Monday, July 26, 2010

Week 3: Fitness this Week

July 24, 2010:  End of Week 3

I'm seeing differences already.  It wasn't an ideal week but I'm putting in some time.

Work is intense right now; I'm a conservationist and save land for a living, acquiring it and defending it from development.  I'm juggling a November election campaign kicked off Monday, and put in three late nights, one of them an all-nighter to get ready for a Board conference call authorizing an offer on a new property.  Then Friday I was offered another property and began work on it.  Saturday I attended a Memorial for a friend, drank too much, then went dancing.  I paid more attention to my diet too, despite the long hours.

All of this began after snapping my biceps tendon, surgery to repair it, then three months recovery.  For three months I wasn't supposed to lift more than 5 lbs with my right arm.  Now for six months more I'm slowly gearing back up.

The week began with a short SF Bay Trail bike ride, made it to the gym twice, lifting and cardio, and ended it dancing, with the 4th week started with another bike ride.  I'm walking more during the day, eating less and better.

These days I work out in the city with my work out buddy Stephen.  Scheduling work outs with buddies increases my chances of going.  For the first month I've increased single arm weights from 5 lbs, to 10, and chest and back weights to 30.  Ridiculously light; I was using 85-100 lb dumbbells before the injury but I have to give my reattached tendon and bone a chance to grow stronger.  I've often used super sets to make a workout more intense.  These days we're going a few steps farther.  Stretching and a few sets of abs, 10 minutes of cardio, then one or two muscle groups, 5-7 exercises, often in super sets, with ab crunches during the rest between sets, and 5 minute cardio intervals between the exercises, with another ten minutes of cardio at the end.  We're changing up the kinds of cardio to hit different parts of the legs, about 35 minutes in total right now interspersed between the exercises.

Something I read recently really grabbed me.  A Harvard study used data--over 200,000 participants--from three large studies of U.S. health professionals to establish that brown rice or other whole grains instead of white could dramatically reduce the chances of Type 2 diabetes. This is important because new cases of diabetes have risen 90 percent among adults over the last decade.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have found that eating five or more servings of white rice per week was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. In contrast, eating two or more servings of brown rice per week was associated with a lower risk of the disease. The researchers estimated that replacing 50 grams of white rice (just one third of a typical daily serving) with the same amount of brown rice would lower risk of type 2 diabetes by 16%. The same replacement with other whole grains, such as whole wheat and barley, was associated with a 36% reduced risk. The study appears online June 14, 2010, on the website of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. Brown rice is superior to white rice when it comes to fiber content, minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals, and it often does not generate as large an increase in blood sugar levels after a meal. Milling and polishing brown rice removes most vitamins and minerals. In addition, milling strips away most of its fiber, which helps deter diabetes by slowing the rush of sugar (glucose) into the bloodstream.

That in mind, I used my rice cooker to make a big pot of brown rice and beans mixed with organic squash soup--it's a new thing that I cook at all.  I also paid attention to how much white rice I've been eating; the idea that refined grains would quickly turn to sugars and rush into my bloodstream to cause an insulin feedback loop, was startling, as was taking stock of how much white rice I eat:  sushi once or twice a week, burritos or burrito bowls 2 or 3 times a week, Chinese food or Thai.  I tend toward whole grain bread but I'm probably getting white rice nearly every day.  This week I cut it in half.

Last Sunday I hit the Farmer's Market here in town and have been eating a lot of fruit.  I've been trading off my breakfast Starbucks and sandwich habit for coffee at home about half the week, and my too frequent restaurant lunches for more Trader Joe runs and vegetables, fruit, packaged sushi, etc.  I made the decision earlier in the year to become a near-vegetarian to improve my diet.  I avoid meat most of the time, have almost eliminated chicken and pork entirely based on some ethical and health concerns about factory farming, but am not adverse to small quantities, and I've been eating a lot more fish.  I was at a Memorial yesterday at Crissy Field, a lot of people were barbecueing nearby, and I gave in and had a hot dog--a grass fed beef one.  Frankly, it didn't taste as good as regular ones.  I tend to drink protein shakes after workouts and am trying to gear up more on protein supplements.  All that said, I cooked a little, cut my white rice in half and got a LOT more fiber.

On my evening bike ride today, I was thinking about exercise.  I'm convinced that simply moving more, being less sedentery, is the key.  Jobs and technology, especially motor vehicles, tv and computers, are a trap.  Liberating in some ways but a trap.  I don't watch much tv, but I spend a lot of time on computers at home and at work.  In my twenties, before motor cycles and my first car, I was a long distance runner and cyclist.  I got around everywhere by walking, running or riding my bike.  I had more time than money and I'd take trips on my bike.  I lived in Oakland and Berkeley; if I wanted to go to the movies, for example, I'd just walk or run there.  At my current weight, running is a lot of stress on my knees.  Nonetheless I've started taking my bike with me more places, just in case I have time for a ride, have taken three bike rides in three weeks, and ran on the treadmill this week.  Pitiful.  A half mile run and my knees were a little sore the next day.  Not far, but it's a step in the right direction.

I'm not beating myself up for not doing more, I'm encouraged.  I'm hoping this blog will help remind me to pay attention.  Bottom line, I'm down 4 lbs from my starting weight.

241 (current weight); 245lbs (weight July 5, 2010)
Bay Trail cycling miles: 12
All cycling miles: 28.6
Ridge Trail hiking miles: 2.2
All hiking & other cardio miles: 15
Gym visits: 8

Giving Back:  I save land for a living.  This wasn't a good week for altruism but I began planning a native plant restoration project on one of my organization's properties.  I agreed to help out a friend with a loan.  I made a donation to PAWS in memory of a friend who passed away--I'm trying to give more money to charity and non-profits.

"Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS)  is a volunteer-based organization that provides for the comprehensive needs of companion animals for low-income persons with disabling HIV/AIDS and other disabling illnesses, as well as senior citizens. By providing these essential support services, educating the larger community on the benefits of the human-animal bond, and advocating for the rights of disabled individuals to keep service animals, PAWS improves the health and well-being of disabled individuals and the animals in their lives."

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