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Maybe I can be a swimmer after all!

Monday, October 08, 2012

I had been trying for well over a year to improve my swimming at least to the level where I can use it as my cardio. I tried some private lessons which helped my technique somewhat. But I did not make swimming a regular occurrence in my life. Part of it is my sensitivity to chlorine. My eyes get a little sore even with well-fitting goggles and so does my throat whenever I swallow some pool water. I was not sure if my thyroid is affected by the chlorine as well. But every summer, when I get to swim in an outdoor pool I make another effort.
The fact that my daughter is a high-school swimmer and getting pretty good tells me that it should be in my genes to be able to be a half decent swimmer.
I started to see some improvements in my overall energy levels when I went low-carb about 7 months ago. This helped to get me feeling better and not totally out of breath after swimming through the length of the pool with poor technique. I had enough energy to work on improving my form a little over the summer, occasionally asking my daughter for input.
I swam my first 25 yards of butterfly but still struggled with the breathing rhythm for freestyle.
A couple of weeks ago I made plans to do regular upper body strength training but after only two workouts I was getting some mild tendinitis in my right arm that is the result of having a metal plate there that was put in when I broke my wrist. I did not want to make that worse.
So I decided that swimming will have to do for strengthening for now.
Today my freestyle somehow all came together. I realized that when I breathe on my easy (the right) side, that my left arm does something slightly different than for the non-breathing strokes to stabilize me in the water long enough to get enough air (and I need a lot right now). It seemed that it stayed a little further away from the mid-line while under water. I realized that I was not doing this with my right arm when breathing on the left side. So I used the line that marks the center of the lane as a guide and visualized keeping my right elbow and hand just outside of it as I was breathing on the left. It worked beautifully and once I got in the habit I focused on keeping both elbows and shoulders just outside this line. It made it easier to reach, keep my arms closer to my body and, because both sides of my body were moving more evenly, made my kick more even. Overall I could tell that my arms and legs were more relaxed, leaving my shoulders, core and hips to do more of the work. It felt great. emoticon
My daughter encouraged me to breathe earlier which helped me to not have to keep my head out of the water as long.
With all these improvements I still needed 1:20 for 50 yards with 40 seconds recovery for my first 1000 yards. My pulse was probably around 140 bpm after each 50 yards. So this is my starting speed: 20 x 50 yards on 2 minutes
I suspect from this point on I will be able to improve relatively quickly. I'll focus on adding distance first, hopefully increasing to about 1 hour of swimming soon. I suspect as my stroke gets more efficient that the speed will improve on its own.
When I've gotten a month of swimming under my belt and replaced some fat with muscle I'll switch out of my slightly over-sized swim suit with skirt that works more or less as a drag suit to the size that should fit me comfortably by then. emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KALIOPPE 10/11/2012 11:30AM

    I too am trying to improve my endurance in the water. Thank you for reminding me that determination is such an important part of the process. Invest in some good googles and soon you'll be gliding through the water like a fish. emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 10/11/2012 11:30:52 AM

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SUNNYWBL 10/10/2012 12:24AM

    As a lifelong asthmatic, I mostly swam under water, nor wanting to risk breathing in water. As an adult, I learned to swim on top of the water using a mask and snorkel. No chlorine burned eyes and no inhaled water. I swim for cardio, but haven't lately due to no gym membership.

Keep up the great work! emoticon

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EGALITAIRE 10/9/2012 11:42AM

    Practice makes progress. Would be interesting if you could find a saltwater pool and test to determine if you have the same reaction. I can tolerate salt-water pools much better than chlorine.

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BUDRFLY31 10/9/2012 9:11AM

    I am working on my swimming as well and taking semi-private lessons. However, I am much farther behind you in technique. What I have been doing to try and make it a cardio workout it to do 50 of freestyle, 50 of breast and then 100 pool run, repeat as long as I can with a goal of 60 minutes. But, I am so proud of myself because 4 months ago, I had never put my face in the water:)
Congratulations on finding your rhythm and not giving up!

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SLENDERELLA61 10/9/2012 8:02AM

    Way to go!! I want to get back to swimming, too, and have had some challenges. Thanks for showing that persistence pays off. A lesson or two for me sounds like a good idea, too. Keep up the good work!! -Marsha

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FLAMENM 10/8/2012 10:52PM

    I love that moment when a stroke comes together. And you feel what it really means to move through the water.

