14 May Keto Curious Progress

I started my journey on May 7th. I did it cold turkey and with calorie reduction. I decided the first few days I would run at deficit of 500 calories. I based my daily caloric budget on my Fitbit, which adds calories with activity.

At the same time, I re-introduced magnesium supplements into my regimen. According to Tom Delauer, taken before bed, it could help with sleep among many other things. Here’s a link to the one I first heard about Magnesium. I saw an amazing improvement in my Fitbit measured sleep score.

I also decided that the first week of keto, I would take it easy on workouts. Last thing I needed was to get faint or suffer in the middle of one of my routines away from the house.

My beginning was a bit awkward in the bathroom. I had the runs for periodically through the second day. Not painful, but I was definitely losing fluids. From what I understand this is normal. My gut felt a little off, but not painful. Then I was a bit constipated for a day or two. And now I’m normalized.

The first few days after the initial 48 hours, I was mindful of my gut. My gut was still a bit off but not painful and no discomfort. Just different.

I ate well and really began to understand that being satiated on keto was a real thing. I didn’t always have a breakfast right away in the morning because I would still feel full from the night before. If I was late for a meal, I never got that ravenous discomfort or headache like I would with processed carbs.

I also spent part of this time on my own spreadsheet and sorting out how I was going to track what I was eating. I wanted it to be simple with what I had on hand so I didn’t have to spend a lot of money. I decided on two sets of measurements. Those I would perform frequently [as much as daily] and those I would perform less frequently [like weekly]. Frequent was weight and BIA (bio-impedance analysis) from my current floor scale. Less frequent measurements include: Height, weight, BIA, neck, belly button, waistline and bicep. I’ll go more into my logic on why these some other time. Ultimately the logic was collect enough varied metrics so that if I didn’t see progress in one area, I might with another.

I normally started my day with scrambled eggs that included cooked (wilted) spinach, chopped peppers, occasionally a few cherry tomatoes and maybe some black beans.

For lunches, I mixed it up with various salads using canned tuna or leftover beef or chunks of chicken breast. I made sure the sauces were keto friendly. My two favorites: Italian dressing – made from a packet using virgin olive oil and red wine vinaigrette. Store bought spicey buffalo sauce.

I also busied myself reviewing keto recipes. It adds to the variety of what you have available. There are tons out there on the web and on Youtube. And of course with substitution of some ingredients there aren’t many recipes that can’t be created in a keto friendly fashion. Exact replicas, no, but reasonable enough to satisfy most cravings.

As for weigh ins, I do them first thing in the mornings. Same is true for my measurements as best as I can achieve. I know the the BIA (bio-impedance from my scale isn’t to be relied on.

Of course, the wife is appreciating the fact that I am cooking far more often since I want more control over my diet. Getting to the 14th wasn’t that hard.

Why I am not buying a GPS Fitness Watch…… yet

I have been extremely torn to leap at the latest and greatest gps smart watch for my runs. I have a Fitbit Charge HR2 and normally run with my cell phone. The dream of losing the added weight of my phone was a nice idea.

As I think about my normal runs, at least training runs,  sometimes I want access to the normal pace, distance and elapsed time for run information. I don’t want to look away from the course and stare at a display either on my phone or a watch, so I do like audio prompts.

In fact that led to a nasty fall for someone I was pacing in a 10K trail run recently. They looked at their watch display and the many roots on the trail knocked them down. Not only did they fall but buttons got mashed and their display changed so they couldn’t check their pace or distance. Any more button mashing while running could have caused them to lose their gps track and more time to sort it out.

I also appreciate having some music or podcast available to kick off when I need motivation or distraction during the run, especially the long runs. The only way to control that without pulling out my cell phone is via bluetooth headset controls. But you can’t switch between apps like that.

One feature that I greatly appreciate about the Fitbit fitness tacking is its use of audio cues on a regular basis. This is a function available on many phone apps, but no gps smart watch that I am aware of in a price range I want. A serious strike against fitness trackers and smart watches.

In the instance of the fallen runner I was able to call out our pace and distance as I received audio cues.

To alleviate the carrying of the phone either in my hand or strapped to my arm, I have an inexpensive running vest to tuck it into for my long runs. Then I try to refrain from touching it at all, opting to use headset controls. But then that means I’m stuck with audio from whichever app is cued to play at the time I set out on my run. If Stitcher is cued with podcasts, I won’t get driving motivational rock when the need arises to get that extra spark.

The last point I have is in the interest of safety. I will likely continue to carry my cell phone for emergency or the “come pick me up” calls I may need to make on a long training runs.

So a gps smart watch? Not  yet for me.

One other option would be for weather resistant sport Android smart headphones. A set that could understand audio commands just like a Google Home. If I find something promising, I’ll share my thoughts.

