Fighting the Battle of the Bulge and Winning

Photo credit: cool987fm.com
Photo credit: cool987fm.com

On the heels of yesterday’s delightful discovery that I’ve finally gotten (barely) below 200 lbs, I came across a couple of articles at MensHealth.com that speak to losing weight.

I should say that as an aside, between yesterday and today, I didn’t lose any more weight but I didn’t gain any back either. Checking my log at MyFitnessPal.com, I’ve now lost 7 pounds in just under 7 weeks. I know weight loss isn’t linear, but I’d love to keep this going the way it is now, or find a way to do even better.

I’m determined to crush this weight loss thing.

Anyway, the first article is called 20 Reasons to Lose 20 Pounds. Technically, I’m only looking to lose another 15 pounds or so, all fat, while gaining more lean muscle mass, but motivators are motivators.

The list (I won’t replicate it here…click the link to read all 20 items) is made up of short, compelling, and humorous tips. This is also a “men’s magazine,” which means some of the motivators are of a sexual or relationship nature. Just sayin’.

Reason #11 is “Holy sh*t… abs!

Not sure if or when I’ll get to see my abs or what they’ll look like. I probably need to do more intensive core work, but it’s tough to find the time. I do isolation work on my abs two to three times a week, but there are other resistance training exercises that engage my abs and lower back. Any standing compound lift, such as deadlifts and hack squats, engages the core, as do my dumbbell bench pullovers.

Reason #18 grabbed my attention: “More pullups, because there’s less to pull up.”

I don’t incorporate pull ups as part of “Back Day” because I can’t do many of them. I only do Lat Pulldowns at 130 to 140 lbs which lets me do three sets at between 8 to 15 reps per set. On Saturday, when I go to the gym to do core work and cardio, I “warm up” by doing one set of overhand pull ups. I can manage between 6 and 8 reps working to failure. That’s not very impressive, but then again, I’m trying to pull up around 200 lbs of me.

I found Reason #20 interesting: “In our society, people respect weight loss. Even if you do nothing cool or interesting or memorable for the rest of your life, you’ll have done that.”

People may respect it, but at least in the United States, not too many people practice it.

According to the Overweight and Obesity Statistics page at the National Institute of Diabetics and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website:

More than one-third (35.7 percent) of adults are considered to be obese. More than 1 in 20 (6.3 percent) have extreme obesity. Almost 3 in 4 men (74 percent) are considered to be overweight or obese. The prevalence of obesity is similar for both men and women (about 36 percent).

Wow! That’s incredible but I guess it depends on where your statistics come from. On the same webpage, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009-2010 state:

  • More than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese.
  • More than 1 in 3 adults are considered to be obese.
  • More than 1 in 20 adults are considered to have extreme obesity.
  • About one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese.

Over 66% of adults are considered to be overweight or obese. That’s two-thirds of the American adult population. That’s not just amazing, it’s tragic.

And the consequences are horrific:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (excess fat and inflammation in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol)
  • osteoarthritis (a health problem causing pain, swelling, and stiffness in one or more joints)
  • some types of cancer: breast, colon, endometrial (related to the uterine lining), and kidney
  • stroke

And that’s just the short list.

Back at MensHealth.com, Reason #8 for losing weight states:

Decreased: your chances of developing heart disease, prostate cancer, diabetes, sleep apnea, depression, back pain, impotence, gallstones, joint problems, high blood pressure, low sperm counts, and an impressive collection of prescription-drug bottles.

cpap mask
Photo credit: cpap.com

I’ve suffered from what my neurologist calls a case of “mild” sleep apnea for a number of years and this has been one of my primary motivations to lose weight. This isn’t just a matter of not getting enough rest because you stop breathing hundreds of times a night during while your asleep. According to WebMD.com, some of the consequences of untreated sleep apnea are:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Stroke.
  • Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks.
  • Diabetes.
  • Depression.
  • Headaches.

My wife hates my CPAP machine, which in the past, as enabled me to maintain a positive air flow while sleeping. I don’t mind the “white noise” but it keeps her up at night. We didn’t sleep together for a few years because of it.

But as I dropped weight and approached 200 lbs, I decided to stop using it. She’s come back to my bed again and hasn’t complained that I’m snoring, which is a good sign (Now if only we could do something about her snoring).

