VR Workouts, Month 4: Hitting the Wall

This was the first month I really struggled with my VR workouts, and in fact the first time I failed. But during this month I went from looking forward to putting on the Quest to dreading it. For most of the month I pushed myself to keep showing up 4 days a week but it was getting harder and harder. Now part of the reason is the weather. It has been so hot and humid that it just drains you. But that was just a small part of the issue.

Last Wednesday I was dreading the workout but I did it, sortof. I went through the motions but hardly got my heartrate up and barely broke a sweat. I just could not will my body to move fast enough. Several hours later I learned why when I started shaking and shivering and running a fever; I was getting sick. In fact I was sick enough that I took Thursday off which, I believe, is the first time I’ve taken a sick day since our company was bought 3 or 4 years ago. I know this because I had to ask what the procedure was for logging a sick day. My company has a procedure for everything!

Friday I was back at work but, frankly, phoning it in and just trying to get through the day. When it was time to workout I just couldn’t do it, so I skipped. (Thursday was a rest day anyway so no worries there.) I felt pretty guilty about it, but it also felt justified. Instead of working out I went to sleep.

Saturday is another rest day but today, Sunday, was not. I generally do my Sunday workout first thing in the morning to get it out of the way (which itself should’ve been a sign to me…I used to look forward to my workouts) but I didn’t. I was trying to convince myself that I was still recovering and needed more rest, but it wasn’t true. I’m like 90% well at this point.

So let’s leave me sitting there early Sunday afternoon arguing with myself, trying to convince myself to get off the couch, and back up a bit.

The other odd thing that happened this month is that I stopped playing VR games. I finished Walking Dead Saints & Sinners very late in July or very early in August and that was the last VR game I played. Once again part of the reason for this is the weather, but there was more to it than that. I had to sit and ponder what was going on.

And what was going on is I’d basically broken VR fun for myself. I went from playing games for exercise to using a dedicated exercise app (Supernatural) which I was still treating like a game. What I mean by that is I was striving to “beat it” in some way. I went from spending about 20 minutes/working in Supernatural doing Low intensity workouts to close to 40 minutes doing a mix of Low and Medium intensity. Why? Because if it was a game I’d need to get ‘better’ and get a better score and DEFINITELY get off “Easy” difficulty.

But in pushing myself I was making myself miserable. After a workout I would be so wrung out and spent. My body was definitely getting stronger and I was losing weight, which was good. But I totally lost the mental benefits. Early on I’d feel GREAT mentally a couple hours after a workout. Almost like I was high, but in a good way. That was gone. It was just being miserable and getting past being miserable and my brain started equated VR with being uncomfortable. On workout days I was MUCH too tired to play a game for fun and on rest days I didn’t want to get within 10 feet of a VR headset. And that made me really sad because I had been having SO MUCH FUN in VR.

OK back to earlier today. I was sitting there pondering all this and I don’t know if I came up with a solution but I at least came up with a plan to try. First, I cut my weekly Supernatural goals from 4 workouts/week to 3. The idea of that is just to give me some wiggle room without the guilt that comes with not making my goal.

Today I eventually put on the Quest 2 and instead of jumping into Supernatural I played some Beat Saber. That didn’t feel great because Supernatural’s “Flow” workouts are basically like Beat Saber. So I jumped over to Audio Trip which I haven’t played in months and guess what? I’ve actually gotten better at it, I guess because my body is in better physical shape. That was pretty fun, and it was also when I noted that I was starting to sweat. Then I booted up Pistol Whip and finished one of the campaigns including fighting a boss that had me ducking and twisting and dodging like mad, grinning the whole time.  During this time Meta Move popped up to say I’d met my goal for time spent moving, though I still had calories to burn.

But only THEN did I fire up Supernatural. My heart beat was already in the low 100s before I started (my resting heart rate is normally around 80). I did a couple of 8-ish minute Low difficulty sessions which got the heart rate up into goal zone and helped me hit my calories burned goal in Meta Move. I also feel like I did better with these sessions in terms of better form and better control. And it all felt good. I even danced a little. Thank goodness no one was watching.

Here I am, a couple hours later and I had some fun in VR, did my workout and hit my Meta Move goals, and I don’t feel like an old dish rag.  And mentally I’m “up” enough to write a blog post.

So my plan is to dial back the Supernatural stuff and mix in some active games.  Stop treating Supernatural as a game and honor the fact that I’m in my 60s and I might NEVER get to where I can do 40 minutes of Medium difficulty sessions and that’s OK.

