Saturday, March 29, 2008

Paleo Diet - Day 147

Well, it's beginning to look like this as as good as it's going to get, folks, at least in terms of weight loss. For the third week in a row, I'm still at 173 lbs. No change. Of course, this means no change on my BMI (Body Mass Index), either, which remains at 23.5 (solidly "normal" weight).

Unless I'm able to effect any further positive change by either gaining some muscle mass (which would burn more fat, yet add weight of it's own) or burn off more calories, via exercise, it looks as if this may be where my weight will remain. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. In terms of body composition (as far as I can tell by looking at myself in the mirror), I'm no worse off than I was ten years ago, in my mid-forties, and I weigh about twenty pounds less than I did then, which probably indicates I had built more muscle mass at the time, and I believe that's the case. I also have to consider that, as one ages, it becomes increasingly difficult to build new muscle mass. Therefore, this may be as good as it gets. I'd like to think that's not the case, though, so I'm not giving up just yet.

As for my blood sugar, I know that can (and will) improve, probably by the end of the day. It's been fairly consistently normal all week, though this morning it's at 125 - 12 mg/dcl above normal, owing to more late Friday night snacking, as usual. By Monday, it will have fallen back into the eighties and nineties again, as it's been doing every week since early March. So, I'm not worried, there.

The most confounding thing is my blood pressure, which has bounced up and down like a yo-yo from the beginning. Keep in mind, this is with medication the entire time, so, I'm beginning to wonder if the medication itself is complicating matters. From what I've been reading about this, it seems increasingly likely.

To recap, I first began taking my own blood pressure readings at home on December 18th, when my blood pressure was 135/99. This morning, it's at 120/84, which, if you're looking at just these two figures, looks like an astounding improvement. However, you also have to look at what's been happening in between to get an accurate picture.

My lowest reading, so far, was on January 13th, at 110/76 and the next lowest was on March 1st, at 110/79. But, on March 8th, it rose, inexplicably, to 131/87, the highest it had been since I began taking my own measures. So, while there has undoubtedly been improvement between where I began and where I am today, it's also true that my blood pressure has also been both markedly lower and higher than it is now.

Anyway, the relationship between systolic and diastolic pressure is what's so confusing to me. One week it will be the reverse of what it is the next. For example, last Saturday (March 22nd), my diastolic was normal at 78, while my systolic was a little high, at 124. Today, the reverse is true: my systolic is at the high end of "normal," while it's my diastolic that has risen 14 points above normal. So, again, I have to wonder if the medication I'm taking (Lisinopril) is exacerbating the control of my blood pressure. I've been tempted to temporarily discontinue taking it, just to see what happens, but, if I do, I'll have to definitely increase my monitoring, perhaps to three times daily, just to make sure I'm in no danger.

Also, remember that ten years ago, when I thought I was at the peak of my physical fitness because I was slim and muscular, my blood pressure was high and so were my triglycerides, owing to a high-carb diet and much more strength training than I was doing now. I was not on any medication then and a doctor told me that the strength training was probably the source of my high blood pressure, though I'd have to also point the blame at the high-carb diet, both for the high blood pressure and the high triglycerides.

So, I'm not entirely convinced that discontinuing my medication would allow my blood pressure to correct itself naturally, though I do have to wonder what effect the Lisinopril is having on my progress. It seems to be a complicating factor, based upon the wide fluctuation of readings between December and today, as all else has been more or less consistent, as well as improving, overall.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Paleo Diet - Day 140

Well, it looks like my weight hasn't changed since last week. So, I remained at equilibrium, burning off just as many calories as I took in this week. Of course, that means my BMI (Body Mass Index) also remains stable at 23.5. One factor, I believe, is that I didn't get as much exercise as I normally do, so, if I step that up a bit, I should see further weight loss by next Saturday. As it is, I don't have much farther to go, anyway, and I'm expecting that, by the time I've been at it a year (November 2nd), I should be perfectly fit again.

Meanwhile, my blood sugar remains normal, at 102 this morning, after some late-night eating again. But, the good part is I've had multiple episodes of either very small increases in blood sugar after a meal, or my blood sugar actually dropping after the meal. Monday, it dropped - from 105 to 97. Tuesday, it rose from 97 to 111, remaining normal. Wednesday, it was 103 before dinner and 102 afterward. Thursday, it was 96 and rose to 121, just 8 mg/dcl above normal. Yesterday, it was 108 and dropped to 98. This has become the new norm, now. As for the somewhat higher, yet normal readings this week, consider that I've been snacking on nuts between meals while at work all week, which I wasn't doing previously. That probably accounts for the stasis in my weight, as well. The previous weeks have seen my blood sugar in the 80s upon coming home from work.

