Saturday, April 29, 2017

Walking

After I pinched my Sciatic nerve in June 2011, again in June 2012 and then severly in July, it took until September where I could walk any distance, so I started walking first along the Ruston Way parkway in Tacoma. It's a beautiful walkway park along the waterfront from Old Town to Ruston in northeast Tacoma.

From there I started walking to and from Gig Harbor where I live. It's 3+ miles direct from my place to the commercial area off highway 16 in Gig Harbor and 4+ miles to downtown Gig Harbor. I've stayed with the former destination for now but have found different routes which varys the walk from 6-7 miles to 8-10 miles round trip depending on the route.

So far the walks each month has had to fit into the schedule of work, life and trips, which is as follows for the months to date.

-- 2012 --
September  -   7 trips for 28.5 miles
October      - 10 trips for 46.5 miles
November  -   4 trips for 20.0 miles
December  -   9 trips for 45.0 miles
-- Total for 2012 - 140 miles --

-- 2013 --
January      - 17 trips for 101  miles (lots of cold rain/snow walks)
February    - 10 trips for 60.4 miles (includes one 7 mile test walk)
March        - 13 trips for 76.0 miles
April          - 19 trips for 132 miles (includes two 8 mile walks)
May           - 16 trips for 122 miles (7.5-8 miles except one)
June           - 17 trips for 136 miles (8 miles with two 7.5 or 9 mile walks)
July            - 16 trips for 130 miles (8 miles with two 9 mile walks)
August       - 20 trips for 162 miles (8 miles with four 8.5 mile walks)
September  - 22 trips for 175 miles (8+ miles except one 6 mile walk)
October      - 26 trips for 201 miles (6-9 mile walks)
November  - 21 trips for 166 miles (8 miles but one 6 miles)
December   - 27 trips for 208 miles (8 miles but four 6 miles)
-- Total for 2013 - 1,669 miles --
-- Total distance - 1,809 miles --

-- 2014 --
January       - 26 trips for 205 miles (8 miles but three 6 or 9 miles)
February     - 12 trips for 90 miles (6 or 8 miles)
March         -  9 trips for 55.5 miles (6-6.5 miles)
April           -  several short walks.
May            - 10 trips for 64.5 miles (6-6.5 mile)
June            - 17 trips for 125 miles (6-8 miles)
July             - 15 trips for 120 miles (8 miles)
August        - 14 trips for 113 miles (8-8.5 miles)
September   - 14 trips for 112 miles (6.5-9 miles)
October       - 14 trips for 112 miles (8 miles)
November   - 11 trips for 64 miles (most 6 miles)
December   - 12 trips for 72 miles (all 6 miles)
-- Total for 2014 - 1,198 miles --
-- Total distance - 3,007 miles --

-- 2015 --
January         -  9 trips for 54.5 miles
Februrary      - 15 trips for 90 miles
March           - 15 trips for 90 miles
April             -  5 trips for 30 miles
May              - 12 trips for 72 miles
June              - 10 trips for 60 miles
July              -  8 trips for 50 miles (two bike trips)
August          - 4 trips for 22 miles
September    - 14 trips for 84 miles
October        - 25 trips for 150 miles
November    - 23 trips for 138 miles
December    - 26 trips for 156 miles
-- Total for 2015 (to date) - 996 miles
-- Total distance - 4,003 miles --

-- 2016 --
January         -  24 trips for 140 miles
Februrary      - 20 trips for 120 miles
March            - 20 trips for 120 miles
April              - 18 trips for 108 miles
May               - 16 trips for 96 miles
June               - 15 trips for 90 miles
July                - 22 trips for 136 miles
August           - 22 trips for 131 miles
September     - 13 trips for 78 miles
October         -  7 trips for 42 miles
November     - 11 trips for 66 miles
December      - 18 trips for 108 miles
-- Total for 2016 (to date) - 1,235 miles
-- Total distance - 5,238 miles --

-- 2017 --
January         -  22 trips for 132 miles
Februrary      -  20 trips for 120 miles
March            - 26 trip for 156 miles
April              - 21 trips for 126 miles
May               -
June               -
July                -
August           -
September     -
October         -
November     -
December      -
-- Total for 2017 (to date) - 534 miles
-- Total distance - 5,772 miles --

Notes:

April 2017.-- I managed 21 walks this month, all in the 40's weather, with a few days with 5-10 degree wind chill. The clothing choice narrowed for the consistency of the temperatures, but not so much the rain but then I have GoreTex coats to keep me dry.