My whole goal with starting these workouts was just to move. Both my mother and my grandmother (none of the men in my family tree lived long enough to hit this point) deteriorated a LOT when they got older because they stopped doing anything. They’d sit at home and watch TV, which frankly is what I do for a living. Yes it’s a computer screen and not a day time soap opera but in terms of activity it’s about the same. Both of them went downhill fast when their lifestyles changed like this. I don’t want to be like them. I want to stay active and be able to get around and be alert. So that’s why I started the workouts. Losing weight is a nice side effect and I wasn’t really aware of how good a proper amount of exercise would be for my mental state. That was a delightful discovery.

Bottom line, I’m not going for ripped abs. I’m going for mobility and mental health and I don’t need to keep pushing myself into longer, harder workouts to achieve those goals.

So, we’ll see how it goes.

VR Workouts, Month 3

Still working out in my Quest 2 at least 4 times a week. I figure if I can make it through July and August the rest of the year will be cake. It is HARD to walk the dog in the heat and humidity, get home dripping sweat and then strap on the old Quest. Ideally I would shuffle my routine and workout in the morning but I am kind of a night owl and @PartPurple is a HUGE night owl. Going to bed earlier in order to get up earlier would be a struggle since I’d have to convince her to get onboard (if I go to bed before she does, I always wake up when she comes to bed then can’t get back to sleep).

Anyway that was probably TMI.

But for now everything is going to plan. I took another big step this month in that I started using Supernatural VR, a subscription-based fitness app. Last month I’d graduated from active games to an actual fitness app, so why the change? Les Mills Bodycombat (the app I had been using) is a solid app but it felt like a bit too much for me. Every workout left me completely wrung-out to the point where I’d basically be done for the rest of the day. It felt good but I knew I wouldn’t sustain it; it was just too intense for my astoundingly out of shape body.

Supernatural has a lot more options. It has 4 main activities: Flow (which is similar to Beat Saber only with routines designed for exercise), Boxing (similar to Les Mills), Stretching and Meditation. I haven’t done too much with the last two. Supernatural has about half a dozen ‘coaches’ that lead you through the routines, so you can pick a personality or two that resonate with you. It also has a much broader range of workouts and you can filter by duration, intensity, style of music, etc. And there’s a lot more variety in the music that they offer. There’s a ton of ‘environments’ that the workouts take place in. Like, I dunno, The Great Wall of China, Petra, or the Scottish Highlands. This is all just eye/ear candy but it keeps things fresh. There’re also a ton of accessibility options so you can tailor the experience to your abilities and fitness level.

The BIG downside of Supernatural is the cost. It’s $20/month, or if you buy a year in advance that brings it down to about $15/month. That felt too rich for my blood until someone in the Facebook group (yes, I actually joined the Facebook group) mentioned getting health insurance to pay for it. I checked my policy and they do reimburse for gym memberships and specifically mention online fitness courses. So I HOPE they wil reimburse me for Supernatural (I signed up for a year) but I can’t submit until I’ve demonstrated that I’ve actually used it for (I think) 35 workouts. So it was a bit of a gamble.

And honestly now I’m kind of hooked even if I don’t get reimbursed.  Mostly it is the variety that keeps me engaged. They release new routines every day (I think?) so it always feels like there’s something new to do.

I also bought a cheap heart monitor that syncs with Supernatural so I can see how hard I’m working. My Fitbit measures my heart rate, but it doesn’t sync with SN and of course I can’t read it while wearing the Quest. The monitor, which is in the form of an armband, was only about $30 so seemed worth the investment.

Anyway enough of sounding like a Supernatural infomercial.

So back to how I’m doing. I’m generally doing well. I’ve had a few times where I was in pain, generally my lower lats will get so tight that it hurts to move. I have learned to stretch frequently which is helping and I also think just getting stronger is helping. I also had a scare with my Achilles tendon but going easy on squats and side-lunges for a few days was enough to let that heal.

I’ve lost a little over 14 lbs without really changing my diet much. Or if I have changed it, it is not in a way that feels like any kind of a sacrifice. I don’t feel like I am “on a diet.” I still have a long way to go but it feels like I’m making progress and I still do not dread doing the workouts. In fact yesterday was a “rest day” and now I’m actually looking forward to my workout later today.

And not to sound like a broken record, but overall I feel better. Mentally I feel better. I feel stronger. I’m not huffing and puffing going up and down stairs. I feel more alert, more present. Just a ton of positive changes. So yeah, I’m gonna keep doing this for a while.


