Healing is not so easy as we get older

I’ve been off exercise for a few months now. I’m doing quite a bit of walking, but that’s not really exercise, is it? Better than sitting on the couch, for sure, so I’ll take it.

My goal has been to allow my left shoulder to heal. It’s been hurting me for about a year now. I am not sure what caused the pain, but it feels like a torn labrum.

I don’t recall having traumatized the shoulder, but I noticed minor pain one day. I tried to work through it, as I have always done with minor pain, but six months later the joint’s mobility was very much limited, although it hadn’t affected my daily life … yet.

Then came winter, and I noticed that putting on my jacket in my usual way was not possible. I had to more or less throw the jacket over my left shoulder. I couldn’t simply put my arm through the sleeve and shrug it up. I had earlier noticed that I could no longer do a proper jumping jack, because I couldn’t lift my left arm up all the way to meet my right hand at the top.

Hmmmmm…. Okay, age, you wore me down!

So, here I am, walking a lot, and not doing my favorite extreme routines.

At least this no-exercise plan is working! My shoulder feels much better now, and it gets better every day. I can almost do a good jumping jack. Putting on my jacket is much easier.

But, damn, this healing process is … so … slow.

I hope that once I am good to go, I’ll be motivated enough to get right back into it, because I’m eager to be fit again.

My fitness goals are off track. Now what?

I’m off track. Not completely off track, but I am:

  • Not exercising the way I want to
  • Gaining fat beyond my acceptable limit

I’m still maintaining a vegan-plus-eggs diet, but I injured my shoulder about a year ago, and after many months of trying to work through it, I finally figured out it was time to take time off from my workouts to let the thing heal, before I mess it up forever (if I haven’t already).

That decision to rest, though, came after I’d already put on quite a few pounds around my gut, so it’s not as if I became fat while sedentary. I was still working out. Unfortunately, my weight is now back to where it was before I started P90X in February, 2010, and I have to say I am dumbfounded by this set of circumstances.

I had believed that diet was everything, but my diet was still good and I had gained the weight. Obviously there are other factors in play inside my body.

What is it, then? My increasing age? That surely has something to do with it. It seems natural to get fatter as we get older. Whether it’s because we become more sedentary or our testosterone levels diminish or it’s just in our genes, there must be something natural about older people being fatter, because that is pretty much the case in the world I observe every day — in general, old people are fatter than young people.

That doesn’t mean that my increased fat is not weighing on me psychologically. In fact, I am extremely disappointed by it. Almost despondent, in fact. I’m not kidding — this is outright depressing.

However, I have decided, after a few months of analyzing the situation, to stop feeling sorry for myself and get back to basics.

Exercise? Walking. Lots of walking, back to circling the kitchen island while watching tv during breaks from work. I have an app on my phone that measures how many steps I’ve taken, so I keep my phone with me most of the time now.

Diet? No big change there, because I think I’m on the right track, but I want to get more back to whole foods, so I’ll focus on that.

I am also doing something that I think would be against doctor’s orders, and that is adding more caffeine, mostly coffee. I feel as if I need it, so I’m going up to a max of three cups a day.

I’m not sure what is going on with my 50+ year old body right now, but I know I’m not going down without a fight.

One thing I’ll say here is that my back feels great, better than it has in years! So there’s that….

Yoga hurts my lower back

I have come to a sad conclusion. Yoga — which was my preferred workout for about 6 months a couple years ago, and which I still enjoy and work into my regular routine — hurts my back.

I do not say this lightly, and, I will readily admit, that, while I’ve been practicing yoga for more that 4 years now, the problem is surely with my technique. However, my technique is not likely to change, because I don’t see myself going to an actual yoga class, even though I’m sure that would help.

You may wonder how I figured out the connection between yoga and my back pain. I have several compelling pieces of evidence.

I never had back pain prior to starting yoga. However, at the time I started yoga, I also started other exercise, including lifting some weights and high-impact aerobics, so I was never able to isolate it.

When I have been able to isolate yoga, such as when I was doing a 21-day cleanse back in 2012 during which I only did yoga for exercise, my back pain continued. In fact, I remember thinking before the cleanse that “this will be a good opportunity to let my back heal” — and it didn’t.

My last such isolation of yoga was earlier this week.

After a visit with my doctor a couple of months ago, during which she tried to tell me that my back pain was arthritis (she thinks everything is arthritis, and, so far, it never is). She told me to continue exercising, because exercise helps arthritis pain. When she said that, it triggered a thought in my head — I’ve never tried not exercising to heal my back. After all, I had not had back pain prior to starting to exercise, so it only made sense to take away the exercise and see what would happen.

