O.M.G… What a Difference a Bowl of Muesli Makes !!!

O.M.G… What a Difference a Bowl of Muesli Makes !!!

You might assume from the title that this post is about food… You’d only be partially correct, as it is mostly about Exercise – and a bit about Nutrition

I’ve been going to the gym (see Why I Love 12rnd Fitness) for almost a year now… and for the most part do morning workouts… usually before I have had anything to eat or drink… This has been going pretty well, but recently I have started to do a few more (extra) Lunchtime and Evening sessions.

I have noticed that I seem to have more energy in the training sessions I do later in the day… I can train harder and longer without feeling so exhausted…

This Mornings Training Session

This mornings session in particular was tough. I found it difficult to raise my heart rate into yellow (80-90%) on my Myzone Heart Rate Monitor, and only managed an hour and 145 MEPS – my “worst” session for months….. (see workout graph below) :

I have been pushing it pretty hard at the moment because of a Myzone 6 Week Challenge (shockingly, I am currently ranked #1 in Australia – out of more than 2,500 12Rounders)… and I did 10 sessions last week, and a double session yesterday, so it is probably not surprising that I am feeling a bit “flat”… However, I wondered if maybe food was a part of the issue, so decided to go home … have something to eat… and try again at lunchtime…

After a Bowl of Muesli..

So.. I went home, had a bowl of Bircher Muesli (and a couple of pots of tea), did a couple of hours work (sitting in front of the computer)… and went back to 12rnds for a Lunchtime training session.

Oh.. My.. God… What a difference it made !!!

The Lunchtime session felt SO much better…I was almost immediately (in my warmup) able to get into the yellow zone (80-90%) and managed to sustain it (or higher) for most of the workout – giving me a 270 MEP, 80+ minute workout. 🙂

Workout Nutrition ??

The above should probably not have come as a great surprise to me, but I had not really thought about it much before…Apparently if you work out first thing in the morning before eating breakfast (what’s known as a fasted cardio state) it is believed to help with weight loss. However, working out after eating may give you more energy and improve your performance.

Looks like I need to do some more research (watch this space)… but in the interim, I think I will start having a small meal/snack at least 1/2hr before my workout… and see how it goes.

Iron Infusion – A Burst of Energy ??

Iron Infusion – A Burst of Energy ??

My Gastric Bypass surgery has been a spectacular success…

  • I have lost more than 45Kg (over 62 weeks) – am still losing weight
  • I am now Non-Diabetic – My blood sugar (Hb1ac) levels are normal and I have had no diabetes medications since the day after surgery… in fact pretty much the ONLY “medication” I have had since surgery has been multivitamins
  • My Liver function is perfect
  • Almost all my Blood tests are normal (or better than normal)

Iron Deficiency & Anemia

The ONLY medial issue I have at the moment is low Iron levels (apparently) – which is actually a very common outcome following Bariatric surgery.

I have been taking Iron supplements (daily Maltofer tablets) however, because of the bypass surgery, it is not being properly absorbed.

Iron deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t have enough of the mineral iron. This leads to abnormally low levels of red blood cells (because iron is needed to make hemoglobin – a protein in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen around the body). If your body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin, your tissues and muscles won’t get enough oxygen and be able to work effectively.

Iron deficiency can therefore lead to anemia.

Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency vary depending on the severity of the anemia, how quickly it develops, your age and current state of health. In some cases, people experience no symptoms.

Iron Deficiency Symptoms

Here are some signs and symptoms of iron deficiency, starting with the most common.

  • Unusual Tiredness – Fatigue is one of the most common signs of iron deficiency. This is due to less oxygen reaching body tissues, depriving them of energy.
  • Paleness in general or in specific areas such as the face, lower inner eyelid or nails may be a sign of moderate or severe iron deficiency. This is caused by lower levels of hemoglobin, which gives blood its red color.
  • Shortness of breath is a symptom of iron deficiency, since low hemoglobin levels mean the body isn’t able to transport oxygen to muscles and tissues effectively.
  • Headaches and dizziness could be a sign of iron deficiency. The lack of hemoglobin means not enough oxygen reaches the brain, causing its blood vessels to swell and create pressure.
  • Heart Palpitations – In cases of iron deficiency, the heart has to work extra hard to transport oxygen around the body. This can lead to irregular or fast heartbeats and even heart murmurs, an enlarged heart or heart failure.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome – People with iron-deficiency anemia have a higher chance of experiencing restless leg syndrome. This is a strong urge to move the legs when at rest.

