Weekend!

A million years ago, the doctor told me that I had high blood pressure. *AND* bad cholesterol. *AND* a fatty liver.

She told me that I needed to lose weight and eat healthy and, for god’s sake, get some exercise. Well, here’s the problem: jogging sucks. Lifting weights sucks. Using an elliptical sucks. Incumbent bikes suck.

So I first went the route of dieting. Low-carb works to lose weight but I was eating bacon and eggs and cheese every breakfast, and some combination of meat and spinach/romaine and cheese for the other meals. Which did not help my cholesterol and only barely helped my fatty liver. Did you know you can get cirrhosis even if you don’t drink that much? Ugh.

Anyway, I started rock climbing and went to the doctor last week where she told me that while my blood pressure was 110 over 78 (WOO HOO!), she was still worried about my cholesterol (even though, to her feel, my fatty liver had receded somewhat) so I needed to drop some blood off for some tests. We agreed that if my cholesterol was 130-160, we’d have a serious talk about diet and if it was over 160, I’d go on medication.

I got my results: 117. My liver had returned back to full functionality.

I haven’t changed my diet. (Well, I go low-carb every Lent but that’s months ago now.) The only thing I’ve really done is started rock climbing a couple times every week. This simple change to my lifestyle has resulted in my cholesterol turning around, my liver getting better, and me losing weight and keeping it off.

All that to say: Seriously. Look into going to a climbing gym. It doesn’t *FEEL* like exercise. It feels like climbing a wall (or, in my case, mostly failing to climb walls). But it *WORKS*. I mean, I looked at the peg board today and wondered “huh… could I do that?” and, as it turns out, I couldn’t. But, and here’s the point, I didn’t know. Instead of immediately knowing “Yeah, I can’t do that”, I had reason to believe that, maybe, something had changed.

And, among other things, it included my cholesterol.

The weird thing is that I’m noticing psychological changes. Like I’m wondering about Yoga. Yoga! This is crazy! (I find myself wondering about going vegetarian. VEGETARIAN!)

So maybe the advice is that getting out and doing stuff is a gateway drug to vegetarianism.

But if you have been thinking “jeez, I need to change my life… but the gym sucks…”, then see if you’ve got a climbing gym near you and get on the wall. Climb up one quarter of one wall. Eventually, you’ll be able to climb up half of it. You won’t believe what happens after that.

Seriously. My life has improved so much that I can’t shut up about this. You need to get in on this.

As such, I’m going climbing this weekend.

So… what’s on your docket?

(Image is “Play” by Clare Briggs. Used with permission of the Briggs estate.)


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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19 thoughts on “Weekend!

  1. Any exercise you can keep doing is exercise that works. Even though I’m pretty heavy for a woman, all of my blood numbers to date have been very good (my doctor, who is about my age, says they are better than hers). I don’t eat ALL that carefully – I eat lots of cheese (I love cheese) and some red meat and some sweets. (I don’t drink sodas and I try to avoid HFCS, though, and I try, but don’t always succeed, to limit highly processed foods).

    But I do exercise. Right now I am alternating between 45 minutes on a cross-country ski trainer (I can listen to music while doing it so it’s less boring) or doing a 35-minuted dvd workout that’s part low-impact aerobics, part isometrics. If my city were better for walking (it’s waaaaaaaay too hot in the summer and also there are few sidewalks and also people let their untrained dogs run), I’d walk in addition to that.

    I can’t jog – I have foot issues and a doctor once told me I could badly fish up my knees and ankles from that kind of constant pounding, but that doctor also told me for people who don’t need to be elite athletes, a long brisk walk does as much good as a jog.

    I also find I need the regular exercise because it helps bleed off some of the anxiety I tend to have.

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    • I’ve done brisk walking as well. Down the blocked-off road to the tree, turn around, walk back and you’ve just walked 1.5 miles. I did it in 18 minutes. Which made me think about my jog time of 16 minutes and I asked myself “were those two minutes really worth it? Really?”

      Turns out, they weren’t.

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  2. fillyjonk: Any exercise you can keep doing is exercise that works.

    For me that means it can’t be a going to exercise thing. It’s always easier to just not do the thing than to do it.

    Bicycling, for me, as an activity to do for its own purpose, I do maybe once a month. But bicycling because it’s Friday so I have to get to the office, and then stop by the grocery store on the way home – that’s the one.

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    • I’m a cycle commuter, and have been for over 10 years. At first it sucked, but since I got in the habit I miss it If I don’t ride. I rarely ride just to ride, though.

      I’m with Jaybird, exercising in place is just boring as all get out.

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  3. Well done Jay. I think it’s important to do something you enjoy as well. For me, after a stressful day at work, I can “put it on in the mat” even if I don’t do any rolling. But sometimes, choking someone out is just what the doctor ordered.

    My weight’s dropped at least 25 pounds, I can hang with 30 year olds–endurance wise for 6 minutes. I have more energy and get compliments now almost monthly “you loosing weight?” I also get to eat mostly what I want.

    Keep it up! Wallk the path.

