Before and After
Before June 1, 2005
After October 1, 2005
I was a yo-yo dieter for 30 years. I am 5' 8" and weighed about 145 lbs when Cathy and I married in 1973. During the next three decades I successively gained and lost weight. Each time I gained, I hit a new high: 180, then 190. I never wanted to exceed 200 lbs, but I did. On June 1, 2005, I weighed in at my doctor visit at 230 lbs. I could not climb a flight of stairs quickly without feeling faint, almost blacking out on the 106 steps from the Montlake parking lot to the University of Washington campus.
In 2005 my doctor wanted to double my cholesterol medication and write a prescription for high blood pressure. I decided to get serious about my health and signed up for a trainer at a local gym. I still remember the introductory session with Jesse Ward, who now runs his own Crossfit gym (Local's Gym in Lynnwood, WA). He asked me what my goal was. I said I wanted to weigh under 200 lbs. He calmly wrote down "199," smiled, and then proceeded to ask me what I really wanted. He motivated me to become more concerned about how I felt than a number on the scales, and to pay more attention to body fat percentage than to BMI. He also needed to know if I was interested in body-building (which I wasn't), since professional weightlifters may weigh a lot, but still have low body fat percentages.
In the process of focusing more on health than weight, I still ended up losing a lot of weight: 50 pounds in the first 4 months, then another 10 to 15 pounds since then. I have weighed between about 160 and 175 since 2006.
Now I am completely off of cholesterol
medication, and my blood pressure is fine. My thyroid medication has been slightly reduced. I substituted exercise in a variety of modes and healthy eating for the unhealthy habits I had acquired.
Update: In Sept 2014 I changed the time of taking my thyroid pill from early morning to early evening. In the following six months my weight dropped gradually from ca. 173 to 160, and is beginning to stabilize around 158-160. I have considerably more energy now too!
My weight and body fat stats are shown in the chart below. The first two entries were obtained using calipers at the gym. The others are results of the hydrostatic method. Body Mass Index is based on the Adult BMI Calculator at the CDC web site's "Body Mass Index" page, using an average height of 68.5 inches.
Note: We all experience a regular diurnal fluctuation in our height. This is well documented in medical journals. I learned about the phenomenon during a lecture on human functional anatomy at UW. We are tallest as soon as we get out of bed in the morning, and shortest by afternoon to evening. On Nov 3, 2013 I measured slightly under 69 inches when I got up at 7:30 am, and slightly under 68 inches after 3:30 pm until I went to bed. Cathy also experienced a full 1-inch fluctuation -- she was 67 inches at 7:30 am, and 66 inches after 3:30 pm.
Body Fat Chart
On July 30, 2007 I had my body fat tested with a mobile hydrostatic unit.
Go to: http://www.bodyfattest.com/
Of all methods used to measure body fat, the hydrostatic method is considered the "Gold Standard." I have retested with the same mobile unit several times since then.
If you make an appointment with the Body Fat Test mobile clinic, both you
and I may receive a $5 referral discount. Please let the technician know that
Gary Martin of Edmonds referred you.
Immediately after the hydrostatic test on July 30, 2007, I had my body fat measured using two hand-held devices at my gym. Check out the differences in the results:
Body Fat Measurements: July 30, 2007
When I thought I was still at 20% body fat, and was killing myself with excess cardio and weight training to try to drop the value to under 18%, into the "healthy zone" for my age and gender, I was in fact already below 15%. Consequently I no longer trust the hand-held devices at the gym.
Between Sep 2010 and Apr 2011 I significantly increased weight-lifting and decreased cardio. I gained over 6 pounds, but my body fat percentage stayed almost the same.
On the other hand, during the 5 months from Nov 2014 to Apr 2015 I lost exactly 4.0 pounds, but I actually lost 4.15 pounds of fat and gained 0.15 pound of lean, resulting in a net body fat percentage loss of 2.2%.
In aiming for an overall healthier lifestyle, I have learned to value role models and a select group of local health & fitness professionals. It is their collective expertise and guidance that has played an essential role in steering me toward sustainable healthy choices. The starting point was critical. Trainer Jesse Ward helped me get safely fit. Massage therapist T. Zeda made it possible for me to sustain workouts without injury, and convinced me to begin practicing yoga. That was the best addition to my health and fitness activities.
