Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Road to Being a Healthier Gamer: July Update!

Yes, of course I realize it's August 6th.  I actually have three very good reasons to have delayed this particular update. 


…somehow, the first one was so much more fun than the second or third…

Yes, I also realize that I'm horribly behind on my GenCon recap posts that I need to get up here.  I'd like to refer everyone to Reason #3 above please.  This has been the worst case of Con Crud I've ever gotten in 9 years of attending major conventions.  Including those in Vegas that I've been to for work.  Sure, a minor cold, or a sore throat and general feeling of blah?  We've all had that kind of Con Crud.  This time though, the Crud struck as I drove home on Sunday, and laid me flat for two days straight.  I went back to work yesterday, got home, at dinner, and then crawled into bed.  Today is mildly better, so I actually get to post something!

The primary reason for my delay though was that I was awaiting the results of some blood work I had done after a doctor's visit the day I left for GenCon.  See, my wife's insurance is now requiring a full physical and blood work to be eligible for the premium health insurance plan.  Probably a good thing as I haven't had your standard, check-up style blood work done in quite some time.  So lets see what I found out, yeah?

Doctor Visit and Check Up
A physical can tell you a lot of things.  One of the first things it tells you is how much you weigh.  This time around, fully clothed I weighed 246 pounds.  YIKES!  Shedding the heaviest of garments, I probably could take a little off that, but not much so it looks like I've gained about 5 pounds or so since last month.  I'd like to say I'm surprised by this, but I"m not.  July was a rough month as it was the last part of my wife's recovery from surgery and just all around a really busy time.  What that does tell me though is that I need to buckle down and reinforce my exercise regime and calorie counting. 

I can honestly say though that the rest of the physical went great.  My blood pressure is perfectly normal, and the doctor is happy with my weight loss thus far.  She wasn't concerned with my gain of a few pounds as when I told her about Tae Kwon Do, she was very honest with me about how the last 40 pounds or so of my goal will be difficult.  I'll be gaining muscle mass while losing fat, and muscle weighs more than fat.

She was a bit concerned with some stiffness and pain in my left hand and fingers, so she added another bit to the standard blood work to look for Inflammatory Markers, and off I went to the lab.

Blood Work Results
One of the primary things they check in this standard blood work is your cholesterol levels.  Now, I'll be frank here and let everyone know that I was positive for high cholesterol when I was 11 years old.  That doesn't mean I should neglect it, but it certainly wasn't surprising when my results came back Tuesday and my cholesterol was high.  That being said, my doctor is giving me 6 months to adjust my diet and exercise, then I get another round of blood work done.  If it's still high, without having shown improvement, then I'll be given a medication to help the problem.  With my family history and my own history, this is what she thinks will happen, but she has also stated that she's seen people make a positive change on their own, regardless of genes.  6 months?  I think I can make a change for the better in that time frame.

The other portion that really has nothing to do with my weight or general health is that the test for those pesky little Inflammatory Markers came back elevated.  She said that normally that wouldn't be too much of an issue, as they weren't extremely high, but with the pain and somewhat limited mobility in a few fingers on my left hand that hasn't gone away, she wants me to see a Rheumatologist.  We'll see how that goes.

Honestly?  All in all a fairly neutral month.  Why do I say neutral when I actually gained weight?  Well…mostly because when I showed concern about it, my doctor told me to not worry about it.  She suggested that my body has gotten so used to the protein shakes that it's adjusted and seems them as normal now.  She wants me to go back to normal food, while still watching the caloric and fat intake, and adding more cardio exercise to my daily routine.  I can live with that.

Is it the best month I've had?  Nope.  But my size 42 pants are still a touch loose on me, and I walked my arse off at GenCon, so I think the cardio was covered those 4 days!  Also being at GenCon, it reinforced why I'm doing this.  Being a part of the largest gaming convention in North America and seeing the health and state of my subculture en masse solidified the fact that this is a new lifestyle for me, and one I'm not giving up on.

I'm in this for the long haul, and nothing is going to stop me now.

- Tim


  1. Well done Tim, keep trucking! I find my weight is not a good gauge for how healthy I am as the numbers always class me as obese in the BMI but my waist is a 33".. Sports are the best things you can do and with the Tae Kwon Do you're building quite a lot of muscle to do the controlled movements of the patterns.

    On that last bit, and I am in no way intending to be disrespectful to anyone, I was really shocked and suprised by how big the majority of the Gencon attendants were! It actually made me think of your road to health series and how it should be embraced a bit more by the gaming culture as a lot of those guys and girls are putting themselves at risk of permanent damage.

    I'm quite lucky I suppose, I have a small group that I play with, most of the dudes hit the gym a few times a week and there are 3 of us that play competitive sports year round. We game once a week and I paint two days a week so we're certainly not devoted to hardcore gaming and hobbies but are all nerds of equal proportion and in our early to mid 30's and surround the game and paint time with video games.

    You've inspired me to do a similar post, I'm sure people will find your journey inspiring and helpful.


    1. Hy Jack :)

      I really don't pay much attention to the current scientific definition of "obese". Simply because it's a general statement, and we're all different. I do however, pay attention to my doctor, my overall weight, and the fact that it's getting easier to actually keep up with my son :)

      While some may take offense to what you said in reaction to the many photos from GenCon, I can't say I disagree with you. I'm not laying down judgement, but more of a sad acknowledgement of the state of the gaming subculture. It's not about judging, it's abotu concern for people's health and wellness.

      You do that post, you let me know and I'll link the crap out of it.

  2. Good work Tim. Just keep it up and you'll get the results you're looking for. Best regards from the UK.

    1. Hey Sidney :)

      Much appreciated on the encouragement, and will do!

  3. Keep going Tim. Remember this is a long game, so you can't be discouraged by a single month. Look at it longer and longer as time goes on. (Quarterly, then every 4 months, then every 6 months, etc). Once you get closer to your goal, stability and maintainability is as important as losing weight.

    It's all about finding that magical balance of sustainability.

    On the cholesterol. Your doc and you probably know this, but I thought I'd mention due to sarah having a similar issue. Sarah has always had high cholesterol...but she's also had high "good" cholesterol. One doc wanted her put on lipidor, she switched doctors, the other one said her levels were perfectly fine. Difference in thinking between generations of physicians.

    One generation was taught that a high number is always bad.
    New generation is taught that the ratio of the good to the bad is what is important, not the overall number.

    If you feel your ratio is good, I'd get a second opinion from another physician.

    1. Greg, you're a continual source of realism, encouragement and support and I thank you for it :)

      I wish I could say I had that happy problem and that I need to find a new doctor...the problem is that I've seen the blood test results. My good cholesterol is low, and by bad is high :( It's the same problem I've had since I was 11. It's lower than it was 4 years ago, so bonus, I'm improving, but not by much. We'll see how the next 6 months go! If these past 10 months have taught me anything, it's that ALOT can happen in 6 months :)

    2. Of course Tim! I am on the same journey as you, I am just 1 year ahead :).

      Sucks about the cholesterol bit. Was worth a shot. Are you taking any garlic supplements? Sarah and my family have had good luck with them.

      I take these currently.

      Mainly cause they don't give you a garlic smell afterwords. Might be worth trying for 6 months!