Jeff's Tip of the Day

Who am I? Nobody special, really. I'm not a doctor, nutritionist, trainer or athlete. Far from it. I'm just a guy in my mid 50's trying to kick a lifetime habit of obesity. I'm now 14 weeks into Mounjaro, almost 50 Lbs lighter, and for the first time I feel as though I might actually have a chance at maintaining a permanent weight loss.

I thought I'd share here some of my thoughts on what has been working (and not working) for me, and maybe get some feedback from others on their own experiences. Feel free to chime in!


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    In the Beginning
    My Doctor has been recommending weight loss for ages, and over the years I've tried lots of things. Atkins was successful for 3-4 months, until I got to the point where I was ready to slit my own throat for a slice of bread. The Noom app was effective for about 4-5 months, and I actually made some significant permanent lifestyle changes, like eating more whole foods, eliminating a lot of junk food, and I actually enjoy eating a salad for lunch now-a-days. Unfortunately I eventually plateaued after loosing about 45 pounds, and simply could not maintain the weight loss without seriously reducing my calories intake (like below 1000 calories a day!) Later discussions with my doctor determined that my weight loss triggered a reduction in metabolism, which is not uncommon, and I learned I should have incorporated strength training to build muscle to counteract the reduction in metabolism.
    What's New
    Enter Mounjaro. From the first few days after taking the first shot I could already feel the difference. Hunger just disappeared and I could immediately eliminate all my between-meal snacking. (I sit at a computer all day for work, and it's incredibly easy to munch your way to a ton of calories in a day.) Some of the horror stories about Mounjaro and Ozempic include nausea, vomiting, etc., for for me I've had no side effects to speak of, which is great. Now that I'm 14 weeks into taking this drug, I can state with confidence two things about it:
    1. Without it, losing this much weight would have been much much harder, if not all but impossible
    2. Mounjaro alone would have done little by itself.

    All In for Weight Loss
    I decided up front not to waste this opportunity, so from the moment I took the first shot of Mounjaro I've been focused on doing everything possible to succeed in my weight loss goals. I exercise at least 30-45 minutes every day, track my food and exercise, take a 200mg Caffeine pill and a 500mg green tea extract pill for a tiny bit of metabolism boost, and do some resistance band strength training 2-3 days per week.

    So far so good, and I hope to keep on keeping on for at least the next 12 months, so long as my insurance keeps covering my prescription...

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    Whatever else you do, WALK. Even if you can't do anything else, WALK.

    Even a couch potato like me can get in a decent walk every day. It doesn't have to be 10000 steps either. Recent research shows that 7500 steps a day is nearly as effective as 10K, and even walking as little as 10 minutes a day can have significant health benefits. Even for those ambitious marathon running super jocks, there's no upper limit, so adding some additional walking time to your day is an easy, 'light' exercise you can benefit from.

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    Tracking My Progress
    There's really no way to gauge your progress if you don't consistently track your personal progress. For myself, I'm a real gadget geek, so this involves a plethora of fitness devices and applications.

    First I dusted off my aging Fitbit Charge 3 to track my steps. After a few weeks I decided to up my game with a newer tracker. After some extensive research (mostly on integration compatibility and examining the companion applications of other trackers) I decided to stick with the Fitbit lineup and ordered a new Charge 6. I mostly wanted to SPOX oxygen monitoring component. I'm not really crazy about 'smart watch' features and just wanted a good tracker with up to date sensor capabilities. your preferences and milage may vary.

    Fitbit is a fine step tracker and general health monitor, but it's a lousy calorie tracker. I've never been a big fan of MyFitnessPal. For some reason the UI and interface just doesn't click with me, so I went looking for other options for tracking my food intake and nutrients. Somehow I stumbled upon the strength training app Caliber first, (more on this later) which offers direct integration with Cronometer. After trying Cronomer for a week I was hooked! The meal entry system is super simple and intuitive, it lets me create my own recipies, and it has wonderful charts for tracking EVERYTHING over various timeframes. Love it! It also integrates with a ton of other fitness devices and applications, making it the perfect centerpiece for my fitness monitoring.

    Caliber is a great app for general strength training. The free version includes everything except the personal trainer access, offers intelligently put together training plans based on the equipment you tell it you have, and supports a wide variety of training equipment options. I purchased a set of resistance bands for less than $50, some wall mounted brackets (since none of the doors in my condo are suitably located for using the included door-hinge straps) and some nice thick floor mats and boom! A home Gym for under $150

    My wife already owned a simple home blood pressure monitor, so I can check that daily and add it to my biometrics stats.