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  4. I’ve been tinkering with my diet for about 18 months now. I lost an initial 50 pounds pretty quickly by just watching my calories but since then I’ve been bouncing around within an 10 pound range for quite some time, primarily because I keep playing with different nutritional plans. I know how to lose more weight, but I also want to make sure I am ready to enter the lifetime ‘maintenance’ phase when I am at my goal. So I have done high-carb, low carb, very-close to vegetarian, twice daily green smoothies, you name it. I also like to about twice per month have a massive cheat day and then watch how long it takes me to get back to my steady weight (usually 4 days). Essentially, it has been one long experiment, but the point is that losing that initial 50 pounds was a great self-esteem boost and also improved my health (No more blood pressure medicine! Back feels better! No more acid reflux!)

    My oldest daughter is vegan and has been pushing me to try a lot of her diet, which I am happy to do, but it’s doubtful I would ever give up meat. I’ve just severely de-emphasized it. While I 100% believe I need meat in my diet, I was eating waaaaay too much.

    As for exercise, we got a ‘high energy’ breed for the newest dog, so he should help keep me moving. I prefer long walks, kettle bells and yoga as my weekly exercise regime.

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  5. I’ve been walking a lot. There’s a trail that runs through the nearby reservoir area and I have many different routes. My goal has been to get at least 150 minutes a week and I’ve been doing a bit over that. Most days, I only have meat for one meal, but I still eat some bad food. I’ve felt better at least, but haven’t checked my weight. The walks are nice–I usually see deer, saw a baby rattlesnake, saw an osprey swoop down and take a fish out of the river. The weather here is mild enough that I’ll be able to do this year round (if I go early in the summer). I’ve also started lifting weights (gym membership with my wife’s work).

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    • The animals are some of the best parts of walking, I think. When I was walking regularly I would see fox, herons, beaver, coyotes, raptors, all the time… I miss that.

      One of my favorite encounters was a 5 foot bull snake, just chillin’ by the side of the path next to a creek, and watching everybody.
      Me: “YAY BULL SNAKE” *crouches down to see it better*
      Local: “AHHH RATTLESN- – oh, really? okay.” *crouches down to see it better*
      Person who moved to Colorado from the SOUTH: “WHAT ARE YOU DOING SNAKES ARE BAD!!!!!!!” *moves to a safe distance, mutters something about where is a hoe when you need one*

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      • I’ve seen some turkeys as well. When I posted a pic of the baby rattler (it was like a foot long), lots of people made “NOPE” comments. I also had a family of Canadian Geese walk right in front of me. The wildlife and river sounds are great; I get to let my mind wander while I exercise.

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  6. I rode my bicycle to work today, but sadly I started eating meat again so maybe you can replace me in the vegetarian club. I have theater tickets tomorrow, my son’s last baseball game of the season, and my old work buddy’s housewarming.

    Congrats on all of the great health news!

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  7. I walked .44 miles twice today with an hour in between. Which would not, at all, be noteworthy, except that it’s the most I’ve been able to walk in a year.

    For values of “able” that include woozy, diarrhea, and bright red face for an hour afterward, BUT STILL.

    I takes what victories I gets.

    I intend to have a reasonably lazy weekend.

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  8. The gym sucks. Organized sports suck. Team sports suck. Jogging sucks. Running sucks. Everything that feels like exercise sucks.
    Cycling to work is not to bad though. It isn’t fun, but it is functional (and without drivers license necessary) and with 93 miles per week enough to keep the waistline in check but not enough to qualify as ‘exercise’.

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  9. Ride a bike on errands or to pick up comics. Make it purposeful beyond “I’m going to do an hour of biking today” or “I’m going to do 10 miles”.

    Eventually you’ll make reasons to ride your bike, bringing you into the mindset of “I think I’m going to ride my bike from Downtown into Garden of the Gods and back. Just because.”

    Exercise needs to be daily, but it doesn’t have to be intense.

    Also cycling is good on your knees.

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  10. Like all the others have said, biking is great for getting out, moving around and seeing what is around the next bend/over the hill. Make sure the bike is fitted to you, but other than that you really don’t need a fancy set of wheels. And suggestion of riding for something, not just to get miles in but as an activity in relation to other fun things, is spot on. I have never been a bike commuter, but riding to look at specific scenery or neighborhoods has always been a big part of my enjoyment of it. I also will grab a book, get on the bike and ride to the further away coffee house to get exercise in with my pm caffeine fix.

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  11. I was told I had high blood pressure when I gave blood.

    I had a store robot measure me and it was scary high but I didn’t believe it. I bought my own robot and it said the same.

    Diet. Lost weight (not that heavy to start with). I was already swimming but I did it once a day.

    Didn’t help, so it became serious escalation time.

    I went to the doctor and in one visit he lowered my blood pressures by 35 points.

    I’d expected something more drug related but instead he watched me use my home bp measuring robot and said “you’re not doing that right”.

    Your arm is supposed to be at heart level. Resting your arm on the desk or armchair mis-measures your bp. I’m so big the effects are exaggerated, but it’s probably a thing for others to keep in mind.

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    • I have reached an age where, when my BP began doing erratic things on the high side, they: (a) ran a nuclear stress test and echo EKG; (b) announced that my heart function was excellent and coronary arteries were squeaky clean; and (c) said “Here, take the little white pills. Stay reasonably active.” How did my sister put it? Current thinking is that as you approach the design life of the various sub-systems, just treat the symptoms is often the better approach.

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