Alcohol and Pain Management – Day 609

It’s been 609 days since my last drink.

In retrospect, I look back not because I feel myself tempted, but to understand why and how I unwittingly used alcohol. And I realize that I occasionally used it as a means of dealing with pain.

My life is no different than anyone else and I’ve gone through some of life’s difficulties. But, I’ve had to ask myself, “did alcohol ever really help?”

I recall spraining an ankle and spending an evening with the guys hanging out and getting trashed. That was a rum and coke night. They were pouring and got amused as I slurred and struggled to stay balanced with my crutch. I remember single leg hopping to the rest room and struggling to get to bed. Next day I conveniently forgot the hang over.

Then of course are the other pains.

There was the pain of my 24th birthday. I was in the Navy, in the shipyards, working Monday through Friday with twelve hour shifts overlaid on top of that covering all seven days, with one rotational day off. The luck of the draw meant I had the day after my birthday off so I took advantage of it.

I was at a low point. I was finishing a divorce from my first wife wondering if I would ever have a chance at love again. (Clearly the naive viewpoint of youth). It had been more than a year since I saw family. And I was feeling the oppression of ‘Dogs and sailors keep off the grass’ from the Navy town atmosphere and felt really isolated. And the work regimen was such that you really didn’t have much opportunity to connect or befriend anyone outside of work. So I pulled up a stool at the enlisted club with one goal in mind. Drink to drown it all out.

One high point out of that. I was joined by a shipmate just by chance and I proceeded to get pie-faced. Completely blotto. I don’t remember how I got back to my room.. I think he helped, but it’s lost on me now.

The next morning (surprise duty) I was roused from my bunk. The guy that woke me had to jump back from my breath. Surprise, they changed the schedule, I had to go in and I was to lead a training session on something that was very detailed, intricate and involved in front of about 45 of my peers. I gave everyone fair warning that since this was unplanned it was anyone’s guess how this would go. An hour later, when it was done, I got a lot of compliments on how well it went. It became obvious that someone had heard about my night before and thought they would mess with me. Fortunately, I was still a bit buzzed while presenting so any pretense of nervousness in front of a crowd was gone, I knew the information cold and the presentation flowed comfortably. I even fielded a few questions intended as gotchas, but I crushed it.

As I look back, this was one of those moments that made me think drinking was something easy to handle. That it might actually have some positive impacts. How silly that was.

I’ve used alcohol for pain suppression through surgeries, broken bones, sprains, strains, worries over kids and family, health scares, heart aches for break ups, divorces, loneliness, funerals, jealousy, work stress just to name a few. I’ve also used it to fit in with the crowd socializing and ease my own nerves. And in every sense of the word, it would bring a momentary relief only to frequently have the pain redoubled or complicated by the symptoms of a hang over.

Fast forward to 2016 and it’s very obvious that I was using it to deal with so many little minor things that were ‘pains’ that there were few things I could look at positively.

In fact, I’ve realized that many of the ‘pains’ that I was drinking to deal with turned out to be conditions complicated by the drinking.

In the past 609 days I can honestly say I’ve never been truly ‘sick’, where before it was a matter of weeks between bouts of severe diarrhea or sinus issues that would make me useless. And I know longer suffer ‘mysterious’ joint swelling or pain. Any joint pain I suffer now is because I did something strenuous.

Am I pain free? No. I’m in my upper 50’s with normal aches and pains.

At the end of the day, when I’m sitting around with the wife, we will look at each other, a knowing look will pass between us. Almost without speaking we acknowledge that our lives are so much better without the fuzz, haze and side affects of alcohol. It’s so much easier without it now.



To hear the whisper of angels wings ….

This was a phrase I heard while in the military.File:Peter Paul Rubens - Music Making Angels - WGA20442.jpg

The context was that when you near death’s door you may hear the whisper of angels wings.

It’s a sensation of realizing how close to death you were. And how thankful you are that it was a close call rather than a foregone conclusion.

I can say I relate to moments when I might have been close to deaths door. There aren’t many of those moments.

The most poignant time resonated I felt this way, after drinking for years at an ever increasing rate, I realized that I was slowly killing myself. That was a Bingo. At that realization, that point of clarity of how definitively I was hurting, punishing and committing unintended suicide, I forced myself to cut back and eventually quit altogether.

Day 561 sober, feeling pretty dang good and still here.


I’m a FitBit Fan

As a person who appreciates tech, I’m generally slow and methodical when it comes to new stuff.

And getting a FitBit was no different.

I picked out a FitBit Charge HR.

Why: I’ve had heart rate monitors and love that they calculate caloric burn regardless of whether your performing cardio or not. I saw a lot of popular press and reviews. The price was certainly reasonable. And I met a few people who had them and showed me how they work.

