Sunday, December 05, 2021

Am I restored?

First, some background on why I feel I'm restored...

My Cardio Got Weak. Since my hip replacement in Dec 2018, I have been healthy but strikingly lacking in cardio. I think it got a lot worse with a mysterious bout of something in Nov 2019 which was a sort of deep bronchitis. I got two chest xrays during that bout but nobody really figured out why I was so so sick. I did test negative in the spring of 2020 for covid antibodies so the timing and test make covid seem unlikely. Still....

Specifics on the lack of cardio.When I try to swim a few lengths, I feel weak after about 4 or 5. My tennis is marked by mistakes which are often from a stumble, a weak grip on the racquet, or other signs of fatigue. My recovery time after an intense point conspicuously slows up games. And when I try to jog, I feel dangerously out of breath and energy after 20 yards. I mean like I'm huffing and puffing, my eyes are bulging, and I feel weak. At the start of 2020, I was with a pack of my college friends who noticed as we hiked around Marin County that I was constantly out of breath. They insisted that I get a full work up which I did.

Tests show Nothing, Maybe I'm Deconditioned? The GP, cardiologist, and pulmonary doctors did an array of heart and lung tests and said I was fine. The best they could come up with was a diagnosis, based on the history and without actually seeing it,  of exercise-induced asthma. So I got and used for six months  an inhaler: It didn’t seem to make much difference.

What do I think? I had a lot about the weird bronchitis sickness episode in November 2019. Never really diagnosed, I’ve often thought it left me physically reduced. Or maybe, this being my first time getting old, is what getting old is like. I just didn’t know but I felt something was wrong so I did NOT embark on an intense rehab program feeling I would wait it out. Or maybe I didn’t start working hard because I’m lazy. But through all of 2020 and most of 2021, I continued to periodically test my cardio either implicitly by playing tennis or explicitly, by trying some jogs.  The result was always the same: Huffing and puffing like a steam engine about to explode within a minute.

Surprise. I'm back! Today, having put on a few pounds (I dropped from 208 in January to 190 in November), I decided to start exercise walking regularly. I hustled and walked two miles at a ~3.5 mph pace and felt pretty good so when I turned around, I decided to do a super slow jog and see if I could keep it up for a 100 yards.

Surprise!!! I jogged back an entire two miles. Slow but steady. 12-minute pace. How? What changed? How is this possible?

1. My personal belief. Something righted itself. Whatever was wrong with me, perhaps in my lungs from the Nov 2019 bout, has now righted itself. From reading the web, my symptoms match that of long tail Covid and I did test positive for having had Covid before April 2020. But I had a lung X-ray and the telltail signs of lung issues indicating long tail Covid were not detected.  I have tried to learn about this on the web searching against terms like: long tail covid, fatigue, exercise etc. I've encountered new acronym words like POTS, FACIT, PASC, and CPET but frankly, it's a swamp of info that I'm lost in.

2. My wife Carmen’s thought:  it’s the weight. 195 is far from 205 and that ten pounds makes all the difference. Could it be that simple? Btw, my key strategy to losing the weight: Stop Eating! I didn't change my exercise routine much.  I mostly skipped meals and tried to drink tons of water and a fair amount of coffee. (Please don't ask me to sit in a meeting for a full hour.) In addition to eating much less, I went Adkins / South Beachie / Keto and stopped with all desserts and starches. I continued to eat lots of vegetables, fish, meat, eggs, and cheese. I went low on fruit. NO on beer and mixers. And I'm not sure what to do about yogurt.

More facts: the last two weeks, I’ve been playing tennis much much better. As I think about it, my bad tennis performance the last few years might entirely be from the weird  limited cardio that has be exhausted whenever I made a sustained concerted effort. 

Here’s my Strava from today. I jogged at a rate of ~12 minute miles, maybe 5 mph. Still slow but dramatically different from not being able to jog.

Now I could be wrong and perhaps nothing had changed. Maybe today was different because I jogged super slow. Maybe the other days I was aiming at doing better than twelve minute miles. I suppose I could (and should) check all my old Strava records to see. But the fact is today I did accelerate for a few patches but I did not get that that total overloaded exhaustion feeling.
Next, I’ll try biking or swimming tomorrow and see if the limits that I have been living with are gone!

Wouldn’t that been great? If so, triathalons, here I came!!! (Only sprints but still!).  Can I go back to a boxing gym and not be ridiculous? It would be fun. And I've always wanted to learn some BJJ. I'm only 63, why not?

