Category Archives: Diet and Exercise
I wrote previously about using a standing desk and my medical reasons for doing so, mostly the fact that I had daily pain in my lower back that was exacerbated by sitting for long periods. After seeing a variety of doctors and specialists, there was no injury or structural issue causing the pain. It was what it was, so I accepted the pain and lived with it.
But for years, as an avid Howard Stern listener, I’ve heard Howard talk about how he overcame back pain by seeing a New York doctor, John Sarno, MD. Howard talked about how Dr. Sarno helped him understand the mind-body connection for his back pain that ultimately led him to pain-free living with no medical intervention.
So I ordered Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by Dr. Sarno in November of 2008. I read a bit of the book when I bought it but I couldn’t get into it so I stopped after a dozen pages.
And then last week, while traveling for business, I decided to give the book another shot. After reading a couple of chapters and following the advice in the book, I am no longer experiencing regular back pain. There have been some random moments of pain in the last week, but I quickly apply the advice in the book and the pain goes away.
Dr. Sarno makes the point in the book that the book is no replacement for seeing a doctor so I’ll make the point, too. But, if like me, you’ve been through the full gamut of doctors and been told that there is nothing really wrong with you and you are still experiencing pain, this book may give you a way to deal with the pain which, for me, made the pain go away.
So how does it work? I won’t try to explain the entire concept since I wouldn’t do it justice, but the doctor’s research tells him that the pain is a physical expression of repressed anger and anxiety that your mind blocks to protect you. The book offers advice on how to confront the pain, acknowledge the source, and deal with the repressed anger and anxiety so you can live without pain.
Sound crazy? It may be, but it worked for me with an almost immediate benefit. And if you’re dealing with back pain, I hope it works for you, too!
Thanks, Howard and Dr. Sarno!
Based on the analytics built into WordPress, the most popular search term that lands people on this site is something along the lines of “how to lose sixty pounds” or “I need to lose sixty pounds”.
So I thought I would recap the posts I’ve put together in the last year to make it easy to navigate the articles I’ve written.
- I started telling my own story of weight loss with How I Lost Sixty Pounds in Six Months, January 2010. I shared my story with the community that helped support me along my journey and wrote about it in Success Story Featured on Calorie Count, March 2010.
- After talking with some work friends, I realized that I would do things differently if I started all over again so I wrote If I started my new lifestyle now, April 2010.
- A key motivator for my weight loss was improving my cholesterol which I detailed in Cholesterol Progress, May 2010.
- Beyond weight loss, I’ve embraced exercise as part of my lifestyle and shared my plans in Only If I’m Being Chased, May 2010, detailed my first race in Great Race for a Great Cause, June 2010, and chronicled my biggest race yet in First 10K Finished on the 50 Yard Line!, July 2010.
- I tried working out at home and explained my plans in Taking the P90X Challenge, August 2010 and then explained why P90X didn’t work for me, despite being a great program, in P90X- Not the Right Fit, September 2010.
- I ran one more race before the year ended and described in Race Report- 2010 Lt. William C. West Jr. ALS Memorial Road Race, September 2010.
- I talked about my clothing challenges in Goodbye 38!, January 2011.
- I gave some advice to a friend pursuing his New Year’s Resolution in It’s a New Year and the gym is crowded… for now!, January 2011.
- I reviewed one of my favorite products in Review- BodyMedia FIT Armband Advantage, February 2011.
- And most recently, I shared my point of view in Starting Weight Training–How Long Does It Take to See Results-, March 2011.
Writing articles for this blog has been helpful in keeping myself on track because of the feedback I get from friends and co-workers who read the articles and mention how my story helps motivate them or simply compliment me on the progress I’ve made in the last 21 months.
For people that I don’t know in the real world that find this blog and my articles through my favorite search engine or the other search engines out there, I hope this information helps you and that you find the motivation you need to make the changes to lose sixty pounds or whatever amount is right for you.
Thanks for all of your feedback and best of luck with your own healthy pursuits.
But I think many gyms realize that this feeling keeps many people away from the gym and some companies like Planet Fitness are confronting the issue in a humorous way as seen in their “I pick things up and put them down” commercials.
But after working with a trainer at Fitness Together for about three or four months, I started to notice results… not the kind of results that will have me getting oiled up and posing on stage somewhere, perish the thought, but the kind of results where you feel a muscle where you previously didn’t feel one. Or a muscle that you can flex a bit where you couldn’t before.
In fact, I think that the first few months of weight training are all about developing basic muscle tone to activate your major and minor muscles so you can begin to target them with more specific exercise. My personal trainer put me through a couple of months of full body workout exercises before we ever started breaking up my workouts into upper days, lower days, and full body days and I think that was the right approach.
So for anyone just starting out or considering a weight training program, I’d encourage you to consider the following:
- Commit to at least four months of training for at least one-hour 3 days a week since I suspect it will take that long to see some real results. If you’re anything like me when I started, your skeletal muscle percentage is likely so low that you need to get to a normal level before you can really build.
- Feed yourself – don’t starve your workouts since it takes a good diet rich in protein to repair the muscles your ripping during your workouts. I like GNC’s Amplified Wheybolic Extreme protein. Protein is an important supplement to a well-balanced diet.
- Follow a plan – I love the Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises. It has great pictures and explanations of over 600 exercises and it organizes them into simple-to-follow exercises. I type the workouts into a Word document, print them, and carry the book and my worksheets at the gym to track my workouts and refer to the book to make sure I have good form. It’s also inspiring to see a guy I went to school with as the model for the Shoulders chapter. He was always a fit kid but it’s great to see the results Damon Weeks has achieved as an adult. If he can do it, so can I, though it might take me ten years to get into amazing shape like Damon. But I can live with that. I need something to work on so why not my health?
