It Doesn’t Get Any Easier

Although I enjoyed my recent trip to Sunrise with Leslie and Hao, I had a hard time keeping up with them. For the first time I can remember, I seemed to have trouble getting enough oxygen. Perhaps I got a small taste of what it must feel like to have a serious case of COPD. Worst of all, I felt pretty bad after I reached the car. Although I probably could've driven home, I let Leslie drive to the restaurant to be safe.

I didn't have my oximeter with me, so I couldn't actually measure any oxygen deficiency, but I did use my iPhone to measure my resting heart rate and for the next two hours it was well above my normal resting heart rate – almost as high as when I'm walking around the track at the YMCA. Physiological stress also measured sky-high. It was unnerving at best. At one point I wondered if I was having a heart attack.

Strangely, I'd been to my pulmonary doctor the week before for my annual visit, and my lungs had tested better than they did the previous year, particularly lung capacity. Since I'd done the exact same hike the year before without any negative side effects, I was left wondering why I had had them this year. I may never know the exact reason, but I was a more worried than I might have been because I'd planned on spending the rest of the week on Mount Rainier with Dawn and her family. I didn't want to feel that way for 5 days in a row.

Luckily, we started the week at lower altitudes, and I was able to hike the first two days without any particular symptoms. My heart rate returned to its normal resting rate within a reasonable time after each hike, and I never felt particularly short of breath though I felt like I'd had a good workout and had to slow down several times to avoid exhausting myself. But those are all fairly normal reactions to hiking in the mountains.

We returned to Sunrise on Thursday to hike almost exactly the same hike, though it was a bit shorter. I made sure to wear cooler clothes, exchanged my backpack for a lighter fanny pack, wore shoes instead of boots, and shed several pounds of camera gear. I suspect we might have hiked up the hill a little slower, though speed always seems relative. Anyway, I didn't have any of the symptoms I'd had five days before. I checked my pulse and it returned to near normal almost instantly. In less than an hour I felt as good as I did before I started the hike, at least if I ignored some minor stiffness in my back and legs.

Considering that my second trip went well, I suppose I could just write off the first trip as an anomaly, but, unfortunately, that's not in my nature. Since cutting my weight back on the second trip helped, I decided to try again to lose more weight. I have managed to lose 14 lbs since last summer, but I actually lost nearly 20 lbs before I managed to regain 6 lbs.

I was never really happy about the weight loss, though. I'm not sure I lost any weight off my stomach, the only place I really wanted to lose it. Unfortunately, it seemed to come off everywhere but my stomach, which, in my mind, made my stomach look even bigger than it did before, even though my pants didn't confirm that impression.

Luckily, I haven't abandoned the workouts that helped me lose weight earlier. No, I've just been eating more than I did when I was consciously losing weight and I haven't been tracking what I eat. I'm still working out at least five days a week, mostly at the YMCA unless the sun entices me to walk outside instead.

Meanwhile while reading a health article I found a link to a Rodale book entitled The Mini-Fast Diet which appealed to me. It claimed that exercising while fasting causes fat to be burned. Its premises certainly appealed to me, and because I'm more likely to follow through on a diet when I make it known to others, I thought I'd discuss some of the ideas in the book in another blog entry.

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