    The latest bit of gear I picked up about 5-6 weeks ago is a Eufy Smart Scale P2 Pro. Up to this point I'd been tracking my body fat percentage as a simple BMI measurement, but that's not really a good indication of body fat percentage or body composition in general. I'd seen some horror stories about people loosing tons of weight, but in the end they were loosing more muscle than fat, which is very counterproductive. Smart Scales may not be particularly accurate in terms of hard metrics, but they are at least consistent in measuring RELATIVE changes in body composition.

    Putting it all Together
    So now I've got a mostly automated tracking system for my total fitness metrics
    1. The Fitbit tracks my steps, heartrate, activity, calories burned, sleep, and even has some measure of stress monitoring, that all syncs into Cronometer
    2. The Eufy scale tracks my weight, body fat percentage, and other body composition factors, and provides some nice graphs and exportable reports over time. Weight, BMI and Body Fat all sync into Fitbit and Cronometer automatically, so I just have to step on the scale with the App open once a day in the morning when I wake up
    3. Caliber provides great strength building workouts, and the activity and calories burned sync into Cronometer as well
    4. Cronometer puts it all together for me. I add my food at each meal, and perform a comprehensive collection of body measurements once per week. (I particularly like to have my weight-loss vs waist size over time chart!) Most of my other metrics sync automatically from other apps. IMO the best feature of Cronometer is the calorie budget tracking. I'm able to set a custom value for my BMR (because it's ridiculously low!) configure the app for weight loss (2 Lbs per week = -931Cal per day) and it does the math to add up my meals and activity for the day to project a reasonable estimate of how many calories I have available in a given day to stay on track.

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    Shorter is Better!
    Wait, what? I like to keep my walking route shorter and do lots of loops, rather than set out on a long trek. I've got lots of options just within my condo complex, without even having to drive somewhere or head off down the road. We're on a hill, so if I walk all the way around the outer loop I can get about 1.5 miles that includes about 250 feet of elevation change (pheew!) I've also got 5 different parking levels between both sides of the complex, so I can make a loop through my own lot, down around the loop, up the hill and through another lot before turning around, etc.

    The down side of choosing a longer route is that I have to COMMIT to completing a long loop. With a shorter loop it's a lot easier to keep telling myself 'just 5 more' 'just 3 more' etc, whereas if I'm going all the way around, or just up the hill to the parking level above me, it's a commitment because I have to make it back home before I can quit.

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    Walking doesn't have to be Booring!
    You can fit a lot of exercise in a simple walk. Most days I just walk laps in my building parking lot, which is about 75 yards long with a slight elevation raise (maybe 4 feet) from one end to the other. If I push myself to my fastest power walk in one direction I can drive my heart rate up solidly into the 'moderate/fat burn' zone in a couple of laps, and if I keep pushing it for 30+ minutes I can eventually work my way up into the 'vigorous/cardio' zone just doing this simple route.

    When I want to really push the cardio, I can include the parking lot of the building above me as well. I loop my lot, exit and go up the hill (which gives me about 5-6 flight of stairs in elevation change) then loop the upper lot and go back down the hill. By the second loop I'm pretty much in the Cardio zone for the rest of the walk, and 4 laps takes me about 30-35 minutes.

    In either case, I'm technically getting a walk, what my Fitbit calls 'Active Zone Minutes' or moderate to vigorous exercise, and an HIIT exercise all in one.

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    Macro vs Micro Nutrients
    One of my biggest challenges in losing weight is balancing nutrition while restricting calories. Fortunately Cronometer does a great job on tracking and reporting both Micro and Macro nutrients, as well as doing the math on calculating calories in vs out.

    Pretty much everyone agrees that no matter what else you may be doing, losing weight is ultimately down to consuming fewer calories (calories IN) than you burn (calories OUT). When I first started I was just focusing on my macro scores, primarily how many calories I was eating, etc. and I was losing weight just fine, but...

    After purchasing a smart scale, it quickly became apparent that focusing solely on calories and ignoring nutrients, particularly micro nutrients, I was losing as much muscle and fat, maybe even more!

    I started paying attention to the daily report on micronutrient levels, and the first thing I realized is that its HARD to get all your essential nutrients while also maintaining a significant calorie deficit at the same time! I started rotating foods on a daily basis, eating some of the higher calories items that are good in specific nutrients, so that I could peg out all my nutrients on average throughout the week. This was a pain, but somewhat workable, but I was still losing muscle week to week, although at a slower pace.

