Archive for June, 2009

Things That Set You Back: Dealing With Injuries

Posted in General Information, Words of Wisdom with tags , , , , on June 19, 2009 by uziel5000

On a weight-loss journey, many things cross your path that throw you off course. Many of those things you have control of. Some things you don’t. One those things happened to cross my particular path.

About three weeks ago, I started to feel a sharp pain on my lower back. At first I thought it was a result of increasing the intensity of my workouts but after a while, I noticed it wasn’t going away. It started as what seemed to me, a pinched nerve. (I don’t know if it really was a pinched nerve but that’s how it “felt” to me) The pain would start at my lower back and go down my left buttocks. Al little research on the subject popped up that those were symptoms of psyatic nerve pain so I went to the doctor who told me to get some X-Rays taken. During the time between that visit and the follow up visit after the X-Rays, the pain evolved to what felt to me like a muscular spasm. It began very strongly and went away over some days. After seeing the X-Rays, the doctor told me I had mild osteoarthritis, a very common condition and that it was normal. He basically told me I was getting old. (I’m 32 so come on! I’m not THAT old) Suffice it to say, I did not take that well at all.

First, it didn’t feel like arthritis to me. Granted, I don’t know what arthritis feels like but osteoarthritis is the erosion of cartilege in your joints which should should(I think) give you the sensation of pain in and around your affected bones. In my case the lower back. It doesn’t feel like that at all. Second, what’s with this getting old crap??!! Third, He didn’t give me any solution to the problem. I realize that arthritis doesn’t really have cure and it’s degenerative but what about exercise? CanĀ  I still do it? What kind of execise can I do then? How can ease the pain in the long term? I don’t want live off pain medication to continue exercising. The doctor’s answer was: “It’s gonna come and go, so exercise when you can. If you feel pain, stop.” Yeah. That made me feel better.

Truth be told, the Dr. is not a specialist so I shouldn’t expect him to be an expert on this but the problem is, he really bummed me out. A couple of days after seeing him, the pain was gone like he said it would so the very next morning I woke up and exercised. Three hours later, my back had tighten up to the point were sitting down was extremely painful. That was over a week ago. I’m still in pain to this day. THis was extremely depressing. After losing all this weight, I wasn’t going to be able to finish? That feeling better than I had in years would mean I couldn’t be active now that I was beggining to be able to do so many things? I still have more than half the weight to lose. Without exercise it would very hard to continue. And what about my black belt? The one goal I wanted to reach so badly. Could I still do Martial Arts? I needed a second opinion.

I set up an appointment with Sports Medicine specialist. The one doctor I never thought I have to visit. After all, my main concerns about this were about exercising so who better to answer my questions. I showed him my X-Rays and told him the whole story. Right off the bat, he told my problem was not the arthritis. It was too mild a case to immobilize a person so severely. The problem turned out to be the bottom-most disc in my back. the space between that disc and the next one is too close. It’s called compression. Not a good thing apprently. It seems the compression of the discs is causing instability in my lower back which the body tries to stabilize by using the muscles in the surrounding area and creates a spasm. THAT is what’s causing the pain and the stiffness. Problem identified. But it gets better. The condition is completely treatable.

The doctor told me I needed to solve this in two stages: First treat and get rid of the spasm with medication and therapy. He gave anti-inflamatory medication and a muscle relaxant to take before I go to sleep. After I finish writing this I will go to my first therapy session. Second stage is strengthening the lower back to avoid future spasms with more therapy. The great thing about all this is that even though I have to take it easy for a while, I will probably be able to continue doing Turbo Jam and Martial Arts without any major problems. For the firstĀ time in several weeks, I’m feeling much better and at ease.

They say all things happen for a reason and this is no exception. Although I got a bit depressed and was pretty worried for a ttime there, I learned a few very positive things about where I’m at as a person trying to change his lifestyle. First, I found out just how important exercise has become to me. The prospect of having to stop really got me down which means it has developed into a habit. A good one for a change. Second, that first visit to the doctor, despite being so depressing wasn’t all bad. He told me to get some blood work done and the results were great. Everything normal across the board. My cholesterol is 120. Very low for someone my size and weight. I don’t know what it was before I started to lose weight but that is certainly very good news.