Despite what some people may think, people who carry a book at the gym and write down their workouts are cool, in my opinion, because they are the ones seeing results. By tracking your exercises, weights, and repetitions, you can keep pushing yourself and make sure you’re doing balanced workouts. And that leads to great long-term results.
The people who walk around without a plan and notes do the same workout every time I see them and the repetition isn’t necessarily bad for them but it’s not as helpful as changing things up every four weeks since your body won’t see the same benefit if you don’t change things up. The Men’s Health book is smart since it changes your program every four weeks so your body never gets bored.
In my own experience, the fun doesn’t end after the first few months. I still find myself noticing something new every four to six months. For example, my triceps are really starting to pop out a bit in the last few months. Seeing the results inspires me to keep up the work knowing that I’ll see other noticeable results in another six months or so.
Having faith that hard work and commitment will produce results in time motivates me and I hope it does for you, too. Hang in there, commit to four months, and then you’ll begin a great cycle of improvements.
Feel free to post comments and share your experience. I’d love to hear what’s working for you.
Disclosure: I have not been compensated in any way by BodyMedia. I paid full price for the product and ongoing subscription service.
Since April of 2010, I’ve been wearing the BodyMedia FIT Armband Advantage, a product more commonly known as the BodyBugg (the 24-Hour Fitness brand name) as seen on the Biggest Loser television show.
I bought the product to better understand how much I burn so I could better plan a diet to support my strength training and weight loss goals.
It’s basically a sensor you strap to your left tricep using an included armband as you can see in the picture here.
On the product’s website, they explain that the sensor and associated website help you monitor:
- Total Calories Burned
- Total Steps Taken
- Total Time Spent In Physical Activity
- Sleep Duration and Efficiency
Using the Sensor
To use the sensor, you wear it all the time, even while sleeping, and only take it off for the shower since it’s not waterproof. And then every couple of days, you use the included cable to connect the sensor to your computer to download the data and charge it’s rechargeable battery.
Uploading Your Data
Uploading your data is easy. When you setup the sensor initially, you install their software on your computer and setup a user account for the website. There is a monthly fee for the website but you get the first three months free and there was a discount because I signed up for a year’s service ($6.95/month).
Using the Website
The website is terrific. As you can see in the screen shot, the left column shows my goals, all of which are customizable at anytime. In the right column, it shows my actual performance for the day. Since I went to the gym and ran on the treadmill for a bit, I did well that day.
You can expand any or all sections of the data to show you detailed performance throughout the day. That’s been really helpful for me since I can see the spikes in calorie burn, recall what I did at the time of day, and understand how well I’m doing in my workouts or everyday actions like working in the office and what each activity contributes to my daily burn.
You can see in this screenshot that the sensor monitors your steps by hour. How many steps should you take in a day? Opinions vary but 10,000 steps has become commonly accepted as a good, active number for each day. For me, that translates into around five miles of walking a day.
As mentioned earlier, you should wear the sensor to sleep too since it provides feedback on your amount of sleep and the quality of your sleep. Not feeling rested when you wake in the morning? The monitor will tell you how long you actually slept versus just laying down and how many times you woke during the night. It’s not as detailed as a sleep study (which I’ve had when I was diagnosed with sleep apnea) but it will give you a good sense of whether or not you’re getting enough sleep.
There are other features on the site like a Food Logging tool. I don’t log my food at this point. I have in the past using Calorie Count on About.com. I’ve also used the Food Logging tool on the BodyMedia website. If you use this feature, which they’ve greatly improved in the last year, it will plug your total calorie amount into the calculations on your daily activity page so you know what your real caloric deficit is each day. Since I don’t log my food, I use an estimated number of calories consumed each day.
Measuring each day is helpful but I think taking a longer look at what you’re doing helps guide your decisions. Are you active enough? Are you walking enough? Do you get enough sleep? There is a 28-day view shown here that helps you look at your performance over time and I think that’s the right time period to consider as you continuously evaluate your health.
What have I learned in the last ten months?
- I probably didn’t eat enough in my first 9 months of training since I thought I only burned about 2,200 calories a day so I tried to eat only 1,600 – 1,700 to lose weight. I likely could have built more muscle as I trained if I fed my workouts since I was closer to 3,000 calories burned most days.
- I need to walk more. I’m only averaging around 3,500 steps during the last month. I need to spend more time on the treadmill.
- I’m sleeping well. I wish I had used the sensor before I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and started CPAP so I could see the difference in what the sensor reports. At this point, I get a solid 8 hours a night, occasionally a little less, but usually right on which is what my body needs to heal from my workouts and keep my body healthy and fresh.
The sensor is a constant reminder that I’m focused on my health. After the first day or so you forget that you’re wearing it most of the time, but in the moments that I feel the armband there, I’m reminded why I wear it and what I’m doing for my health. It’s a good feeling. It was also a good feeling recently when I ordered a new, larger armband. The medium armband that comes with the sensor became too small thanks to the arm workouts I’ve been doing. It was getting a bit like a blood pressure cuff so I went to the next size up. So it will be fun for me to see how much I need to keep letting out the strap as I keep working at the gym.
You can buy the product on the BodyMedia website or from online retailers like Amazon.com for about $200 plus the website subscription. For me, it’s been a great investment in my health since I have some great information to use in my planning. People focus so much on what’s going in (food/drink) but they completely guess about what you’re burning which is a huge miss! This product takes the guess work out of it. I would recommend this product to anyone focused on their health whether you are at your goal weight or not.
Please feel free to ask questions if there’s anything I haven’t covered.