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Fit at 50: Episode 2, A Neurosurgeon curbs his appetite to curb his gut

I and another one of my friends are both turning 50 within a couple of weeks of each other, so we’re planning a joint family trip to celebrate our upcoming half-century accomplishment — of still being alive.  The big 50.  One of my New Year’s resolutions was to lose my gut before this June trip, and a month into that resolution I am still keeping it going (but I won’t lie, it has not been easy).

 

HARD WORK

First, over the course of the last month, I have managed to aggravate almost every joint in my body at least once, but fortunately with my gradually increasing core strength, I have recovered from each of these with minimal inconvenience.  Second, food is still a GREAT temptation.  I am very lucky to have access to a lot of indulgences, for example, my neighborhood club has one of the best brunches around.

 

Since we have already established, I love food, but at the same time, I have managed to score a few victories:  while I am trying to encourage healthy and adequate eating habits from my two children, I have now finally gotten my wife to agree to not give me my usual double or triple portion size helping.  This has been, of course, not her failing but mine.  I love food and frequently go for seconds or even eat the leftovers off my own kids’ plate; that had to stop, but I had created an expectation in her (and others) for my enormous appetite, and that needed to stop as well.

 

RESOLUTIONS KEPT:

Fortunately, she is very supportive of my wish to get in better shape and is 100% behind this new state of eating less rather than more.  It is not like I am starving, but I just do not need to keep eating past the point where I am not hungry (which I DEFINITELY used to do).  I will also say that one of my New Year’s resolutions on this matter was to not have more than one drink of alcohol before dessert as I have found that the safety protocols and the ability to stop eating seems to be significantly impaired after one drink.  It seems my appetite set-point still seems to be a little bit higher than what I need and that alcohol lowers my inhibitions and allows my old habits to surface).  Food for thought, so to speak.

 

JUICING:

A second thing that I have done is that I have added the occasional use of fresh or freshly frozen fruit and vegetable drinks that are made from unprocessed vegetables.  I am lucky I can afford to have these mailed to me from a company that actually makes palatable and healthy alternatives to regular meal eating (JUICE FROM THE RAW).  Although somewhat expensive, they are very high value in the sense that they are expensive but well worth it.  For those who cannot afford the daily delivery (technically its every Tuesday that they will deliver a package that contains flash frozen beverages in an insulated shipping package and then I thaw them out one day to use the next).  You may buy a blender of various cost and qualities and do it yourself.  Fresh vegetable and fruits can be blended for excellent nutrition and as an alternative to regular meals.  These six-a-day fruit and vegetable shakes or smoothies are an excellent way to assist in occasional calorie restriction.  I do these on certain days of the week when it is easy for me to do so and can get through the day consuming 1500 calories when in a typical day, I might easily consume 2400 or more.  I must admit most of them pretty good.  They are palatable and I do lose weight when I use them.

BETTER HOME EXERCISE ENVIRONMENT:

One way to create a supportive environment is with the judicious use of music.  Some people really do not like working out to music.  Other people have a particular type of music they exercise to and another that they relax to.  Me, “I love rock and roll!” (apologies to Joan Jett).  I have set up my Sonos system at home to play my “Pump Exercise Mix” in the background while I am exercising (primarily because some of the apps that I use to work out take over the volume from my phone and therefore the only music I can play is music that is not on the phone itself).  I challenge anyone who likes rock and roll or even rockabilly-type country music to try not to both smile and push a little bit harder when you are listening to the classic Golden Earring ballad “Radar Love”, “Last car to pass, here I go…”  The pace is perfect for any active (as opposed to yoga or static-type exercises) exercise, such as cycling, jumping jacks, or abs.  See my playlist at the bottom of the posting.

Making sure you have the right physical environment includes finding or setting up a place where you can exercise (and hopefully sweat) without causing damage to delicate fabrics, carpets, or pets.  Just imagine what kind of resistance will you get if somebody you live with (spouse, family member, friend) starts getting on your case because you are sweating on their delicate afghan or leaving pools of sweat in the common room area.  I recommend a roll-up yoga mat for ease of cleaning and storage, or you can use the “Supermats Heavy Duty P.V.C. Mat” on Amazon.com.  This can be placed in whatever local environment you have found where you can do what you need to do with minimum impact on your feet, knees, hands, and elbows while doing them. 

As far as modifying the home environment, I have found that by setting up in my garage a place where I can use my bicycle trainer and project the apps that I used to train with on to the wall, I had not only created an space that I enjoy exercising in, but my friends have joined me there as well.  And just this past weekend, while exercising on our bike stations (yes, I have both a Cycle Ops Fluid2 racing bike trainer paired with the Wahoo Cadence and Speed sensors AND an actual “Soul Cycle” flywheel bike), after 45 minutes on the bike using the Zwift app, I felt I had pretty much gotten a good workout, my friend Geoff gently suggested “let’s go for an hour.”  When we started, I had really wanted to get a full hour in, but after 45 minutes I was feeling tired; but his suggestion to keep going was just enough push to get me to finish strong. 

This is the type of supportive environment I am looking for, and to a certain extent, why I set up the area with room for more than one.  You can do this too, but you don’t have to do it in your garage to work out with a friend.  Obviously, you need to select which friend you can exercise with, which my or may not be the same ones you go share time at the bar with.  It is good to have friends that you can do both with, but sometimes you have to make smart choices as the first step in developing the commitment to change. 

 1 MONTH IN:

So far, first month’s weigh-in was 218 pounds.  We are making progress.  It is not blinding, but the good thing is its progressive, its positive, and hopefully maintainable because I am committed changing my relationship with food to one that is sustainable.  We will discuss other ways that commitment could be supported and other components of the core commitment curriculum in later updates.  But 4 weeks in, 8 pounds down.

Arthur L. Jenkins III, MD

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This blog does not constitute medical advice. For you to receive medical advice, you would need to have a two-way relationship with a physician who can examine you, not just exchange emails or comments with.

*I do not make any money to give any endorsements for any product.

At some point as I collate all of the products that I do believe in, I may very well utilize a web portal to facilitate people getting the items and products they need; at that time, I will disclose any interest that I have, but for now, I have no conflicts to disclose and only recommend those products that I truly have used, recommend, and believe in.

2 Comments
  1. I hit the big 55. My goal is to exercise more and healthy eating.
    I have so many food allergies, and eating some foods is not worth the headache and fatigue. Love your article, great inspiration! Brain tumor survivor, thriving!

    • Thanks for the kind words, we wish you the best of luck with the challenges you face, but overcoming these often helps hone our commitment and make us stronger. Keep it up!

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