The New Republican Healthcare Plan

The new republican plans for health care sure sounds like “just die quickly, and quietly” Well, as we expected, once the Republicans captured the White House (well, in 29 days now), their first order of business will be to repeal the ACA.

They have been talking about repealing it and replacing it for 6 years now, bloviating at every opportunity, and doing fuck-all in the House with 54 attempts to repeal or defund portions of the ACA (or the pejorative “Obamacare”) so this isn’t a surprise.

However, some of the rhetoric coming out of the Paul Ryan camp is interesting. Suddenly, instead of shutting it down on day 1, they are talking about repealing and delaying for 2 – 3 years until they can devise a “replacement” for it. Yeah, that sounds do-able. Continue reading →

New years commitments – not a resolution

I never really got into the “New Year’s Resolutions” thing. Too much pressure to succeed, that ironically virtually guarantees your failure. That said, I havd a few things i am going to do better this year.

My weight

I have been letting my weight inch up. Stressful job, not enough time to exercise, and comfort foods all conspire. Add in the medications that I take that lower my metabolism, and it is a perfect storm.

I know how to lose weight, having dropped 25#’s in 2013, so it isn’t a trick. Eat less, exercise more, and be sure that calories in is less than calories out. Easy peasy.

Back to a measured breakfast, a predictable (and countable calorie) lunch, and modest dinner. Counting calories, and keeping track is key.

Two weeks in, and i am probably down 7#’s already (the easy initial loss). My pants fit better, and I can tell the difference. Already, I am adjusting to the smaller portions. Woot.

My drinking

Our tequila consumption had gone through the roof. Not an every day occurrence, but enough to become a concern. Last night I finished the last of my holiday ale from Christmas, and I will stop buying beer.

I will occasionally have a glass of wine or a pint of ale, but it will become a once a month thing, not 2 or 3 a week thing.

Exercising

This is tougher. My schedule at work is brutal, and I really can’t break away cleanly to exercise at lunch like I have been able to in the past. Still, I need to work harder at getting out on the weekends. Bicycling where I live is choice, so that is a huge positive.

I still try to get out and walk occasionally too, and I need to start hiking the trails in the Santa Cruz mountains.

As I approach the magical five-oh, the body clearly needs different behaviors. Time to get serious.

Fitness in the Desert-Hydration

I grew up in the SF bay area, a place with very mild climate. Yes, we got a couple of triple digit days a year, but in general the humidity was mild, it never got too hot or too cold, and I never really worried about hydration.

When I got to Arizona, it became a significant concern. I wasn’t going to let the climate curtail my activities, but suddenly, hydration became a huge deal. Even in the winter time when the temperatures are very pleasant, the humidity is so low that water is just wicked out of your body at phenomenal rates. In the summer, when the temperatures are in triple digits for three months, humidity is in the 20’s, you really need to be careful.

Water is important, but unless you are exercising for only a brief time, you need something that will help replace your electrolytes. I am definitely one of those who puts more salt out in their sweat, so anytime I am out for more than a half hour I have to rely on supplement.

My top hydration product I use is Accelerade. It is a mixture of carbs, electrolytes, and protein. This combination really helps keep me going for longer rides. I typically mix it a little weak. The amount for a pint, mixed into 24 or 32 ounces is about perfect. However, I can’t just have accelerade, even mixed weak.  I have to have water with me as well. With this combo, I can easily go for 3 or 4 hours even in 110F temperatures. The one down side is that it causes me to retain water like crazy. After a day of riding or hiking, I will actually gain 3 pounds or so of water weight.

When I am less aggressive in my exercise, I use a product called Nuun. These are tablets that you add to a pint of water. Mildly flavored, it has no carbohydrates, and a good mix of electrolytes. This is good for medium exertion efforts, my lunchtime jogs, mid distance walks, and when I cycle to and from the office. We discovered this product when we were preparing to hike the grand canyon. Space and weight were crucial considerations. We saw these little tubes full of hydration tablets and just popped them in our basket. Fast forward three years, and I rediscovered them, and am now a religious user.

One product that I prefer not to use is Gatorade. It really has too much sugar in it for while I am exercising, and it is too heavy when I am recovering.  I just don’t like it.

As a sufferer of coronary artery disease, I try to keep a low sodium diet. That works when I am not exercising, but when I exercise I quickly get the symptoms of hyponatremia, and that is far more dangerous than having too much sodium.  So I walk a fine line in balance, monitor my weight, and my blood pressure daily to understand where I am (and of course, I take lots of medicine)

All part of life in the desert.

