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Any ERs who've overdone it on diet & health?
Old 06-01-2008, 06:58 PM   #1
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Any ERs who've overdone it on diet & health?

For those who haven't read it yet, here's some background from ER Philip Greenspun:

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The Depressing Truth:
Ask a wage slave what he'd like to accomplish. Chances are the response will be something like "I'd start every day at the gym and work out for two hours until I was as buff as Brad Pitt. Then I'd practice the piano for three hours. I'd become fluent in Mandarin so that I could be prepared to understand the largest transformation of our time. I'd really learn how to handle a polo pony. I'd learn to fly a helicopter. I'd finish the screenplay that I've been writing and direct a production of it in HDTV."
Why hasn't he accomplished all of those things? "Because I'm chained to this desk 50 hours per week at this horrible job."
So he has no doubt that he would get all these things done if he didn't have to work? "Absolutely none. If I didn't have the job, I would be out there living the dream."
Suppose that the guy cashes in his investments and does retire. What do we find? He is waking up at 9:30 am, surfing the Web, sorting out the cable TV bill, watching DVDs, talking about going to the gym, eating Doritos, and maybe accomplishing one of his stated goals.
Retirement forces you to stop thinking that it is your job that holds you back. For most people the depressing truth is that they aren't that organized, disciplined, or motivated.
Then there's Paul Terhorst on "Body Work". He claims that ERs can spend at least 24 hours a day taking care of themselves... or should.

I'm the first to admit there are days where I'll happily spend six or eight hours with a book or a computer, ignoring all the things I "should" be doing. And even that might not get done if the surf's up.

Does anyone know of any ERs who actually managed to use their ER to lose a scary amount of weight or to exercise to extremes? I don't mean losing part of their love handles or walking an hour a day-- we're talking BMI in the teens or competing in triathlons. People you haven't seen for a year or two who make you react "Yikes, are you OK?!?"

If you know of anyone like that, what motivated them?
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Old 06-01-2008, 07:18 PM   #2
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I don't know anyone who retired and became a triathelete with a BMI in the teens.

But why isn't it a wonderful accomplishment to walk for a half hour or an hour every day, or to go to the gym first thing on most mornings for a little, or to go surfing 4-5 days a week if this represents a change from habits during working years? I think that's pretty cool.
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Old 06-01-2008, 07:32 PM   #3
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I lost 80# over 3 years (~1/2 # per week). It wasn't anything I planned, it happened on its own; as the stress went away, so did the stress eating.

Now I am working on an eating plan and an exercise plan.

I have set a schedule for myself for cleaning, laundry...

But I have come to realize that it was not just the job that was holding me back, it is mostly my own inherent laziness.

It is gardening season in Ohio.
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Old 06-01-2008, 08:58 PM   #4
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I have plans to build up to run a 100 miler in ER or semi-ER. I had a setback this spring when I failed to complete a 50 miler, so I'm kind of reevaluating that now. At a minimum I plan on running more marathons, and putting in more time running and overall crosstraining. I've got friends 10-15 years older who are doing still doing 100 milers, so I don't see that I'm too old, I just haven't been able to dedicate as much time for training as I'd like. Even just going 1/2 time (starting tomorrow!) I figure I'll have more time for this.

I know a couple people who have ER'd and run a lot of marathons, but I don't know if they always did it or increased their racing or what. At least some tend to travel more, expecially driving to some interesting places with races, because of their free time.
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Old 06-02-2008, 06:43 AM   #5
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I did lose 10 pounds after first gaining 15, so now at 150 lbs I'm 5 over what I was at age 22. But I never was much into extreme athletics. The knee surgeon in 1988 told me "No running for you" but walking, swimming, bike riding are OK. Trying to get DW more interested in bike riding, but I go by myself a lot.
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Old 06-02-2008, 09:16 AM   #6
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No, never met anyone in ER who became anywhere near the high intensity exercise type. Personally, daily 1/2 hour morning walks, twice weekly ju-jutsu and intense free weight work. There are a few other geezers at the local Y, who do fairly good workouts. Nothing to to make them "ripped".

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Old 06-02-2008, 10:37 AM   #7
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But I have come to realize that it was not just the job that was holding me back, it is mostly my own inherent laziness.
Me too.

I'm surprised at how much my body has changed in six years of ER, let alone from my 20s to my 40s. I probably only eat 70% of the calories I used to eat just five years ago, despite burning several hundred calories more per day, and although I've exchanged a lot of fat for surfing muscles I really haven't lost much weight. A "light" workout is a lot harder than it used to be, recovery needs an extra day, and it doesn't take much to push me to the edge of injury. It's easy to feel betrayed by your body, and I'm still surprised by how lazy I can get.

