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The continuing pursuit of health, and the stumbles

The picture is something I see nearly every day.  I’ll get into that a bit more later in the post, and why it both amuses me and motivates me, but it’s also part of a broader picture.  And, I’m not saying I’m particularly unhealthy; just that I want to improve, and sometimes that’s a struggle – one that’s harder than I think it should be.

That Damned ADHD

It’s the weirdest thing:  my ADHD has become harder to control.  Well, I feel it has anyway.  Truth is, it’s probably not any worse, or harder to control than before – it’s that I’m becoming increasingly aware of when I’m “off”.

Today is a good example.  I was at the local pride meeting, and afterwards we were all standing around chatting.  I was trying to follow e conversation, but all the pretty lights from the cars along the road kept getting my attention.  At one point Professional Little Sister asked me a question – I never answered her.  My brain was on complete overload, “stuck” looking at the cars in the QuikTrip nearby.  That’s not a good sign.  I don’t normally have that happen.

Now, as I started making this post, I ended up stopping and chatting with Morgan about what was going on (Morgan, having a nursing background – she didn’t get to finish, thanks to MS – but had damned near finished).  One of the many advantages to not living alone – and living with someone who’s fairly observant – is that sort of behavior doesn’t go unnoticed.  Also gets noticed is little things I forget – like to have my morning coffee (the caffeine is used to help keep my stimulant levels up, and keep the ADHD in check.)

We walked through all the stresses in my life – which, really, isn’t nearly as bad as a lot of people I know.  I’ve got some serious financial burdens, and I’m going to have to make some changes.  I’m finding myself interested in someone.  Little changes, but not major.

But, in the course of two different conversations, a really good idea came up from Brent:  I need to track it.  I already track my food and workouts.  Adding my caffeine intake (well, specifically my morning coffee) and my overall daily state (which is sort of free form) isn’t too hard with the stuff I have available on my iPhone.  It’s time to get quantified about this, and see if I can keep it under tighter control – or, at least, feel like I’ve got it under better control.  Sometimes those are pretty close to the same thing. 🙂

Weight Loss… Sort Of

IMG_4860
Overly serious Davis trying to look “good” during a selfie of the Punisher shirt.

I TRY and workout every day, and get sort of close sometimes.  I’ve changed my diet considerably over the last month and a half or two, removing red meat from the daily diet, no bread, no sugar, and a low level of carbs (I’ll come back to the carbs thing here in a moment.)  Very stringent setpoints for calorie intake, fat intake, and carb intake.  Well, except for Saturdays, where I have a cheat day (which is, so far, one cheat meal, then cheat snacks around the fire.)  I picked this sort of setup because it’s maintainable on a long term basis – not too high in carbs, not so low as to make my body want to freak out three times a day, that sort of thing.  And I track the hell out of my food intake (and workouts)

Here’s the thing: I lost a bunch of weight real quick, then quit losing weight entirely: my scales haven’t moved in over a month now.  1690 calories intake most days, and between 2400 and 3000 calories out calories spent (I’ve got a nice fitness tracker for that, which monitors heart rate, sweat, activity, etc.).  No weight loss.  However, I’m losing fat slowly but surely again.  I’m slowly seeing more cuts across my abdominal cavity, more and more detail on my arms and back, etc.

I’m just offsetting it with muscle, apparently – I’m slowly gaining a little across the chest, for instance.  And, of course, there’s that whole bit where a pound of fat takes up about 2 1/2 times the space of a pound of muscle.  It’s possible to gain one, and lose the other, and end up at a weight standstill.

If I miss more than a couple days of those workouts, though, I start feeling really bad – mainly mental perception.  I feel fat, bloated, and not nearly as strong.  So, why don’t I work out every day, or at least every other day?  Well, because, in my head, it’s something I do for me.  Since it’s for me, it ends up being the lowest priority item.  Something I STILL can’t get though my head – I’ve got to make it a priority, even if I have other things going on.  *SIGH*

The Eating Habits

So, what are my eating habits?  Six days a week, it’s a protein shake for breakfast (ahem, if I don’t forget to have it), fish or chicken for lunch, on top of a salad or veggies.  On rare occasion, it’s eggs, rice, cheese, and hot sauce.  Supper is fish or chicken, rice if I haven’t had any yet today, and all the veggies I can eat.  Pretty simple eating.  Complexity to the meal is usually added with spices, like Sriracha, curry powder, or whatever sounds interesting that day.

