It’s Not Just Me …

I was at my daughter’s parkrun on Saturday in Yokine, Western Australia. Lovely place and a great location, albeit a tad freeeeezing on this particular day.

The FBH and I were doing our usual casual but brisk walk that turned into a bit of a light run from about half way. We eventually warmed up and enjoyed yet another parkrun which we tend to do every weekend. It’s always hard getting out of bed but it’s always well worth the effort.

As I handed in my token, a couple were sitting down after their run and one of them complained of having chest pains during the run. He also mentioned he was asthmatic  and this could have been the cause.

I normally mind my own business in these things, not out of lack of care but not having the whole story and I may be off the mark.

But this time I decided to have a chat and show him my arm wound just for impact.

“Have a guess how I got that?”, I asked. It certainly got his attention!

I was able to have a good discussion with him about my altercation with chest pains and what it led to. I certainly advised him I was no doctor and I wasn’t diagnosing his symptoms but I did suggest he get checked out. At least if there were no issues he’d have some peace of mind.

I’d hate to turn into someone who catastrophes every little niggle but in some cases where it’s life or death maybe a little bit of caution is helpful.

 

Recovery Run

img_0490Recovery runs are easy workouts that may flush out lactic acid build up, which can help prevent delayed onset of muscle soreness and speed up recovery. Something athletes do after a half marathon or marathon or during training to recover from high intensity sessions like intervals.

My runs at the moment are simply recovering from surgery.

Since The Big Day (17 July, the date of at the triple bypass) I’ve been slowly getting back to normal activity through walking and then stretching to longer walks and then more brisk walks.

At today’s parkrun at Yokine, Western Australia, I got into what I’d call normal running.

I started off walking and then decided to run a light pole, walk a light pole to see how I’d feel.

I certainly didn’t run the whole 5km today but towards the end of the run I felt that my cadence was coming back and the rhythm was feeling like something familiar.

Bypass image
Image courtesy of Annals of Cardiothoracic Surgery

It’s still a bit “jumpy” where the surgeon took the two mammary arteries to use be, but certainly better then last week.

I also felt a tingling in my left thumb where the radial artery was taken from to help with the surgery.

The left arm is healing really nicely too, thanks to John Ranger, the guy who performed the suturing. He’s done an amazing piece of work.

It’s is almost nine weeks since the surgery and in terms of realising how after you’ve progressed, it’s more the things that don’t happen that make you realise its all coming together.

For example, just 3 or 4 weeks ago, my mammary arteries would cause a nerve tingling that was very aggravating. Now that’s completely gone! But you don’t realise it’s gone for a few days, if you know what I mean.

So, the progress is definitely there and just when you think something doesn’t look or feel right, it seems to go away.

I’ve never had heart surgery before (and hopefully never again) so I’m not really sure how this is supposed to go! But, so far so good!

The Big Saturated Fat B@stard!

 

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The demonisation of dietary fats and saturated fat: villain or hero? Episode #346

This is a podcast featuring Dr Zoe Harcombe. It’s 33 minutes long so if you are interested in this topic around health and diet, I encourage you to listen. Not only does she convey some very interesting information, Zoe is really easy to listen to and her passion about the topic comes through.

A couple of really interesting points for me:

  • the question as to whether saturated fat really is the enemy. What I am learning on this journey is that there are many factors that can affect someone’s health and it may point to things like cholesterol, sugar and saturated fat but let’s not be too quick to point the finger until we rule out other aspects that may be contributing (like a sedentary lifestyle for one obvious example)
  • the other point is similar and that with the US and UK Diet Standards were not based on evidence based research. To this end, Zoe states that these standards are based on a study involving 2500 men (no women) and that these subjects were already unwell (or, all had prior heart disease). So it’s quite amazing that the 220 million Americans and 56 million Britons at the time were being guided by 2500 unwell men!

It’s almost hilarious that the world diet is being governed by this small group! That’s a group small enough to be celebrities in this day and age.

