Let's set some goals! A throwdown!

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Failed in late night chips. Passed with a salad for lunch and 45 minutes on the Peloton cranking 602 kj’s / 850 calories.

Win some, lose some.

Road 11 outside miles with my wife and son yesterday, but he’s 9, so we weren’t setting any speed records. Had a lot more fun though!

Good job! The chips, well.......after all it was 4th of July.

Summer can be a challenge, with summer parties, weddings, travel (biggest killer) and summer BBQ. And, winter is also a challenge with the holidays; baked goods, Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the trimmings. Heck, there are always things that make our road to self betterment a challenge.

I try to string together as many good days as I can, staying on the whole foods eating plan, exercise and limited feeding window, (aka intermittent fasting), knowing that those challenging days will be there from time to time to set me back. Bumps in the road, so to speak, not all that different from our bumpy ride with AVR recovery. Hopefully, if our compass is set to the right place, we end up moving closer and closer to our goals over time, despite losing the battle of the "chips" from time to time.
Steps/day goal update. Why walking is healthy and Going Postal.

Goal of 14,000 steps per day.

Last month I did well, with an average steps/day of 15,494. So far this month, not so good: average steps a little over 10,000/day. I have a scapegoat- my grandkids. They stayed with us from July 2- July 5th and it threw me off of my routine. No worries, I am determined to work hard the rest of July to get myself above my goal of 14,000/day. What works best for me is to think of it mathematically; I need to average over 14,000 steps most days and have a few targeted days where I am mindful about getting over 18,000 per day, to counter those days of 10,000 average. Anyway, today was a good day of 18,073 so far, and I still have a bit of piss and vinegar left in me, so I am on my way towards righting the ship for July.

Why I like to use steps/day as a health-related goal. There is a lot of associational data connecting walking to good health metrics. This 10-minute talk covers many of the studies supporting the benefits of walking:

I have chosen an ambitious goal of 14,000 steps/day, but the video suggests a starting goal of 6,000 steps/day. I would tend to agree with setting a lower goal before getting more ambitious is wise and, of course, check with your doctor about any fitness goals.

Here is a study regarding steps/day and longevity which found:

“Compared with people who took 4,000 steps a day, those who took 8,000 steps a day at the start of the study had a 50% lower risk of dying from any cause during follow-up. People who took 12,000 steps a day had a 65% lower risk of dying than those who took only 4,000.”

Number of steps per day more important than step intensity

Go Postal!

But, if you really want to align your goals with correlational studies, you may want to go postal.

This study compared health metrics for Scottish postal workers who sat in the office vs those who delivered the mail by foot.

“Those workers who sat for most of each day tended to have much larger waistlines, higher B.M.I.’s and worse blood sugar control and cholesterol profiles than those who frequently stood and moved, even after scientists controlled for age, family history, late-night shift work (which is known to affect heart health) and other factors.” And

“Those mail carriers who walked for more than three hours a day, covering at least 15,000 steps, which is about seven miles, generally had normal body mass indexes, waistlines and metabolic profiles.”

When I was a kid the mail was delivered by foot and I don’t recall ever seeing a mail delivery person who looked over weight. Today, at least in my area, they only deliver mail by car. Do they deliver mail by foot or car in your part of the world?

So, how did I get my 18,000+ steps today? Here are some tips to get your step total up there. In short, keep moving during times of the day that others choose to be sedentary. What I did:

I had to get blood drawn at the lab this morning. I signed in at Quest using the Ipad, which told me it was an approximately 40-minute wait. It gave me two options:

  • Wait in the lobby for them to call my name.
  • Wait in my car and they will text me.
What they should have offered was a third option:

“3) Rather that sit on your behind and wait, why don’t you walk laps around the building outside and we will text you when it’s your turn.”

Needless to say, I chose my imaginary option 3 and did laps around the building. It turned out that they were way off in their estimation of wait time- instead of 40 minutes, it was over 90 minutes. No problem for me. I was just enjoying myself listening to self-improvement videos as I walked laps around the building. By the time it was my turn, I had over 10,000 steps logged for the day and was well on my way to a day with plenty of movement.

