View Full Version : Help and encouragement needed from fitness gurus

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Avid Lurker
05-27-2010, 04:00 PM
I recently received a stern lecture from my doctor about my blood pressure, "bad" cholesterol and blood sugar all being too high (way too high in the case of my blood sugar - the word "prediabetes" was used and that definitely got my attention!)

I am a 45 year old female otherwise in good health.

I have started walking on a treadmill. Over the last seven weeks I have worked up to 45 to 50 minutes on the treadmill, incline 8.0 and speed between 3.5 and 3.7 (a brisk walk for me). I do this at least five times a week. The exercise has definitely had a positive impact on my mood, and my clothes feel a bit looser. I don't know if I have actually lost any pounds - my doctor would like me to lose 40 pounds. I am not weighing myself yet because in the past I have found that to be discouraging. For now, I am going by how I feel and I must say I feel more energetic and happier overall.

What treadmill speed, incline and duration would you recommend to address these health concerns? My main concern is to get my "numbers" back down with the hope that the weight will take care of itself. How long should I wait before having the blood tests done again to measure any improvement? I don't want to look for improvement too soon and get discouraged. I am prepared to be patient and am giving myself one year - after all, it took me about 20 years of inactivity to get this way! I'm trying not to kick myself too much but I do feel down on myself for having let this happen.

Any tips and encouragement would be very much appreciated.

05-27-2010, 04:09 PM
First of all, FABULOUS, good for you gettin' out there and taking care of business!

Treadmill is a great start. Do you belong to a gym? Some light weights might complement your cardio routine nicely.

Perhaps also look into a cardio class (they have them for ALL levels) or some power-walking outside in the fresh air. Mixing up your workout keeps things interesting.

Nice that you noticed an increase in energy and better moods, I always found the best way to attack a workout is to listen to your body. Makes a workout something you want to do as opposed to something you feel you have to do!

You're on the right track, keep up the good work! :cheer2:

05-27-2010, 04:27 PM
Congratulations on the exercise program! (I didn't start mine until after I had a heart attack ... so don't blame yourself for anything -- you started early enough).

Can't advise you on the treadmill, since I prefer walks, but I do recommend that you watch what you eat and add in more fresh fruit and veggies. I kept a journal of what I ate, calories and cholesterol -- combined with the exercise -- and I found that, 6 months after my heart attack (which was almost 5 years ago) I was 30 pounds lighter and two dress sizes smaller. The lift to my morale from getting my clothes taken in or replaced, combined with the health concerns, has helped me keep the weight off.

Again, kudos to you -- and keep it up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Avid Lurker
05-27-2010, 04:32 PM
Thank you both! Attyfan, you are my hero. I will think of your success and be inspired when I start feeling discouraged.

Fergus, I do not belong to a gym. I have a treadmill in my basement -it made a lovely sculpture/clothes hanger until recently. Two months ago, I would have been more likely to fly to the moon than set foot in a gym but now? Weights sound like a good idea.

05-27-2010, 04:45 PM
First off, congrats and good on ya for your accomplishments over the last 7 weeks! The fact you feel happier and have more energy are great results. I'm happy for you. :)

Don't feel down or discouraged.....like you said, it took a while to get to this point, but you recognized it and are doing something about it. That's empowering!!

I agree, some light weights would be beneficial. They're cheap enough at a place like Target and the benefits will be worth it.

One thing that will help get the numbers down is how you're eating as well. Are there any "bad" foods you've cut out or cut down on?

05-27-2010, 05:11 PM
doing treadmill is GREAT for blood sugars! keep an eye on your carbs and sugar intake, and really pay attention to food labels. did your doctor happen to give you any information about a diabetic diet plan? any weight loss will also change your blood sugars. they say that as small as a 5% loss in weight can have a big change. it's really hard to change your eating habits, so don't get too down on yourself if you aren't perfect right away. and don't push yourself too hard too soon, you don't want to start hating your exercise and diet and find reasons to quit. i don't know if any of my info is useful to you, but i have been a diabetic for 23 years...type 1, and also a certified personal trainer.

05-27-2010, 05:17 PM
You're on the right track with the exercise. Keep that up, and vary it - don't always walk on the treadmill; you'll get bored. Try other things that you think you might like as well as the treadmill. Go outside for walks, try swimming, ballroom dance, whatever floats your boat. Join a gym, if you want to. Start pilates or yoga.

Mix other things into your routine, so you don't get bored, and so you enhance the aerobic work you're doing on the treadmill.