    Ultimately I decided that I'd have to 'cheat' at least a little bit. I added a one-a-day multi-vitamin to ensure I was getting all the vitamins and minerals I need. (This had the added benefit of pegging out my 'chromium' levels, which is one item that Cronometer has virtual no data on in its food database, outside of supplements.) To put a stop to the muscle loss, I've added some Whey protein powder to my diet. Now after I finish my morning walk, I have a breakfast smoothie made with berries, gGeek yogurt, milk, and Whey powder to start the day with 50-60g of protein.

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    Thanks for sharing this write-up, it's awesome! Congratulations on your progress and commitment. I especially like your comment that "Mounjaro alone would have done little by itself. I decided up front not to waste this opportunity, so from the moment I took the first shot of Mounjaro I've been focused on doing everything possible to succeed in my weight loss goals."

    There's a lot of focus right now on medical treatments, and it's great to see reinforcement that lifestyle change is still needed.

    I love walking, and use my walking time to listen to podcasts and audiobooks (free through US public libraries + Libby app).

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    The Only Easy Day was Yesterday
    20 weeks into my Mounjaro journey and I'm still making progress. Took my last 5mg shot on Friday and I start on 7.5mg this week. Definitely having to work for it now though, as my weight loss has slowed down to about 1 to 1.5lb per week. I've started going to the gym 1 day per week to try to get in some serious cardio and strength training beyond what I can accomplish at home. They had a 'free' gym day this last weekend that included a body composition scan using their fancy expensive weight scale. I'm happy to report that my $50 Eufy Smart-Scale P2 Pro shows very similar results to their $5000 Accuniq BC360 (39.0% body fat on my scale vs 39.4% on theirs, 160Lbs of muscle mass on my scale vs 155 on theirs)

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    Just upgraded to a new Garmin Descent MK2i to replace my Fitbit Charge 6.
    WOW. What an upgrade! (Stupid expensive though...)

    I just got the Charge 6 in October to replace my aging Charge 3. I'll admit the 6 was somewhat of an upgrade over the 3, but I was a bit bitter about losing the barometric sensor and climbed floors tracking. The ECG and EDA sensors sounded nice on paper but in practice I never really got any value from them...

    The Descent gives me everything on my wish list and more, with dual-mode GPS, built-in music storage and playback, altimeter, etc., etc. and it has the added advantage of providing me with a built-in dive computer. (That's what makes it so stupid expensive, since I really wanted the Air-Integrated version with the transmitter for my regulator.)

    Cronometer collects MUCH better metrics from Garmin than it does from Fitbit. For one thing, Garmin is WAY more stingy on Calories-Burned (which is a GOOD thing, because Fitbit massively overestimates them!) and the sleep metrics are fully fleshed out much like it gets from Oura. The configurability of the watch faces, activities, data fields and activities blows Fitbit away (so much so that it's almost overwhelming even to a serious tech junkie like me) I'm sure I'll be tweaking settings on this thing for months, but I LOVE it. Can't wait to take it diving this weekend. (I regret getting cheap on my last dive computer and omitting the Bluetooth integration. It was just too much bother to sync my dive stats using the USB cable.)

    The watch itself is much chunkier than any of the fitness-only devices but it's about the same size any most men's watches, and very light, being made out of titanium. The Descent MK2i is basically a Fenix 6 Pro with the addition of dive computer functions, making it a really nice top-tier fitness and sports tracker.

    I've only had this for just a few days now, but I highly recommend Garmin over Fitbit for use with Cronometer.

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    Thanks for all of the information you shared. Good luck on your journey to being the best you can be.

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    Pickleball? Really?
    Several people at my condo have been doing a weekly Pickleball game, and this weekend they dragged me along for the ride. Checking my Garmin watch I found that it does indeed have a Pickleball activity, so I figured why not give it a try?

    I recorded the activity on my Garmin Descent Mk2i, pausing between sets, and finished with about 40 minutes of tracked activity. After syncing with Garmin Connect afterwards, I was shocked to see how high this activity scored! 40 minutes of Pickleball was about on par with 40 minutes of rowing at medium high resistance settings. I scored almost 400 calories and 33 minutes of 'Vigorous' activity. (If you're not a Garmin user, let me clarify that Garmin is VERY stingy with vigorous minutes!)

    Turns out Pickleball is a great fitness activity, and FUN too. Highly recommended.

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    Thanks for your posts. I hope you are still doing well.

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