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Six Months On

Richard Connor

IN EARLY JANUARY, I wrote an article describing my New Year’s resolution. My No. 1 goal was, and still is, to improve my health and fitness. It’s now six months later. Here’s a review of the results so far—the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s start with the good:

  • Weight loss. I’ve shed more than 70 pounds since the beginning of the year. This has improved my life in so many ways.
  • Nutrition. I’ve made major changes over the past five months, including adopting a lower carbohydrate, moderate protein diet. I’m regularly eating more vegetables and salads.
  • Health. I had a six-month checkup with my new doctor. He was very pleased with my progress. Best of all, he’s on board with my desire to scale back my blood pressure medicine.
  • Fitness. This has definitely improved. I’m trying to regularly walk, bike and engage in other exercise. I’m still not where I want to be, but it’s progress.

Next up, we have the bad:

  • Sleep apnea. This spring, I underwent a sleep study and was officially diagnosed with sleep apnea. My wife diagnosed it years ago. I’m likely to be prescribed a CPAP machine. I’m not excited about this, but many friends have said it dramatically improved their sleep, so I’m trying to keep an open mind.
  • Lower back pain. I had lower back surgery in 1995, a microdiscectomy of my L4-5 region, but my back still gives me trouble. Stretching and exercise help a lot, and I’m hoping the weight loss will keep this in check.

What about the ugly? That’s a two-fer:

  • Knee pain. I had a total joint replacement of the right knee in September 2019. That’s worked quite well. At the time, I was offered the opportunity to have both knees done. The left knee was bad, but the right knee was really bad. I chose to do only the right knee. My left knee hasn’t been too bad over the ensuing three years, but it’s started acting up recently. Specifically, I’m having leg pain below the knee. I saw a local orthopedist and he said it’s “referred” pain from the knee, caused by my knee not being straight. This causes the muscles in the lower leg to fire any time I’m standing. I’m now considering having the left knee joint replaced in the fall.
  • Toe pain. For a decade or more, I’ve had a problem with the joint at the base of my left big toe. I thought it might be a bunion, but a podiatrist diagnosed it as a “horribly arthritic joint.” He prescribed loose fitting shoes. A decade later, it has progressed to the point where it hurts a little most of the time and occasionally a lot, depending on my activity level and choice of footwear. I saw a local foot and ankle specialist and he thinks it can be surgically improved. This surgery will require about six weeks of rehab, during which I’ll have limited mobility. I’m considering having this done in January.

 I’m generally pleased with my progress this year. Two things have really helped me. First is a company named Virta that sponsors programs aimed at helping people with diabetes, prediabetes and hypertension. My previous employer offered access to the program through its early retiree health insurance. The program provides dietary guidance and health monitoring. The company also provides the equipment to monitor blood levels, weight and blood pressure, as well as behavior coaching. The best part: It’s fully paid for by my previous employer.

The other thing that has helped enormously is that my wife volunteered to join the Virta program with me. Doing the program together has been great. She has also lost a significant amount of weight and is feeling more energetic. We encourage one another, and collaborate on meals and making sure we stay active and hydrated. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made as much progress if I’d been doing this alone.

In a couple of months, I’ll be signing up for Medicare. Except for my left knee and left foot, I feel healthier than I have in years. I’m encouraged that my increased emphasis on getting and staying healthy will reduce future medical expenses. More important, I’m really hoping it’ll lead to a more active and enjoyable retirement.

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squirrel hammer
squirrel hammer
2 months ago

Richard, I have a condition that sounds similar to yours in the big toe on my right foot. My podiatrist diagnosed it as hallux rigidus (fancy latin term meaning “stiff big toe”, ha!).

It tends to be a progressive disease, so he expected it to get worse over time, and said the usual fix when it gets bad enough is to fuse the bones in the toe.

I’ve been making sure to flex it every day, walking up hills, using a rower, doing pushups, and kneeling back on my heels with my toes bent forward. So far it’s seemed to help. There’s been no further progression in the last five years. Fingers crossed for another five!

Mark Schwartz
Mark Schwartz
2 months ago

Good job Rick… check out Inspire instead of a CPAP machine… it does require a surgical procedure. I cant remember which type of sleep apenea it helps with but it eliminates the CPAP crap.

Jeff Bond
Jeff Bond
2 months ago

That’s wonderful progress! Congrats on the lifestyle turnaround!

Chazooo
Chazooo
2 months ago

Losing 70 pounds should work wonders for sore back, knees, toes, you name it. Obesity is a huge problem in the USA and what I find distressing is all the young people that are way overweight. The old timers on this forum probably were thin until their 60s and then started adding on a couple of pounds a year until uh-oh.

Olin
Olin
2 months ago

In my case, it took a doctor to scare me to lose weight. Not that I was much overweight, but overall it was adding to depression. He gave me a sheet of paper with good carbs on one side and bad carbs on the other side. There were no calories to measure or count. I lost 25lbs in one month.

I’m a few years older than you Rick, and staying healthy and eating healthy is important as we age. I do not take any meds and hope to stay that way.

Congratulations on your progress! The fact that you shared your story will continue to be inspirational to yourself and many other readers.

Andrew Forsythe
Andrew Forsythe
2 months ago

Rick, congratulations on your dramatic progress—great to hear!

One thing I’ve latched onto for fitness is a treadmill. I still do outside walking with the dogs, but being able to get after it for an hour at a good pace, and regardless of the weather, is great. And I’m watching Netflix throughout so the time passes quickly.

Ronald Wayne
Ronald Wayne
2 months ago

70 pounds! Wow! Congrats!

OldITGuy
OldITGuy
2 months ago

Outstanding. Your article came along at a time when I needed the reminder and inspiration! Thanks for sharing.

poliver113@yahoo.com
poliver113@yahoo.com
2 months ago

Hi Rick. Great article! How did you lose those 70 lbs? I need help! Thanks.

William Perry
William Perry
2 months ago

Thanks for the motivation on the issues of weight and exercise. My dad and older brother were both chemical engineers by education and profession and your approach to problem solving and decision making seems typical of informed and practical action I have observed from the engineers I have known.

George Counihan
George Counihan
2 months ago

Well done … Your fitness is on loan and the rent is due every day – keep working!

Michael Fuchs
Michael Fuchs
2 months ago

Amazing job! Thanks for sharing . Now I feel motivated! Keep up the great work!

Thomas Andrews
Thomas Andrews
2 months ago

Well done sir!! Exercising with the various aches and pains must be a challenge. It is definitely inspiring. Enjoy your posts.

Kristine Hayes
Kristine Hayes
2 months ago

Congratulations on your healthy success!

James McGlynn CFA RICP®
James McGlynn CFA RICP®
2 months ago

Congrats on the 70 pounds! That should help everything else. And writing about it helps accountability.

Paula Karabelias
Paula Karabelias
2 months ago

Congratulations to you and your wife on your amazing weight loss! You are an inspiration! I too am looking at foot surgery in January for some significant joint problems throughtout my right foot. Downtime about 3 months, which worries me but I try to think about improved quality of life and being able to get back to activities like hiking which I once enjoyed. Also, if your feet are not working properly, it can lead to problems elsewhere like your back, or make you more prone to falls. I am interviewing surgeons now – Medicare will pay for up to three opinions .

R Quinn
R Quinn
2 months ago

That what I’d call the most important type of rebalancing. 👍

Rick Connor
Rick Connor
2 months ago
Reply to  R Quinn

Thanks Dick.

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