Monday, January 28, 2013

A Little Scary How Much Google is Taking Over

So here I am, for the first time, making a post from a Chromebook.  It's a little laptop but with Google Chrome operating system.  I originally got it for the kids to use so they don't use my laptop, but I find myself thinking maybe I'll keep this and let the kids use it.  It would certainly come in handy for taking to classes, it's nice and compact.

But I find myself thinking, wow...  it's like Google has taken over my life.  Now I've got their laptop.  I've been an android junkie for awhile, living off my cell phone which is powered by, guess who, Google.  I use their navigation program all the time for work.  Right now, I'm thinking that if the powers that be at Google wanted to become megolomaniacs intent on ruling the world, the only thing that stops them is that evil Empire at Apple.  But then again, my apple addict friends would argue that it's Google that's the evil empire.  If the two ever got together, look out.

I did run into one disappointment though when it comes to Android this past weekend, as it would relate to this blog anyway.  I've always loved having the applications on my phone for workouts and such.  While doing the Couch to 5K workouts, I've been tracking with two different apps, Endomondo and's Couch to 5K trainer.  This weekend, Best Buy had the Wahoo Blue heart rate monitor strap on sale.  I've always been thinking of getting one of these monitors that can connect via Bluetooth so that programs like Endomondo can also track heartrate, so I was pretty happy about that.  It's advertised as being for iPhones "and other Smart Bluetooth" devices.  My Galaxy S3 has Smart Bluetooth capability, sweet.  So I pick one up.  Only to find out that I need Wahoo's application to sync up and, guess what...  they don't make an Android app.  So, my wife, who has an iPhone, got to inherit my nifty little gadget.

So, yesterday I did run the third workout of week two on the Couch to 5K training program.  Heart-rate-monitor-free, albeit.  I will say I'm a bit surprised how good I've felt so far this time around.  In week two, you do a five minute warm up walk, run 90 seconds, walk 2 minutes, run 90, walk 2, etc until you've done six of the 90 second run intervals, then you do a cool down walk of 5 minutes.  It's a total of 31 minutes.  Last summer I tried doing the C25K program again, and mid way through week 2 pulled a calf muscle and got slowed way down, never really did complete the program in time for the Firefly Run, a 5K I was training for, but still was able to run/walk the course.  But this time around, I feel even better.  It's harder to compare with the training that I documented better earlier in this blog, but one thing I will say is that I do feel more like I'm running than I remember ever feeling during the running segments.  I've lengthened out my stride, don't feel like I'm shuffling as much and don't feel like the motion is nearly as herky jerky as I felt before.  Add to that I'm a good 40 pounds heavier than when I was training the first time...  but I don't feel the stress in my joints that I've felt in times past either.

And yes, the plateau remains.  There are times I shake my head and think, I'm eating less, I'm doing a great job getting a work out in every day, and yet...  everything remains the same.  I know that if I were continuing to use the BodyMedia armband I've talked about in the past, which measures all my activity, it would show I'm burning a butt ton of calories, a LOT more than I'm eating.  And yet the plateau remains.

Having said that...  I'm not that concerned.  Okay, maybe the fact that I'm talking about it points to a small level of concern.  But there is something that is telling me I'm on the edge of busting through that plateau.  Maybe it's the past experience?  I've been here before, after my last surgery.  Not for nearly as long, I know that.  But I remember being at a point for awhile, being a bit perplexed at how I wasn't really losing weight even though I was eating less and working out a lot more.  And then it was like something burst.  I think that's where I am now.  I feel better, I feel lighter, I feel the effect of the runs and the workouts and all, and it's a good feeling.  I don't know if it's that the workouts are kind of helping the plateau along in some way, whether it's the building muscle (which we all know the mantra that muscle is heavier than fat), or what.  But I know I've felt this before, this point where it's like the weight is making one last stand, or that my body is preparing or whatever and that's keeping it here in the low 240's...  but something is about to break.

I believe it.  Okay, mostly anyway.  I will admit that a part of me says, yeah, it's been a month and I've been thinking it's going to be any time now.  At this point a month ago I was looking forward to hitting the 330's by the start of the year...  and now I'm looking forward to hitting the 330's by February.

And this is the point where plateaus do such nasty damage because it gets you into that kind of thinking.  That's why, I know it's better to focus on that part that, honestly I can't really back it up other than knowing there is something deep down that just tells me, it's about to break free.  Sometimes you just have to have that confidence, because that confidence keeps you doing the stuff you gotta do to make it happen, you know?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tricking the Wii

There was a period after my last surgery where I got pretty active with the Wii Fit.  There are a number of pretty nifty aerobic exercises, really a bunch of things.  So I think to myself, okay, I'll give that a try again.  

