Monthly Archives: August 2011

Low T and Me

I have been back and forth as to whether I would ever publish this one, as admitting to low testosterone is not what any man would ever like to do or discuss in public, especially as a long-term condition unrelated to aging.  But as I mentioned in my very first post, facing the facts, which took a while to be honest, helps explain some things that have dogged me all my life, motivates me to keep going and drives some of my fitness decisions.  And so here it is before I chicken out (again).

What’s Low T?

So what are the symptoms of low testosterone?  This is a pretty good run down.  Not everyone suffers from all of them and thankfully I don’t suffer from too many of them, especially the bedroom related ones (or the hot flash one – not sure how I would cope with that):

  • low energy – definitely to some degree, but I can tie most of my worst periods to stressful times at work and/or periods of poor sleep driven by stress, kid or just plain poor decision making.
  • abdominal fat – check.  some places will also say low metabolism.
  • muscle atrophy – possibly
  • depression – i’m not depressed, but I am a confirmed cynic and pessimist.
  • gynecomastia – man-boobs (or moobs as I call them) – check and check
  • osteoporosis – reminds me to ask the doctor how my tests were, my WW scale says my density is too high tho which I find odd.
  • irritability – yea sometimes.
  • lack or loss of hair – thankfully I’m not balding, but I am prematurely graying (another symptom, first white hair at 20) and not especially hairy for a guy.
  • Increased risk of type 2 diabetes – something I was already worried about from being fat but still don’t have yet thankfully (and another reminder to schedule this year’s physical).

Diagnosis

In my life, becoming a new dad (life disruption plus massive sleep deprivation), getting this diagnosis, some trial and error treatment (more on this) and living through being laid off mid-2008 and then my former employer going bankrupt, put me through a mental ringer over the course of few years. My self-confidence and sense of self-worth took some pretty big hits for a while.  In many ways, I liken it to the stages of grieving. I like how that article describe it more as a roller coaster rather than a straight and steady path.

Treatment

It also didn’t help that it took a few years for the doctor to get me to the right levels and I was unaware of it.  My initial treatment was Testim gel, which you apply to the shoulders and sides each morning.  We started with a tube a day, then went to two, then down to 1 1/2 etc.  Throughout that time, I thought I was being brought up to normal levels, but in fact it turns out that during the entire period I was never getting enough juice out of the gel (some people have less absorbant skin) and/or my body was reacting by producing even less (which happens frequently when external sources of testosterone are introduced).

Which means I was at risk of the symptoms for longer than I realized.  Last year, we switched to sub-dermal implants (Testopel) every 3-4 months and for the first time I immediately felt the difference in energy and mood he had kept asking me about all that time.

That said, there are side effects (again thankfully not much for me so far), and some are a little counter intuitive such as low t causes moobs but so does treatment (?&@?), acne (definitely a little worse), fluid retention (possibly) and being sore at the implant site for about a week each time.

Owning My Disease, Owning My Obesity

Which brings us full circle to my fitness program.

Once I got past everything (which took a while), I was glad to know.  It explained my pattern of lifetime weight issues from a young age.  Low T didn’t cause my obesity – I definitely ate too much and was too inactive – but it certainly helped kick it up from severe to morbid.  It explained why even during periods where I ate very carefully to what were considered normal calorie ranges I could still gain weight without exercise.  It explained the moobs even when I was relatively fit.  Why I grow a scraggly looking beard and mustache.

It also made me realize that this is a lifetime thing.  I can never completely relax about the food or the exercise.  I need both even at target weight, thanks to lower metabolism.  It also led me to change to a more body building approach from the get-go even though it is a little counteractive to a pure weight loss program.  I want more muscle because it will help kick up the metabolism (even if it only turns out to be small% gain – I need every % I can get).  Weight training also helps fight osteoporosis.  Plus the endorphins from exercise help mood and energy. So does looking ripped.

And dangit, if I’m going to be on ‘roids, I’m gonna take advantage (though technically they are just pumping me up to regular levels but I’m not letting the head tell the body this).

New Job, New Challenges

Been super-excited about this for last week or so, but needed to keep it under wraps until my current colleagues were officially told (even if I’m anonymous here, I’d still know).  I’m changing jobs next month and going back to work at a previous employer.

Pros:

  • I like the location better.
  • The people seem pretty decent and I know some of them already.
  • The job itself looks pretty good.
  • I’ll be back to having a 20 minute walk in the morning each day, and possibly in the evening if my last stint was a guide.  (I’ll be back in Manhattan, walking in the morning is pretty reasonable as most people are also workers fanning out from train stations.  In the evening, the streets get clogged with tourists going all directions, going slow and just randomly stopping.  It’s hard to make a decent pace to justify walking.)
  • More choices for lunch and a better cafeteria.

Cons:

  • The downside is that like all my career changes in the last two decades (gah I’m old!), there’s a little ambiguity on the day to day of the role (I love ambiguity tho.).
  • If history is any guide, some crash project will come out of the blue about 1-2 months into the job.
  • More choices for lunch and a better cafeteria (with great power comes great responsibility).

It’s another reason I am going a little cardio crazy in preparation for the role.  I’m in transition right now at my current job, so I’m able to get a little more gym time in for the next few weeks.  I want to hit the new job as fit as possible at the end of September and as far into the weight loss goal as I can go (without getting hyper-extreme either).

This will help keep me on track for the year.. but.. I can’t use the new gig as an excuse either after September.  I need to stay on track food wise and exercise wise no matter what happens.

P.S., I’ll be curious to see what the reaction is when I walk in.  I’m already 20 lbs lighter than the initial interview, and I could even wind up another 10 by the time I start if I really push it.

Lose It! Weekly Summary for Week of Mon, Aug 22nd

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Weekly Summary for Week of Mon, Aug 22nd

Daily Summary
Budget Food Exercise Net +/- Weight (lbs)
8/22/11 2,453 1,657 643 1,014 -1,439 245.4
8/23/11 2,455 1,988 692 1,296 -1,159 245.7
8/24/11 2,451 1,680 604 1,076 -1,375 245.1
8/25/11 2,444 2,240 1,000 1,240 -1,204 244.1
8/26/11 2,446 1,714 601 1,112 -1,334 244.4
8/27/11 2,446 2,012 0 2,012 -433 244.3
8/28/11 2,444 2,174 620 1,554 -891 244.1
7,834 calories under budget for the week
Lost 1.3 pounds this week
Nutrient Summary % Calories
Fat 480g 34.7%
Saturated Fat 165g
Cholesterol 1,022mg
Sodium 18,713mg
Carbohydrates 1,553g 49.9%
Fiber 160g
Sugars 500g
Protein 477g 15.3%
Exercise Summary Calories
Bicycling 5 Min 48
Stairmaster 1 Hour 10 Min 1223
Elliptical 2 Hours 30 Min 2041
Walking 45 Min 226
Weight Lifting 2 Hours 40 Min 623
Total 4161

Report generated by Lose It!. For more information or to sign up for your free Lose It! account, please visit http://www.loseit.com

OK OK .. Social Media Time

Yeah, when I saw a few people going whole hog on the social media tool set, I got a little voice in my head saying, “hey, aren’t you the IT monkey, why are these people using more tools than you.” And since the hurricane was over, so I futzed.

There’s a facebook page, there’s a twitter feed, heck there’s an email address (52weeks52pounds@gmail.com).  And I finally finished (for today) futzing with the layout (I hope).