Others have suggested changes in diet. I recommend that as well. Diet is often an important component of managing things like HBP, pre-diabetes, etc. Did your doctor talk to you about that at all? It's really important.

This change needs to include both exercise *and* a change in diet. And I'm not saying that you have to "go on a diet" at all - this particular change isn't focused on weight loss, although it could lead to that. What I'm saying is that by changing what you're eating, you could very well lower your blood sugar and etc.

05-27-2010, 05:24 PM
Wow, Avid Lurker, you and I have a lot in common. I could have written your message except that I'm 55.

I too got the blood pressure, pre-diabetic, high cholesterol lecture about a month ago, plus I found out I have Lyme disease and have a sluggish thyroid. No wonder I was feeling that crushing fatigue. In early April I got on the scale and saw this number: 199.8. I realized that if I made a u-turn right that minute, I wouldn't hit 200 pounds. I too thought that laying off the scale this time around would be a good idea. I too feel a lot better already but there's a long way to go. I've lost 15 pounds (didn't totally abandon the scale) and have been very physically active as always but without introducing a formal exercise regimen, which I'll do soon. I cut out sweets except fruit, reduced portion size, and am focusing on nutritionally dense foods that are satisfying and still very healthy. Trying to avoid the white stuff: rice, white bread, white potatoes.

In order to get a reading on your diabetes numbers, you need to wait three months to do the blood test again. That's the life span of a red blood cell. As my doctor explained it to me, the oldest cells show a history of your blood sugar over that three month period, something like the sugar glazing on a donut was what she said.

We can do this!

Avid Lurker
05-27-2010, 05:36 PM
Thanks, all - especially Aimless - it's good not to feel alone in this! We CAN do it!

With respect to diet, I have been advised to eat more veggies and whole grains, cut down on sweets and the white stuff (bread, rice and of course refined sugar). I love good food so I am focusing on choosing foods that are both delicious and good for me. Last night I splurged on some out of season raspberries and they were delicious.

Based on the advice upchain I am going to start recording what I eat. I sort of hate the idea but it will make me more accountable to myself - otherwise it's easy to "forget" that I had a chocolate bar at lunchtime, another for a mid-afternoon snack, another one in front of the TV ...

UMBS Go Blue
05-27-2010, 05:36 PM
What treadmill speed, incline and duration would you recommend to address these health concerns?
Having been in your shoes before (pun intended) with very similar symptoms and diagnoses, I tried treadmill walking with a vengeance about 3 years ago, using the exact same settings. I got to a level where I walked 4 or 5 half marathons over a 2 year period. But from experience, treadmill walking alone isn't going to be the magic solution if you want to lose weight and control blood pressure and cholesterol.

During 2009, I lost 55 pounds through a number of factors:

Making massive changes to diet over time. This is the key to weight loss and accounts for probably 75% of my weight loss. Treadmill walking and working out helps, but it's only effective if you do it in conjunction with a good diet and get a positive, reinforcing spiral going.

Learning to eat right, and eat less, over time is key.
See a nutritionist and use a diet/activity/lifestyle log like Fitday.com religiously.
No more soda, no more fast food, no more fried foods, no more processed foods. Now. Right this minute. Promise me.
Working out right. Over time, you will find, as I did, that you'll hit a wall with repetitive, non-stop treadmill workouts, even if you can do them for long amounts of time (45-60 minutes or more) by plopping a copy of The Economist on the treadmill stand like I do.

To really get your metabolism going, you need to work out in a full gym and incorporate resistance/strength training into your workout (lifting weights) in addition to varying your cardio workouts by diversifying away from treadmill walking and towards biking, rowing, and/or ellipticals. Building muscle, in addition to cardio, boosts your metabolism much more effectively than treadmills/cardio alone.
You also need to challenge your body by doing different things, and over time, doing more of each thing, and harder.

Even if you stick with the treadmill, just don't do it quite as often, like 5x/week, otherwise you risk getting yourself injured or getting tendinitis over time like I have.
Instead, try intervals. If you get bored with a certain speed, say 3.6 mi/hr, try running for 60 seconds at 4.5-5.0/hr and see if you can hold out. Then take a break for 60 seconds (or 90 or 120 to catch you breath) at a slower, more sustainable speed, like 3.5 mi/hr. Incorporate incline intervals in combination with speed intervals as you get comfortable. All this will help you ramp up your speed and endurance very quickly.

Try working out with a trainer. It's expensive, but if you have the right fit - an encouraging trainer with a positive attitude - it can do wonders for your day-to-day motivation.

