I’m back! An Update. New Goals.

The last entry here was on the 8 January 2017!! My weight was 111kgs (245 pounds) – Today 12 June 2018, I am 97ks (213). What have I been doing?

Since I last posted here, I was offered a job as a Paramedic with Queensland Ambulance Service. I moved to Yeppoon QLD with my family and started my new career.

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We also welcomed our new daughter Asha to the mix!IMG_2846

I also had a crack at the Taupo Half Ironman. I got through the 1.9km swim and 90km bike ride but got back a bit too late to start the run. Still, I had a go.

Here’s me at the Rocky River Run 10kms. I didn’t break any speed records but I finished!

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I started here in March 2017 and my Grad Year was for 12 months. I knuckled down, studying and learning. My running goals slipped. Yep. I’m that person who writes big goals then does absolutely nothing to follow them up. Anyway, that was then. This is now.

I’ve lost a little bit of weight over this year and a bit, and have just recently got more serious about fitness and weight loss. I had some blood work done recently as I have Hypothyroidism and need that checked regularly. What was also discovered is I have high levels of both LDL (the bad cholesterol) and Uric Acid. Technically, both of these things can occur with a poorly functioning thyroid. They can also occur with obesity and excess alcohol consumption. I have/do all of these things. I am adjusting my Thyroxine intake so hopefully my Thyroid will be functioning at an adequate level. The other two are all up to me.

Here’s what I’m looking at;

High levels of LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) in the blood essentially become stuck to the walls of arteries, this is Coronary Heard Disease (CHD). This plaque builds up over time until it eventually either blocks the artery or ruptures causing a blood clot to form. Depending on how far advanced the CHD is, people will experience episodes of angina (where blood flow is reduced), Stroke (the plaque breaks off and becomes lodged in a smaller vessel usually in the brain), or the king of them all -> Heart Attack (Heart does not pump blood efficiently and cardiac muscle is starved of oxygen and dies).  Currently in Australia, the likelihood of someone surviving a heart attack outside of hospital is 8%. That figure is very generous in my opinion.

High levels or Uric Acid -> Yep. 35 year old me is at high risk getting the old mans disease, Gout! When the kidneys cannot filter the uric acid, it can crystallise in joints, most commonly the knees ankles and toes.

I have been a Paramedic for a short time, but one thing I have noticed about the people we visit is that they all have something in common. I’m not talking about trauma patients or the one offs, I’m talking about the large majority of Ambulance call outs which are to patients with chronic illnesses. You think as an emergency service, our calls would be to car accidents or broken legs, asthma attacks ect. That’s not the case. Most paramedics go weeks or even months between seeing a patient acutely unwell or involved in a major trauma. What we go to mostly are patients who have chronic illnesses who are either experiencing an exacerbation of that illness or have an unrelated illness which they cannot deal with appropriately or which puts them at greater risk due to their pre-existing chronic illness. As an example, if someone with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease gets a simple common cold they often end up in the ED because of their reduced ability to clear mucus normally, the common cold becomes much more serious.

I have a theory – not tested or researched – but a personal idea that we can all compensate for a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking or excess alcohol consumption for 50 years. This doesn’t include the extreme versions, like the super morbidly obese, the 2 pack a day smoker or the alcoholics that drink 8 litres of wine a day, but the “normal” amount of these things. After 50 is when you will tend to see the obese experiencing chest pain and other obesity related illnesses. The smokers will develop a chronic cough which will lead to COPD or Emphysema.

I am so fortunate that as a paramedic I am able to talk with such a wide range of people from my community that I would never talk to if I wasn’t invited into their home and trusted to help at their worse time. So I can see snapshots of people, their medical history and what their concern is today. I see the 98 year old man who still mows his own lawn who has called us because he has cut his finger sanding back his kitchen table. We always ask what meds they are on, he is on two – Vitamin D tablets and 100mg Aspirin, because he heard its good for your ticker! Then I see the 45 year old who is obese, she sits in her well worn lounge chair complaining today of a sharp pain in the centre of her chest. Her meds are kept in a large snaplock container, a list on top to assist the paramedic understand whats inside. It’s two pages. As I read over I interpret the meds she takes with why she would take them. I see heart meds, blood pressure meds, diabetes meds and of course, about 3 different types of very strong opioid medication. These are for knee pain, or back pain. Sometimes they don’t know why they take them.