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Health Report: May 2021

 Using the metrics set up in the last post, here's an update:

Fitness. I made it to 6 pullups but it's been up and down (ha ha ha). As in once I declared victory with 5 pull-ups in late Feb, I stopped until mid April when I was back down to only 3 and a bit. I started building again and yesterday I did 6.  My pushups of two sets of 25 are holding steady. I want to get to yoga more but haven't yet figured out how to do more than the inhouse session on Sat mornings.

Weight. For almost a month, I was steadily under 200 but the last weeks, I've been back at 201-203. This week I'm crunching it back down. Just don't eat all that yummy stuff, no more bread!!! I'm certainly doing better than at the end of last year when I was up close to 210 but I've also lost my momentum of losing weight. My goal remains to be between 190 and 195.

Weight YTD 2021. High of 210, Lows of 198

Cholesterol. The last few years, I've been hanging out at around 150. A month ago, they put me on a Crestor generic of 20MG. I'm now at 57.2.  Success! Other metrics:
Pulse:        50
Pressure:    120/80

Covid. In early Feb, as part of a routine physical, I had them run the test for antibodies and I tested positive. This means that I had it but was asymptomatic. I also got the Johnson and Johnson shot.

Statistics say: Hard to predict but guys like this on average make it to 92.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Health Reports - Do they exist?

 I'll be 63 this next week and I'm thinking about my health and trying to figure out how I'm doing and what I should be concentrating on. I'm thinking about metrics.

I've recently spent a fair amount of time playing with my new toy, a Renpho scale. It automatically records my weight (bluetooth to phone) along with all sorts of other data. 

At the risk of over-sharing, here's some screen shots and a picture. Of course, one reason that I'm sharing this is that my target for the end of February was to weigh under 200. While the top picture from today  shows me over, it doesn't totally count since I'm holding the camera which apparently weighs one pound.  I did manage to weigh in this morning at 199.8 which you can see in the next pictures which has have my weight and other metrics plus my weight charted over the last month or so.  Sort of a victory....

This next shot is not faked. It is the only time this year so far when I weighed in at less than 200 but it did really happen so I'm declaring victory (and I didn't do anything to hit the weigh-in other than weigh myself in the morning before eating or drinking)..  :->
You might notice above that in addition to my weight, there's tons of other data.  This data is no more or less consistent over time than my weight so it's maybe sort of accurate, maybe it's not.  But it does have me thinking about how much I like having some control and useful information about my own data.

I worked with a trainer for years who would at intervals, take measurements (weight, BMI, muscle mass etc) and even pictures (same pose over and over again I guess showing bulges of fat and accumulation of muscle ) but it was more annoying to me than motivating. She would read the data to me but never produced a report for me to have.   It seemed like such a wasted opportunity to have those records but for me not to have access them. 

I'm thinking a lot about this since I'm getting to an age when I would like to have some trend records of my health that I could look at and use for motivation.  I imagine they should be:
- weight
- waist measurement
- fat vs muscle mass
- pulse
- heart pressure
- some cholesterol measures
- average daily calorie consumption (this could come from MyFitness Pal or something)
- some performance measures for aerobic exercise - not sure what these would be but it might have to do with my time on a mile or quarter mile or something. 
- some performance measures for muscle exercise - I can do 5 pullups and 30 pushups, see videos below) but it might be how long a person can plank.
- some flexibility measures like whether I can reach by feet or something

Other metrics that I have:

My race records
MyFitnessPal has some eating and other records.  I wonder if they give average calorie consumption for the time when I was entering all my food?
Strava and MotionX-GPS have lots of my biking, running, and walking records including how much I go out and what my average pace and distance is.

Here's my vision. I'd like to have a set of records defined as to how a person can measure their health in the later declining years (starting at 40 or something) with a focus on metrics that people can train to improve.  I know that a lot of focus recently has gone into the counting of steps everyday and maybe that would be something to add to the list: a measure of generally how much I am moving each February.  

Has anyone seen anything like this? I'd like to know. Please comment below or email me at bbat50@


Performance metrics - Here's the guy who at 50 was doing four sets of 25 pushups as a regular training exercise.  Without much special training, it turns out I can still grind out 30.

In the same vein, in late January, I decided to start training on push-ups to see if I could get to five clean pullups by the end of February.  When I started training in January, I was at 0.5 pullups as my maximum capacity. I hit the gym every two to three says (sometime four) with a narrow focus on pull-ups. I was advised to do negative pullups (start with the chin above the bar and as slowly as possible go down), assisted pull-ups (big rubber band between my feet and bar to make them easier), and to put weights on my legs to make pull-ups harder.  This was confusing since they seem to be different directions but apparently, they are all ways to squeeze a little out a little more muscle exhaustion which will help build capacity. Who knew? In any case, I made it to five. Here it is. I'm having fun with this so now I'm aiming at 10 by my older brother's birthday (In about two months)