Other tips.

I make a lot of calls for work. Whether it is a personal call, or a work call, I have gotten in the habit of walking as I talk on the phone. It is remarkable how this will up your daily steps if you are on the phone a lot.

Just get in the habit of walking all the time- I walked as I opened and read my mail for the day today.

Also, look at household chores as an opportunity to up your step count. My wife was about to take the trash out, and I intercepted her with the kitchen trash bag in hand:

Me: “I’ve got that honey.” As I took the trash bag out of her hand.

My wife: “You’re such a gentleman.”

Little did she know I had an ulterior motive. I wanted to get those steps in from carrying the trash to the bin for my daily total! Two birds with one stone- I added a few hundred steps and got accused of being a gentleman! 🤣

Anyway, there is a good reason why our medical teams have us walk after valve surgery and have us do incrementally more walking. It is good for our recovery to keep the body moving and stay active. It is also very low impact. And, it is a good habit to adopt even beyond our valve recovery period for long term health benefits.
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Pre-pandemic I was a pretty rigid 10,000 plus steps a day person. Parking downtown. Walking to the office. Taking a two mile walk at lunch. Taking the steps to other floors for meetings. Walking back to the car. Walking the dog. Taking an evening walk with my wife.

Now my commute is down the steps to the basement. I might do a treadmill workout but more often it’s the Peloton. Spinning doesn’t generate many steps. If I use the tread, 10,000 is pretty easy when an evening walk is added. Not so much if I bike.
Pre-pandemic I was a pretty rigid 10,000 plus steps a day person. Parking downtown. Walking to the office. Taking a two mile walk at lunch. Taking the steps to other floors for meetings. Walking back to the car. Walking the dog. Taking an evening walk with my wife.

Many health officials consider 10,000 a good target. You really do have to be intentional to get the count up there, and per your experience, there are many moments during the day where we can squeeze some steps in.

Another way I like to add a few steps is when I go to the store. It always makes me shake my head the length that some people will go to avoid walking a few hundred extra steps. They wait 5 minutes for someone who has a good parking spot, to get to their car and pull out, as they block the traffic in the entire lane while waiting, rather than drive an extra 200 feet where there are plenty of open spaces. So, I just avoid the riff raff and park at the far end of the lot where there are plenty of spaces and enjoy the extra walking.

What amuses me is often there will be a car waiting for a good spot when I enter the lot. I will park far out and walk right by them and enter the store, as they remain in the same waiting position for their close in spot, all the while blocking the aisle and spewing fumes out into the air- all to avoid a little bit of walking, which would do them some good.
Taking an evening walk with my wife.

In my view, there is no better way to start the day or end the day, whether one is counting steps or not. But, when both spouses are paying attention to the step count, it just tends to happen a lot more often, which is great to boost the step count, but more important it is great quality time.
Don’t tell my doctor, but I held a dose of metoprolol, got my heart rate about 15 bpm higher than my average on recent workouts and generated 15 Kj’s more than what I had been of recent on Peloton rides.

I have been feeling of late like I just couldn’t get enough oxygen to my muscles to workout hard.

Now I’m trying to keep track of irregular beats and seeing what happens to my resting pulse.

Weigh in puts me down about 4lbs, but that’s my cheater post workout sweat buckets of water weight. 😁
Don’t tell my doctor, but I held a dose of metoprolol,

I found that when I got the green light to go off the metoprolol that I had much better work outs. It definitely puts a limit on how hard we can train by pushing down the blood pressure and pulse. So far, the BP has been normal, so hopefully I can stay off of it.
Weigh in puts me down about 4lbs, but that’s my cheater post workout sweat buckets of water weight. 😁

That is most definitely cheating! If it were only that easy to reach our goals. I could just sit in the sauna for 30 minutes and get down to 178! 🤣

Good job in upping the intensity of your work outs!
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I can lose up to 3 lbs of sweat in a hard workout. I used to watch this online series called, “Survivorman”, where the host would demonstrate how to survive in various situations. One thing he always says is, “You sweat, you die.” My takeaway is that there’s no hope for me then. 😂
I just finished a really good book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. I highly recommend it.

