health

P90X 3 + Running + Gluten Free + Sugar Free = Healthier??

P90X3

From my early teenage years, I have always struggled with pudginess. In later years I have discovered it to be in part due to a medical issue, I have a pituitary tumor, more specifically a prolactinoma. We affectionately like to refer to it as “Petey, the Pituitary Tumor.” The effects Petey has on my endocrine system make it more difficult for me to maintain my weight, so I have to work harder. The challenge I have is balancing family life, career, church and community service, and somehow fitting in time to exercise and be active.

In recent years I have done a lot better managing my weight and fitness. In the last six years, I have gone from 250 pounds and out of shape, down to 180 pounds and running marathons. Currently I am a little over 200 pounds and if I were being chased by a mountain lion, I could maybe squeeze out a half marathon.

My goal now is to get back down to about 180 pounds without going to the extreme of marathon running. Don’t get me wrong, I do love running and the challenge of pushing my known limits. I love the feeling of finishing a 20 mile training run, the satisfaction of pulling off blackened toe nails. The feelings associated with finishing a marathon are irreplaceable, but they come at a cost. I’m no scientist, but I have learned through trial and error that there was an effect on my metabolism, and not for the better. When I was running and logging lots of miles, my weight stayed stable, but when I stopped, even for a few days, the weight would come back very quickly.

I was always careful to try to pack most of my training miles into the early morning hours, but on weekends, the 3 hour training runs definitely took me away from family time that I should have been spending with my wife and kids.

So here’s the new plan:

1. Eat better: My wife and I have challenged each other to a sugar fast. Until the New Year we will not eat or drink anything with added sugars.  We have planned 3 cheat days a month to get us through the holidays. As if that is not difficult enough,     we also decided to go gluten free for five weeks. There is some evidence that “Petey” will treat me better with a gluten free diet. If I complete the challenge, I get an Apple Watch next year.

2. P90X 3: So they got me at a weak moment. It was 3 a.m. and I couldn’t sleep. While flipping through channels I saw the    infomercial for P90X 3. It looked easy enough so I bought it with three easy payments. I have actually found that I like it a lot. I am currently on day 50 of my first round and I like that the workouts are only 30 minutes. Good job Tony Horton, you’ve done it again.

3. Running: I don’t want to lose all the gains that I have made in running. I want to be able to participate in the occasional                          10K or maybe even a half marathon here and there, so I am running about 20 minutes every morning after the P90X 3 workouts.

4. Rigorous Family Activities: This is something my wife and I really want to work on this year. It gives us exercise, helps our kids get out and active, and we get to spend time together. We plan to get out with the kids and go hiking, biking, skiing, etc…

I just want to acknowledge none of this would possible without my beautiful, smart, funny, multi-talented wife to help me eat right and stay on track nutritionally.

Trading Sugar for an iWatch

apple-watch

My wife and I issued each other a challenge last night. The end goal of the challenge is to be healthier, but in essence it is a “no sugar challenge.”

So, for the final quarter of 2014, we have committed to abstain from added or excess sugar in foods and eat more home made whole foods and vegetables. We have also pledged to exercise at least four times per week.

Maybe we’re not that committed or maybe we’re just realistic, but we decided to allow ourselves two “cheat days” a month, mainly on date nights. We also realize with the holidays coming throughout the challenge that it will be very difficult to maintain so we’ve agreed that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day are also “cheat days.”

To motivate ourselves to complete this challenge we each chose a prize that we will receive at the end of the year to reward us for doing what we should be doing anyway. I will be receiving an Apple iWatch, and my wife chose to reward herself with laser hair removal in her under arm areas. I’m pretty sure I came up with a better reward, but she seems motivated too.

So, now the challenge begins. This is where we separate the strong from the weak. We have successfully done this challenge in the past and found that the hardest part is staying on track during family events. With the holidays, this will be somewhat more difficult. In making this public announcement, I hope to have some outside motivation to stay strong and maintain the commitment.

In the end, the true reward we are looking for is to be healthier and have a better quality of life overall. I have gone from the extremes of being obese to running marathons. I know how it feels to be on either end of the spectrum. Right now, I am somewhere in the middle, and I know that I will be happier and feel better by exercising and eating healthier. And the iWatch sounds pretty good too.

Let the challenge begin!!!

Miracle Morning

So I’m that guy that figured out a way to add another 2 hours to his day.

Man on the beach

When I’m doing work that doesn’t require a lot of thinking I like to listen to podcasts. I learn a lot from them and it brings new ideas to think about as I’m working. Recently I was listening to an entrepreneurial podcast where the author of a book was interviewed. His name is Hal Elrod and the book is called, The Miracle Morning.