I've read the stories (on this board) and the books about extreme lifestyle changes... but if it hasn't happened to me by now then I don't see it happening at all.
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Old 06-02-2008, 02:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
It's easy to feel betrayed by your body
Especially when there's not much one can do (or could have done) to prevent deterioration.

No matter what my lifestyle is/was the arthritis and the nerve problems would have showed up at about the same age for me as they did for my mother and her father (and probably further back, though I have no records).
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Old 06-02-2008, 03:01 PM   #9
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I retired, spent time with an orthopedist and got a leg brace, lost about 40 pounds, and now "compete" in sprint triathlons, not the long triathlons. BMI in the teens? Not, but it's cool to no longer be obese. I'm competitive only with myself and my similar-age-and-shape friends, but it's really fun anyway.
MY DH and I spend about 1 hour 50 minutes at the gym every day when we are not traveling. Is it too much? Maybe, but beats the heck out of what my life was before when I was chained to a desk and in pain (physical and mental) most of the time.
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Old 06-03-2008, 12:11 PM   #10
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grandpa played about 8 hours of tennis about every day even in the florida heat and all the way until alzheimer's forced us to remove him from the courts. i don't think grandpa needed motivation. he was a handball champ in his youth. always stayed in amazing shape. i think some people are naturally born athletes.

i see this at the gym too. the gym rats. they are as motivated to hit the gym as i am motivated to keep breathing. only they don't just do it. they love it. for me, the gym is a struggle. i have to force myself. i am motivated by the notion of becoming decrepit if i don't. it is mere effort to battle atrophy.

if i am motivated, i am motivated simply to not have to struggle to get out of a chair when i will be 70.

lately i've been wondering what my body would feel & look like if i could get it to peak performance at the age of 51, maybe even get into body sculpting. but i am afraid that it will take more motivation than i can muster. even i might not be that vain; i hope i am that curious.

here's a motivated guy for you nords, a blind 70 year old water skier:

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Old 06-03-2008, 12:50 PM   #11
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for me, the gym is a struggle. i have to force myself. i am motivated by the notion of becoming decrepit if i don't. it is mere effort to battle atrophy.
LG4NB, your post just cries out for comment - - you know, I am an academic, bookworm type and not especially athletically inclined. There are things that I do at the gym which I hate, but I do them because they are good for me. An example would be the elliptical, which is the machine from H*ll but which gives me results that I like and need. I do as little as possible on it!

But there are other things that I do at the gym as a REWARD for having done my time on the elliptical. For me, that's the weight machines. Amazing how I can increase and improve on the weight machines, and how I am just not motivated to go beyond the very minimum on the elliptical.

Some people really like the pool, or yoga, or those classes with the big exercise balls, or fencing, or so on. Maybe you just need to find something that is genuinely fun for you. Maybe you would like walking on the beach every morning. There's got to be something. Then eventually you'll probably get bored with that and move on to something else.

Now driving to the gym is another matter. I like that less than the elliptical.
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Old 06-03-2008, 04:03 PM   #12
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I've noticed that I no longer self-medicate through chocolate! Yup, I still enjoy chocolate, but as a treat for dessert or tea time. I used to pop a handful of candy into my mouth the second I got home. It was a reward for making it through another work day and commute, and also seemed needed to stablilize my blood sugar.

But more conscious, controlled eating has not changed my weight at all, nor has daily exercise. I do believe that my genes won't allow me to have a perfect body at 54 or the body I had at 34.

And I'm not saying this to get a controversy going, but I wouldn't want to be so physically fit that I live extremely long. Those lab rats who are put on low calorie diets and live longer don't have a choice. But the thought of living past 90 really scares me, in terms of diminishing capacities (mental and physical), loss of my husband (I expect to outlive him), and possibly outliving my funds.
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Old 06-03-2008, 05:21 PM   #13
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here's a motivated guy for you nords, a blind 70 year old water skier:
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Thanks!

Good grief, he must've been in his high 50s when he did the Ironman. I wonder how they handled biking around those Kona roads.
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Old 06-03-2008, 08:31 PM   #14
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A few years ago, HBO's Real Sports did a feature on an 85-year-old man trying to finish the Iron Man before the cut off time. The strangest part of this story is that before his retirement at age 60, he was a desk jockey who never exercised.