These are examples and not based on any one patient that I have seen. My point is, I can see exactly where I’m headed. Things snowball when your body gives up. So here I go again.

My plan at the moment is to focus on diet and strength training as the majority of what I do. The diet component of health and weight loss is both the most difficult and most important. You cannot out run a bad diet. A guy from work who is super fit and runs marathons told me the other day that he still puts on weight when his diet is full of rubbish despite running for up to 3 hours 9 out of 10 days. Let that sink in. So I’ve cleaned up my diet. A typical day is this:

Pre Workout – 1 Scoop Protein Shake with water. I like Giant Sport’s Delicious Powder. It’s the only one I’ve found that I like.

Post Workout – 3 Egg Whites on a Whole Wheat Muffin

Meal 3 – 3 oZ chicken 2 Oz Green Veg 1/2 Avo

Meal 4 – 3 Oz Chicken 3 Oz Green Veg 90grams roast potato

Meal 5 – 3 Oz steak 3 Oz Green Veg

Meal 6 – Peanut Butter Protein Freeze! 1 scoop protein Powder, 1/8 Tablespoon Peanut Butter, 2 drop Vanilla Essence and water to combine it all, put it in a cupcake patty and freeze.

I have been on this for about 6 weeks and have lost 5 kgs. It’s a mindset change. Food is fuel, that’s it.

Workouts — 5 Days a week in the gym. Strength training. Cardio at the moment consists mainly of the indoor trainer and Zwift. That’s because I like it but really any type of HIIT for 20 minutes will do.

My plan for the next 12 months. Continue to lose weight and strengthen my body. Get healthy! Start running 3 times a week and get faster!

It’s tricky with my job as planning for time off for races is hard but here is my schedule so far.

Sunshine Coast Marathon 10km    –    19th August 2018

Melbourne Marathon 21km    –    14th October 2018

Blackall 50km  —   20th October

Ultra Trail Australia 100km   –    19th May 2019

See how I go 🙂

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Fight or flight and the pesky side effects

So this bad boy had begun. All be it a little bit of a different start than I wanted. The day after I announced that I was starting this amazing and nearly impossible challenge, I came down with a raging chest infection! Why now? Firstly, it was the exact time last yeah that I got pneumonia. So maybe its just a bloody ripper annual tradition? Secondly, my gorgeous daycare attending 20 month old disease ridden daughter has not yet mastered the ‘don’t just cough in someones open mouth’. That will take time I guess, in the mean time I will just swear under my breath and resign myself to the fact that I’m now getting sick.

Thirdly, and what I believe is the real cause, is stress. I just finished university this year, and my final placement was with a mentor who was a complete bully who was determined to fail me no matter what. I’m still fighting this battle to save my career from a bully who was given too much power by people who should have known better. It’s everything I have worked for hanging by a thread. I should have an answer in the next few days, but its a really tough time. My anxiety levels are through the roof, and I can feel it in my chest. I believe stress is why I’m sick.

We need stress to survive. It has kept us safe from lions and tigers for years. In more modern times it has saved me from such dangers as falling flat on my face after carelessly negotiating charging cables as well as psychopathic magpies who have evolved from the undocumented era where they were nearly wiped out by tree climbing cyclists. Not quite as extreme as the latter but still, useful. When we perceive danger, our very smart bodies activate a cascade of processes which help us either fight or flight. How it takes a sleeping neanderthal from peaceful slumber to all out warrior in an instant is amazing. Adrenaline gets squirted into the tank and this little hormone dilates pupils, increases blood pressure and heart rate, perfect to outrun or fight that lion. Cortisol is also secreted. This guy increases glucose in the blood and also increases the brain’s uptake of the glucose, helping you think quick to get yourself out of this gosh dang pickle.

Unfortunately, cortisol has some downsides too. It negatively affects the natural immune response as well as disrupts messages to the digestive and reproductive system. Cortisol also mucks around with the parts of the brain which control mood, thoughts and motivation.

Now this is all ok. You out run the lion and settle back in to your cave bed with your cave wife and your cave kids and cave TV. Your fight or flight response will reset back to neutral and you can get back to normal. But what if there is always a sense of danger? Like a bully who might take away the career you worked so hard for. The career that was going to pay for your daughter’s school books, and braces and her first car. What would adrenaline and cortisol do to someone over days, weeks or months? Well, a chest infection for a start.

