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Health and Diet

The Guru's Story : Part III

Digging out of 35 years of poor diet and lack of exercise resulting in a weight of 390 pounds and a 68" waist. . . Will this be a success story or a failure?.

From Part I: Around the end of 2009 I stepped on the scales and was shocked that I was getting close to needing to put ANOTHER 100 pound poise on the scale. . I was 390 pounds (177 kilos)! I was wearing the largest Carhartt coveralls made (60 x 32) and had to have them modified to add 6" to fit around my belly . . .

See, The Guru's Story : Part I,    The Guru's Story : Part II and The Guru's Story : Part IV
From the Hammer-In,
I am not a "Biggest Loser" contestant with a passel of doctors, nutritionists and trainers paid by a multi-million dollar budget. It is just me and the decisions I make with the assistance of a couple books and my friends.

Continuing Progress - Exercise

When you have let yourself get into as bad a shape as I had exercise is the difficult part of a weight loss or health improvement plan. When you are busy it takes time. When you are tired it takes energy. When you are very out of shape it is very difficult to do. When you are so fat you cannot reach your shoe laces, fit behind the steering wheel of the car, walk up a flight of steps. . . it is very difficult to exercise for the sake of exercise.

Exercise is my big bugga-boo. When I was a kid I walked miles almost every day. Most of my friends lived miles away even in town. School was several miles away and I preferred walking to riding the bus or in the car with my many brothers and sisters. For a decade I walked to and from school, to and from friends homes and even when I started dating I walked many miles. Walking was a part of life. I did not need to do "exercises".

Then I got a motorcycle. . . it was not 100% dependable and I still walked a lot, often pushing the bike. Then I got a $50 car. It was a little more dependable than the motorcycle and I only had to walk a few times due to break downs. The rest of my vehicles have been pretty dependable and I have not had to walk due to a breakdown in 40 years. . .

Then we moved out into the country where I got a bit of exercise working on the place. But it was a long ways from anything so walks were short, drives were long. I started a sedentary office job but it required a climb up a long flight of stairs. I built a shop building with an upstairs office and it too was a flight of stairs. Between the two I probably went up and down a dozen flights of stairs or more every day. While this was when I was gaining weight I was still getting exercise and my legs stayed strong.

But then I moved. We tried walking several days a week but I got out of the habit. The road was gravel and steep. When you are overweight walking on steep gravel is like walking on ball bearings.


"Is this the Acme Ball Bearing Works?"

Due to the fear of falling I got less and less exercise after the move until all I did was walk 20 or 30 steps a day from bed to desk to bed and once in a while out to the shop . . . After my 6 weeks of bed rest to heal the problems with my legs I was in even worse shape.

Rehab exercise is something that must be done in slowly increasing increments, but no matter how bad a shape you have gotten in to you CAN do something. Before my legs were at their worst I had thought about getting a Total Gym because you do the exercise laying down on the machine. But with me at nearly 400 pounds only the most expensive machine had the necessary capacity. It was an expense I could not afford. I also know that the vast majority of exercise equipment comes home and never gets used . . . However, we are still considering getting one for the coming winter.

Walking Again and Again

Small steps. The first walks were just around the outside of the house. Maybe 200 feet once a day for a week. Its sad to be out of breath and your heart pounding after such a short walk. . . Then the walks were twice a day for another week. Then down the driveway, another 200 feet but also a 20 to 30 foot vertical distance.

When you are my size and carrying an extra 200 pounds or more its just like carrying a 200 pound anvil. Try it (or think about trying it. . ). Try to walk a couple hundred feet carrying a 200 pound anvil. Try climbing a flight of steps with it. HILLS make a big difference for everyone but especially the overweight.

After a week of walking to the end of the driveway we added another 50 feet then another 100 up hill. . . When my heart was pounding I would stop and go back. Another week and we were half way to the rural mailbox and then finally all the way to the box.

Now we just walk that distance twice a day but go faster and faster each day. While I still get out of breath and my heart is pounding at the top of the hills it is no longer painful and I fell stronger every day. I am not quite to the point of adding "free weights", but I am close.