Hope this helps - because trust me, I have been in your shoes and I've been there, done that. The weight isn't going to come off right away, but for a while in the 2nd half of 2009, I had all the right engines firing at the same time - good diet, good workout, focused like a laser - and I dropped the weight steadily, so much so that the more I lost, the more encouragement I got to stick with the diet and continue ramping up my workouts. My daily weight chart from that period is almost a perfect "y = -x" equation.

Since then, I've kept at the same weight (can still afford to lose 25-30 more pounds) because I've been busy relocating cross-country and preparing for some major certification exams in the next few weeks, but once that's over, I'm very psyched about hitting the gym religiously again next month and devoting more time to cooking for myself (instead of eating takeout). That having been said, I'm very pleased that I have been able to stay at my new weight (and not revert into the same old bad eating habits) despite not working out much.

Avid Lurker
05-27-2010, 05:49 PM
UMBS Go Blue: I have printed out your posting to keep as a reminder. I hear you on hitting the wall with the treadmill. Variety is good. Boredom will lead me back to the couch.

I can agree to no more soda and no more fried foods. No fast food will be hard because I'm used to living off foodcourt food (which probably explains a lot about where I find myself now). But I will try to make better choices. My husband has also offered to make me healthy lunches to bring to work so I can avoid the foodcourt altogether.

UMBS Go Blue
05-27-2010, 07:12 PM
Oh, and of course, as for exercise, start off with baby steps, and as you get going and feel more confident, progress towards larger steps if you feel your body can take it. But don't push too hard if you feel anything uncomfortable or painful here and there.

Which is why working with a trainer would really help; they'll help you find a good balance between not pushing yourself enough and pushing yourself too hard.

05-27-2010, 08:07 PM
UMBS Go Blue: I have printed out your posting to keep as a reminder. I hear you on hitting the wall with the treadmill. Variety is good. Boredom will lead me back to the couch.

I can agree to no more soda and no more fried foods. No fast food will be hard because I'm used to living off foodcourt food (which probably explains a lot about where I find myself now). But I will try to make better choices. My husband has also offered to make me healthy lunches to bring to work so I can avoid the foodcourt altogether.
Bringing healthy lunches to work will save money too! :)

Eating healthy is a huge component of being healthy in general. My stomach finally revolted after bad eating habits (I wasn't doing a whole lot of junk food, just bad eating schedule and more-than-occasional TV dinners) and I had to nurse it back to health with organic, unprocessed stuff. I feel so much better, and I've even noticed there's been less plaque on my teeth, which had been a major problem of mine the last few years. (It's random I know, but an observation...)

It doesn't have to be labeled as diet foods - just unprocessed. Whole unprocessed foods are so much better for you. You really do get used to the new taste, and it's more flavorful to boot, instead of just salt, sugar, and fat.

Now food court stuff makes me go eeeeugghhhhh. :yikes: I still have a weakness for sugar though. :lol:

Keep going! It's great that you're starting this now. My mom didn't listen to her doctor when he warned her she was on the cusp of osteoporosis, and now she has to take hardcore pills for it. :(

05-27-2010, 08:08 PM
I am a Type 1 diabetic who, last January, had my doctor nearly shoot me when my test scores came back and my A1C was above 9 and my cholesterol, lipids, and blood pressure were terrible.

I immediately read Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels and went on a diet I can easily relate to you if you'd like, but I'd prefer not to write it all out out here.

Two months later, all my scores were the best they'd ever been since I got the disease when I was 9, and I'd lost 13 pounds... without working out at all (I am now; I didn't have time during the semester).

Diet is a vital component of fighting off such things, and I've never been happier or healthier. The massive, immediate weight loss has leveled off, of course, as it should, but I'm still going and still seeing results :)

And good for you for taking control of your life and taking this step! :)

05-27-2010, 08:27 PM
Mega congratulations on what you've accomplished. Your blood work would probably show improvement already -- six weeks seem to be the time they give to check those things at my doctor's office. I will note that after I began a sustained, intense exercise program my good cholesterol number shot WAY up, and so even though my bad cholesterol went down, the overall cholesterol number was higher than before, though my doctor said that was okay.

I'd be careful about doing so much walking at such a high incline. You hit a certain age, and plantar fasciatis and achilles tendinitis crop up really regularly, and are hell to get rid of once they start. I was walking 4 1/2 miles 5 times a week and ended up with some problems that are still not fully resolved four years later -- and I love to walk. One of the first things the podiatrist said was avoid doing a lot of walking at a significant incline.

Alternatively, have you looked into trying an elliptial machine and moving into walk/jogging on it?