Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hernia; Greek Goddess of Abdominal Pain

About three weeks ago, I noticed a small lump the size of a pea, just above my belly button. It was squishy, and would get smaller when pressed, or when I lay down on my back. I also noticed that the area would hurt when doing lifts, especially deads and squats.

A google search of my symptoms turned up only one kind of result...dum dum dum; a hernia. I've been gaining weight and steadily packing on the plates at the gym, putting up some good PBs and am in no way interested in getting cut open and taken out for who knows how long. Whats more, I'm a wimp. I don't mind pain, but I'm scared of blood, needles, nurses, hot nurses, doctors, evil or otherwise. The entire atmosphere of a hospital practically vibrates with fear. Nope, I don't like it one bit.

That night, I saw my regular GP, and my uninformed suspicion was confirmed. He also told me that they always require surgery, and only get worse, especially in you're active. The following day, I checked to make sure my insurance would cover me, made an appointment to see a specialist at Raffles Hospital for that Saturday, and on the recommendation of the GP, stopped weights and BJJ.

Saturday, I saw the specialist, re-confirmed my suspicion and made an appointment for surgery the following Saturday, which was, as I type this, yesterday.

I did the usual pre-op stuff. No food or drink 12 hours before surgery, show up 3 hours ahead - they like you nice and bored before they slice you open, and wait, wait, then wait some more.

Finally, I was instructed to lay on a gurney and was wheeled up to the surgery level, where I waited once again. Eventually I am moved into the operating room, which resembles, by no coincidence I'm sure, an alien abduction. I don't think I was anally probed...

The process, similar for everybody about to get surgically enhanced I'm sure, runs as follows. Firstly, they put a pain killer in your drip which makes you nice and toasty high, like killer weed and three shots of vodka on an empty stomach. It's actually pretty good. The nurses kept asking me if I was ok, and I kept saying "ya, this stuff is great." Not to put too fine a point on it, but that wasn't exactly the most mind altering pharmaceutical I've ever taken, you know, when I was young and invincible and longing to expand my consciousness.

The surgeon was running late, so I tried to flirt with the nurses through the thick wall of opiates that were dry-humping my brain, and all things considered, I think I did pretty well. Then the doctor arrives, and suddenly I've got a breathing mask being shoved over my face.

This probably won't relate to Singaporeans, but for those who grew up in less prohibitive nations, you know that first time you ever take drugs? Not like cigarettes or booze or even pot, but a real drug, something that changes your perception in fundamental ways. For a while, you think it's not working, nothing's happening, you must be one of those rare individuals who are immune. I guess you just can't get hi...oh lord, you're really high.

That's what this was like. One moment I'm breathing in cold, dry air, thinking come on, work already, the next minute my head is sucked backwards into darkness, and then rocketed forward again into light. "Hello sir, it's all over, are you all right?"

I tried answering, but my lips were now made of melting ice cream, so I gave a thumbs-up, and was wheeled back to my room. I could see my wonderful wife walking along behind me, my stomach hurt, and that was that.

The day after surgery, I'm feeling pretty good. It hurts to bend at the waste or use my stomach muscles to do anything other than breath, but getting around, once I'm vertical, isn't too bad. The worst problem is probably the constipation caused by the pain killers, which don't actually stop pain, but apparently put the kibosh on shitting. Great!

I'm living on pumpkin soup, sweet potatoes and protein shakes, but I'm alive mothah fuckahs! I'm alive!

Mr. Paleoporean

Monday, February 18, 2013

For Shame!

Ok, so I'm a terrible, lazy person, undeserving of even an atom of mercy, if mercy came in atoms, which I supposed it doesn't. I haven't updated this blog for one hell of a long time. I'm not positive if anyone is even reading it; the one exception being my parents. None the less, due to overwhelming guilt and self loathing, here I am, updating. Are you happy now?

Recently, and by recently I mean for about a month and a half, I've been attempting to practice intermittent fasting. To explain why, I'd have to back up a bit.
About five months ago, while training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, I partially tore my right anterior meniscus; the inside portion of a figure 8 shaped ligament in between the knee joint. An MRI also revealed that I had cartilage erosion on the inside back of my right knee cap. The long and short of it is that it hurt like hell. I could barely walk for weeks, limped out of bed every morning, and couldn't train BJJ or do any kind of cardio for over three months.

I decided that I'd take the opportunity to switch from HIIT style training to heavy weights. Although I couldn't run, or even walk quickly, I could squat and deadlift, albiet slowly, since they don't involve lateral motion, and do upper body lifts a plenty. So, that's what I did. To make all this moving of heavy metal effective, I ate like food was going out of business - still paleo, but in roughly double the amounts I'd usually take in. Specifically, I upped my carb and fat intake big time. Two to three sweet potatoes a day, full fat cream in my coffee, dark chocolate along with protein shakes post work-out. The results were, I got bigger. I went from 61kg to 74.5kg during those three and a half months. Most of it was muscle. Sadly, some of it was fat. 

Which brings me to intermittent fasting, or IF as it's known by those in the know. Thanks to posts on various paleo blogs, as well as the influence of the Hodge Twins, I thought I'd try intermittent fasting myself. If you don't know what that is, it's just fitting your meals into a shorter time frame. I chose the largest eating window, an 8/16 split, eating regular meals from 12:00-8:00 pm and fasting the rest of the 16 hours. Tighter splits such as 6/18, 4/20 and full 24 (done perhaps twice a week) are also common. I matched this with a whole 30, but to be honest, I cheated with coffee and some dark chocolate pretty often. As I said in the first paragraph, I'm terrible.

Proponents claim it allows greater usage of body fat for energy, release of testosterone and HGH, improved metabolism of blood sugar, and generally much more efficient fat loss matched with greater maintenance of muscle tissue than would be possible under a traditional 6-8 small meals a day, calorie restriction plus cardio fat loss approach.

I've tried the old calories in/calories out way of losing fat, and always felt drained, lost strength and felt sort of strung out, especially after workouts. Don't get me wrong, cutting calories works. But, it sucks. With IF, I've lost 10kg, while increasing in strength, hitting several PBs on deadlifts, squats and bench, and maintained or increased slightly on everything else. My abs, which had sadly disappeared during my bulking phase, have started to come back, and I feel less lethargic than when I was eating from morning to night to get the recommended grams of protein in.

If you'd like to try it, be aware that IF is not entirely pain free. It takes about 3 weeks to adjust, and I was starving at the tail end of my fasting period every day. Your body is used to getting food at certain times, whether it needs it or not, so be prepared for some gurgling stomach and heartburn. Have some almond butter or similar fat and protein rich food handy, and have a small spoonful if you're really going...nuts. Drink twice as much water as you normally would, and take some green tea or coffee to get yourself going in the morning.

Overall, I'd say IF works for fat loss, especially that stubborn fat us mid/late 30's guys start to build up around the mid-section that just won't take the hint and get lost, no matter how much you stare at it in the mirror while glaring angrily and stamping your foot.
Mr. Paleoporean