All that said, as this blog’s approach is to do what works for me, this constant research into the history of the current diet is interesting and, perhaps, not all it is cracked up to be. It also means there are a lot of people (dieticians, nutritionists, doctors etc.) who are promoting the standard diet without fully knowing the background or consequences. Don’t get me wrong, use whatever diet works for you, but it appears not every diet suits everyone and that includes the Standard Dietary Guidelines of various countries.

Have a listen and see what you think. Comments welcome.

Cheers!

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

Yep, that’s me!

There I was tracking my blood sugars quite nicely thank you when I decided I’d earned a “cheat day”. A “cheat day” is a day where I can eat anything I want within a 24 hour period and then get back on the wagon.

I asked the Twitter-sphere for advice on cheat days and here are a couple of responses:

You think I’d take their advice, huh?

I knew there’d be a period of adjustment to my blood sugars and was happy to accept that. I just didn’t realise how long they’d take to get back in check.

These are my blood sugars over the past couple of weeks.

The numbers on the left (4,5,6) indicate the week of tracking. The numbers on the right are the weekly averages. You’ll note a 1.07 increase this week over last week!

Can you tell which days the cheat day affected? Candy will do that to you!

Needless to say I am reviewing the value of cheat days and looking more at how to continue a healthy eating streak for as long as I can.

The funny thing is I feel a lot better when I’ve been eating cleanly over a period of time that it starts to take effect. The last thing I really want is to feel slow and sluggish, which sugar does for me.

Cheat days? Not worth it!

Keep Going …

These were the words my GP used when we discussed my blood work the other day.

I was a little surprised. The numbers mostly went in the right direction and quite markedly so. But I was still expecting a response like: “The results are fine, nothing to worry about.” All delivered with little emotion.

But his actual comments were: “Your blood results came back excellent! Whatever you are doing, keep doing it!”

And he knows exactly what I’m doing: Low Carb/Healthy Fat.

He even wrote it on the blood work request as LCHF 6/52 – meaning 6 weeks of last 52.

On my visit last week there as a fairly strong view that my bacon, eggs and grilled tomato were flying in the face of the advice of a registered professional dietician. Which, in fact, they were.

I’ve known my GP for a while now (30 years in total though not always seeing him as my GP due to life changes and distances) and he is a great guy. We’re the same age, give or take 10-15 days. My visits are always pretty quick but we always have a bit of a chuckle and a chat.

To be fair, I did try the dieticians advice for a couple of weeks and I saw my blood glucose fasting rise marginally in the morning. Not a lot and certainly not enough to stop the regime without an alternative. But I have an alternative.

In addition, I need to manage my blood sugars and my cholesterol – even though some studies suggest that cholesterol and saturated fat are not the cause of arterial plaque but I’m not that game to lose the statins just yet.

Without further ado there are my blood results. The main thing is to look at the recent history to see the changes, not just the one off results of the 28/08/18.

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The main score here is the LDL. It’s below the “magical*” 2.0, which is what I have been working on for a while. So the Doc was pretty happy with that and I assume the Cardiologist will be as well. And to come down a whole point from 09/16 can’t be bad.

If my HDL had remained at 0.9 my Coronary Risk Ratio wouldn’t have been listed as H (High). So close!

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 2.32.50 pm

Blood sugars also went in the right direction. the HbA1c (NGSP) dropped 0.8 and Estimated Avg Glucose dropped 1.2 points.

Of course these reductions are a one off. I’d like to close the case right here. But I think it prudent to get a couple more checks before I go solo! For any test to be valid it needs to be repeatable.

* There is lots of research that discounts the LDL level but I’m not about to trust that yet. The same goes with saturated fat and while I am consuming a healthy fat diet, the statins will remain until I see a further dramatic drop and/or there is consensus on the point. I’ve dodged a heart attack once. I don’t plan walking into one if I can help it.

