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.

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