The second of the five major transformations that I want to work on is my body. I’m not just talking about the vanity things like being trimmer and more muscular (though those are part of it too), but about becoming a more healthy person.
After 16 years of not being able to see a doctor, this past February I finally was able to get health insurance and now have a General Practitioner (Thank you, Obamacare). I went through my introductory exams back in February, with the bloodwork and the weights and measures, and now I’m on several medications.
First of all, I have asthma. This is nothing new, I was diagnosed when I was 8. Luckily, once I moved out of my parent’s house, where my stepmother smoked, my condition improved in a major way, so I haven’t had nearly as many problems as I did when I was a kid. But I do still have issues, especially in the fall when my allergies are particularly active. In the past I managed by having friends and family give me extra albuterol inhalers when they were done with them after short-term problems, and occasionally bought an OTC Primatine inhaler which honestly did little. Now that I have a GP I’m taking a daily inhaler once in the morning and once in the evening. I honestly think that this is overkill in my current condition, since I’m taking this new inhaler way more often than I ever took a rescue inhaler, so its something that I will probably be talking to my doctor about at some point in the future.
Next up, Psoriasis. I am very fortunate to not have the severe plaque psoriasis that my brother has, but I do have enough of a problem to cause discomfort and annoyance. Happily, I now have a foam prescription that keeps the itching and the spots at bay as long as I use it regularly. Again, thank the gods for Obamacare, because without prescription coverage, this medication costs $350 per month. With my new insurance coverage, I pay nothing for it.
These first two are conditions that there is really little that I can do to “fix” beyond continuing to use medication to keep everything managed. While the Asthma problems will be helped somewhat by having a fitter body, it’s still a disease that can be triggered by different stimuli, and I hit the trifecta. My asthma is triggered by cold, exercise, AND allergies.
But these next problems are ones that hopefully I will be able to actually take care of with effort. At 289 lbs last week, I am definitely overweight. Not nearly as overweight as you are probably picturing right now, considering that I am 6’4″ and have decent musculature. But my body fat percentage the last time I measured it was around 23%, which is definitely above the ideal range for my age. According to Jackson & Pollock I should be between 12% and 17%. While my more immediate goal is to hit that 17% number, what I’m really shooting for eventually is dead in the middle of the ideal range, so around 14.5%.
Then there is my blood pressure. I’ve been pretty consistently pre-hypertensive every time I’ve had my blood pressure taken, whether at the doctor’s office, or some pharmacy blood pressure station, or random health studies that I’ve participated (I was part of the Adolescent Health Study from High School until about 5 years ago, not sure if they’ve stopped collecting data on it yet or not).
I’ve also pretty much always had high triglycerides. I don’t know what the actual numbers are or what they really mean, but I know that now that I have insurance, my Doctor has put me on Lipofen to manage it. I would like to get myself off of this medication if I possibly can.
Here’s a new one I had no idea was a problem. I apparently have low testosterone. I had it tested last winter, and we found it was low. The doctor asked be if I was interested in hormone therapy, and I asked to be given a little time to try and raise my testosterone without medication. I know that things like exercise affect testosterone, and I hadn’t been working out much at the time before I was tested.
So I went home and looked into ways of naturally raising my testosterone, only to find that besides the exercise, I was already pretty much doing all the things that they said that can raise testosterone levels. Last week when I went in we tested my T again, and it’s low again. Apparently really low. I’m supposed to have at least 400 apparently, and I have more like 220 (I don’t remember the unit of measure). I’m meeting with the doctor again next week, and this time I’m going to tell him to go ahead and put me on the hormones.
I don’t really know what effect the hormones will have. I know that low hormones are supposed to be associated with low energy (which I often have), low libido (which I do not have), sleep issues, (which I sometimes have), depression (which I may have, but have no objective measure). So I’m actually hoping that getting on the T will help get a lot of the other things in my life in order, with more energy, better sleep, and if there actually is a bit of depression going on, helping to mitigate that.
As far as what I’ve been doing on my own to improve my health and fitness, there’s exercise. I have had the same issues with starting up workout programs only to crash a few weeks in like everyone else. For the past three years though, I’ve done a lot more working out than I ever did before in my life. My exercise consists pretty much of weight lifting. I usually can stick with a program for several months before I end up stopping for one reason or another. Last year I actually had stuck with working out consistently for 6 month. By my birthday last year, I was lifting more weight than I ever had before. I did a 1 rep max test in mid August of last year, and my Squat was 365, my Deadlift was 405, and my Bench Press was 265. I miss those days, and I want to get back to them again.
The problem for me with working out is that I know I need to do more than just weight lifting to meet my goals. Cardio has to come into it too. The cardio will help with altering my body composition, as well as helping strengthen my lungs to help deal with my asthma. But every time I try to add the cardio into my workouts, the whole thing falls apart and I stop exercising altogether. I haven’t been able to figure out how to deal with this yet.
As far as my diet, I was doing really well for a while. I was eating 6 small meals per day, evenly spaced out, lots of protein and vegetables, and an appropriate amount of fat. And for a while It was helping. I wasn’t hungry all the time, because I kept topping up the tank with healthy foods. But ever since I moved up here things have been a problem.
For the first six months that I was living in Detroit, my partner and I were living with our other boyfriends. Four grown men sharing one refrigerator does not work well when you are trying to prepare lots of small meals in advance. There just isn’t enough room to store everything. So my eating habits started to just completely fall apart. My job as a server also doesn’t accomodate eating on a regular fixed schedule, because I’m constantly running around at my job, and can’t just stop what I’m doing to go eat.
My partner and I have been living in our own place again since May, but I haven’t been able to get fully back into the rhythm of preparing all of my meals for the week on my day off. I manage to get the groceries bought that day, but I don’t get everything prepared, and often things go bad before I have a chance to actually chop, cook, and portion everything. A few of the changes have been made pretty permanent, so at least there’s a little progress I can say I’ve made. my breakfast is still consistently one whole egg and five egg whites scrambled, but I often skip the whole grain that I should be having with breakfast, because I get incredibly sick of oatmeal very quickly.
So this is where I stand with my body. I’m meeting with my doctor again next week, and we will be discussing the medications that I’m on, and what I’m going to be taking in the future. I just started working out again last week, so hopefully I’ll start making strength gains, and working on my body composition going forward.
Here’s to a reforged body.