VR Workout, Month 2

As of today I’ve been working out in VR for 2 months. So far it’s still going well.

I aim for 4 days/week and I’ve always done at least that many and I think a couple of weeks I hit 5 days. And sometimes I wind up doing what are essentially semi-workouts just by playing certain games for fun (on PSVR2 Beat Saber, RagnaRock, Synth Riders and even Until You Fall can all get the heart pumping pretty good).

The Quest 2 is my ‘workout headset’ still thanks to the Meta Move app that’ll track calories burned and amount of time spent moving. The lack of a cord helps too, as do all the 3rd party accessories I have for it. My Fitbit ~sometimes~ tracks this stuff. If it was a little more reliable I might use PSVR2 for working out though I find the PSVR2 in general is harder to keep clean and I do sweat a LOT doing these workouts.

While weight loss isn’t my primary goal (though lord knows I could stand to lose a LOT of weight) I am losing some. Closing in on 9 lbs which seems like an OK, but not remarkable, weight-loss pace. Friends who are into fitness keep telling me to ignore the scale since muscle weighs more than fat so I might actually gain weight at times.

Lifestyle changes, beyond the actual workouts, are mostly incidental. Old me would get off work, walk the dog, come in and open a beer and fire up a video game until dinner. I’d often have 2-3 beers before dinner (we tend to eat late, around 8 pm). New me gets off work, walks the dog, comes in and does a VR workout and the way the timing works out I’m just about done and recovered by the time dinner is ready. So I just don’t have the ‘free time’ for drinking as much beer as I used to. 🙂 So we’ll call that a healthy side-effect.

But I do catch myself thinking more about what I eat and have thoughts like “Do I really need to eat this or am I just bored?” Instead of potato chips I’ve been snacking on carrot chips, just as one example. Turns out I just like to crunch things. I was also falling into the habit of having a rather stiff nightcap before bed to prevent me from laying there wide awake stressing about work. Now I’ve been turning towards gummies laced with CBD and/or hemp-based THC. (Marijuana is not legal in my state but hemp-based THC is, at least for now…that’s a whole other post though.) Anyway this is an improvement in terms of calories, though I won’t go so far as to call it a healthy choice. I sure sleep like a baby, though.

Earlier this week I took a big step and bought my first actual fitness app, Les Mills Bodycombat. It is a BIG jump from Beat Saber and Audio Trip to Les Mills. I’m a little hesitant about it all because I think the reason I have stuck with working out for 2 months is because they’ve been fairly low impact workouts. After doing Les Mills I am like a wrung-out dish cloth. Fitbit loves it and tells me I’ve been in ‘the zone’ but I’m so tired after doing Les Mills that the rest of the evening is basically spent laying around recovering. I’m afraid that is going to burn me out, so I’m still pondering how to work that in. What I’ve been doing is a little Beat Saber to loosen up, then jump to Les Mills and do a couple of 8-10 minute sessions, then over to Audio Trip to kind of cool now and loosen up some more.

I always feel good the next day in that “sore muscles but for a good reason” way, so that’s a bonus. But I’m starting to feel like my whole life is built around these workouts and I know I won’t keep that up. I’m thinking maybe I do 2 workouts/week that are based on games, and 2 that incorporate Les Mills. Still pondering, though.

Also of all the fitness apps on Quest 2, I picked Les Mills because a) it didn’t have a subscription like a lot of the fitness apps do and b) it was something different. It’s basically all shadow-boxing whereas Beat Saber is slashing at things and Audio Trip is kind of dance/rhythm oriented. It feels pretty good punching stuff in Les Mills even though what you’re punching is virtual.

The Climb has been left behind for now, and I haven’t been fitting in much Pistol Whip but if I do this 2 & 2 idea I’ll probably work that in with Beat Saber and Audio Trip for the ‘gaming workout’ days. It’s a really fun game so if nothing else, I’ll just play it for fun.

So I guess that about sums it up. This is the kind of post that is mostly just written for my future self to look back on and think either “Look how far I’ve come” or “Why did I quit doing this? I was feeling so good about myself!” Hopefully the former.

Because I DO feel good about myself, and in general I just feel good. I feel stronger, I feel more nimble and my mood is generally much better. Both my mom and my grandmother got very sedentary in their later years and I saw what a negative impact that had on them. (All the men in my family tree died way before this became an issue.) With Lola slowing way down I was walking less and less and feeling stiffer and weaker and, y’know, the groan that escapes just from getting up from a chair or something. I was doing all that. I was feeling like an old man. I’m feeling much better now. So I hope I can keep this up.