Guess what? After 5 weeks of only a bit of walking (if that) each day my back felt great! No pain, good as new!

I wanted to start exercising again, though, so I put in a T25 DVD and did it. Things went well. Back still felt fine.

I continued doing T25 routines for a few weeks, then took 5 days off. This past Monday I was supposed to start back up with T25, but I had already taken a shower (for an early morning meeting) and didn’t feel like taking another that day (the older I get, the less I like to shower — not sure why), so I thought I’d do a rather easy yoga routine as my exercise for the day.

And … the next day my back pain had returned. It’s the exact pain I’d been living with for 4+ years. Honestly, it’s not devastating by any means, but it’s annoying, and I’d like it gone.

Anyway, that’s how I’ve concluded that yoga hurts my back.

Again, I want to emphasize that this must be a technique problem on my part, not an actual problem with yoga (duh). I am guessing, based on the location of the pain, that I am hurting myself when I swing a single leg through to between my hands from having it raised in single-leg downward dog. I will probably experiment with this after my back fixes itself again, but until then, no yoga for me.

Baby wipes are not good for hemorrhoids

Imagine my surprise when I figured out that baby wipes, which I used to help with my hemorrhoids, were actually irritating them. Yup.

I had hemorrhoid surgery back in late 2000. Nothing too major, but just so you know — I have a problem. I pretty much simply lived with the things for years, even after the surgery. They were an uncomfortable way of life for me.

I started using baby wipes back in 2011 on the suggestion of my brother. I didn’t notice any improvement in the hemorrhoids, but the wipes couldn’t hurt, I figured, and they provided an overall cleanliness that I liked, so I continued with them.

In 2012, though, I switched over to a meat- and dairy-free diet. I did this for general health reasons, but I figured that, for sure now, I’d be able to call bullshit on anyone who tries to tell me I don’t get enough fiber, which is highly cited as a reason for hemorrhoids.

After about 6 months of the diet, it seemed that my hemorrhoids were actually getting worse! Yes, worse! What the hell?!?!?! I was about to go to the doctor specifically about the hemorrhoids, but I hate going to the doctor, so I thought, “Hmmmmmm…. How about I try stopping the baby wipes?”

Within 2 weeks of stopping the use of baby wipes, my anal irritation went away. That was more than a year ago, and the problem has not returned.

After my experience, I looked up the relationship between baby wipes and hemorrhoids on the web, and, sure enough, others are saying the same thing. Plus, it made sense that my hemorrhoids would get worse after I switched to a vegan-plus-eggs diet, because I was going to the bathroom more, and, therefore, applying baby wipes more often.

Fwiw, I was using both Cottonelle and Kirkland (Costco house brand) baby wipes. Maybe there are some wipes that would work for me, but I’m not willing to find out, because I’m all good now, and I don’t want to mess with that.

I hope this article helps you. I remember reading about a guy who was using wipes for 20 years before figuring out the connection between them and his hemorrhoids. I’m glad it only took me about a year.

RECIPE: World’s Best Fried Egg Sandwich

You may or may not know that I am an ovo-vegetarian, which means I only eat plants and eggs. It’s a lifestyle I enjoy — works for me.

I’ve made a lot of egg sandwiches over the course of my lifetime, but I stumbled upon this combination yesterday that blew me away. It includes gluten-free bread, which is part of my diet this year, as I am reducing my ingestion of wheat in 2014 to see what that does to my system, but you could, of course, use any kind of non-descript bread. I say “non-descript”, because a rye, for example, would give the sandwich a different flavor profile, which may be better — or not.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 slices of Udi’s Whole Grain gluten-free bread, toasted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp to 1 TBsp sriracha, to taste (I like Trader Joe’s and I use a lot of it)
  • 1 TBsp mayonnaise (I used a local organic one)
  • sliced tomato (I always use campari tomatoes)
  • baby greens (I used an organic spring mix)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put the bread in the toaster.
  2. Heat and oil a pan and add the egg. After it sets a bit, crack the yolk. I prefer not to scramble mine, or to blend the yolk and white before frying. I like the white and yolk to mostly stay separate. Once it’s almost completely set, flip the egg and turn off the pan.
  3. When the toast is done, put the mayonnaise on one slice and the sriracha on the other.
  4. Place the greens on the sriracha side, top them with the tomato (4 slices works well, if you are using camparis), and then add the egg atop that.
  5. Put the mayo’d slice of bread on top of everything.

Man, that is good eating.