That’s a whole lot of motivation to lose that excess body fat. So how is it done?

As I mentioned above, Chris Mohr, Ph.D., R.D., registered dietitian and nutrition consultant, wrote an article called 61 Ways to Lose Weight for MensHealth.com. 61 reasons is much too long a list to present here in its entirety. It includes a lot of things I do already anyway, including increasing protein intake, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and portion control.

It also included doing interval training which is basically short bursts of exercise activity with a brief rest period in between them. Although I don’t do intervals, I do use supersets in a significant portion of my resistance training, and most of the time, rest only 60 seconds between sets/supersets (the exceptions are deadlifts and hack squats because they are extremely cardiovascular intensive and I need 90 seconds rest between sets to get my breath back).

Let’s see, “Lift weights,” Got it. “Supplement with fish oil” such as Omega-3 fats, yup. “Do full body exercises” like squats and deadlifts, I do that too.

One item on the list is to “Eat the bulk of your meals in the A.M.” which I tend not to do, well, not exactly.

It’s not that I eat a huge dinner, but I have more control of my diet during the day when I’m at work. That probably needs some adjusting because on many occasions, by the time I get home from work, I’m famished. I’ll fix myself a reasonably sized meal, but I have to fight not to eat anything else after that. Sometimes I fail and go trolling for snacks later in the evening.

One possible solution would be to eat something more satisfying and filling for lunch or sometime after lunch so I’m not quite so hungry by dinner time. Like I said, I’ve been losing weight, but it’s been a battle, and I think I can improve my tactics and win more often.

Yes, I take the stairs at work and I work on the third floor of my building. I drink my coffee black and drink water and tea a lot. I hate all-you-can-eat buffets. My parents think the Golden Corral is the greatest restaurant in existence, but on those few occasions when I’ve gone there with them, the vast, vast majority of people I see patronizing the place are at least overweight if not obese. Buffets are killers.

Tip #61 is my favorite:

Wake up early to exercise. You’re more likely to get it done if you don’t wait until after work.

strong old man
photo credit: ML Sinibaldi/CORBIS

I’m sorry if this seems I’m using “scare tactics” as a motivation to work toward weight (fat) loss, but sometimes we all need a wake up call. Exercise and diet isn’t just about looking better or fitting into smaller clothes, it’s about your life and your well-being. Losing body fat isn’t about vanity, it’s about living longer and living better.

For people my age and older, we can choose to be old, fat, and sick, sucking down a medicine cabinet full of drugs and keeping big pharma companies rich, or we can be old, muscular, and energetic, putting only healthy foods and supplements in our bodies and leaving nasty drugs and nastier side effects alone. We do have a choice about how we live our lives. We can also choose the results.

Go big or go home.

Anonymous

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2 thoughts on “Fighting the Battle of the Bulge and Winning

  1. Earplugs.

    From personal experience.

    We both use ‘em. Jim has had an apnea dx since the early 1990s but is CPAP non-compliant. I probably would have a DX if I went for a sleep study: Headaches, irregular heartbeats, but at least I have LOW BP.

    On the bright side, since trying to eat better in the past year or so, my triglycerides appear now to be normal, as is my LDL. Total cholesterol still high and need to work on that, but happy about the others.

    Blessings,

    Michele

    Like

    1. Thanks Michele.

      If “CPAP non-compliant” means he just doesn’t want to use one, he should reconsider. Untreated sleep apnea is ultimately deadly and he’s playing fast and loose with his health by not using one. I think there are other devices that are more comfortable and less noisy that might help. He should look into it for his own sake and yours.

      Not to be a pest, but if you haven’t had a sleep study, maybe you should talk to your doctor and see if he/she thinks it would be advisable. I’ve had two and they’re incredibly uncomfortable, but it’s better to tackle a problem like this than ignore it.

      Interestingly enough, when I went in for my sleep study a number of years ago, I was the youngest and lightest person there. Some of the people to be evaluated had to have oxygen with them, so they had serious respiratory problems. I’m glad that my weight is getting down to the point where the machine isn’t necessary. I wouldn’t wish sleep apnea on anyone, but saying that, it’s treatable.

      Have a good Shabbat.

      Like

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