Phil Greenspun is a smart guy as all Bostonians are, ahem, smart. The problem is that what he says is only partially true. The problem with trying to live life in a very intense way on top of a real job is that there isn't much margin for error. When I raced bikes, a crash would leave half of my body full of road rash which obviously is not life threatening. What is life threatening is the 5 straight nights of no sleep because every time I turned, I would wake up screaming in pain because I happened to turn on to the half of my body that's full of fresh scars. Then I had go to work for 5 days with no sleep, and by the end I looked like a ghost. The imagery was not lessened by the fact that I was draped in bandages.
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Old 06-03-2008, 09:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tangomonster View Post
I've noticed that I no longer self-medicate through chocolate! Yup, I still enjoy chocolate, but as a treat for dessert or tea time. I used to pop a handful of candy into my mouth the second I got home. It was a reward for making it through another work day and commute, and also seemed needed to stablilize my blood sugar.

But more conscious, controlled eating has not changed my weight at all, nor has daily exercise. I do believe that my genes won't allow me to have a perfect body at 54 or the body I had at 34.

And I'm not saying this to get a controversy going, but I wouldn't want to be so physically fit that I live extremely long. Those lab rats who are put on low calorie diets and live longer don't have a choice. But the thought of living past 90 really scares me, in terms of diminishing capacities (mental and physical), loss of my husband (I expect to outlive him), and possibly outliving my funds.
The thought of living past 80 is horrifying.
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Old 06-03-2008, 09:59 PM   #16
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I retired, spent time with an orthopedist and got a leg brace, lost about 40 pounds, and now "compete" in sprint triathlons, not the long triathlons. BMI in the teens? Not, but it's cool to no longer be obese. I'm competitive only with myself and my similar-age-and-shape friends, but it's really fun anyway.
MY DH and I spend about 1 hour 50 minutes at the gym every day when we are not traveling. Is it too much? Maybe, but beats the heck out of what my life was before when I was chained to a desk and in pain (physical and mental) most of the time.
Hi frugal,
Very cool! Would you mind sharing what sort of diet/exercise plan you used? Did you have to go hungry? I've been trying to lose weight forever but can't seem to get past the hungry stage.
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Old 06-03-2008, 10:01 PM   #17
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The thought of living past 80 is horrifying.

There was an 80 yr old couple on my trip to Costa Rica this April. They were up for anything. Kayaking, hiking, swimming in the ocean. The wife was a little scatter brained and the husband had a few physical problems (hard of hearing). But they were obviously still enjoying life to the fullest, and the husband was still doing research in his field of expertise.
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Old 06-04-2008, 01:01 AM   #18
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Hi frugal,
Very cool! Would you mind sharing what sort of diet/exercise plan you used? Did you have to go hungry? I've been trying to lose weight forever but can't seem to get past the hungry stage.
I went hungry for much of my life and was overweight or obese to boot. Now I don't let myself get hungry because I know it causes my metabolism to slow down and then I gain weight.
I'd been going to the gym for over a decade, but still looked like a "before" picture.
Then I hired a trainer for 3 sessions. First off, I learned I had to get my heart rate over a certain level during cardio. Hours of low intensity didn't seem to do anything, but a half hour or more of heart rate near or over 130 (for me) works. Oatmeal/oat bran/wheat brain with blueberries and skim milk for breakfast, then the gym for 1 to 2 hours for weight machines and cardio, then a couple of hard-boiled egg whites or other protein immediately after. The rest of the day, lunch, dinner and light nibbling when hungry with a good Mediterranean type diet but high on protein and non-fat dairy, with little pasta, bread or cheese.
But most important - I first had to count calories for weeks to inform myself what I could eat. I used
USDA - CNPP - MyPyramid Tracker
and tracked exercise and calories. I learned a few foods that were disastrously high in calories for me to stay away from (e.g. walnuts!).
I have to eat about 400 calories per day less than it says I can for my height/weight/age/sex/activity, but my DH has to eat more than it says, so you have to use it a couple of weeks and track your weight every day to see where your balance level is.
But it works! Now I haven't had to use the tracker for years. It's too tedious to do long term, but it's a great learning tool. And I'd tried Weight Watchers, so it's not like I was uninformed about calories and nutrition.
Mind you, I still would like to lose another 15 lbs, but this is as "skinny" as I've ever been, and I've never been this old before (mid-50's). And I have lots more muscle mass now, so I can get away with eating more. Oh dear, I sound like a commercial. Your mileage may vary.
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Old 06-04-2008, 01:29 PM   #19
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The thought of living past 80 is horrifying.
We'll have to get back to you after your 79th birthday... maybe it won't seem so bad from that perspective.
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Old 06-04-2008, 02:20 PM   #20
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There's a local guy had his story written up in the paper.
He weighed 500 and decided to do a Forest Gump with his bike and a new diet. It's an interesting story. He mentioned a book Eat To Live.
I just read it. It has inspired me to start eating a lot more vegs, fruit & nuts and cut back on the animals and processed foods I've been eating.
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