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ROBYNLN 10/8/2012 8:43PM

    emoticon It is wonderful when something clicks!

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PHEBESS 10/8/2012 7:54PM

    Oh, and a nose clip helps too!

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PHEBESS 10/8/2012 7:53PM

    Good job! Keep practicing! (I love swimming! I spent years doing laps on my back, until I found some good goggles.)

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-LINDA_S 10/8/2012 7:48PM

    I love the water. Our gym's pool is supposed to be saline, but there is a permeating chemical smell, possibly due to the hot tub. Love to swim but don't seem to be able to develop any stamina. Hope it goes well for you!

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ERIN1957 10/8/2012 5:43PM

    I am so impressed at all you are doing, trying and accomplishing!

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EJOY-EVELYN 10/8/2012 4:49PM

    You're a real trooper and I love the process of learning you share with us. Being in the pool is often the first round of fitness many of us can begin when I think back to my morbidly obese days. I notice that many of my friends regularly visit the pool for improved mobility. Thanks for sharing!

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Cholesterol testing - what matters most

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Another interesting looking interview by Jimmy Moore:


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOPINTOS 10/9/2012 6:15AM

    Thanks for sharing!


Smile and Enjoy the Rest of Your Day!
Melinda (gopintos)
Wheat Belly Team

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ERIN1957 10/8/2012 10:36AM

    I listen to Jimmy and his experts a lot.
What about Chriss Kresser and paleo...thats where I am heading right now and see what he has to offer to this discussion, since his name was brought up in the comments...very interesting. Thanks for the link, a great way to start the new week...INFORMED!

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KALIOPPE 10/8/2012 10:35AM

    Thanks for this. Great resource.

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JSTETSER 10/8/2012 6:24AM

    Living the La Vida low-carb! I love it!

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FLAMENM 10/7/2012 11:11PM

    Interesting chemistry....

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NDTEACHER1 10/7/2012 9:43PM

    Food for thought. Thank you.

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-LINDA_S 10/7/2012 6:55PM

    Thanks! Good stuff!

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Exercise is fun!

Friday, October 05, 2012


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KAI_ZEN 10/6/2012 9:13PM

    "But Malcolm's excitement is infectious..." That's for sure!
Thanks for the link.

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CHRISTINASP 10/6/2012 6:54AM

    Oh, yeah buddy!
It's lovelym what a courageous kid! I don't think I'd let my 4 year old do this, though (this was the question asked).
My parents didn't let me ride a bike until I was eight! But that was in traffic.

Comment edited on: 10/6/2012 6:54:50 AM

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NAOLEE 10/5/2012 3:59PM


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Could have been scary! Normal weight and pre-diabetic is possible!

Friday, October 05, 2012

I'm talking about what my insulin levels must have been like before starting to eat low-carb.
Here is the reason. During my recent blood work my insulin levels were 2.2 which is on the low side. I already know that my fasting glucose levels are significantly under 100 and even after eating they are under or close to 100 when I eat according to plan (under 50 grams of carbs/day).
The unexpected result was that my Hemoglobin A1c test came back high at 5.9 which is in the pre-diabetes range (5.7-6.4) . To briefly explain, this test will give info on the past 3 months, especially the last month of insulin resistance and blood sugar and it's accuracy is dependant on having normal hemoglobin levels. When my results came back high my doctor checked my hemoglobin levels and I just found out that they were normal. This means, that with a very high likelihood I was essentially pre-diabetic in the 3 months or at least in the month before the test, close to the normal margin, but still.
This was a period when I was not exercising much other than walking because of minor surgery and I also did a fair amount of boredom eating. My carbs were significantly higher than 50 grams/day but probably not more than 100 grams/day and none of those came from grains or beans. This is still far less than what I had been eating 8 months ago which was probably more in the range of 300-400 grams/day, including, of course, all natural, organic whole grains, "natural" sweeteners like agave nectar and lots of fruit, incl. often 2 bananas. I was not overweight by any definition and the only complaint I had was lack of energy to exercise and concentrate in the afternoons and evenings and difficulty in improving my running.
I found some old lab records from 2006 where I had been tested for diabetes and my A1c level was 5.2, at the upper end of normal. This was before I went to eating much whole grain.
During those years when I had switched to eating whole grains and overall a "healthy" natural foods diet I never would have thought that I could be pre-diabetic but now I'm wondering... if my A1c is at prediabetic on 100 grams of carbs/day where was it at over 300 grams of carbs/day, even with much more fiber.
Thankfully it looks like I don't have to worry about this any more. I will try harder than before to keep my carbs around 50 grams/day, even if my weight is where I want it. Clearly, after years of abusing sugar and grains this is what I need to do for optimum health.
I will repeat the A1c test in about 3 months and see what the difference is.
If you have never had an A1c test get one, even if you are normal weight. If it registers as pre-diabetic or diabetic get on a low-carb diet immediately.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IGSBETH 10/6/2012 11:35AM

    I'm glad you found what works for you.