The Real Truth About “Cheating” on your Diet

Posted in Advice with tags , , , , , on June 10, 2009 by uziel5000

Of all the books I’ve read on diets, all the programs I’ve tried, all the myths I’ve heard, no subject is treated more lightly or more ignored than cheating or as some call it indulging. Whether we are talking about a well-researched book by an expert or some new hype we hear on the street, I haven’t seen any other subject regarding weight loss that is less mentioned. Is cheating good? Is it bad? Some casually mention it, others ignore it completely so it is always left unanswered. So here are my thoughts on the matter.

Nutritionists, trainers and doctors almost always neglect to mention this very real aspect about dieting for several reasons. Most are afraid that endorsing any type of indulgence might lead to the reader or program follower down a path that will end in quitting the program altogether. You write that you can indulge once in a while, we interpret it as permission to cheat all the time… game over. Therefore, even though it is not actually written that way, it is implied that strict adherance is expected. But what are the consequences of that? As it turns out, it leads to the same path as saying you can cheat: You end up quitting altogether as well.

The reason is simple. You will have cravings eventually. That cheeseburger begins to call you, but you stand strong and resist temptation. Then, 2 days later it calls you again. You refuse to back down. Now the cheeseburger is all you can think of. 3 days later you meet some friends and go to lunch. Then it happens. Everyone is eating what they want. You cave. You have the cheeseburger. But then, you can’t stop. You have the burger for lunch, figure that the day is ruined and have pizza for dinner. You wake up the next day and think:”Might as well have a big breakfast.” and end up downing a “Super-Duper-Mega-Slam”. By lunch time, you figure you have ruined your diet and give up. back to square one. Sound familiar?

One of the main questions I asked myself when starting this weight loss journey, was how to avoid this scenario. This is actually one of the main problems with diets that restrict certain food groups (low-carb, no fruit, no(insert food group here) diets). The minute you decide to go on these diets, you set yourself up. Especially if the restricted group is something you love to eat. We all know how it works: We crave what we can’t have.(In food and life in general) So the propensity to fall is always there. And I’m not even going into the health aspects of consuming an un-balanced diet. So the first rule on cheating is: To avoid cheating and keep your sanity, eat a balanced diet. You are less likely to crave something if you don’t feel it is restricted. The mantra shoudn’t be : “I can’t have that” It should be: “I don’t want to have that right now“.

Of course, there will come a time when that cheeseburger will call you. What to do? Eat it. Get over it. Continue you program. End of story. One cheeseburger wont sabotage your diet. Thinking that because you ate it, you should continue cheating because you already ruined your diet will do it though. There is no way around this folks. It will happen. We are only human so let it go. Here is my way of dealing with this problem and so far it has been golden. It might help you.

I have seriously decreased my cravings for high calorie and unhealthy foods by just saying to myself I can have them. That’s right. In my “program” I can have any food I want. The catch is that I can have them at certain times. For me, those times are special occasions. My wedding anniversary, my daughter’s birthday, mother’s day, those are some of the days where I have eaten stuff not exactly conducive to weight loss yet I have not gained a single pound since I started this journey. I have my cake, steak, ribs or whatever and then I keep going. Most of the time I’m not stressing over what I can’t have because I know I will have it eventually. Recently, it was my anniversary (4 years) and I knew we were going to Outback Steakhouse to celebrate so the two weeks prior to it I followed my diet with no problems or cravings because I knew I would eat a nice steak then. That day I had clam chowder, a steak and shared a dessert with my wife. The next day, back to my usual eating habits. Simple.

Which brings me to the second rule of cheating: Just because you cheated once doesn’t mean you ruined your diet or your progress.The most important thing to keep in mind when you do cheat is to NOT quit. Thinking you can continue cheating because you cheated once is the death blow to the goals you have set. Accept the fact that it will happen and get on with it. Also, having the occasional indulgence plays right into one of the crucial steps of successful weight loss: Slow weight- loss is permanent weight-loss. So you lost just one pound instead of two because you went to that BBQ. So what? It is better to adjust your body to how you are going to live the rest of your life(eating healthy with the occasional indulgence) during you weigh loss than losing a bunch of weight quickly with some extreme, over the top diet and than having make massive adjustments to keep that weight off.