VR Workouts 1 Month In

As of this coming Thursday I will have been doing my VR workouts for a month. So far, so good.

I have lost a little weight (about 5 lbs) but a friend who is into fitness tells me not to worry about the scale but to worry about how I feel and how my clothes fit. I don’t know that my clothes feel any different but I definitely feel better. There’s more pep in my step, basically. And when work isn’t doing everything it can to destroy me, my mood has been better too.

The workouts themselves continue to be fun, and VR in general has been bringing me a lot of enjoyment.

I’ve also learned that VR workouts are a real thing and I don’t have to put ‘workout’ in quotes. In fact there are a bunch of fitness aps for the Meta Quest and PCVR platforms.

I started with Beat Saber and The Climb. I’ve added Pistol Whip and just recently, Audio Trip. I’ve so far avoided the actual fitness apps because I don’t really need them yet and I don’t want this to become a chore.

Beat Saber is starting to fail me as workout material because I’ve gotten too good at it. Let me explain. I can now do most of the original songs that came with the game in Hard mode. I can get S rank and sometimes not miss a single note. The problem is that Expert, the next logical step, gets so fast that you don’t really have time to swing your arms to cut the blocks and you have to start relying on a lot of wrist movement. As a game, this is still plenty of fun, but it’s less of a workout than taking big swings with your arms. That’s when I added Audio Trip and that game kicks my ass. As is so often the case with VR, it sounds very simple. You just have to touch incoming icons with a ‘ball’ you hold in each hand. Simple enough, but the game makes you stretch and bend and twist and it really gets my heart rate up.

Here’s an official trailer for Audio Trip. You can see it’s kind of a mix between aerobics and dance. I’m REALLY glad I don’t have to see myself playing this game because I’m sure it is a horrifying sight to behold, but like I said, it does get my heartrate up and the sweat flowing.

Oh and I learned the that Quest Move app will track you while playing Rift games through Air Link. I haven’t tested it with Steam VR via Air Link though. Tonight was supposed to be a ‘rest day’ but I was playing a Rift game that involved some fairly vigorous sword swinging and a decent amount of climbing and suddenly Move popped up to tell me I was half-way to my calorie goal. Accidental workout! By the time I was done I was near my goals so I ran through half a dozen Beat Saber songs just to hit them.

All in all, I’m really happy with my progress and that I’ve found a way to exercise that is fun and convenient. I’m gonna keep going. Let’s see if I can make it to 2 months!

By the way, the screenshot at the top of the post is from Drum Rock on Playstation VR2 and has very little to do with workouts, though it can get you a little sweaty. It’s like having the drum kit from Rock Band, only in VR so you don’t have the storage hassles. Drum Rock is pretty fun but you don’t get licensed music, only covers. I get why…it’s a $20 indie title and I’m sure they couldn’t afford licensed songs. But I can dream, right?

VR “Workouts”

So now I’m into VR again.

I’m honestly not sure how it happened. But something got a bug up my [redacted] and I updated the Quest 2 and controllers, cleared a space in the living room and fired up, what else? Beat Saber. And had fun!

And I discovered the Meta Move app, which is like a fitness tracker. I set calories burnt and ‘minutes moving’ goals and off I went.

The games I play would probably not count as a workout for a marginally fit middle-aged person, but for my old self who spends most of his time at a keyboard, I’m able to work up a decent sweat playing.

The only two games I’ve been playing are Beat Saber (which is all about cutting blocks to a beat using totally not light sabers because copyright) and The Climb, which is about mountain climbing. I don’t get why The Climb feels like exercise. You pull yourself up a rock face by your hands, but of course you’re just standing there. You’re not really carrying weight UP anywhere. And yet I get tired. Maybe just because of all the time waving my hands around over my head? But hey, it’s fun and gets my heart pumping….I’m not going to question it.

There’s a table tennis game I want to add into the rotation but since I just bought The Climb I’m waiting a bit and hoping for a sale.

After just a couple of days, the process of clearing space and getting the visor on has become routine. I’m really glad I sprang for prescription lenses for the headset as not having to fit it over glasses helps with ease of use.

I dunno if I’ll stick with it, but for now it is working and I actually tend to feel pretty good after playing. I’ve never bought into the, y’know ‘endorphins’ effect of exercise. Every time in the past I’ve decided to exercise I was left feeling like crap after. But this must be hitting the sweet spot because it is improving my mood and, dare I say it? My energy levels.