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SANDYW1945 10/6/2012 8:27AM

    Yes, you have the answer. Keep your carbs on the low side. I'm getting similar results.

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CHANGELIFE2016 10/5/2012 10:02PM

    Gave good information and really got me thinking about prediabetes and insulin resistance and all that. Good luck with everything. :)

Comment edited on: 10/5/2012 10:03:46 PM

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LILY_SPARK 10/5/2012 3:42PM


My levels have always been fine but this makes me wonder...

Now that I've given up grains and legumes, I have to admit:

I crave SUGAR. Before, I'd eat "real food" and never a candy bar. I eat more candy NOW than I have in my life. My body fat is lower but I *know* that I'm eating it (and watching sugar grams but they're not where I want them to be). Anyway, this is an interesting reminder about that "sugar craving" can be problematic. I mean, I *know* sugar is poison.

So's EVERYTHING ELSE TO ME (citrus, nightshades and the obvious legumes and grains--even many seeds and some nuts). Oddly, sugar I can eat but it's BAD for me. ARGH. I will be sure to pay special attention to this for my next physical cos it has *never* been a problem in the past. :(

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JSTETSER 10/5/2012 2:58PM

    We have so much to learn about diabetes. My weight is down, and I still have type 2 diabetes.

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ERIN1957 10/5/2012 2:55PM

    I made that mistake 2 years ago and ended up with some serious liver issue ( overloading on protein). Really messed me up going the opposite direction as well. There is a happy level to maintain, finding it is key to our health.
Thanks for the great information/share!

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HOUNDLOVER1 10/5/2012 2:46PM

you are right, it's not just about carbs but also about eating more protein than the body can use. I am going to do more strength training to increase my body's need for protein because any that is not used will be turned into sugar by the liver (gluconeogenesis) and eventually into body fat.
I will take a look at the article you mentioned.

Comment edited on: 10/5/2012 3:20:47 PM

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ROSEWAND 10/5/2012 2:35PM

    Bridgit, you might want to do some research on
liver issues and insulin and glucose levels as well.
The liver plays an important role in how
we metabolize our foods. There may be more
going on than just carb issues.


Comment edited on: 10/5/2012 2:38:23 PM

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-LINDA_S 10/5/2012 2:34PM

    Had my first A1c in March, I think it was. Everyone was thrilled it came back at 5.1, especially since a glucose tolerance/insulin test the previous June put me squarely in the prediabetic/insulin resistant category. Eating mostly Paleo/primal lowish carb probably helped even though there was no loss of weight then. Hope your next one goes well!

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2nd strength training session

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

It was mostly the same as the last one except I did the planks for 45 seconds each and I did more ab exercises this time. I had a 2nd short workout in the afternoon and repeated a few of the exercises. I was not sore any more from 2 days ago but my muscles feel physically tired tonight, something that has not happened in quite a while.
Tomorrow I will only have time for a short cross-training session, probably some time in the gym split between elliptical, treadmill and rowing machine.
Yesterday afternoon I had my first swim lesson taught expertly by my daughter. We reviewed the four basic strokes and I only swam about 500 yards total.
This morning I took a short run with the dogs.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

YJNANA 10/13/2012 3:31PM

    Great job, I am amazed at how hard planks can be, but in time get a bit easier.

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ARMSPORTS 10/5/2012 9:11AM

    Love the plank! I tend to throw in some variation during most every session with my clients. Great job!

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ERIN1957 10/4/2012 1:06PM

    great job, sounds very impressive to me!

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-LINDA_S 10/4/2012 7:49AM

    emoticon emoticon

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HAWAIIANMAMMA 10/4/2012 12:08AM

    You sound like you're doing GREAT!!! Keep up the hard work!

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NDTEACHER1 10/4/2012 12:04AM

    Good for you.

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