Tag: interesting

Let’s Go To The Numbers

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. Somehow this blog turned into nothing but writing about my (lack of) health and fitness. I don’t know how that happened and it wasn’t my intention. But for some reason, 90% of my few followers have some connection to the health/nutrition/fitness industry. I don’t get it. Write about some current event or a political issue, and crickets. Write about how many cookies I ate last week, and I get new followers. I find it bizarre. Anyway, clearly you asked for it, so let’s go into excruciating detail about my numbers.

As part of this years revolution (not resolution), I’ll be tracking my weight daily. I want to see how things fluctuate with food and exercise. I use an impedance scale (this one if interested) which provides a number of stats. First off, yes I know they are not a precise tool. The non-weight numbers tend to fluctuate quite a bit from day to day. But as a way to watch trends over time, I think it’s a fine tool.

A side note on interesting observations… I’ve been using the scale on and off for a number of years. Out of curiosity I went back to when I was at my leanest and most cardio-fit (was doing tons of mountain trail running). At that point my body fat was 17.5% and lean muscle mass was 132 lbs. I wasn’t exactly Viking warrior material – more like Chris Froome cyclist physique.

Fast forward to today. Body fat is, well… an embarrassing 26.8% I know, I know, we’re working on it. But here’s the interesting number. I’ve been lifting weights seriously for about four months now. Muscle mass today is at 147.8 lbs. A 15.8 lb gain in lean muscle mass! Now I don’t think that’s a super accurate number, but it has been steadily increasing over the last few months. Given my age and the back issues I’ve had recently, I’ll take muscle mass and core strength improvements over body fat%.

But we’re all vain creatures (if we’re honest) and I’m tired of struggling to button my jeans, so the body fat number is important. The official weigh in was Jan 2. Here’s what the numbers show:

Jan 2 food/exercise: several eggs + bacon; string cheese, grapes, a few pretzels; tri-tip, salad; a big piece of cake; went downhill skiing for the day.

Jan 3 weight increased .2 lbs, no change in body fat%.

Jan 3 food/exercise: stuffed bell pepper + cheese/sour cream; plate of Chinese food; big handful of chips; another plate of Chinese food; 1 small piece of chocolate; Split and carried wood up a flight of stairs for 40 minutes, went cross country skiing.

Jan 4 weight increased 2.4 lbs and body fat increased .4%

What the hell? So frustrating. Zero alcohol, nothing crazy calorie-wise (well, cake), was pretty active, and I gain 2+ pounds. This is why people get so frustrated dieting.

Here’s my guess – Because I cut out alcohol, I’ve been pounding fluids. Water, coffee, and 3-4 “vitamin waters”. It doesn’t seem like I’ve voided commensurate with overall fluid intake and I’m sure the Chinese food had tons of sodium. My theory is that most of that weight gain is fluid retention. Maybe? Unfortunately, the scale says my water percentage has actually gone down, so I don’t know what to think.

Obviously, the answer is to go back to tracking calories (I use this app) and map that to the scales data and watch the trend. Once I see a clear trend with calories to weight loss, I can create a bunch of known calorie meals and plan for the week. Remember – revolution, not resolution. Systems, not goals.

Sigh… why is this so hard? I want to go back to my twenties and the steady diet of burgers and nachos just to keep weight on.

A Little Perspective Is Good

A few things happened this week that have me doing some self-reflection. The first was a patient who was discovered to have cancer. Massive, metastasized tumors that had spread everywhere. The brain was being shifted to one side due to the tumors. Inoperable. The patient was told there were weeks to a month left. It’s hard to grasp being told that sort of news. Seeing that numb, vacant look in a patient’s eyes as they try to process what they’ve been told… affects you.