As for my blood pressure, all is well here. My systolic has dropped four points, from 128 last week, to 124 this morning, for a reading of 124/78, with my diastolic remaining stable. An almost normal reading, then. I still need to get my systolic down a little more. Again, this is with medication, so there is still room for progress on my blood pressure.

Overall, the trend is still going in the right direction. I just need to, perhaps, not snack as much and get more exercise and I'll see continued improvement.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Paleo Diet - Day 133

Well, much better news this time. First of all, my use of coconut oil seems to be paying off, as I've dropped another 3 lbs since last Saturday. That puts me at 173 lbs, for a total weight loss (so far) of 60 lbs! So, if my goal is 170 lbs, I'm perhaps a week away from it. I say "if" because there is still some stubborn fat around my waist I want to get rid of, and that may indicate, as I speculated last weekend, that my target weight is actually below 170 lbs, perhaps as low as 160 to 165 lbs. I guess I won't really know until I'm there. Once I am, though, it will feel great to start eating more - though it may not be so great for my wallet, with food prices as high as they are! If I'm right about my guesstimate, I will soon be back to the same weight I was at when I was in the Air Force, in my late teens/early twenties - at the age of 55! How many Boomers can say that?

Of course, my BMI (Body Mass Index) has also changed for the better. It is now at 23.5, solidly in the middle of the "normal weight" range. But for the persistence of a little unwanted flab, I could call it "done" at this point.

My blood sugar's been normal all week, basically, spiking a few times to just above normal. But, the after-meal rises are becoming fewer and the spread between "before" and "after" is becoming less. On Wednesday, in fact, my blood sugar actually decreased after dinner, falling 13 points, from 102 down to 89. I credit the coconut oil, a couple of spoons of cinnamon and a little exercise for that. Yesterday, the point spread was rather low, going from 97 to 102 after dinner; an increase of only 5 mg/dcl, and still remained normal. So, everything's headed in the right direction, as far as my blood sugar is concerned. This morning, after staying up until after 3:00am, munching on pecans, my blood sugar is at 116, just three mg/dcl above the high end of "normal." By the time of my next test, after brunch, it could even fall below that, if I add a little cinnamon and coconut oil to the mix.

Where my blood pressure is concerned, I've made a marked improvement over last week's unexpected rise, which I now believe must have been an anomaly. Then, it was 131/87, which was a real shocker, especially after heading steadily downward into normal territory for weeks. But, this morning, my blood pressure is at a more or less normal 128/78. A little on the high side on the systolic, but the diastolic is normal. As for the systolic being 8 points above normal, considering it's comparatively moving in the right direction now, I'm not concerned about that. It would be nice, though, if I could achieve these numbers without medication. Eventually, I think that will be possible. Maybe by the time I've been at it a year or so.

By the way, did I mention that the paleo diet has completely cured my allergies? I was taking Claritin, and then the Equate brand of Claritin, for about seven years and I quit taking it completely about a month ago. My sinuses have been mostly clear and I no longer have the dry mouth side effect of the drug to bother me, either. Aside from the fact my left nostril seems to be a bit runny, sometimes (like this morning, which is probably what reminded me of this), I'm fine.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Paleo Diet - Day 126

Some surprising results this time! First of all, when I stepped on the scale today, I found I'm down to 176 lbs! That's a decrease of 6 lbs since last Saturday, for a total weight loss of 57 lbs, so far! That was following a week in which I had no further weight loss at all and had remained at 182 lbs for two weeks running.

So, you ask, what factor caused this sudden spurt of additional weight loss? Well, there are a few factors probably involved. The first is the addition to my diet of coconut oil, which has been noted to promote weight loss, lowered blood sugar, lowered cholesterol and lowered blood pressure. More about the benefits of coconut oil later. Then there is also the fact that I've eliminated mustard from my diet completely. Not that mustard is a high calorie food (it isn't), but I was consuming an awful lot of the stuff. What concerned me enough to remove it from my diet was not its calories, though. It was its salt content. I was getting a lot of added salt from mustard and it was the only remaining source of added salt still in my diet, in fact. But, as for the additional weight loss, it's probably not a factor, except as a slight reduction in calories per meal. Do I miss it? Sometimes, but I'm growing accustomed to not having it and it's actually a good thing, as I can now taste all the natural flavors of meat, onion, jalapenos and spices in my meals that I was covering up with way too much mustard before.

Moving along, my blood sugar has been consistently normal all week, both before and after meals. In fact, the rise of my blood sugar after meals has been so limited, lately, that after last night's dinner, it rose by only a single point! This, in spite of my still continued late night weekend snacking on nuts. My lowest reading this week was 84 and that was after Wednesday's dinner. The before meal reading was 86! So, I had yet another instance in which my blood sugar actually declined after eating. Speaking of eating, last night (Friday), I was snacking on sunflower nuts and pecans until well after midnight, yet my blood sugar late this morning is at 104, which is within 9 points of the high end of normal. That's a marked improvement over previous weekends, when I have had much higher readings. So, where my blood sugar is concerned, everything is normal and going well.

