Monday, June 30, 2008

The Gym—The Path to the Stuff You Really Like To Do

I got a heck of a workout this weekend, but I never set foot in the gym.

I spent a total of 15 hours out in the garden edging my lawn and catching up on the weeding. Sounds doable until you find out I've got a 1/4-acre lot that I've landscaped over the last 11 years. It does require quite a bit of maintenance. And because of our very strange spring, the weeds were germinating faster than I could pull them and they had pretty much won the battle. I had not cleaned up the edge of the lawn in 3 years so it was really overgrown into the flower beds.

Here's what I learned:
  • Being able to do a full squat is extremely useful for cutting sod with a flat blade.
  • Being in that squat over and over again for 8 hours or more gives your legs a great workout.
  • Having to go out the next morning and finish the last 60 feet of lawn edging, after spending the previous day doing the same thing, is somewhat painful.
  • Having strong shoulders and arms makes slicing under the sod go a lot faster.
  • Being fit makes it possible to do three weekends worth of yard work in one weekend.
I am amazed at the number of hours I worked in the garden. I don't think I've ever been able to dig and weed and haul sod for that many hours without stopping before.

When I started getting really serious about all this exercise and eating right stuff to try and control my diabetes, that was my only goal. But there have been some fabulous benefits from eating well and working out that I hadn't anticipated.

Like losing a ton of weight.

Or being able to run short distances in preparation for playing some soccer this summer.

Or having marathon gardening sessions and still having the energy to go play afterwards.

And feeling strong and healthy and being happy in my skin for the first time in a very long time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Ramble on About Corn

Lab Results
Well, I have to say I'm pretty pleased with my lab results. I got a 5.4% on my Ha1c, which is .2% lower than 12 weeks ago. And last time I was taking 2000 mg of Metformin a day. This time around I was only taking 500 mg. Maybe by the next go around I won't be taking any. That's one of my goals, anyway.

I've talked briefly in the past about the paleo (or primal) diet. We were designed to eat meat, vegetables, berries and nuts. When refined grains and sugar were added to our diets, humans as a species started developing problems, like diabetes and heart disease. Study after study has indicated that when these refined grains and sugars are introduced into native diets, populations who've never shown signs of these diseases start getting them at an alarming rate.

When we eat animals, we eat what they eat. So if you feed a cow grass (which we can't digest)—and which is what cows are supposed to eat—we end up getting the benefits of what's in the grass. For example omega-3s and leaner, tastier beef.

If you feed a cow corn, which is the norm now thanks to those horrendously inhumane feedlots all over the Midwest, along with lots of government subsidies for growing the stuff, the cow will eat the corn. But the cow will not be a happy, healthy cow because its digestive system isn't designed to eat grains. So the cow requires lots of antibiotics to combat all the beasties growing in his tummy caused by his diet and his living conditions. When you eat this cow, or drink milk from this cow, you get a dose of antibiotics with every serving, whether you want it or not. Which is why, in many a parents' opinion, girls are getting their periods as 8-year-olds instead of 12 or 13 and young boys may develop breasts. How sick is that?

Now, yes, botanically speaking, corn, wheat, rye and oats are grasses. But we don't eat the leafy green part of the grass and neither does our livestock. When you eat corn and other grains, you're eating the seeds.

Then there are all the weird things that come out of corn as byproducts made in a laboratory somewhere. The worst of which is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This stuff is amazingly cheap to produce and a lot cheaper to use in processed foods than sugar. Remember back in the eighties when Coca Cola came out with New Coke? Well, the new part was that they stopped using cane sugar and switched to HFCS. Candy bars used to actually have sugar in them, too.

Fast forward 20+ years and a good portion of us are twice our normal size now. So as a culture did our diet really get that bad in 20 years or is maybe HFCS to blame for some of it? Personally, I think the stuff's addictive in some form, if my problems with processed foods were anything to go by.

I warned you this was a ramble. I have no clever way to wrap this up. Just something to think about.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I'm Back…

I do apologize for not keeping the blog updated. I appreciate those of you who, ever optimistic, keep checking back.