Product Review: Road ID

I have always been an “outdoors” exercise aficionado, and I continue to get out on my bicycle, hiking, or jogging. When I was young, I never gave a thought to what would happen if I got seriously hurt. I guess I could have carried my ID (drivers license, health insurance card), but it never happened.

A good way to carry your critical information with you
A good way to carry your critical information with you

Then, three years ago, I had the big one. A heart attack. Suddenly, I began to worry about what would happen if I had a repeat while I was out cycling, or jogging.

I now always wear a Road ID. The first one I had was the simple version, with as much of the pertinent health history as I could fit, but recently I went the Wrist ID elite, and got the subscription that allows me to have my extended health record available to first responders.

Getting it setup is easy, and the service provides both an internet lookup, as well as a 24 hour call center. First responders can use the code and PIN on the back of my ID, and get quick access to my records.

Entering your records is painless, and you can decide what you will share with first responders, and what you will keep private.

I also keep in my wallet a summary of my records, and my medications, but I rarely have my wallet with me when I am out pounding the pavement.

Highly recommended, especially if you have health issues that might affect how the emergency crew responds to an event.

Why I care about being able to jog for exercise

This week, I was happy as a pig in a sty that I was able to run most of a 4 mile loop at lunch. Some people might think that is an odd position to be happy about, but it really is a big difference.

I have battled with plantar fasciitis for over 2 years. It has limited me to moderate walking, and lately bicycling for my exercise. While walking is rather pedestrian (ha ha), cycling is actually a pretty good workout. But it isn’t a “great” workout.

The reason why is pretty easy to figure out with my handy – dandy heart rate monitor.

Walking, 4 miles per hour pace, I burn about 560 calories in an hour. My heart rate rarely rises above 80 BPM. This is fairly moderate exertion by any measure (heightened by the beta blocker I take)

Cycling, 19 miles per hour pace, I burn about 1,100 calories per hour. Much better, and certainly a better workout. The monitor tells me that I average around a heart rate of 120 BPM.  A pretty good aerobic workout, but again, it is affected by the medication I take.

Running. 6 mile per hour pace (very slow for me, but when I am in shape I can d0 8 minute miles easily). I burn about the same calories per distance as walking, but I go further in the same time.  I burn about 900 calories in an hour. But the real benefit is my heart rate.  I can overcome the beta blocker, and keep my heart rate between 130 – 145 BPM, a pretty good aerobic workout by any measure.

So, of the three primary avenues for me to exercise, running is clearly the winner in the aerobic sense, and pretty good burning of calories.  Cycling’s benefit is that I can keep up a 19 mph pace for 2 – 3 hours, and burn a shedload of calories. Something that I enjoy.

But running has one other major benefit, the fact that when I am traveling, I can pretty much run ANYWHERE. If I get up early enough, I can do 5, 6, or even 7 miles before a day of work.  All I need are shorts and shoes, and I am good to go!

BTW: Having a smartphone with a GPS and a bluetooth heart rate monitor makes tracking my progress easy, and VERY satisfying.

Diet and fitness update

Last week was a challenge. With the holiday (grilled some yummy steaks), and our anniversary (tried another local Mexican place that is now our favorite), and two days of training a new sales engineer put a crimp on the diet. But all told, I came out of the week down a pound, and once the over abundance of salt worked its way out, my blood pressure recovered nicely.

This weekend, I got into the spandex, on the bike, and put almost 54 miles on. It is getting challenging, as even leaving at 7:00AM, it is already 85F, and rising to mid 90’s before I get back at 9:00AM. Next week, I will need to pull the Camelback out of its hidey-hole, and load it up.  The water bottles are no longer enough to keep me hydrated.

I am down to 215#, 25#’s to go to get to my target of 190.

(This afternoon, it is almost 112F.  It is safe to say that the ice broke on the Salt River.)

Weight loss update, more on my quest to not be a Person of Walmart

Started the memorial day weekend well, took a couple extra days off, and haven’t wasted them.

I had a serious plateau at 220 and 219 #’s.  I was stuck there for almost week and half.  Nothing is more depressing than counting every calorie you consume, and every erg you expend in exercise to not see any movement of the scale.  Last time I did this, I had several plateaus and I know I was able to work through them, so I stuck with it (to be fair, my birthday was in the middle of this and I had a major splurge day. Gordon Birsch Czech Pilsner. Yummy.

