Sunday, April 26, 2009

Prib's Health is migrating

From now on, I'll be posting health and fitness thoughts and progress on Tuesdays on my primary blog, Prib's Musings. The archived posts here will be retained and occasionally referenced.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Exercise, rest and The Maker's Diet

It's been a rough winter. I've been on and off antibiotics 4 or 5 times and have had almost continual bronchial congestion since November. My appetite has not been good and I've lost more weight. I've missed quite a bit of work as well. I attribute a lot of this to the weather - it started with the fires last fall and the unusually damp winter exacerbated things.

However, I have hopes that things may improve. I joined 24 Hour Fitness about a month ago and have partnered up with a friend from work on a workout schedule. At this point, it is mostly about keeping each other accountable since our body types and goals are different. It is good motivation to actually go if you told someone you'd be there.

I'm on a round of antibiotics again and finish up on Monday. I'm hoping this is my last for at least a while - it is like playing with fire.

I read The Maker's Diet by Jordan Rubin last weekend. The premise of the book is that we should get back to a natural hunter-gatherer diet, specifically adhering to the dietary guidelines laid forth in Leviticus. Rubin himself found healing from Crohn's disease after 2 years of profound illness and no answers from the medical community and countless alternative medicine practitioners by adopting this diet. I've been following it for about a week and am already noticing a few differences. I'm not expecting to be miraculously healed overnight - it has been a long decline.

I've also been trying to get more rest, which really does help.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Pulmonary Rehab and Other Stuff

Last time I posted was a long time ago. I had begun exercising and working out to a net positive effect. Well, I actually began riding my bicycle home from work sometime in late September or October and was actually making the 9-mile trek in a little under an hour. That was when the wildfires up the coast hit and I rode home a couple days in the ash. This weakened my lungs and my immune system and I got a bronchial infection once again. Instead of continuing exercising or moving back indoors to the stationary bike, I kind of just gave it up. Thus continued my downward progression.

However, my pulmonary doctor referred me to something called pulmonary rehab. As usual, with any medical thingumy, I was skeptical. However, Randy, the director of the program was persistent in calling and finding a time that worked for me. I agreed to go once I was done with class in May.

Pulmonary rehab lasted 8 weeks and met two afternoons a week. I was the youngest in the class by probably 35 years. All of the other students had lung problems of some sort (obviously). Many had smoked for many years; others had various auto-immune diseases that affected their lungs. The program was essentially a structured exercise program with educational sessions that taught us ways to make everyday tasks easier on ourselves and how to manage our breathing to effectively prolong lung stamina. We were also expected to exercise outside rehab a couple days a week for a recommended total of 45 minutes a day, at least 4 days a week. Overall it was incredibly helpful. I progressively felt better throughout the program and have gotten comments that I look healthier. My appetite has increased and I managed to only lose 1 pound over the course of the entire program, despite adding about 3 hours of aerobic exercise to my weekly regimen. At the end of the program, we were charged to continue with some sort of exercise program, sticking to the 45 minutes x 4 days formula.

That brings us to my current exercise regimen. I have continued on the stationary bike at home and have been doing well about maintaining the recommended minimum amount of time. My stamina and ability seem to have reached a bit of a plateau, but I suspect I am just progressing much more slowly than at first. I throw a walk or some Frisbee at the beach in the mix for some variety. I have also begun weightlifting aggressively. Being of a scientific mind, I researched the heck out of weightlifting for skinny people and came to the following conclusions:
  • I need to do a small number (6-10) of reps per set and exercise to fatigue or beyond. The last exercise of each set should be the one I poop out on.
  • I need plenty of rest time between sets and then between primary exercises of a muscle group.
  • I need to eat lots of calories of nutrient rich food. 3000 would not be overdoing it.
  • I need a good amount of rest at night but not too much since my metabolism is such that I burn calories sitting still.
Taking the above into consideration and with the help of a website I found, I developed an weightlifting program that has four days of four to five exercises each. I also began incorporating two protein shakes daily into my diet. Thus far, I have done well with commitment to the exercise program and okay with having daily shakes. Weekends get fouled up a bit nutritionally.

I have come to sort of a middle ground regarding Dr. Fuhrman's nutritional thoughts. MI agree with his general philosophies except for his near-fanatical avoidance of animal products. I feel a balance can be struck that is not completely vegan. The animal products eaten should be high quality, organic, and low in fat.

I am going to start a self-guided eight week program next Monday to track my weightlifting progress, with weigh-ins weekly. Although I have been lifting pretty consistently throughout July, I spent some time honing my routine and travel (which I have done for a couple weeks lately) makes it difficult to do the same exercises on the same equipment.

Since weight is an easily measurable metric, that is what I will use for now. I computed my BMI and fall on the underweight end of the scale. I understand it is a rough metric, but my goal for now is to get in the normal range. I hope to do so by the end of the year, but that is 5 lbs per month, which is a lot for me. We'll see.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Vampires and Viruses

About a week and a half ago, I came off my fourth round of antibiotics in as many months for this blasted sinus/bronchial rubbish that has been plaguing me. I started getting congested a few days ago and decided that I cannot continue this vicious cycle any longer. I therefore started my vegetable juice program again (I admit I have been lax the last several months) and am throwing a couple cloves of garlic in my evening juice. This does afford a rather strong taste and probably makes me quite rank (I have no sense of smell to speak of) but it does seem to be helping keep the congestion to a bearable level and is certainly reducing my risk of being attacked by a vampire.