The plans to get the digestive system working had three parts. First was anti-biotics to clear the overgrowths of opportunistic bacteria and adding probiotics to rebuild the digestive tract microbiome. Second was adding supplements with the acids, enzymes and proteins to digest food, after test found the system wasn't producing enough.

Third was eating a variety of foods to add more bacteria to the biome. The reason is that foods add more variety of bacteria to the digestive tract to tolerate and digest a greater variety of foods. The old saying, "You are what you eat.", is also "You are what you don't eat.", meaning fewer foods you can digest.

The naturopath recommends a variety of plant foods, especially vegetables which have bacteria to add to the digestive tract, but that takes a few meals of each to build the bacteria, especially when they're not there and result in adverse reactions.

That said, I've added a few more vegetables, but also scratched some new ones because they're high in fiber, something the digestive system can't digest and passes through. We've all read about it, and for some it's not something their body tolerates more than a little at a time.

March 2017.--I read an article on the Wall Street Journal about losing weight and fat, especially below one's genetic level. Fat produces hormones which regulates hunger in an inverse way, so losing fat reduces the hormone to suppress eating to make us hungry, to restore the fat, why dieting and exercise to lose are counter productive to the body wanting to keep fat.

This hormone also regulates your metabolism, so the lower the weight, meaning less fat, the hormone lower the body's metabolism, so eating restores the fat on the same calories before you lost the weight. This means when you lose weight and fat, especially below the level your body wants, you have to consciously control eating to offset the instinct to eat to regain the weight and fat, especially on days you don't exercise.

I used several Websites to calculate my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and then calculate calories used for walking. These Websites don't adjust for air temperature, especially if you run or walk outdoors. Winter walks consume more calories due to heating the body along with the exercise. Anyway, my BMR on non-walking days is around 1400 calories and around 2200 calories on walking days for 6 miles and 2400 calories for 8 miles.

The other thing I noticed is that I've reached the lowest weight the body will achieve, somewhere around 138-139 lbs. This is because looking at the miles and weight, from 150 to 140 lbs it was about 150 miles per pound, but it took 300 miles to get to 139 and 500 miles to get to 138.

The walking now is simply to lose the remaining fat and work to keep the digestive system functioning normally again with health supplements and diet, and hopefully by spring I can get back to a level to increase the distance and add weight to the backpack to resume hiking later spring or summer.

That's it for this month.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Food Experiments

I've been trying new foods or retrying old foods for years through the problems with my digstive system, almost always ending in an adverse reaction, usually moderate to extreme constipation. Some foods would work normally once but then never again, to be crossed off the list.

Now that my digestive problems have been diagnosed and treated, first to treat the bacterial infections/overgrowth with anti-biotics and probiotics, and second to treat the damage to the digestive system with supplements for the acids, enzymes and proteins to digest food, it's taken time to rebuild it and make it work again.

The other missing part of the treatment was a diversity of foods to rebuild the bacteria in the small and large intestine, mostly the latter, to digest and process a greater variety of foods. The problem is the first time you try a food, the system doesn't have the bacteria for it, so it has to build it.

This means I never know how the system will react with new foods, because you have to eat it a few times to build the bacteria for it. With that the food experiments have taken on a new role, but first I have to want to eat the foods, something I don't have an interest to try a range of foods.

The naturopath recommended starting with plants, mostly vegetables since they have the greater variety of bacteria to add to the system. Before I've reduced the list of them to carrots, celery and occasionally peas. To that I've been trying two vegetables a week.