So who knows? Maybe I’ll stick with it for a while.

No screenshots cuz VR. Sorry!

I Made Switchel

Back in the middle of Blaugust when I was desperate for a topic that I could turn into a quick and easy post, I shared a few of my favorite YouTube channels. One of them was Townsends, a channel about life in 18th century North America. At lot of the Townsend videos focus on cooking and food preparation and while I find them interesting, most are not interesting enough for me to try to make them.

One exception was Switchel, which Jon Townsend calls “An 18th Century Energy Drink.” Here’s the video:

It’s a simple recipe:
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of sulpher-free molasses
a heaping tablespoon of ground ginger
1/2 gallon of water

Mix and enjoy.

My first attempt was drinkable but not great. First, my ground ginger was ancient and not very potent and it was the end of a jar and I barely had a tablespoon. End result: not a lot of ginger flavor. Second…I think I don’t really like molasses enough for this recipe.

For attempt two I used local honey instead of molasses and I had a new jar of ground ginger. I started with warm-ish water to help dissolve everything. This time it was pretty good right after mixing, but still not quite sweet enough so I added an extra dollop (that’s a technical term) of honey. Shook it all like mad to get the honey to dissolve in the now cold water. That tasted better, but when it really got good was after a few days in the fridge when a lot of the ginger settled out leaving a very clear drink, about the color of apple juice.

I really enjoy it, though due to the vinegar in it I don’t guzzle gallons of it. There’s a bunch of info on the web about how apple cider vinegar is good for you, but I don’t know how much I believe of what I read. I do, however, enjoy the taste & fragrance of vinegar (properly diluted, of course, and really you notice the vinegar more in the smell than the taste) and I feel like it does help keep my gut happy. Maybe a little acid is good for all the bacteria living in there. Who knows?

And I really like having a cold drink where I know all the ingredients that go in it. Same could be said for home-brewed ice tea or lemonade, for sure, but beyond those drinks (and good old ice water) most of what I drink comes from a factory of some kind somewhere.

Since making this Switchel I’ve discovered there are a ton of recipes for it online. Some of them are fermented, many use fresh ginger, some swap the vinegar for lemon or lime juice. This one from Townsends is one of the simplest and while I may try others, there’s something to be said for spending 5 minutes to throw together half a gallon of refreshing beverage. Bonus points for it being pretty darned cheap to make, too.

[About the header image: I tried my best to get one of those ‘beads of sweat dripping down the side of the jug’ shots but all I managed in the time allotted was fogging that just makes it look like I’m drinking from a dirty jug. I now have great respect for food photographers.]

Time for your first colonoscopy!

So this is WAY off-topic, but I’m writing this post as a public service. A colonoscopy, if you don’t know, is a procedure where a doctor takes a look at the insides of your colon to check for cancer and other problems. The doctor does this by, well, sticking a camera up your backside.

Generally speaking, doctors want you to get a colonoscopy when you hit 50. I managed to dodge the procedure for a few years because it just sounded so horrific, but after I spent 3 days in the hospital from a bout of diverticulitis I figured it was time to buck up and get it done.

I’ve gone from someone who faced the idea with abject fear to “Hey, a colonoscopy is no big deal!” in the past few days and I wanted to share the experience with you so that you don’t have to go through that whole fear thing.

So here we go. Obviously this isn’t medical advice and if you’re on some kind of blood thinner the prep is a bit more complicated. Ditto if you have Diabetes, mostly due to 1 day of fasting before the process. Talk to your doctor!

I’m not holding anything back and I’m gonna try to be as honest as I possibly can be.

7 days before your procedure you’ll have to stop taking aspirin and aspirin-like medicines, and lay off iron supplements. You can take Tylenol or acetaminophen but any anti-inflammatorys are a no-go.

3 days before, you have to stop eating legumes, peas, carrots, corn, tomatoes, watermelon and nuts.

So far easy, right?

The day before the process is the worst part of the whole ordeal, and it’s really not that bad.

You can’t eat for a day. Only clear liquids (broth, apple juice, ginger ale etc.) I got by on Ginger Ale and Iced Tea for a day.

Now I’m going to get specific. I assume this is typical but again, you’re doctor will give you instructions. I got a very detailed hand-out.

At 3 pm I took 4 Dulcolax tablets. This is an overnight laxative and 4 tables is 1.5-2 doses.

