Strong. I use this to track my resistance training. If you’re not doing weightlifting yet, you can wait to get this one. That’s #BodyBabyStep Seven.
Map My Run. This likewise supports the cardio side of #BodyBabyStep Seven with versions for iOS and Android.
Sleep Cycle. You just set your phone on the nightstand, and it has a smart alarm. Instead of a definite time, it looks for a time close to your target when you are in a light sleep stage. That’s better than being jarred out of a deep sleep.
Zero. This is my fasting app. #BodyBabySteps Four and Five relate to the timing of your meals so you don’t need this right away, but I’d recommend getting it.
What other health-related apps have been helpful for you?
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As you get started on your health journey, it’s important that you have a good bathroom scale to measure your progress.
You may not want to do daily weighings as you’re getting started. Some people get discouraged by natural weight fluctuations, and so if you think you’re prone to that you may want to weigh once at the beginning, and then wait a few weeks before stepping back on the scale.
Lisa and I use this scale, which we got for less than $50. With the Weight Gurus app (iOS or Android), you can automatically record not only your weight, but also Body Mass Index and percent of your weight that is fat, muscle, bone and water weight.
It’s kind of magical, calculating all of those percentages by the electricity running through your bare feet. And the good part about having these figures in addition to body weight is that as you are getting into the #BodyBabySteps involving exercise, and particularly resistance training, you will add muscle mass.
That’s a good thing, even if your weight isn’t going down.
So if you don’t have a trusty scale, I recommend you get this one. I’m not an affiliate and I make no money based on your purchase.
I just like it and use it every day, and I think you’ll like it too (assuming you have an iPhone or Android device.)
You’ll be glad when you’re able to look back and see how much progress you’ve made. Here’s my first weigh-in, along with yesterday’s:
Lisa didn’t weigh when we started on this journey because she didn’t want to know. She thought it would mess with her head, and she also wasn’t sure she could be successful.
Now she wishes she had gotten a starting weight. She has lost at least 40 pounds, and is fairly confident it’s 50 since we started in 2016. But because she didn’t weigh, she can’t be exactly sure.
So before you start the #BodyBabySteps, get a scale and a starting weight so you’ll be able to tell your full story of success to encourage others.
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In the Spring of 2008, I had some amazing things happening in my life, both personally and professionally:
I learned that our first grandchild (coming in August) was going to be a girl, and that her name would be Evelyn.
We were launching several of our early Mayo Clinic social media channels, including YouTube, Twitter and some blogs (News and Podcast) that have since been replaced by more robust offerings.
I was blogging like a crazy man, with 33 posts in April, 17 in May and 24 in June. This was peak SMUG, just after I had rebranded my blog.
But from a health perspective, I was at the start of some disturbing developments.
For several years, I had been giving blood every 10 weeks (or whatever the required waiting period was at that time.) When I went to the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center to give my unit of A+ blood (only the best!), the helpful staff would always help me preschedule the next donation.
But in the Summer of 2008, I began to notice that my pre-donation hemoglobin test, which started with a reading of something like 16, was declining a little each time.
I didn’t think much of it when it was 15, and then 14-something, but then it got to 13…and finally, in January 2009, to 12.4.
The magic of that number and why it’s memorable to me is that 12.5 is the minimum level required to donate.
I was officially anemic. They wouldn’t accept my blood.
I thought I should see if there was some underlying problem. Lisa also said she thought I wasn’t looking healthy.
I was at about 225 lbs. and playing pick-up basketball, and so I had attributed my reasonable weight (at 6’6″) as due to getting lots of exercise.
Lisa thought I was gaunt – skinny in a not-healthy way. Haggard. Cadaverous might be overstating, but it made an alliterative headline. And when you look at all of the synonyms, one of them is anemic:
So I went to my doctor, a high school classmate and great friend, Dr. David Strobel, and he started by looking for the most common causes of anemia for someone my age: namely, unexplained blood loss.
The story I didn’t tell in that post was what gluten-free eating to manage my celiac disease did to my weight.
Because I have celiac disease, eating gluten had caused my immune system to attack and severely damage the villi in my small intestine, which made it hard for my body to absorb nutrients.
I was anemic because I wasn’t absorbing iron. I was gaunt because I wasn’t absorbing other nutrients well either, even though I was eating a lot.
The good news is most people with celiac disease have their villi restored when they eat a strictly gluten free diet, and that was true for me as well.
My iron and ferritin (a measure of stored iron) levels gradually increased.
So did my weight, and not necessarily in a good way. I was eating as I always had, but now I was absorbing all of those nutrients.
By March of 2013, my medical chart says I weighed 117.7 kg, which translates to 259.48 lbs. Two years later I was 117 kg – staying below the dreaded 260 lbs. mark, but just barely. In February 2016 the charts say 117.9 kg.
But going from haggard to hefty – to the tune of 40 extra pounds – between 2009 and 2013, and then spending four years within five pounds either side of 260, and with borderline or high blood pressure, was not a healthy development.
In my next post I’ll tell why this was so frustrating for me.