I am not really suffering from any of these symptons (that I am aware of), but my blood analysis, IS showing low iron levels.

Iron Deficiency Causes

Some of the common causes of iron deficiency in adults include:

  • Inadequate dietary intake – there are two types of dietary iron, haem iron (found in animal tissue) and non-haem iron. The body absorbs haem iron much more easily than non-haem iron. There are many reasons why the dietary intake of iron could be inadequate, including a poorly balanced vegetarian diet, chronic fad dieting or limited access to a wide range of fresh foods – for example, as a result of living in remote areas or having a low income.
  • Blood loss – iron deficiency easily occurs in situations of chronic blood loss. Common causes include heavy menstrual periods, regular blood donation, regular nosebleeds, chronic disorders that involve bleeding (such as peptic ulcers, polyps or cancers in the large intestine) and certain medications, particularly aspirin.
  • Increased need – the adolescent growth spurt, pregnancy and breastfeeding are situations when the body requires more iron. If this increased need isn’t met, a deficiency can quickly occur.
  • Exercise – athletes are prone to iron deficiency because regular exercise increases the body’s need for iron in a number of ways. For example, hard training promotes red blood cell production, while iron is lost through sweating.
  • Inability to absorb iron – healthy adults absorb about ten to 15 per cent of dietary iron, but some people’s bodies are unable to absorb or use iron from food.

For me absorption is likely to be the main issue (this is fairly common in Gastric Bypass Surgery)… but the exercise element may also play a part as I am doing quite a lot of gym sessions… (6 or 7 one hour sessions a week at the moment – plus fairly regular 5 or 10km walks)

Iron Deficiency Treatments

The main aim of treatment is to restore hemoglobin levels to normal and replenish iron stores. The most common treatments are to increase dietary intake of Iron rich foods, and Iron supplements

Eat Iron-Rich Foods

If your doctor thinks your iron deficiency may be caused by a lack of iron in your diet, consuming more iron-rich foods, such as the following may help :

  • Red meat, pork and poultry
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots
  • Peas, beans and other pulses
  • Seafood
  • Iron-fortified foods
  • Seeds and nuts

Boost Your Iron Absorption

Eating vitamin C will help your body absorb iron better, so eating enough vitamin C-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables can help with absorption.

It may also be beneficial to avoid certain foods that can inhibit iron absorption when eaten in large amounts. These include tea and coffee and foods high in calcium such as dairy products and whole-grain cereals.

Iron Supplements

If increasing iron levels through diet alone is not working, then it may be necessary to take iron supplements – which sometimes may have unpleasant side effects such as stomach pain, constipation or diarrhea, heartburn, nausea and black stools. .

Iron Infusion

As I have pretty much tried (and failed at) the above treatments – primarily because the Gastric Bypass operation restricts the absorption of Iron, my next course of action is an Iron Infusion

Iron infusion is a procedure in which iron is delivered to your body intravenously (i.e. into a vein through a needle).

An iron infusion is a way to increase the body’s iron levels quickly. It’s a more immediate treatment than supplements or dietary changes.

Burst of Energy ??

Apparently, Iron Infusion will give me a Burst of Energy… which is pretty hard for me to imagine because I don’t at the moment feel lacking in energy (6 or 7 gym sessions a week doesn’t say “low energy” to me…) but I am very curious to see the outcomes 🙂

No Longer Obese !!! (Officially)

No Longer Obese !!! (Officially)

45Kg and 58 weeks after surgery … I am finally No Longer Obese !!!
(and I have not been down to this weight for more than 30 years)…

According to my BMI, I am officially not Obese any more … but I am still Overweight (which I guess still makes me a Fat Bastard).

About Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most common (and simplest) way of measuring whether or not your are overweight. But in recent years, more researchers argue that it’s not the most accurate way to measure body weight. For years, scientists have said that BMI can’t distinguish between fat and muscle, which tends to be heavier and can tip more toned individuals into overweight status, even if their fat levels are low.

BMI also doesn’t take into account different types of fat, each of which can have different metabolic effects on health. BMI cannot take into consideration, for example, where the body holds fat. Belly fat, which is known as visceral fat, is more harmful than fat that is simply sitting under the skin.

Your BMI is determined by a relatively simple calculation using your height and weight. The formula is BMI = kg/ m2 – where kg is your weight in kilograms and m2 is your height in metres squared.

So my BMI is currently 88.4/1.72 2  = 29.88 – which allows me to just scrape out of the Obese range (over 30) and into the overweight range (25-30)… A BMI of 25.0 or more is overweight, while the “healthy” range is 18.5 to 24.9 …so my “healthy” range is 55-74Kg (apparently)

So Why BMI ?

BMI is still the preferred way to measure weight and evaluate obesity primarily because it is a relatively easy measurement for doctors to take during an office visit. Taking a person’s height and weight and plugging it into an equation produces a number that informs doctors about whether their patients are at high, low or no risk when it comes to weight-related health problems.

Using the BMI measure alone, an athlete such as the 19yr old up and coming Broncos powerhouse prop – Payne Haas – would be considered Obese (119Kg, 194cm = a BMI of 31)

There are better ways to measure body fat … that provide more useful readings on how likely a person’s weight will contribute to chronic health problems. CT scans and MRIs can provide a clearer glimpse at the body’s make-up by separating out fat from muscle, for example. But these are expensive and involved compared to stepping on a scale. 

So without a viable way to change how we measure body fat, for now, BMI is still probably the best option.

49 Weeks – Feeling Fantastic

49 Weeks – Feeling Fantastic

Its been a little over 3 months since my last post… but how many times can you say “things are going great” ??

I’ve continued to lose weight and are now just over 90Kg…. That’s a total weight loss of 40Kg or nearly 1/3rd of my original body weight 🙂

Gym Junkie

I’ve continued going to the Gym… and am loving it…. In fact, for a while there I got a little obsessive and was going 8 or 9 times a week, but have scaled that back to just 5 or 6 … which I’ve found is actually more effective and efficient – my gym sessions are now longer and more powerful and my body is recovering better between sessions.

Since joining the gym – 7 months ago – I have lost an additional 10Kg in weight, which is pretty significant given that my muscle mass has also substantially increased.

Blood Results

I did a regular follow up with my nutritionist today… and all my blood tests are fantastic… except for Iron which is a bit low. This is completely normal (and expected) after a Gastric Bypass and I will continue to take Iron supplements (Maltofer) daily along with my multivitamins, although I can now stop taking Calcium supplements.

I am still not taking ANY diabetes (49 weeks since surgery), and my average blood sugar reading (HbA1c as per stats below) is continuing to drop.

Blood Sugar (HbA1c)

HbA1c is a blood test that is used to help diagnose and monitor people with diabetes. It is also sometimes called a haemoglobin A1c, glycated haemoglobin or glycosylated haemoglobin.  It shows the average level blood sugar levels over the past 2 to 3 months.

Target Weight ?

I can expect to continue losing weight for another 6 months or so… although the rate of weight loss will slow down.

I have already lost more than I had hoped for, but at 90Kg and 172cm… my BMI (31) still puts me at borderline Obese…. I am now hoping to lose another 5 or 10kg – with a provisional target weight between 80-85Kg… This would still mean I was considered Overweight…. but at 172cm, the suggested “healthy” weight is considered to be between 54 and 72 Kg… which to me seems absurdly “skinny”.

So far, even though the quantity of food I eat has significantly reduced (I just can’t physically eat anywhere near what I used to), I have to admit that I’ve not been particularly careful about the types of food I eat.

I have decided that once I get below 90Kg (which should be any week now) I will make a conscious effort to make smarter choices about the types of food I eat and this should help me get closer to that 80Kg target 🙂

Muscle is Denser than Fat … Apparently …

Muscle is Denser than Fat … Apparently …

As per my last post (Still Losing Weight & Getting Fit)… I started back at the Gym after reaching my 100 Kg Milestone… Without thinking too much about it, I had anticipated that this would give my weight loss a bit of a boost… I was WRONG !!!