At 5 pm I dissolved 238 grams of Miralax into 64 ounces of Gatorade. I had to drink an 8 oz glass every 10-15 minutes. 238 grams of Miralax (another laxative) is 14 daily doses!! I used plastic cups and filled them all so I could see my progress.

I got through 4 glasses before all those laxatives started to work. Once they kicked in, I was in the bathroom for a few hours with very short breaks. You definitely want to be home for this and if you share a bathroom you should coordinate. At times I’d get up, wash my hands, leave the bathroom and get about 5 feet from the door before I had to run back in!

So let’s be blunt here: you’ll have diarrhea. It’s gross. But it doesn’t hurt. It isn’t like when you’re sick and have diarrhea and all kinds of cramping and stuff. Your belly is full of liquid and nothing else and, pardon the graphic imagery, but after the first couple of times liquid is what’s coming out. The worst part of the whole situation was that 2nd set of 4 glass of solution since I knew I was drinking more laxative.

Best advice is leave a stack of magazines in the bathroom and just let nature take its course. Again, it’s gross but it isn’t painful.

Once you get those 8 glasses of solution down, you need to drink at least 3 more glasses of clear liquid before midnight. The diarrhea will continue but it’ll be much more intermittent and by the end you’re just passing clear liquid.

I know that sounds gross but that’s the whole idea… to clean out your colon so the doc can get a good look.

After midnight, you stop drinking and eating completely. By that time your belly and your intestines are all empty and the worst of the process is over.

So finally, the big day is here!

The day of the procedure you’ll need someone to drive you home. My clinic actually insisted I list the cell number of the person who would drive me home. Even if you take a cab, you need an adult to escort you.

After hanging out in the waiting room I was taken into the clinic proper. I was told to take off all my clothes and put on a hospital “Johnny.” I answered a bunch of questions about my health history.. nothing weird. “Do I have high blood pressure?” “Do I have any metal pins or plates in my body?” and stuff like that.

I laid down in a bed and was given an I/V to help rehydrate me (it’s likely you’re at least somewhat dehydrated by this point… I had a nasty headache from not eating or drinking). I met the sedationist (I don’t know the official term!) and the doctor. The nurse talked me through what was going to happen and told me they’d inflate my colon with some air to help them see and after the procedure I’d have to expel it and that I shouldn’t be embarrassed or hold it in. She emphasized that they hear this going on all day and aren’t bothered by it, and that it’s important to get that air out to prevent cramps or whatever. So that was a little awkward and a little funny. My nurse was pretty cute. 😉

Finally it was time for the big procedure. The bed was wheeled into the procedure room. A nurse and the sedationist were there. The doctor came to the door and asked me my name, what I was there for and my date of birth. I guess this is now standard practice just to ensure they’re not doing the wrong procedure on you!

The nurse asked me to roll over on my left side while the sedationist warned me that the sedative can cause a burning feeling where the I/V enters your skin. I never felt that. The nurse said “I have to uncover your bum.” as the sedationist administered the sedative and….

Next thing I know I’m in recovery. Things are a little foggy here. The doc told me everything was OK. She’d removed a few polyps (which are very common) and would send them off for biopsy. The nurse asked me if I’d passed gas and in my addled state I quipped “Yes, and I’m proud of it!” — that was the most embarrassing part of the whole process! I’m guessing she’s heard worse.

I was told to take it easy. Not to drive or exercise. Not to sign any legal documents because “whether it feels like it or not, you’re under the influence and anything you sign won’t be binding.” I was given a printed summary of what was done, including color pictures of the inside of my colon. Sparkling clean it was, thanks to the ordeal from the day before!

After a few minutes they had me sit on the edge of the bed. Then I got dressed, carefully, and wobbled out to the waiting room where Angela waited to collect me. We went home and I slept for a lot of the rest of the day.

In the evening I took the dog for a walk and that was a bit too much; I had to call Angela to come pick us up. I felt fine before I set out but I got really tired really fast. So my advice is just to lay around the house for the rest of the day.

I never had any pain. I was warned “You may notice blood tinged discharge on your underwear or toilet tissue.” and I did experience this. I wouldn’t wear white pants to the procedure.

Post-procedure, if you had any biopsies taken you’re told to continue to avoid aspirin for a week. No alcohol the day of the procedure. You should avoid raw veggies and crazy spicy food. Basically go easy on your belly for a day. Remember at this point its been close to 48 hours since you had solid food. I had some pasta and sauce…figured that would be easy to handle and it was.