Fortunately, I finally broke through my plateau, and I dropped almost overnight to 216#’s.  Back on the track of 3#’s a week of weight loss (that is fast enough that my diet tracker chastises me for losing too fast).

The real plus is that about a month ago, I got back on the bicycle.  There are some great loops near my house, and I have been exploring.  I have a couple of 25 mile loops, which equates to about 1700 calories burned in an hour and 40 minutes.

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My ride – 2002 Lemond Buenos Aires

Since I regaled people with the drama about failing wheels, and buying a new wheelset, I thought I would spend a little time talking about my current road bike.

The Lemond Buenos Aires, a reynolds 853 steel frame that remains a joy to ride
The Lemond Buenos Aires, a reynolds 853 steel frame that remains a joy to ride

It is a 2002 vintage Lemond Buenos Aires. Made by Trek, is is a steel tube framed bike with a carbon fork. I bought it in 2002 for ~ $1200 new (I don’t recall the actual price). It was the most expensive road bike I have ever owned, but I have greatly enjoyed it. The frame has a comfortable geometry well suited for a hobbyist rider. It is neither a twitchy race bike, nor a special purpose bike (read up on what makes a good “triathalon” bike), it has served me well.  It came with a mixed component set (more on that later) that was mostly Shimano Ultegra, and the Trek made Bontrager wheels.

I always figured that the wheels would be the weakest link in the bike, and I was not much wrong. However, while they lasted they stayed remarkably true, and needed very little maintenance. Of course, over 11 years I probably put 6,000 + miles on it (as logged on my cycle computer) including many miles climbing hills and racing down the other side. Add into that fact that I have been north of 200#’s for most of the time I have ridden it, it is not surprising that there were hairline stress fractures on the wheels.

As I mentioned, I am not surprised that I had to change the wheels, but more amazed at how long they lasted. I put a lot of good, hard miles on them, and they were the lowest maintenance road wheels I have ever owned.  But the mixed components of the Shimano group was the first failure.  The outward facing components were all proper Ultegra, shifters, brakes, crankset (the hubs were the Ritchey hubs built into the Bontrager wheels). But the one “hidden” component, the bottom bracket, was the economizing point. It came with the bottom end Tiara bottom bracket that after 3 years or so developed a really annoying “click”, particularly when you were pressing hard on the pedals.  I ended up replacing it with an ultegra bottom bracket, and it has been glass smooth ever since.

I was a bit concerned about whether I spent too much to get it back on the road.  After all, a 11 year old bike that was originally only $1,200 new, adding $500 of wheels to the bike seemed a bit risky. However, a little searching and reading on the web, and apparently that era Lemonds are well regarded, and the Buenos AIres in particular which has the Reynolds 853 stainless tube set are prized for the comfortable, ride, and how well it handles.  Apparently “good to nice” condition versions still fetch up to $500 on the secondary market. Clearly, I have a good frame, and now with the new wheels, I am good to go for another decade.

While I can’t help but drool at the higher end bikes at the shop, all the carbon, and exotics, for my needs and purposes (to ride and stay in shape), I think my Lemond Buenos Aires will keep me riding in style.

Weight Loss Update

Two weeks ago, I lamented the need to get back on the horse and lose some weight. Of course, I know the formula, and I have tools to help me with my endeavor. But it is difficult to train the body to accept the new status quo.

For the stats:

Starting Weight: 232#

Today’s weigh in: 225#

Total lost – 7#

Not a bad first two weeks, but a lot more to go (my goal is 190#). In the last two weeks, I haven’t cooked anything extraordinary. We had visitors, so I made Pizza (by request) and had only one piece. I have been quite good about not snacking between meals, and not eating dessert. Lots of Lean Cuisine (good for portion control and balance, but big bad on the Sodium content. A willing trade).

By my tracking tool, the “Perfect Diet Tracker”, I am allocated about 2100 calories a day, and I consistently am eating about 1400 – 1500 a day. I am hungry, but not starving.

Exercise is the tough one. I can’t run anymore (last time I lost weight, and for years after, I did about 5m of running at lunch every day. Now the Plantar Fasciitis prevents that), so I walk when I can at work. Good for about 3.3 miles, it does burn some calories, and it gets me off my butt. This last weekend I brushed the dust off my bicycle, and put on about 36 miles.  Felt good (legs are a little stiff today, but I am seriously saddle sore), but need to keep the habit up.

There was a facebook status a week or so ago, one of those funny e-cards that said: “I know the feeling of skinny.  It feels hungry”. That sums it up exactly.