Small Steps to Recovery

SmallSteps-811 There are three things I need to do in order to live a healthier life, and it’s not “rocket surgery!”
  1. Eat better – so my blood sugars are under control and ward off an acceleration into diabetes.
  2. Sleep better – to manage my family history of cardiovascular disease.
  3. Move better – to help with the above two points and get me back to some level of fitness and perhaps recommence ruing marathon distances.
To do this I can measure four things:
  1. Blood sugars – measure them every morning and keeping them below 6.0 where possible and below 5.5 if I can.
  2. Sleep quality – this is measure by a sleep apnea machine (ResMed Airsense 10 Elite) which shows me the number of AHIs each night (the lower the better)
  3. Movement – the number of steps take each day (target is 10,000) and the level of workout exercises I can increase on a regular basis.
  4. Weight – I am currently around 83kg but at 178cm in height I need to be 80kgs or below to a lower level of 78kg.
I have formal blood work to be completed next Monday so we’ll see what they tell us and how I am tracking with my diabetes in particular. Until then …

The Journey Begins

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

This is a bit of journey after some major surgery. So a little background may be in order.

For a while now I would call myself a runner, if not for the sole reason that if you ask me what I do outside of work, running will be the answer.

That doesn’t presume I am good at it. If you look at my race results I am always in the lower half of the rankings. I rarely challenge for a top 3 spot unless there are only 3 runners participating – true story!

The first weekend in June saw me complete the Elleker Half marathon in Albany, Western Australia. It was nothing remarkable and it was my slowest of the three half marathons I have completed.

After that I started training for the Münich Marathon. These were slow and short runs so relatively easy for someone who runs regularly. The only problem was I was getting chest pains. Then some jaw pain and finally some quite painful headaches.

To make a long story short a few examinations later including a stress test that showed nothing and an angiogram that showed 3 severe arterial blockages, it was determined I would need a triple bypass.

I have had a cholesterol issue for a few years, due to family history and thus I had done a lot of amateur research into the problems and solutions of high cholesterol. I took a while to accept that statins were a part of my life so that struggle has been completed.

There were a couple fo solutions, dependent on the placement and severity of the blockages. One being having stents put into alleviate the blockage.The other option being the triple bypass.

While the bypass is way more invasive, I am glad we chose this path as it is a more “complete” solution. When my cardiologist mentioned this it was like he was trying to convince me when I was already convinced.

In addition to the bypass, I finally gave up fighting the other diagnosis that I was diabetic. I was at the low end of the scores but I had flipped over to become a “known diabetic” as per my referral stated to my dietician (like I was a “known criminal”).

And just to add the cherry to the pie, I was also diagnosed as having severe sleep apnea! Bring on the very sexy face mask and hose and bedtime!

I don’t think I’ve ever bet on a trifecta before but here were three diagnoses that I needed to deal with and all having life threatening or life impacting consequences.

It’s now almost seven weeks since my surgery and, thankfully, I’m still breathing. It’s also Father’s Day here in Australia so quite happy that I made this one.

The journey from here is to manage the diabetes (aka the blood sugar levels) and the cholesterol (aka the blood lipids).

And, just to make things interesting, there is a lot of research going around that saturated fat and LDL cholesterol and other associated evil organisations do not contribute that much to atherosclerosis and diabetes. (I’ll add links to these as I collate them). It seems that every week there is a contradictory report.

I’m seeing a dietician who has me on the Australian Dietary Guidelines diet which I am attempting to follow with its grains and serving sizes and keeping away from the dark forces of saturated fat and its cohorts.

So you’ll see the subtitle to this blog is “what works for me”.

I’m almost convinced, from a consumer point of view, that everyone should look after their diet and regime. Find out what works and do that.

Vegetarian, Low Carb/Healthy Fat, Carnivore, Australian Dietary Guidelines and the list goes on.

I’ll continue to post on my own journey, list some interesting studies and videos. But, I’m not a doctor, I don’t pretend to be one, I’m doing what works for me. Which may be a bit of everything.

One thing I am also convinced of, for what its worth, is that diet includes lifestyle. It’s not just about the food.

If you read “The Pioppi Diet” by Aseem Malhotra & Donal O’Neill you’ll note that early on they clarify “diet” within context and they “include many things – the landscape, the sea, quality of life, culture, the work and many other things.”

So, to me, in addition to my food intake there are a few other things I need to address, all of which have complete libraries written on in themselves.