Of course, since my weight has dropped, so has my BMI (Body Mass Index). Today, it has fallen to 23.9, which is a full point below the high end of the "normal weight" range, and therefore, solidly normal. As for my target weight, I believe I said that would be in the range of 170 to 175 lbs, so, I am now within a single pound of my target weight! However, I note, via the mirror, that my body fat distribution is still not quite where I'd like it. There are a few remaining stubborn pockets of fat that have to go before I'll be in peak physical condition, as far as body composition goes. So, given that, I think my ideal weight is probably closer to 170 lbs than it is to 175 lbs. If so, then I still have another 7 lbs left to lose, and I think that's about right.

Another factor in my weight loss spurt could be my increasing the resistance level of my Total Gym workouts. I've also added more exercises that target my pectoral muscles and I'm seeing some evidence that this has paid off. So, it may very well be that at least some of the additional weight loss is from added muscle tissue, which, although it's addition would increase my weight, in and of itself, it also has the effect of burning more fat calories per hour, thus, more weight loss.

Now we come to my blood pressure, which is the most puzzling thing I have to report today. Instead of going down further, as I expected it would in response to all the good stuff I mentioned above, it has actually increased to 131/87, which is in the "pre-hypertension" range. The only explanatory factors I can think of are the aforementioned increase in resistance in my strength training and possibly that combined with a little less walking this week. You see, weight training (or, in this case, Total Gym workouts, rather than free weights) usually increases blood pressure, despite of all its benefits. This is why most champion weight lifters notoriously have high blood pressure, despite their otherwise near-perfect health stats. So, I believe I just need to walk more and perhaps drop the resistance level on my Total Gym a notch and maybe work out more aerobically, and my blood pressure should correct itself. Also, as I continue to use coconut oil in my diet, that should help, as well.

I've been using the coconut oil for about a week and a half, so far, and it takes a few days to notice any positive results, but the weight loss spurt may be partly explained as a result of adding coconut oil to my diet. In Asia and the South Pacific, the coconut is a staple of the diet and its properties are attributable to the remarkable low instance of dietary diseases, including obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. But, it is the coconut oil that is the main factor involved in this. For those interested in doing their own research on this topic, there are numerous books and websites that can be consulted that will explain it all in greater depth than I can go into here. Just "Google" it. Actually, don't. I've begun using Scroogle Scraper as my search engine of choice, lately, for security reasons. What do I mean by that? Well, just Scroogle it.

In addition to learning about the benefits of coconut oil, I've been investigating the benefits of saturated fat. Yes, saturated fat, as it turns out, is actually good for you and we've been lied to about it for decades. Scroogle it. Seriously, I don't want you to believe everything I tell you without question. Do your own research, as I've done, and find out for yourself. The truth is out there.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Paleo Diet - Day 119

When I said, last week, that coming out of ketosis would mean that any further weight loss I'd have to work harder for, I guessed correctly. In pursuing my same routine as usual, I find that a week later I am no further along in weight loss, my weight still being at 182 lbs, right where it was a week ago. So, no change to report, there.

Of course, that also means my BMI (Body Mass Index), which is calculated on my weight, also remains the same as last week, at 24.7 ("normal weight").

Also, no real change in my blood sugar, either. Today's reading, before eating anything, is 120. I'm still in the pattern of staying up late Friday night/Saturday morning and snacking on nuts late at night, though, so it's no surprise. When I eat late at night, it doesn't seem to matter how late I sleep the following day, I always experience a higher blood sugar reading than when I've stopped eating earlier the night before.

So, where my weight, BMI and blood sugar are concerned, it looks as if I'll have to put out more effort, in terms of exercise, and watch my eating habits more closely. My fruit portions have been escalating, also, and I need to get back to where I was on this before.

Meanwhile, the only good news I have is that my blood pressure is, this morning, completely normal, at 110/79. A big improvement on the systolic side, as well as the diastolic side, and both numbers are headed downward together, for a change. That's good.

Where my Total Gym workouts are concerned, I've begun doing some extra work at the highest resistance setting, focused on beefing up my pecs (chest) and my glutes (ass), which have always been my source of body-building frustration. I can feel a definite difference in both areas, so the change in strategy seems to be working for me. My chest, especially, feels like it's getting firmer and slightly larger in response to some of the exercises I've chosen.

Well, it's a beautiful day, so I'm going for a long and much-needed walk!