A few weeks ago it was asparagus and cauliflower, two vegetables I really like, and they worked enough I can eat them again. Last week was tomatoes and lettuce with refried beans. I love tacos with refried beans, some meat, tomatoes and lettuce - the food experiment minus the meat for now.

The beans are high in fiber, which I rarely eat because of its effects on the digestive system, like a tunnel boring machine. Yeah, they and the vegetables were not good reactions, so I have to decide if I want to try them again in the future.

This week is green beans, another one I like. No idea of the other one yet, something to browse the produce market and follow the taste buds. I've only added a few non-vegetables to focus the system on the fewest new foods as possible.

Some foods are old foods I've had a range of reactions to over the years, mostly potatoes, but they have a lot of starch which strains the system. I still try one of my favorite foods, potato chips, every now and then, but stopped when the system has problems digesting it.

Anyway, just some thoughts on foods. There's a long list of foods to try this year, and at one or two a week it will take awhile. The two health supplements to help the digestive system works very well, something I recommend now if your system isn't working.

Don't always assume it's a bacteria balance/imbalance issue and just try probiotics, something most gastroenterologists say because they don't know anymore or any better. There are tests to check for some of the acids, enzymes and proteins needed for digesting and processing foods.

Get them if you haven't had the test. That's how the naturopath discovered my pancreas wasn't working to produce enough enzymes to digest some foods. You can also add the supplements which provide these elements, but I would recommend clinicial standard supplements for their quality and quantity and lack of unnecessary ingredients.

The worst case scenarios is the supplements just add to existing acids, enzymes and proteins you don't need and you can then discontinue them. The other supplement is Butyric acid which feeds the cells in the lining of the large intestine to protect it and help process foods, which has been a great help.

That's it for now.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Food Anew

After my naturopath, who specializes in digestive system care, found and treated the problems I’ve been having for 9 years now, after 3 gastroenterologists couldn’t find with a succession of tests which in hindsight were a waste only but they had to follow the diagnostic protocols and then, finding nothing, said there wasn’t anything more they could do for me, I’ve found food again. 
After two ant-biotics to eliminate the bacterial infections, probiotics to rebuild the bacterial balance, and then taking two health supplements to restore the digestive system’s acids, enzymes and proteins, the digestive system is normal again, adding a variety of foods to rebuild the diversity of bacteria in foods in the system for digeting foods.
Yes, I’ve found food again, and going to the supermarket to buy what I can eat and not just go to see what I can’t eat, albeit only a few at at time and in small amounts for now to reorient my digestive system to the variety of foods it won’t revolt but simply taste, digest and process like a normal system should and does. 
Food. Real food again. Simple word but a world of joy. The joy of walking around a good grocery store (Metropolitan Market in Tacoma, any of them are good along with PCC markets in Seattle) seeing all the foods from around the world, seeing and smelling all the food in the deli, browsing all the fresh produce, fish/seafood/meats, just enjoy the privilege many people in the world don’t have, and enjoying the thought of eating again and not worrying about the effects, or worse problems, later, but simply enjoying it.
Food. A basic staple of life. Food again. Lost and found anew. So much exploration ahead to renew my connection with food and life. Simple things the vast majority never think about other than a momentary thought what they wanted to eat without regard should anything go wrong because it won’t. Simple decisions, momentary, to think, “You know what would taste good right now?”, or walk into their kitchen with the whole array of foods to decide what to fix and eat for the sheer joy of food.
Food. We take for granted until we can’t and find we’ve lost the right to that joy. But now I’ve found it again, and on the slow road back to what everyone else accepts as common, food, any food. Time will provide that as I explore food again.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Food

I had a followup appointment with the naturopath last week after prescribing (in the sense they can) health supplements 3 months ago to help digest food. For the most part, they helped a little but not significantly, and not for periods when matters got worse.

At the end we discovered I have two problems. First she reasoned from the symptoms and results of the health supplements to date my digestive isn't working because it's not producing enough of the acids, enzymes and proteins to fully digest food.

We know from tests my pancreas doesn't produce enough enzymes to help break down foods. Now she suspects the stomach isn't producing enough acid to predigest food and the small and large intestine aren't producing enough of all three to fully digest and process food.