What I avoid:  potatoes, bread, most grains, red meat, most processed foods, high-salt foods, and anything that’s really fun to eat. 😉

Each one of those has a reason.  Breads are usually processed, have added sugar, various preservatives, etc., along with being high carbs.  Red meats are fatty (technically, lean read meat is on my list: however, it’s also fairly expensive for good lean red meat.)

But, like every diet, someone has a suggestion.  Someone started to grief me about being on a ketonic diet, and that you can’t build muscle on ketonic diet.  First problem is I’m on a low diet, not a ketonic diet.  Ketosis starts around 100 grams of carbs, though it’s variable – sometimes between 80 and 25 grams.  Just depends on the person.  But, a ketonic diet is ultra low carb, adequate protein, and high fats.   Now, part of the discussion was “you lose muscle on a ketonic diet”, and proceeded to tell me I was wrong, and that years of medical science had proved it.  Um, actually, that’s not completely true.  Recent studies from various sources have shown that’s not the case when done right. As often, the original studies may have been in error, expecting things like a 7,000 calorie expenditure.  I basically ditched the conversation, partially because I couldn’t concentrate, and because I couldn’t quote the studies I had read (I like scientific studies at their source.  I’ll read an article that discusses the topic, but I really like digging down and finding the original source material.  Science reporting is bad online, but health reporting is even worse.)

The big problem there was somehow assuming I was following a specific diet plan without asking me, then somewhat berating me on the facts of something I don’t follow.  It’s aggravating, but in this case the friend in question was someone who was well intentioned.

It’s also not to say I don’t take people’s advice on my eating habits, or my overall health.  For instance, the idea of charting my caffeine intake came from a discussion with the same person.  The Plumber often gives me tips on the workout side (which includes ways of improving my workout without further destroying my shoulder.  Actually, the picture attached to this post is a good example of that – originally I shot it while pulling down 320 lbs, with my legs wrapped around the bench to keep from lifting myself off the bench.  Then I did it at 200 lbs.  It still didn’t seem the same as when I was only pulling down 100 lbs, which made me “flare” more – he explained that one.)  I started looking at some seriously radical changes to my supplements setup, and discussed it with Morgan (and decided against it.)

Not only am I not dumb, I’m fairly diligent in my research.  I talk to others, I read the current science, and I make decisions based on those things, and on my body’s response to the setup.  You might be thinking I’m wrote the bit about ketosis as a “fuck you” to someone who was in error – actually, it’s an example in general of what happens when you discuss a workout or a diet with someone.  You end up having to filter it, and sometimes outright ignoring it.  Only a small number of people are trying to be helpful – most people that tell you “Oh, what you need to do” are actually showing ego – they want you to do what they’re doing, they want to feel smarter than you, they want to “be heard”, even if they don’t know anything about it.  Then there’s the folks that actually know something, and try to give you good advice – find which ones are which can be a hard job.  Even if someone is in error once (ketosis, in this example) that doesn’t mean discarding everything a smart friend has to say (caffeine tracking.)  All advice has to be filtered, but some people you need to listen to closer than others 🙂

The Punisher

IMG_4861The shirt pictured as the featured image for the blog post is my Under Armor Compression Shirt.  Basically, it keeps the muscles in place, and keeps just a little extra force on my shoulder joints that are a problem.  I’m not actually a fan of the Punisher as a character (it’s an even more 2D knockoff of Mack Bolan, The Executioner) – but, the 14 year old in me still loves the skull emblem in quite a few of it’s incarnations.  Heck, I want one that’s from the new version off of Daredevil season 2. 🙂

What I hadn’t expected was that it would become a point of motivation.  The compression shirt hides NOTHING.  Every fat roll, muscle cut, and wrinkle shows up in it.  Heck, not only does it show it, it actually highlights it.

That also means as I change it shows up, particularly since I use mirrors to make sure I keep form (so I don’t do more damage to my shoulders, mainly.)  Week after week, even when I’m not managing to get all my workouts in, I’m getting a close watch on what I look at.  So, it acts as a form of motivation, wearing that for every workout – I get a consistent view of the changes.

Now, the amusement part.  While working out, particularly doing something like lat pulldowns, my chest expands of course.  A lot.  The pecs also slide up and down during those exercises.  So, I sort of get amused by watching the skull expand and contract 500 – 1000 times for something like lat pulldown or reverse lat pulldown.

Yeah, I’m easily amused.  But, you know, if anything helps me stick with that workout, even if it’s something as simple as amusement, I’m all good with it. 🙂

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