In fact, rather than losing weight (I had pretty much consistently lost 1Kg per week since surgery), I actually started to put it on… and 2 weeks after joining the gym I was up by 1.5Kg…

Muscle vs Fat

I remember people saying “Muscle Weighs more than Fat“, so thought I’d do some research.

Of course 1Kg of Muscle weights exactly the same as 1Kg of fat… but Muscle is actually denser than fat, which means muscle occupies less space (volume) compared to fat.

Muscle has a leaner appearance due to its high density whereas fat occupies more space (volume) in the body. Two people could weight the same but could look very different depending on their body composition – a person with high body-fat percentage versus a person with high lean muscle percentage will probably be in two different sizes of clothes and health risk.

Muscles are made of long fibers tightly woven together. Fat, on the other hand, is composed of different sized droplets and some are more full than others. These droplets stick to each other but leave some empty space in between.

In the image above, one kg of muscle takes up less space than one kg of fat. This is why you might notice a slimmer waistline but no drastic change on the scale as you begin a new workout or meal plan regime – your body is burning light fat, but building heavier muscles.

Weight Loss Graph

Here is my weight loss graph since surgery… for the 1st 4 weeks at the gym (3 or 4 times a week – moderate intensity), I still had a net gain in weight of approx 1.5kgs… however, since then, my body seems to have figured out what’s going on, and my weight is (again) on a downwards path… In the last couple of weeks I have increased number of gym visits and intensity and seen a 3kg drop in just 2 weeks 🙂

Note: Even though I wasn’t actually losing “weight” during the 1st 4 weeks of gym, there was a noticeable change in body shape and toning.

5 Months after Surgery – Still Losing Weight & Getting Fit

5 Months after Surgery – Still Losing Weight & Getting Fit

5 Months now since my Gastric Bypass Operation and I have reached another Milestone.

I am finally down to 100Kg …
Losing now more than 30Kg

I have not been down to this weight since 2003 – more than 15 years ago !!!!

Time to hit the Gym….

I have been increasing daily exercise for a while… mostly walking… but I promised myself that once I had reached 100Kg I would join a gym and start building up my exercise regime.

I decided that I’d like to focus on boxing type exercises… but had visited a couple of local boxing gyms and they were pretty hard core… I was not that interested in actually hitting anyone (or getting hit for that matter), but I did like the types of exercises involved.

I wanted to primarily do some upper body toning and body core workouts… and thought that boxing/skipping exercises would be a good start.

12 Rounds Fitness

I checked around and discovered that my sister had (for months) been going to a gym called 12 Rounds Fitness. This is based around circuit training, with 12 different “stations” setup, each with 2 different exercises.

You arrive at whatever time you like, start at an available station of your choice, and spend 3 minutes exercise at each station, before moving onto the next. The types of exercises at each station change daily, and you are able to push it as hard as you like, or “tweak” the exercises to cater for specific exercise targets (or injuries).

I found that during the first session a pre-existing back injury flared up again, so I have been able to focus on low impact and upper body exercises… and my back seems to be improving…

Interestingly, despite (or perhaps because of) significantly increasing my exercise program (and as far as I am aware not changing my food intake much), instead of losing additional weight, in the 2 weeks since I started I have actually gained 1.2 Kg.

Blood Sugar & Diabetes

I also recently re-visited my endocrinologist – hopefully for the very last time… The previous visit my hbA1c reading (which measures the average blood sugar over a three month period) was just a smidgen above 6.0 (6.1 actually)… and I was hoping that this time it would be below 6.0 and in the “normal” range… However, it was back up to 6.4 – despite the fact that I had lost another 6Kg 🙁 …

So it seems that diabetes is still lurking around, so I still need to keep a close eye on it…

I suspect that despite eating much less than I used to (I reckon it is about 1/3rd) I am being less careful about the types of things I am eating. Although I am eating significantly less Carbs, I need to focus a bit better on less sugary foods (i.e. cut out soft drink and Fruit drinks, which I now realise I had started having more of)…