Some of the things they talked about got my attention and I decided to read the book and see what it had to offer. The book encourages people to wake up earlier than usual and start the day with a period of meditation, reading, writing, and exercise. I’ve never considered myself a morning person. The only time I’ve consistently woken up early was during the times I have been training for marathons. It has always been the hardest part of the training to drag myself out of bed and start the day early and head out on a run. But this seems different. The main focus is to get up and get your mind in the right place before the stresses of the day distract you from what’s important.

I decided to try it for myself. I was actually kind of excited to take control in this way. I’ve always felt that I’m at my laziest at that moment when I’m trying to get out of bed in the morning, and this seemed like it gave me a purpose to get up. The first day I tried it was June 9th. It has been almost 2 months since then and I can say that with only a few exceptions while on vacations, I’ve been able to wake up and start every day with a miracle morning.

I’ve seen some significant differences in my life. I’m excited to wake up every morning and start my day in this way. I’ve been able to continually do things that I’ve always thought I didn’t have time for. I’ve been more consistent with my exercise goals. Ideas have come and I’ve been able to follow through on them. This blog, for example, is a result of the extra time I have in the morning to think about what’s going on in my life and write it down. I feel that it has helped me to be more focused and proactive in my business dealings.

I’ve had to cut back on my sleep somewhat. I’m used to getting a little over 8 hours, and now I’m getting a little under 7 hours. I haven’t noticed any change in energy levels throughout the day. The main things I’ve noticed are that if I want to take a nap in the day, it’s a lot easier than it was before. The other thing is that I fall asleep a lot faster at night. All in all, I don’t think it’s had a negative impact on me, but I will continue to pay attention to this and make adjustments if necessary. As far as sleep, I feel the key is going to bed somewhat early and maintaining a consistent schedule.

Based on the last two months, I think this is a habit that I would like to maintain in my life. I feel more creative and proactive in all areas of my life and I’ve come to the conclusion that the benefits outweigh the negatives. I’m not following the outline of the book to the letter, but I have adapted the morning rituals to fit my life and my needs. I think I might become a “Morning Person.”

Maybe It’s a Tumor

So I’m that guy, trying to process being told, “I think you have a tumor.”

 

MRI Head Scan side view

 

At my biggest, I weighed in at about 250 pounds. I am about 6 feet 2 inches tall and not completely out of shape. I knew I was overweight, but I thought I was still somewhat healthy. Since my teen years I had struggled with my weight, it was a slow and steady process, but it gradually crept up on me. At the age of 28, I had been actively trying to lose weight for about 2 years with no success. I decided to go to the doctor and talk about what I could do to lose the weight.

The first step was to do some blood tests. Two days later, the results were in. I went to the doctor’s office to go over the results. First of all, my blood sugar levels were elevated. They had done an insulin test and found that I was severely insulin resistant and on my way to having type 2 diabetes. My cholesterol was elevated and nearly at the point I would need to be medicated for it. My testosterone levels were extremely low, and there was a funny little hormone called prolactin that I had never heard of, but it was highly elevated as well.

After talking about the prolactin levels, the doctor said the words that no one wants to hear, “I think you may have a tumor.” I was stunned and confused as he started to explain that he thought I may have a pituitary tumor that was basically at the root of all the other problems I was having. The prolactin levels were inhibiting my testosterone production, therefore causing my body to be completely out of balance. I had many of the symptoms and almost all of the physical traits associated with the tumor and I could trace these things back to my early adolescence. A few of the traits were lack of facial hair and abnormal distribution of body fat.

The MRI confirmed the existence of a prolactinoma (pituitary tumor). It was small and thankfully benign, but it was in fact a complicating factor of some of my most significant health issues. I believe that my lifestyle choices were definitely the major factor in my health problems, but the tumor made it an uphill climb to reverse the effects of the choices I was making.

It was a substantial turning point in my life. I was medicated to control the tumor and its effects on my metabolism. I had a renewed motivation to change the habits that had brought about the health issues I was facing. I increased the frequency and intensity of my workouts and most importantly I changed my eating habits.

Six years later, the tumor is still there, but it is under control with medication. I’ve discovered a lot about myself in the process of learning to manage it and take back control of my body and my health. I’m now about 50 pounds lighter than the day I went into the doctor the first time. I’ve made new habits around exercise and eating that have made it possible to maintain my weight loss and reverse the health problems I faced before. I’ve run two marathons in the last two years and I maintain an active lifestyle. My blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and testosterone are all at normal levels currently. I’ve learned to enjoy “healthy foods.” I feel healthy and empowered to continue forward in my new lifestyle.

All in all, I’m not completely sure how much effect the tumor had on my health. Maybe it was just the shock of finding it that spurred me to change my bad habits and learn to enjoy things that are good for me. Either way, I now see it as a positive turning point that has motivated me to improve on a continual basis.