This is why I have a lot of undigested food among other symptoms. So she prescribed new health supplements which adds the recommended acid, enzymes and proteins to the whole system. In the short time since taking them the changes have been more than a significant improvement.

The system is working to digest food again, which leads to the second problem. She added a probiotic after the antibiotics which helped somewhat but often excerbated the problems, meaning too much bacteria in the system which was a reflection of the first problem, not working.

She talked about the idea it's less what you eat sometimes but what you don't eat. Since I've had the problems over the last 9 years and especially last 3 years I've reduced my diet to the minimal which doesn't cause problems, and only try new foods occasionally, which usually causes problems.

And this is the second problem. The digestive system adjusts the diversity of the bacteria to the foods you eat, the more diverse the foods, the more diverse the bacteria, and vice versa. This is key when I ate foods I haven't eaten in awhile, sometimes years, the bacteria isn't there to digest it.

That's what has been part of the problem. I need to expand my foods to give the digestive system a more diverse microbiome to tolerate and digest foods. But before I can do that I have to make the system work to digest food in the first place.

So that's where I'm at. First, get the digestive system working, which signs seem to show it is working now, but this will take time as it and the body adjusts to the health supplements. Then, slowly add news foods, mostly fruits and vegetables which diversfy the bacteria in the system.

The goal being not to worry about what I eat with a far more diverse diet. Eventually I might be able to drop the probiotics, but it's clear I won't be able to drop the other health supplements since they're the one adding the acids, enzymes and proteins my system doesn't produce anymore.

But I'll take it since I can begin to enjoy food and not worry how my system will react.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Weight and Miles

When I first started walking in September 2012 I weighed about 190 lbs. I had pinched my Sciatic nerve the previous July which left me flat on my back for nearly a week and the advice from the back specialist, "Get you ass out there and walk, as far as you can, as often as you can, and add a backpack to add weight later."

It took awhile to get the miles up from a few miles to 6 miles and later 8 miles a day with the plan to walk 20-25 days a month. It took only a few months to get to 5-6 miles and a few more months to get to 8 miles, but it took a year to get to 20 or more days per month.

And it wasn't consistent over the years, there were setbacks from bacteria problems with my digestive system which took 4 years to resolve, no thanks to gastroenterologists who did all sorts of tests but nary an answer, and a naturopath specializing in digestive system to find the answer and presecribe two antibiotics.

For the last 2 1/2 years I dropped the walks to 6 miles during the worst of the digestive problems, which caused intermittent problems with the lower back and Sciatic nerve. The 6-mile distance helped keep the walking while minimizing the problems.

For the most part when I walked at least 15-20 days I lost weight and after the first few months the ratio was about 80 miles per pound of weight, meaning fat. This was due to the calories for the weight loss based on distance, walking pace, and weather and temperature (all walks outdoors along rural roads).

As the weight dropped, the total calories used also dropped, and as you might expect, the miles per pound increased for every 10 pounds lost, but not in a linear manner, eg. at 180-170 lbs it was about 90 miles, 170-160 lbs it was about 100 miles, and 160-150 lbs it was about 120 miles, and 150-140 lbs it increased from 120 to 150 miles.

As I approached 140 lbs I was below my genetic weight and fat, where the body fights losing and changes to add the weight and fat back to the genetic predisposition level. Below 140 lbs it's become even harder, taking over 300 miles to lose one pound, 140 to 139 lbs, and recently reached 138 lbs after over 500 miles.

This means the remaining weight, about a pound of fat, will take even longer, and the walks will be to keep the weight under 140 lbs than to lose anymore weight. I don't know how many days or miles this will require but for now the walks are for habit, to get up and out the door early in the morning.

I'll still walk 6 miles, maybe increasing to 7-8 miles later this spring or summer, and keep the 20-24 days per month simply for the routine. I'd like to change to or add running but that's still on the horizon when the body feels it's ok, because of the pounding the lower back takes with running

I've run short distances with no problems, so there's promise, but for now walking works, and I get to stop at a cafe at the turn-around place in town.