Just one problem.  It wouldn't let me.  It seems that 330 is the maximum weight it will accept.  The little balance board that goes with it can actually measure your weight among other things, and it pretty bluntly let me know sorry dude, you're too fat.  Come back when you are a little lighter.  

So I'm thinking I really don't want to wait.  I heard about people putting foam under the balance board to trick the wii.  I looked around, no foam.  Thought about 'borrowing' some batting from my wife's quilting stuff, that's kinda foam like.  She wasn't too keen on that idea.  So...  I tried a towell.  A couple three folds later, just enough to push up against the bottom of the board but little enough to allow it to still settle in some when I step on it (and to keep it from groaning too loud) and, voila.  The Wii now thinks I'm 300 pounds.  Woohoo!

Okay, so I'll have to reset my character when I get to where I can actually get on it without using the towell.

But, 29 minutes of actual exercise later, with heart rate ranging 125-135 beats a minute during the exercise, is a good start.  Sure, I could do some stuff probably without the Wii just as well, but...  something about having the goofy little characters prodding you on works pretty nicely at keeping you going.  And it gives you somethign to shoot for.  Not a bad little tool really.

I feel like that's a good follow up to yesterday.  I started my couch to 5K training last night.  1.75 miles in 30 minutes. has a good training app for that now, there's even a drill sergeant kinda character that shouts commands at you to run or walk.  Having said that, I might like Endomondo a bit better though in the kind of reports it gives you.  You can customize it for the kind of intervals involved.  So maybe I'll run both.  But the nice thing is, I can walk today after doing the workout, and even have the energy to do the Wii fit, so I think that's pretty positive.

Here in the next few days we'll see if some of this additional exercise will help get me off this plateau.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Lapband verses the Sleeve

Today marks my 8 week anniversary of having the Gastric Sleeve done.  It's interesting because I am in the rather unique position of being able to compare surgeries, having had the lapband a couple of years ago.

In September 2010, I had the lapband surgery.  A little band was placed around the top portion of my stomach, creating a small pouch at the top of my stomach.  When I would eat, the food would sit in that pouch first, creating a full feeling pretty much right away.  Success for me was pretty amazing, losing 60 pounds or so over the next 5 months.  However, by that following February, the band had slipped in a pretty major way, with most of my stomach having slipped through it.  It had gotten to where it was keeping me from being able to keep down any fluid or food, and had to be removed.

I had gone from 352 pounds to under 290.  Right before I had the band removed I weighed in at 267, though I don't know that I could ever say that was a "real" weight because there was nearly a week of really not getting any food into my system at all, not to mention being extremely dehydrated.  After the band was removed, I settled in at right around 290.  Over the next couple of months I think I moved up to around 300 pounds, hovered there for several months, then slowly regained pretty much everything I had lost, and then some, getting up to 375 pounds.

So, on November 20 I was back in, this time getting the Gastric Sleeve.  This is a more permanent procedure, as a pretty good portion of the stomach is removed, leaving a rather small sleeve for holding food (thus the name).  Right now, I'm sitting at 344 pounds.

As far as how it felt after surgery and all, I would say the two are pretty similar.  Now with the lapband, I was at home the same night after surgery, after the sleeve they kept me overnight.  I don't know how much that had to do with the procedure itself and how much had to do with the approach of the different surgeons and hospitals.  Overall, I felt the recovery and the way I felt after surgery was pretty much the same.  The only difference was that with the sleeve, I had a surgical drain in place for a week, which was a big nuisance.

As far as diet, at this point it is all pretty much the same.  You can eat pretty much anything, it's just that the quantity is limited.  I do believe that I can eat more with the sleeve, but not by a huge amount.  After the lap band I could eat maybe 4-5 ounces of solid food at one time, now maybe 6-7 ounces.

In the end, I don't know that I would say that either one felt any different than the other or that I would prefer one over the other.  My weight loss was more rapid with the lapband than it has been this time around.  I'm sure there's a strong correlation with that last bit of being able to eat more.  I think too I tend to graze on food between meals now which has some effect.  Finally, my level of activity was much much higher after the lapband because of all the walking I would do going to work and back.  Truth is, that is an excuse as much as anything.  I pushed myself into that kind of situation with the activity, and right now I'm working on doing the same thing now.