And that, really, is it.

TL;DR: The prep the day before is going to have you sitting on the toilet for about 2 hours almost non-stop and that is by far the worst part of the procedure.

I’d like to thank the staff of Charles River Endoscopy and Dr. Greta Taitelbaum and her staff for taking such good care of me.

Looking back on how I freaked out I’d been about this procedure, I feel silly. It was the least painful medical procedure I can recall…much less painful than a trip to the dentist! And when you get to the clinic or hospital and you see 10 or 12 other people waiting for the same thing to happen to them, the whole embarrassment factor just goes away.

Every polyp they find and painlessly remove is one less chance you’ll get cancer. So when you hit 50 and your doctor says “Time for a colonoscopy.” you should just agree and get it done. It’s really no big deal and it can save your life.

Active Day 30!

So today was Day 30 of my EA Sports Active 30 Day Challenge. I wish I could say it felt great, but it didn’t; I was just having one of those off days, and so was Active (exercises I never have a problem with weren’t registering properly). I toughed it out though, as I’ve had to tough it out about 5 other times during the month. I wish I could figure out what leads to these really low energy days, so I could stop doing whatever it is that causes them!

Of the 3 goals that are automatically set for you (you can change them, of course) I hit 2 really quickly… easily within the first two weeks of the program. And the third I never hit. 🙁 It’s a goal of spending X hours with Active in 30 days, and I only got 96% of the way there.

I’m going to take 2 days off, and start another 30 Day Challenge on Light. I’m going to use a stronger band to increase the challenge of the upper body stuff. The lower body stuff is still enough of a struggle that I think I can get plenty more out of the Light program (my body and running do not get along well). I want to get where I can do all the running in a workout at “Perfect” speed, for one thing, and my left leg in particular got hurt 3 times in the 30 days, so I think it needs more work at Light. I’m in this for the long haul.

I bought a box of Pilates bands at Target for $10 or so, but they’re a little short. I can use them for bent over stuff, but doing overhead presses just seems impossible with them. You can feel when these bands ‘run out of stretch’ and that’s what happens when I try to use these bands in overhead workouts. I think I’m going to buy a 2nd box and just tie them together. If the knot is always between my feet it should be fine.

Fitting the workout into life continues to be a challenge. On workout days we don’t get to dinner until nearly 8 o’clock, which really cuts into free time, but I guess that’s a small price to pay in exchange for not being a decrepit old man in a few years. 🙂

The weight loss isn’t really coming too consistently yet. I tend to go down during the week then shoot back up over the weekend, so at least I know where to focus my attentions. Too many opportunities for snacking on weekends, I guess.

This will probably be my last Active blog post for a while. It’s all fairly routine at this point and I don’t have a lot more to say about it. Maybe I’ll check in after my next challenge, or if something dramatic happens.

Overall, I’m a big fan of the program even if it isn’t perfect. It’s better than any other ‘home gym’ solution I’ve tried, at least for me.

Active Day 22

Today was Day 22 of my 30 day challenge in EA Sports Active.

First a recap. On Sunday, I pulled/tore something in my left calf during the “warm up” portion of the workout. Nothing terribly serious but I kind of limped/hobbled through the workout, then limped through the rest of the day. Happily yesterday was a rest day.

One of the few complaints I (and many others) have about Active is that the warmup and cooldown periods are so short as to be useless. The warmup when I hurt myself consisted of, Exercise 1: RUN! with the trainer urging me to pick up the pace, which I did, and suddenly it was like someone drove a knife into my calf (the pain eased a lot fairly quickly, but that first ouch was intense). Active needs both some stretching exercises built in, and a longer warm-up, at least. Maybe in the expansion coming this holiday.

So today, my calf was still tender but I finally did what I’ve *known* I should be doing all along. I stretched first. Angela helped me out there as she used to do martial arts and knows all kinds of stretches from doing them. And what a difference that made! I was so much more limber, and exercises like the side lunge with toe touches became pretty easy, and touching the floor with the tip of the remote was a cinch (without stretching I’d get about as far down as my ankle).

Luckily today was heavy on upper body stuff, so it was easy on the hurt calf. I still jogged very slowly on the final ‘cooldown’ run, just to be safe. So it wasn’t a particularly strenuous workout, but it felt really good, and I felt really good after it.