On another note, exercise has been going well. I started riding the exercise bike about three and a half weeks ago and have not missed a day since. I am still planning to begin riding my bicycle to work but will probably begin over Christmas break rather than waiting until graduation. I've also been doing pull ups every two or three days and recently threw push ups into the mix. I've noticed a big difference in my stamina and general well-being from the exercise. To heck with losing weight - I'd rather be what I am and feeling good than 5 lbs heavier and in an iron lung.

I visited a new doctor yesterday - one specializing in infectious disease. For the first time from a medical professional, I received an educated speculation as to what may actually be wrong with me. He is of the opinion that I have a sort of virus that invades cells and lives within rather than attaching and killing them. This makes it impossible for the immune system to attack and destroy the virus. In addition, this virus tends to attack the thymus, which can be thought of as an educational center for immune system cells. Therefore, my body is weak to other sorts of neevils (read The Magician's Nephew). He went into a great bit more detail but I kind of got information overloaded. The crux of the matter is that there is no known cure, but it is a very cutting edge field and this doctor is one of the prominent researchers on the subject. At least now I have a general idea of what's happening. He recommended getting in contact with a T-cell research lab at UCLA or USC so that is the next step.

I'm actually pretty excited about this news and optimistic that there may be a solution waiting to be discovered.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I have decided to actively pursue excellent health. I've come to the conclusion that no one is going to "cure" me. I've also come to the conclusion that I should be exercising aerobically, contrary to what Dr. Fuhrman recommended (see my post here). I bought an exercise bike near the end of May and was pretty good about doing it for a couple weeks but then the food poisoning incident happened and I skipped a few days and never got back into it. I started again a week ago and am making pretty quick progress. I am already noticing improvement in how I feel. I also installed a pull-up bar in the garage.

I am taking a holistic approach to anaerobic exercise. I'm attempting to do exercises that exercise a muscle group or the entire body at once, rather than isolating certain muscles. I'm also attempting to get all my equipment (from here on out) free, used, or constructed from cheaply obtained materials. The pull-up bar is $20 worth of black iron pipe. I'd like to get a punching bag and a speed bag (the tear-drop shaped punching bag) which will work my entire upper body and also afford an aerobic aspect.

My goal is to be fit by the time I graduate from USC. This date is 261 days away. I hope to buy a road bike upon graduation and begin riding to work (~9 miles one way). I think this is a realistic goal, as long as I stick to it.

The diet is going well. I eat good stuff pretty much all the time and have begun cooking quite a bit more, as much for my parents' sake as mine. This encourages them not to overwork themselves since dinner is better fresh than heated up and also encourages me to cook. I enjoy cooking for the whole family - it's kind of a bummer to fix a great meal and sit and eat alone.

Friday, July 20, 2007

June and half of July update

Well, it's been a bit of a health roller coaster over the past couple months. In the middle of May I came down with a sinus/bronchial infection (actually, it had been festering for months and it finally got the better of me) and was put on antibiotics. A week and a half after I got off the antibiotics, I got food poisoning from some outdated veggies and the infection came back. So I went back on the antibiotics for another couple weeks. In the middle of all this, I went to see a pulmonary specialist (lung doctor). I had a pulmonary function test, some x-rays, and a CAT scan. The conclusion was that my lung capacity is reduced (duh) so the good doctor put me on a couple inhalers and ordered a bronchoscopy (basically a vacuuming of the lungs).

Since then I have been doing OK but not great. I can say that I genuinely like this doctor. He is proactive and admits when something is out of his league. He is not hesitant to consult other specialists (he issued a referral for an infectious disease doctor). My immunologist does not share these traits. She is of the opinion that she has found the solution and that I must be doing something wrong if it isn't working.

I'm sticking to the Dr. Fuhrman plan but have modified what I had been doing slightly - I eat eggs or turkey most days simply because I need extra calories. I am still having trouble gaining weight, partly due to the challenge of fixing 2000+ calories of healthy food daily.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Finally, a bit of relief

Tuesday morning on the way to the bus stop, I physically could go no further after one block. I walked home and coughed for probably 10 or 15 minutes. That afternoon I talked to the doctor and she prescribed Avelox for the upper respiratory infection I undoubtedly had. I have now taken 4 doses and am feeling immensely better. My lung and sinus congestion are practically gone. I can walk to the bus in the morning without having a coughing fit. I guess I have had a low-level infection for a long time that just kept getting slowly worse.

Now that that is being cleared up, I think I have a fighting chance at actually making some real progress health-wise as long as I stay on the proverbial path nutritionally. I am going to see a pulmonary specialist to get an evaluation and kind of a baseline of where my respiratory system actually is.