I woke up in considerable pain and was barely able to stand, much less walk. I saw the chiropractor twice that day and twice the next, taking off of work because I wouldn't have been able to function. I didn't return to work until January 17th, but because of a delay in getting a work release from the chiropractor, I spent about three hours at work before coming home, never having set foot in the lab itself. While sitting around waiting, I called Iowa Ortho, an orthopedic center affiliated with Mercy Hospital in Des Moines. They couldn't get me in until February 6th, but I made an appointment anyway.

The next day I went to work and managed about 6 1/2 hours before the pain was enough that I needed to return home. The husband of one of my coworkers is a chiropractor, Dr. Crivaro, and seeing that my visits to the first one weren't resolving my issue, I decided to see him. I was able to get in on Thursday, January 19th, having taken the day off. I stayed home on the 20th, too, and on Monday the 23rd and Tuesday the 24th. I saw Dr. Crivaro both of those days, and I was doing quite a bit better by the time I walked into his office Tuesday. At that point he felt comfortable enough writing me a work release.

I generally only made it two or three days at a time before I needed to take a day, sometimes two, off from work, but I was definitely seeing progress. I continued in this fashion until my appointment at Iowa Ortho. The visit was short, but the Physician's Assistant and the Doctor both made a preliminary diagnosis of a herniated disc in my lower back. They recommended an MRI, and in order to help me be capable of lying down for it, I was giving a six-day prescription for Predinsolone, a steroidal anti-inflammatory, and a ten-day prescription for Cyclobenzaprine, a muscle relaxant. I was in some discomfort when I went in for the MRI on the 8th, but with some adjusting and putting pads under my right leg, I was able to make it through the half-hour scan. Until the results came back, I was told not to go back to work. I was able to see the doctor on the 13th, and the diagnosis of a herniated disc was confirmed. The doctor wanted to wait four weeks and then see me again as herniated discs can often resolve on their own.

I went back to work, making it full days but not full weeks at first. I had the doctor's office prescribe more muscle relaxants and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, which seemed to help. I ended up not taking either on Sunday, February 26th, and felt pretty good. I went to work on the 27th without taking any, and made it through the day with little trouble, though my muscles were tired by the end. At some point in the week, I started taking the muscle relaxant in the morning before going to work, but I made it all five days, a major blessing.

Then, this past week, my wife, Abi, got sick (as did many of the people at our church, and since we had had a potluck on Sunday, we're wondering how much sickness was going around and then got picked up by others). I started feeling sick yesterday and ended up coming home after three hours with a massive headache and some terrible nausea. Much to my relief, after a couple hours' sleep and some food, I felt pretty much 100% better.

So that brings me to today, the beginning of this blog, and choices that need to be made. I still occasionally feel a bit of tingling down my leg, so I'm guessing the disc issues haven't fully resolved, though things are getting much better. With that in mind, a full-blown workout incorporating weights doesn't seem like the smartest of choices to make at this point in time. The weather has been phenomenal lately for mid-March; today it's supposed to reach 67 degrees, and except for tomorrow, the rest of the ten-day forecast has highs no lower than 60 degrees, many days 70 and above. With clear skies predicted for most of the ten days, too, it seems that getting outside would be in order. I have in the past embarked on a running program, the Couch to 5K program at www.c25k.com, but I don't know as I'm quite up for that yet, either. That leaves me with getting out and walking, and that's a great place to start.

I invite you to follow me as I begin what will hopefully not be just a few week or few month endeavor, but rather a lifetime of good choices leading to an overall healthier lifestyle. Your comments and encouragement are most welcome, and I encourage you to start making choices that will lead to a healthier life for yourself.

God bless!