And then we had a family member pass away a few days ago. It wasn’t completely unexpected, but it’s still not the phone call you expect as you go about the day-to-day minutia of life. During the memorial service a video montage of photos was played, showing the spectrum of his life. From a young vibrant man to elderly and frail. Many of the pictures I’d never seen before. Hilarious plaid and burgundy pants. Massive Elvis-like shirt collars. Vacation and travel photos. Images of holding his infant daughters and final pictures of him with his new grandchildren.

Seeing those images made me happy because it was clear he’d lived a full life. He saw the world, worked hard, and had a loving family to the end. He fully participated in life. He was a happy guy who never had a bad thing to say about anyone. He far exceeded the average life expectancy in this country. You can’t ask for much more. The patient who received the bad news won’t have that opportunity. It’s a stark contrast.

Watching that tribute scroll across the screen, naturally you start thinking about your own end. What will my montage of pictures show? Will I be satisfied with my time here? What will people remember me for? Will anyone even show up? I think it’s good to be reminded occasionally that our time here is limited. What do you want out of the brief moment you’re on this earth?

We all want to leave our mark on the world. Something that says I was here, and I’ll be remembered. Some people think that’s their kids. For others it’s their job. Maybe it’s writing a book, creating art, or being a famous Instagram influencer. We think we need to leave behind something tangible because that “thing” is what’s going to define our memory. This is not true.

How you interact with the world today is what you’re going to be remembered for. The more engaged you are with life will influence everyone around you and how you’re perceived. The most beloved people are those who actively engaged with others, were happy, and led full and interesting lives. This is a hard reminder for those of us introverts who struggle with people engagement.

So, mostly as a reminder to myself, a list of things you need to work on today. Right now. Do these things and you’ll maximize the time you have left. And when your time comes… you will be remembered.

  1. Engage with your fellow humans. Preferably in person. Frequently. Repeatedly. When in person isn’t possible, txt, email, Zoom, etc… Maintain contact. This is the most important thing you can do. Out of sight, out of mind. This is also the hardest for me as an introvert. And no, engaging with Instagram or YouTube comments from strangers is not the same thing.

  2. Be interesting. It makes zero difference what your interesting thing is. If your world revolves around building model trains and attending train expos (is there such a thing?), then be passionate about it. People respond to someone who has something more to say than discussing the latest episode of some TV sitcom or regurgitating CNN/FOX news crap. And to be interesting… you have to actually get off the couch and interact with the world. A bonus!

  3. Be worldly. Travel. It doesn’t matter if that’s your own town, state, country, or international. Have you gone to all the museums in your town? Local craft fairs? Explore new restaurants? Tried foods from other cultures? (Taco Bell doesn’t count) Driven to the international potato museum the next town over? You’re only here once. Go explore your world. (see point number 2)

  4. Read. Read some more. Reading makes you think. Reading improves your vocabulary. Read stuff that goes against your political/social views. It’ll help solidify your opinions or open up your brain to other ideas. All of this goes a long way to making you interesting and enjoyable to interact with. (see point number 2)

  5. Be happy. I get it, easier said than done sometimes. The world is not always a perfect place. But you only get one shot at this. Nobody wants to be around a chronic complainer. Be happy and grateful for what you do have, recognizing that odds are you’re better off than a large percentage of the world. And for god’s sake, make a point of doing something fun from time to time. People would much rather hear a cute story about you trying to throw a frisbee for the first time in twenty years, than you complaining about your crappy job (again). Being happy is contagious.

  6. And finally… do something creative. Make something (and yes, food counts). Write. Paint. Take pictures. Sing. Play an instrument. Learn to juggle and put it on a YouTube channel. It doesn’t matter what it is. Creativity engages the brain and forces you to think and learn. And when that happens, guess what? You’ll be a more interesting human.

There are no profound insights in anything I just said. It’s the basic recipe for being a well-rounded, happy human, making the most of the time you have left on this earth. And when your time does end, I guarantee your montage of pictures will show a life well lived and will be seen by a lot of folks happy they had a chance to be a part of your life.

RIP Uncle Jim. 1935-2021