I’ve got a bit more than a week left in the challenge and I’m not sure what the program will point me towards when its done, but left to my own devices, I think I’ll re-do the 30 Day Challenge on “Light” difficulty, only using a Medium weight elastic band to increase the difficulty of the upper body stuff. I know there’s a fine line between being careful and slacking, but I am nearly 50 and horribly out of shape. I can not yet do the “Long” running sections at a “Perfect” pace (when I started I couldn’t even get up to a Perfect pace, now I can do about 1.5 laps at it…the program wants 2.5) and I figure a second time through Light will help me get up to speed on that. At the same time, the upper body exercises with the Active band have been so trivial that I don’t feel like I’ve made any progress with my arms/shoulders, so doing those all again with a store-bought medium band might get some development going on there.

Weight-wise I’ve been all over the place, according to the Wii Balance Board and Wii Fit. I was losing, then one day it said I’d gained 1.8 lbs, then the next day another .4 lbs, then the day after that it said I’d lost 1.5 lbs! Averaging it all out, I don’t think I’ve lost anything, but I haven’t changed my eating habits significantly, beyond snacking.

I’m not too upset about that, though. This first 30 Day Challenge is more about making a habit of working out. Getting myself and Angela used to the new schedule, getting used to having pleasantly sore legs and sort of being more aware of my body. If I lose weight, great. If not.. well I *know* I’m feeling more limber and my legs feel stronger, so the program is having a positive impact. The weight can come later after I’ve laid down the foundations of a healthier lifestyle.

EA Active Day 13

Ran into a bit of a setback with my 30 Day Challenge yesterday, when I wrenched my back (this was on a rest day, and it was doing chores, not working out.) By mid-afternoon I could barely walk or stand  up straight. I popped a bunch of naproxen and then after dinner laid on the couch watching TV all evening with one of those heat packs strapped on. I sorta curled up in a semi-fetal position so my lower back muscles could relax, and that helped a lot.

Side note: I can’t believe there are people who watch 3 hours of tv every night. I was going stir crazy by the end of it.

This morning it was feeling somewhat better, but I still decided that working out would be a bad idea. I didn’t want to risk hurting my back worse and missing a week of exercise. But as the day wore on I felt more and more guilty about missing a day, so I ended up doing the day’s workout afterall, with the adjustment that I just kind of shuffled along during the running part, because when I really ran, the jarring started to make my back twinge. Nothing else really bothered it, which I guess suggests my form is ok, since they’re always telling you to hold your back straight.

Today’s new torture was Squat & Hold. Sounds so simple, so un-threatening, but I was cursing a blue streak as the timer counted down. The idea is simply to squat and stay in that squatting position for 20 seconds. Something little kids do without a 2nd thought. It killed me.

Also more basketball, which I really have trouble with. The idea is you turn left to “grab” a ball from a bin, then face forward and “shoot” the ball at a basket or “pass” it at a target. I can’t get this to work reliably. I’ll turn and reach out for the “ball” and my onscreen avatar doesn’t budge. Other times I’ll be holding still and my avatar suddenly turns, grabs a ball and flops it towards a target. If I do get the avatar to grab a ball, when I turn to face forward he almost always throws the ball before I mean to.

Basketball is the one activity that I just can’t get to work right. I’ve licked my issues with the running, I don’t have troubles with the leg strap sliding down. Everything works pretty well except basketball (which feels more like a gimmick in any case).

If anyone has tips for getting this to work I’d love to hear them.

I’m not closely monitoring my weight, but I seem to have lost a couple pounds since starting to use Active. More importantly I feel better, more energized (most of the time). We’ve been slowly modifying our diet. Just as an example, we used to have sandwiches and chips for lunch (when we were both home). Then we replaced the chips with Triscuits, which were probably just as fattening but seemed slightly more nutritional. Then to low-fat Triscuits. Now we’ve been having veggies (baby carrots, celerey sticks or raw brocoli) with non-fat veggie dip along side our sandwiches. This is to try to meet Active’s “eat 5-6 helpings of veggies every day” directive.

I used to drink a vat of a blend of ice tea and yerba mat´ with sugar to start every day. Now I’ve been taking a 32 ounce bottle of filtered water with me in the morning. And curiously I feel just as awake after that hydration as I did after the morning caffeine injection (Ihaven’t “give up” caffeine though… I still enjoy a Pepsi Throwback at lunch). I did this to try to fill Active’s “drink 8 glasses of water a day” directive.

So all in all, things are looking good. I feel better, am eating better, less caffeine, lost a few pounds, and I’m sticking to an exercise routine. And I’m almost half-way through the 30-day challenge!