In the past I used to walk and carry hammers. I started off with a couple 2 pound hammers and then a week later started carrying 4 pound hammers. Hammers are appropriate and good exercise for a blacksmith. . .

For women and those suseptible to osteophrosis a weight vest is recommended. This applies balanced load on the spine which increases strength and bone development.

Exercise for Everyone

Its tough and takes dedication but almost anyone can exercise. It may take some imagination but mostly it takes determination to DO IT and keep doing it. I know, I hate exercising just for exercise sake.

Most people that do any kind of physical work get a lot more exercise than they think and probably do not need more. Folks that garden or play sports three or four times a week probably get sufficient exercise. Even simple things help. Five years ago my home office was down a short flight of steps, up a slope about 150 feet, then up a steep flight of steps. I walked this walk two ways four times a day or more. I never noticed how hard that last flight of steps could be to get up. Then I moved to a new place and my "commute" became about 12 paces from the bedroom to the desk. It was convenient and I never realized just how much less exercise I was getting. Five years later that flight of steps had become torture. I no longer had the muscle OR breath for it.

Now I am walking again because I MUST. For those of us in a sedentary life style we MUST exercise or die. If you cannot walk outdoors you can walk indoors. Climbing steps is a good cardio vascular workout. Don't overdo. Work up to it. If you have no steps you can use one of those stationary stair stepping blocks. Some people go to the local mall or shopping center and walk in a safe protected environment. For some this is good all weather exercise. Note however, that it requires much more walking on the level than walking up inclines or steps to get the same benefit. If you walk on the level try power walking, long strides, elbows high, hips working. It looks funny but is faster and better .

NEVER JOG! In the late 60's jogging became the big health craze. Everyone was doing it to improve cardiovascular health. But after a few years they found out that jogging was wrecking knee and ankle joints, causing shin splints and hip damage. . The hammer like shock from the "jog" destroyed joints. They also found that the "tennis" shoes of the day were not up to the task. This was all rather alarming because many of the people involved in the jogging craze were doctors. Either walk (regular or power walk) or run, but do not jog or you may create more problems than you are curing.

There are many simple excersies, pull ups, push ups, leg raises, squats. . . but when you get to a certain point in being overweight or out of shape many of these are impossible. This may include walking.

If you cannot walk or cannot be on your feet there are other "low impact" exercises. Many folks work out while sitting down. Leg raises, working with free weights (arms or legs). Note that you don't need to buy special weights. You can use books, electric mixers or even hammers as I noted above. Use your imagination if you don't want to spend the money.

Something that is rarely mentioned today is "isometric" exercises. These are where one presses their hands together or pull them apart, push against immovable objects. You can use calories and build muscle with isometrics but they are hard to get your blood flowing for that cardio vascular improvement. If this interests you then Google "isometric exercises"

Exercise Machines

Machines can be a good investment or a waste of money. The vast majority of exercise machines collect dust, rust, rot away, end up in flemarkets or landfills. So consider your purchase wisely and look for used machines first.

While I have not tried one, I like the Total Gym sold by Chuck Norris. The machine uses your own body weight and the angle determines the resistance. No springs or weights. Using the machine lying prone reduces load on legs and feet as well as lowing the pressure that causes swelling. This is what attracted me to the machine. I'm looking at one for my winter exercise (In my "old age" I've gotten so I HATE cold weather. . ).

It helps to try out exercise machines before using them. Exercise bikes are inexpensive but I found my knees could no longer take the motion. Treadmills can replace walking outdoors AND can be set to inclines but are expensive machines and often collect dust. Many of the weight and resistance machines are complicated and take up a lot of space. So try to find a place to tryout the type of machine you are looking into before you buy.

It helps to have a partner in this as it does the food. Either a spouse, friend or significant other can make it easier or harder. But if you must then do it alone. Its important for your helath!

Exercise! Its a necessary part of life!


January - April 2010, 385 lbs. peak weight.

July 20, 2010 - 344 lbs.

July 27, 2010 - 340 lbs. (-45 pounds).

August 3, 2010 - 337 lbs. (-48 pounds) waist 60" (down 4").

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