I bought mine early April of 2015. Set up was simple using a Windows laptop and my Android smart phone. Just followed the directions.

Rather than dwell on the entire range of FitBit features, I decided to focus on what I use most with the FitBit Charge HR.

Steps, heart rate, calories burned, tracking exercise, sleep and the silent alarm are the features I make use of the most.

Steps are tracked through the FitBit’s motion sensors and I’m not convinced its perfectly accurate, but is a great indicator of just how active I am. Exceed 10,000 steps and you get a vibration and a flashing acknowledgement of an achievement.

Heart rate is something I really appreciate. Heart rate is tracked constantly and the app provides a graph of your resting heart rate. I’ve found that to be an incredible indicator. The higher your resting rate, the more your heart is working when your not active. I’m not a doctor or in the medical field, but it makes sense that if your resting rate is in it’s lower range for you, then your more relaxed. When I look back historically, my resting rate was in the 70’s daily. Lifestyle changes and workout improvements have brought my heart  resting rate down as low as the mid-50’s.

Calories burned runs constantly, incrementing your caloric burn rate whether your sedentary or moving mountains. I was surprised to see that some stressful days at my office work can actually burn a few extra calories. It was also an eye opener to realize just how sedentary I was for the most part when I first got it.

Tracking exercise with some form of accuracy was always elusive before the FitBit. Now, simply press the button, it vibrates and a stopwatch appears indicating it’s now tracking your exercise. When you finish your workout, you press the button again, it vibrates and a finish flag appears. During that interval, your caloric burn is captured as exercise. When it uploads to your app, it tracks in a calendar. I use the calendar as a tracker of the days I’ve worked out and how much.

Sleep was a surprising feature I never really thought of before I bought it. When I started using the FitBit in April, it indicated I was having lots of waking periods and restlessness with maybe 6 hours of sleep on average. I can vouch for the belief that I didn’t feel that rested during that period of time.  Since that time, with the changes I’ve made, I’m averaging more than seven hours of sleep a night with no more than one wakeful period and a lot less restlessness through the night. I believe this is a solid indicator of improvement overall. That and it just feels better.

One of the life changes I’ve made is developing a solid regimen for exercise. But to do that I need a definitive and dedicated time frame to work out with little chance for interruption. That’s where the silent alarm works out. I set mine to go off early enough in the morning to allow me to work out and still get on with my day. I’ve gotten absolutely no complaints from my spouse, except when I stumble around.

It does work as a time piece. When I first bought it, the way to get the time was pressing the button briefly or double tapping the display screen. However there was a software upgrade recently that allows me to twist my arm into a “looking at my watch position” and it will display the time and date.

Day to day operations have been easy to work with. I wear it all the time except showering or swimming. That includes sleeping. When I shower or swim I plug it in to charge.

For battery consumption, I adjusted the settings in my FitBit to not continuously synchronize and that has slowed the power drain. I believe that would give me around four days, based on what I see out of a single days drain. But since I’m a regular charger anyway, power has never been a problem.

Funny thing at night, once in a while I catch the green glow of the LED’s that monitor my heart rate. Mostly when I’m moving around. It’s so fleeting it’s not a bother.

Between the simplicity of use, the mild reminders of its presence, the quality of information it provides constantly has been an incredible reminder and motivator.

Would I recommend a FitBit Charge HR? Definitely for anyone interested in their overall health.

AAAHHH!!! – Day 2

Today I started off with a Dunedin North Rotary meeting for breakfast. They are a great group of people and do a lot of charitable work. Today there was a presentation on RotoCleft that I found moving. Poor orphan children in Peru would receive free surgeries to fix cleft palates. I digress. The breakfast at Rotary is typically a buffet line and I can’t help but enjoy scrambled eggs and cheese when someone else is cooking. Only this time it was scrambled eggs, cheese, peppers, small sausage chunks and bits of ham. I caved immediately and went for two scoops. I also had a cup of orange juice and 24 oz’s of coffee with a couple half and half’s.
When I got home, I started checking out the impact of what I’ve consumed. It amounted to 670 calories in a single sitting! Now, this is truly an eye opener. I normally add in strips of bacon with possibly a muffin which would have knocked my plan out of the park for the day.
To add insult to injury the menu planner at MyPyramid shows that of those calories I consumed 328 were junk calories! And the maximum junk calorie allowed is 360. So, not only was my diet off because of calories, more than half of what I consumed was useless. AAAHHH!
I register officially into the Menu Planner of MyPyramid because I obviously need to track and learn a few things.
Ok, I do my aerobics on the TecTrix for 30 minutes and burn around 600 calories. But somehow I feel every iota of that junk causing my stomach to churn just a tad.
Okay, how can I get back on track. I know, I’ll go for a salad, that’s gotta be good right?! Ah, there we go two cups of chopped lettuce and half a chopped tomato. Some lite dressing at 50 calories.
OH NOOO! 10 of those dressing calories are junk. Well, at least the salad will hold off the hunger and help me play catch up. But I gotta find a better something to add flavor to the salad.
Search the pantry. Honey, it’s all sugar. Parmesan cheese, half junk by volume. No, the left over biscuits won’t do it. Man this wouldn’t be so hard if I could enjoy the sugars, solid fats and alcohol. Or had at least balanced them a little more through the entire day.
Eureka, salsa! No junk and less calories too. Okay, another salad for dinner.
But I got another 243 calories to go and it would be wise not to short myself too much. Start cruising the search function in the menu planner. I have to find things with little or no junk in them.
Apples, nectarines, brown rice, oatmeal, tuna, almonds, all have no junk factor and they are in my kitchen. As I browse further I’m finding a number of things I have are low on the junk factor.
With that in mind a handful of almonds, a little brown rice with a touch of salsa and I’m done for the night.
Okay, plan better. No and low junk factor foods.