However, it’s not all bad for me people. I can’t workout. Believe me I tried and came back 3 minutes later pale and clammy! But I can give my body what it needs nutritionally. I didn’t use the illness as an excuse to “start next Monday”, I used it as a sign that my body needs help. So I smashed the ginger and chilli vegetable soups and guzzled water like a parched camel and just let my body repair and deal with the stress without the added burden of poor nutrition.

So, not much to report in the way of fitness. However, from my coughing and spluttering deathbed, I have managed to lose 4kgs. Yes I hear you, it is probably fluid. I don’t care if it’s the Queen of England, it’s 4 kgs of weight I don’t have to cart around and it’s something my body has decided it no longer needs because I’m giving it good stuff.

Moving forward, once I ramp up the exercise I will increase my protein and hopefully flush out some of that shitty cortisol with the feelgood ones. Stress will not get the better of me.

8th January 2017 – 106.9 kgs

Couch to ultra marathon, can it be done?

Current weight 111kgs
Height 174cms
BMI 37 (Obese)

This blog will be a diary of the highs, lows and hows of my personal shit fight to go from couch potato to ultra marathon. I will keep it secret from my friends and family for now because I’m a bit embarrassed to be honest, but maybe other will read it and get on board? I actually don’t know how anyone will find this blog but if by some chance you stumble on this, then welcome and enjoy my own private hell!!

So here goes. I’ve never been very athletic, throughout my life. I did bits a pieces but nothing spectacular. I did however get fit in my late 20’s, competing in adventure racing and some mountain biking events. I was involved with a local training squad where I lived and enjoyed the social aspect as well as the events. It really became a lifestyle. Not a fad. I’ve tried heaps of those – Insert Crossfit, Gyms, running around the block, starving myself and the list goes on. I think I really didn’t stick to these because they are hard and boring. I don’t relate to the Lorna Jane woman, with their 3/4 tights and the super motivational quote tops that are clearly designed advertise to the world that “I workout” where ever they may be, usually in the supermarket or school pick ups. When I was fit, and competing in these events where no one wears Lorna Jane, I was proud of myself. Not because I could fit into anything I wanted, as a matter of fact I really don’t remember thinking about my body at all. All I remember is that I was happy, and proud of myself.

Don’t get155892_10150121956336145_3526274_n me wrong, I wasn’t winning these events. I was usually the last one across the line, passing the event crews who were packing down. The Anaconda Adventure race I did one year, my partners family were worried I was lost because I had taken so long! I was near last off the swim, fell out of my kayak a million times, had stomach cramps on the run and managed to claw my way to third last after the mtb leg. However I still remember running the last 1km with my father in law, running hand in hand with my coach over the line, hugging the people who came all the way just to see me come in 3rd last place. I didn’t win but damn I was proud.

I did this for a couple of years then I was bullied at work and was fired. It all sort of fell apart after that. My anxiety which I have battled with throughout my life became this heavy dark weight that was always with me. I can’t explain how it happened but for anyone who has experienced anxiety or depression, you will know that feeling. So I became a slave to this monster. I wasn’t completely incapable of life, but I really just existed on the bare essentials. Drinking, eating, making excuses. You know the drill so I won’t bang on about it. We all know how this happens.

Now, I’m 34, fat, tired and ready to get on with life. I want to get back to what makes me happy. It has nothing to do with size, or weight or how I look. I just want a body that can satisfy the demands of a life that makes me happy. I want a body that can run and get out of bed in the morning feeling refreshed instead of run down and sore.

So being an all or nothing type person, I have set up a schedule of events for 2017 that I will train for and compete in that will hopefully get me back to happy again. Disclaimer: When I say happy, I mean happy with myself and my achievements – I have the most amazing family and am so in love with my life. I’m the weak link here, the last piece of the puzzle. Once I’m back to healthy, my life will be more perfect than Ryan Gosling’s smile 🙂

So here it is, my schedule – Couch to Ultra Marathon.

29/01/2017 SC Run Series On Road Run 2kms
5/03/2017 SC Run Series On Road Run 5kms
18/03/2017 Paddy Pallin AR Adventure Race 15kms
9/04/2017 SC Run Series On Road Run 10kms
22/04/2017 Adventuregaine Adventure Race 24hrs
20/08/2017 Sunshine Coast Marathon On Road Run 42kms
21/10/2017 Blackall 100 Off Road Run 50kms
15/11/2017 Alpine Challenge Off Road Run 60kms
1/02/2018 Old Ghost Road Ultra Off Road Run 85kms