While I won't go into any details here because it's not an appropriate place for it, I will say that the last nine months have been exciting because of the changes in my body and health and also difficult because of the problems it caused in my relationship. I have never experienced a break up like this and I had no idea how much it could hurt emotionally and physically. Amazingly, through all of this I've managed to continue to eat healthy, workout 4-5 days a week, try to deal with the situation with as much integrity as I can, and run my business.

I'm Eating Really Well These Days…
Since my last post at the beginning of the month, I've had a chance to eat some of the organic pork and grassfed beef I purchased at the end of May. It's surprised me to discover that I've eaten more of the pork than the beef and I'm now thinking I'll add a half-hog order to my beef order this fall. Regardless of the health benefits I'm getting from eating organic meat, it just tastes better. You can't even imagine how much better unless you try it for yourself.

The farmer's market in my neighborhood started up for the season a couple of weeks ago so I've been able to add pasture-fed chicken eggs directly from the farmer to my diet along with fresh, organic greens, asparagus, etc. The growing season here has been a little strange this year so there's not a lot of variety in the produce yet. I've only been to the grocery store twice since the beginning of June—and I don't miss it.

And Going to the Gym…
On the work out front, I have been working on getting my squats lower. Kristn has let me get away with not getting my butt all the way down where it's supposed to be for a long time, and she challenged me to reduce the weight I was squatting and work instead on flexibility and form. This was a hard one for me because I really like throwing the big numbers on the board where we keep all our stats. But after a few weeks of working on this on my own on our off-training days, with just the 45-lb. barbell, I am seeing the results. I'm getting down further and squatting more weight than I was before. I feel like I have more power to push the weight up when I get a little lower, too. I'm deadlifting more weight, as well. And I'm noticing a difference in the musculature of my upper legs.

And Getting My Bloodwork Done.
Tomorrow I get to have my next Ha1c. It's been 12 weeks since I pulled a 5.6% and since then I've reduced the amount of metformin I take by 75%. My fasting blood sugars are consistently around 80 or so in the morning. It will be interesting to see the results. I'm also getting my vitamin levels tested to make sure I'm getting enough vitamin D3 to offset the lack of sun here in gloomy, gray Seattle.

So that's it for now. I'll be back in a couple of days to share my lab results.

Note: Just a reminder to readers that this blog is about a very specific (and small) part of my life, i.e., learning to beat/live with diabetes, in the hope that it might inspire or help other people.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Eating Healthy Can Be Hard On The Wallet

For those of you who already eat a whole food, organic diet, you know how expensive it can get. It can be a little daunting. Personally, I find it really ironic that it costs more to eat unprocessed natural foods than it does to eat the crap that's been heavily processed. But that's what government agricultural subsidies get you.

I've been a little shocked at my grocery bills over the last six months. For the most part I'm just feeding myself and my food bill went up almost 45% when I started eating healthier. Granted, some of this increase is probably due to inflationary influences we're seeing because of higher fuel prices.

When I made the decision to start eating grass-fed beef it was already fall and too late to order a grass-fed steer from a local farm. I have put in my order for next fall. But in the meantime, I've had to purchase meat at the grocery store for anywhere from $8-$15 a pound…or more. I eat about 4 pounds of beef and pork a week, so it gets expensive pretty fast when you're buying meat one cut at a time.

When a friend asked me if I wanted to go in on an order with them from Thundering Hooves in Walla Walla, I jumped at the chance. Last weekend we picked up our order. They have a pickup point in the neighborhood so we didn't actually have to drive to Walla Walla. It's averaging out to about $5/lb. and means the only items I'll need to buy for the rest of the summer are produce and dairy. Both of which I'll be getting at the local farmer's market starting next week. I'm hoping that, averaged out, I'll be able to reduce my grocery bill by at least 20%.

I've never really been someone who stocks up on food, so I'm kind of getting a kick out of opening the freezer and seeing all that meat just waiting for the barbecue. The only thing I've eaten so far is some bacon and it was fabulous. I'm looking forward to eating really well over the next few months—and not having to go to the store every other day.