There will be other posts I'm sure talking about the differences and similarities.  One thing I want to make sure is clear to anyone thinking about surgery or just wanting to know about having it done.  Having surgery is not an easy way to losing weight.  That's how I used to look at it, it was taking the easy way out.  Long long ago I mentioned what one doctor said.  It's more like it levels the playing field so that diet and exercise CAN really make the difference.  I believe that's what I'm really coming to understand especially this time around is, surgery does not replace diet and exercise.  It's really more of a safety net.  It's kind of like, when it is too easy to slip back into some old ways and really snarf down some food, well, I can't do that.  You learn pretty quickly where your limits are and how miserable you get if you eat too much.  And that kind of serves as a check or balance.  In the end, you still have to do the exercise, you still have to eat wisely.  That's the only way you lose the weight.  Believe me, it's very possible to not eat wisely after surgery, it's very possible to defeat the surgery.  But in the end, maybe the best way to put it is it gives you a way to stop the backslide before it gets out of control, if that makes sense.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Slow progress

I'm not sure you can call it progress.  Here I am 11 days later and my weight is pretty much the same.  Okay, strike that 'pretty much,' it IS the same.  I'm a little surprised by the plateau, and by just the slower progress than last time around.  

But, maybe I shouldn't be so surprised really.  I went through and updated my stats (where you walk/run/bike across the country virtually) off my recorded workouts on my phone apps, and it was really pretty striking the difference in exercise after my first surgery and now.  Back then, I was commuting to work, and my work was a mile away from the light rail station, my home is 3 miles from it, and because of the wonkiness of my work schedule often it made more sense to walk those segments than to wait for a bus. So, back then, it was not uncommon for me to get in 4-5 miles of walking in in a day's time.  Today, I'm making a decent effort to get out and exercise more, trying to work in a good walk during lunch break or something like that.  That said, right now I'm averaging a mile a day instead of the 3 miles a day I averaged in November.  I'm sure that has a lot to do with it.

The other thing that I am finding is that I can eat more today than I could after that surgery.  It's still not nearly as much as I could before surgery, and that is a good thing.  

I do know a plateau is not uncommon.  But usually that just means it is time to change things up.

One decision I made is, I want to participate in some runs this year, get back to being able to run longer distance.  Last year, I actually did three, though I walked all of two of them and a portion of the third.  

So, this year, I've set a goal to comletely run six races.  I'm starting with the Spring Fever 5k in Golden on March 23.  The timing is perfect for doing a 9 week Couch to 5K training program.  Then there is the Cherry Creek Sneak at the end of April, I'm thinking of doing the 5 mile option this time, then the 10K Boulder Bolder on Memorial Day.  10K may be as long as I go, I just know that the time commitment for doing something longer like a half marathon may be more than I can do with work and school also demanding a lot of my attention, not to mention family.  But maybe after Boulder, I can revisit that thought.

Training officially begins in one week.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Another year, another surgery

In one of my last posts, which was a really really long time ago, I said something about if I were to find myself gaining my weight back substantially at all, it would be time to consider going back in for surgery.

Well...  I did, and I did.

After I had surgery to remove my lapband, I gained some weight pretty quickly and then managed to hover around the 300 to 320 pound mark for quite awhile.  I believe my low after the first surgery was 267, though part of that was having a week to week and a half of not really receiving any food or fluid because my lap band had slipped down around my stomach in such a way as to cut off everything.  So I would say maybe 285 would be closer to what I really got to.

For close to a year, I did really pretty well.  I took to running, ran the 5K in April after the surgery, felt good...  I was working a commuter job and managed to work a lot of exercise into the commute, including some 17 mile bike rides, and that definitely helped.

And then I changed jobs.  It was a job I enjoyed more, I worked as a field technician for a telecom company starting August of 2010.  The job did require a fair bit of activity from time to time, but also a lot of driving, and it was a time I got into some old habits.  To the point I was getting back to where I was before my surgery and remembering how I swore I would never go back.  So...  here I was, back again, and this time deciding that I needed to go a more permanent route.

So, on Novermber 20, I was back at it again.  I mentioned before the only other option was a gastric bypass, but that was not accurate.  At least with my doctor, it appears that they have begun doing a lot more gastric sleeve procedures than lapbands due to the higher rate of complication with the lapband.  In the sleeve, to put it simply, they lop off a fair bit of your stomach, creating a smaller space for food.  I foudn that preferable to the bypass because of the nutritional concerns with the bypass, and so....   here I am again, post surgery once again.  And...   feeling better once again.  Today just passed my six weeks since surgery meaning I'm pretty much full speed as far as recovery, eating, etc.  So....  we shall see how this goes eh?

Pre-surgery I got back up to about 375.  I'm about 342 right now.  I think the weight loss has been slower this time around, and maybe that has a lot to do with how involved I got in the walking portion of my commute to work after the last one...  and I think I can eat a bit more than I could after the last one, so that also makes a difference.

That said, I feel great.  I'm starting to feel like walking more again, actually wanting to start running again, have a lot more energy, and...   very optimistic.

Not a bad place to be to start a new year eh?