The most influential person by far is my amazing wife Cathy. While struggling with weight issues over more than two decades, Cathy patiently encouraged me to make better eating choices, and never nagged. She became my foremost role model for nutrition. When people ask what "diet" plan I followed, I say simply, "I just began eating what my wife ate." She has always made sensible, disciplined, and good nutritional choices about what to eat, and how much to eat. I could give examples of some of the specific changes I made, and some of the foods I eat now, but these change with time. In brief, I stopped eating cookies or muffins with every cup of coffee (multiple times a day), and double (or triple) portions at meal time. I started eating more fruits and vegetables, and lean sources of protein, in moderation. I do not deprive myself of "fun" foods; I just limit the quantity, and know that extra calories have to be paid for with more workout time.
Water & Food
During the summer of 2008, after an insightful conversation with the friendly and competent staff at Edmonds Vitamins & Herbs, I began drinking water according to a simple formula:
Half my body weight = Ounces of water per day.
At around 160 lbs, that is 80 ounces.
I carry a 25 ounce bottle and drink 3 to 4 of those each day.
The health benefits have been immediate and long-lasting.
Within 3 days after starting, all of the residual discomfort from a case of plantar fasciitis was completely gone. Within a couple of weeks, I was able to stretch much more deeply during yoga practices. I am more flexible now at age 62 than I ever dreamed possible.
I follow no rigid plan, no commercial diet program. I try to eat healthy, balanced, whole foods.
I love coffee; I drink the equivalent of around 4 cups (8 oz) per day, on average.
I take daily:
- 1 multi-vitamin tablet
- 1 fish oil capsule (500 mg)
- 1 Vitamin D capsule (2,000 IU)
- 1 Magnesium Citrate tablet (400 mg)
From June 1 to October 1 2005, I spent at least an hour, often two hours per day, at the gym.
I began with an overall assessment with a trainer. I paid for 4 sessions with the trainer and paced them out
about as follows: 2nd session about a week after the 1st session; 3rd session a couple weeks after the 2nd;
4th session about a month after the 3rd.
By then I knew how to do all the exercises safely and how to adjust the
weight on each one without overstressing muscles and joints. My routine was about equally split between cardio and weight training.
My maintenance routine has evolved over the past couple of years. I found the key is to mix it up regularly.
My workout is a random mixture of:
- Cardio (treadmill, ellipticals, rowing machine, etc.)
- Weight-training (2 or 3 times a week, about an hour per workout)
- Stretching -- daily! For some examples, click here or here. I do a lot more stretching as I get older.
- Handstand on the open floor (which I can now hold for up to 60 seconds):
A daily practice for overall strength and balance maintenance.
- Work with gymnastics rings at Harbor Square Athletic Club.
On the recommendation of my massage therapist, I have begun using a foam exercise roller especially for the IT (Iliotibial) band. Here's a web site with helpful information on the IT band and the use of a foam roller: "A Runner's Guide to ITBS." For more foam roller exercises, click here.
I am a seasonal bike-rider; I enjoy it only under good conditions: sunny, dry roads, warmer than 50 degrees, calm to light winds -- and, most importantly, only when I feel like it :)
A really nice 80-mile loop trip includes 3 ferry crossings: Ride from Edmonds to Mukilteo (about 15 miles), ferry from Mukilteo to Clinton on Whidbey Island, ride from Clinton to Keystone/Coupeville ferry (about 25 miles), ferry to Port Townsend, ride from Port Townsend to Kingston (via Port Ludlow) (about 40 miles), ferry from Kingston to Edmonds. The trip can be done easily in 12 hours.
I have practiced yoga regularly for about 9 years. I especially enjoy a Hatha-Flow practice with opportunities to hold poses for longer periods and/or flow between poses using breath to guide the movement. While I enjoy a variety of background music selections, I prefer quieter music that facilitates Santosha, or contentment with where I happen to be in the moment.
Yoga has proven to be so beneficial that I decided to pursue a 200-hour Yoga Alliance certified teacher training program at Twist Vinyasa Yoga in Edmonds. I completed the program in July 2012, and am now a registered/certified yoga teacher (RYT-200).
Click here for my yoga web site.
Adding massage therapy to my health plan has played an important role in helping me achieve and maintain my personal health and fitness goals. For over 7 years my massage therapist has been Robin Swearingen, naturally gifted, always aware of what I need, and just a fantastic person. When I refer people to her, they agree. She is located close to our home at Quietude Massage Therapy in downtown Edmonds, 549 Main Street in the Main Street Health Center Square. Phone: 206-850-8281.