This is the rest of the post

And We’re Off – Day 1 of Weight Control

With a renewed sense of purpose I started this day. My goal was 300 calories or less per meal with the potential for a snack some time around 100 calories. It was also to ensure I worked out every day possible. Before dumping a load of stuff into a bowl I stopped, read the label and measured. I did the same with the milk. Funny thing is, the single serving of milk was more than my cereal needed. I could have used less and used fewer calories in my budget. Oh well, live and learn. That’s as much a part of this as anything else.

Then it was on to exercise. Up to now I’ve been working out alternating an aerobics day with a strength day. Aerobics days are 20 to 30 minutes on a TecTrix ClimbMax (its called a stepper). Strength days were a full circuit on an old BowFlex XTL.

To keep life simple and jump start my body into submission, I decided to do both strength and aerobics work outs on every day I possibly could. Timing can be an issue with work and life demands. (Work at home doesn’t mean I do nothing or have total schedule freedom). That and the fact I have a few injuries that could flare up. One of those I believe to be Plantar Fasciitis. (I’ll blog on that separately.)

Jump to the end of the day and, although I was tempted to eat more, it wasn’t maddening. I made it consuming only 515 calories which is way below my target of 1000 and stepping for an output of 400. I haven’t figured a way to calculate calorie burn of the Bowflex routine. I don’t expect to be able to keep this up for many days. But for an opening day, it gives me confidence that my goal of hitting 191 is achievable.

First Steps

Today I began.

My first move was to drop my portions and document what I was eating. I picked an arbitrary goal of 1000 calories. This seemed the common sense thing. Let’s face it, many Americans consume three or four times what they really need.

I started with reading labels. I nearly went into shock
when I discovered that what I considered to be two healthy bean wraps, almost all the calories were in the shell. Each shell was 170 calories a piece. That was over a third of my target for the entire day without considering breakfast or dinner or snacks!

This day was a bust.

Then I found http://www.MyPyramid.gov which is helpful with unlabeled foods like fruits and vegetables. If you register with them and log in, you can actually enter your diet using a search field allowing you to store up to seven days based on 2400 Calories in a day. It also projects “Extras” or junk in your diet like sugars, solid fats and alcohol. The search function has some packaged stuff, but can sometimes be way off, like the large tortilla shells it had listed as 90 calories when packaging showed 170. I would have loved to have used only the Menu Tracker function, BUT this lack of accuracy and flexibility was enough to submarine the entire purpose of tracking my progress.

It’s a good reference, but certainly not the only tool for me to use for now.

So I set up a small spreadsheet. Initially I’m starting out with a Date, Intake or Output, and a Calorie column. Simplistic for now. Who knows what it will look like later.

Weight Control for Me – The saga begins

At the end of September 2008 a mandate was passed through my branch of the military reserves that weight standards would be further tightened to match those of the Center for Disease Control’s use of the Body Mass Index.
Everyone has one year before the standards would be enforced at our annual weigh-in. What does this mean to the organization at large? A 1% decline in maximum allowable weight standards across the board. 1% seems insignificant until you realize that for a 200 pound person that is a 20 pound drop.

What’s the impact to me? My standard allowable weight was 213 pounds and I always stayed under that maximum by at least ten pounds. Now, my maximum is set at 191 pounds, which means I’m currently ten pounds over and to keep my ten pound buffer, I need to drop 20 pounds.

This thread will be an attempt to document over this next year, what I do to reach this goal.

I have to say that although I received the initial word about this with chagrin I wasn’t truly happy with my weight as it is.

So what is my long term goal: 1) Meet the standard for the new body weight requirement consistently. 2) Attempt to reach an added buffer weight of a few extra pounds below the standard.

Stay tuned.

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