It is important to set goals, but our goals will not do us much good if we don't adopt habits that will move us towards our goals. This book has some really good suggestions on how to adopt new habits and how to break bad ones.

If you don't have time to read the book, you can listen to this 23 minute summary by the author, James Clear.

The audiobook is available for free on YouTube. It is a little over 5 hours, but in my view, 5 hours well spent. You can listen to it as you go on your evening walks or as you exercise at the gym :)


Superman, I typically "forget" my metoprolol the day before a 5K race and then take that morning dose after the race. I would love to get off it as I also feel like I can't get enough blood to my muscles. It takes close to a mile to warm up. Unfortunately my BP is high and I don't think my cardiologist will let me off it. They initially said it was to prevent a-fib which I don't have.
I had my valve replacement a year ago today. I weighed 190 lbs when I went in under the knife and six months later I went up to 207 at the time of my flight physical to get my license back after surgery. The flight surgeon who is also a cardiac transplant guy took me off the beta blocker and at that point I started watching what I was eating and started weight training and cardio. Today I am back down to 165 lbs as of this morning with about 10 more to go. I feel like I'm 25 again.
Chuck, these are some great tips + motivational chatter. I've probably gained around 5lbs from my lows since surgery in March 2019. But I also definitely notice more padding than I like. I walk 4+ miles almost daily at a very fast pace, including steep hills. My diet is in check - very controlled. My energy is good (much better than pre-surgery...and I thought I was asymptomatic) BUT.... I have to think the weigh gain is the result of the metoprolol. At least I'll blame it on that. My cardiologist wants me to stay on it. Pre-surgery, I was on carvedilol. Unfortunately, pre- and post-surgery my BP has been tricky to control. Enter the beta blocker. Like others, the metoprolol was initially to help avoid a-fib. Now it's for BP control. Luckily, I haven't had any significant side effects other than what I suppose is the most obvious: A few extra pounds. I'd ditch it if I could but sadly, I think beta blockers are here for the long-haul. The good news: My heart rate is nice and low!
Ok, accountability time. Here is an update on my goals:

Goal: Spend at least 3 days per week lifting weights.
I've done pretty good with this one, lifting 3-4 times per week for over a month now.

Goal: Climb Mt Monserate in less than 30 minutes:
I have not yet pushed full throttle on my mountain climbs yet since surgery. This one will take some time to get there, but I did get the green light from my cardiologist on Monday to train physically with 100% intensity, so I have started high intensity interval training again, which will be critical if I am to have a chance to meet this goal.

Goal: Take at least 14,000 steps per day on average:
Doing pretty good with this one. So far I'm averaging over 15,500 steps per day for the month of July.

Goal: Get my weight back to 178 pounds within 3 months:
First of all, I have been hitting the gym 5 days a week for about a month now, lifting weights and typically doing 60-75 minutes of moderate/intense cardio.
As to the weight? Let me preface my update with a story:
When I was 16 years old I received a $17 parking ticket in the beach town of Santa Cruz. I fought it. For those of you not familiar with Santa Cruz, it is a beach down in the CA Bay Area, which is very hippy dippy and has been forever. In fact Santa Cruz may have invented hippy dippy , lol. At the Santa Cruz courthouse, I arrived at court with all the other folks fighting tickets. Once in the courtroom, we were told you could either plead guilty or not guilty. But, there was a third option, which I have never seen anywhere else: you could plead "Guilty with an Explanation" Only in Santa Cruz! 🤣 Well, I was guilty of parking in the permit only zone. But, I had an explanation- a tree was blocking the sign which said Permit Required. So, I plead Guilty with an Explanation, did my best Perry Mason, and showed photos of the tree blocking the Permit Required sign, along with a large diagram showing the neighborhood, where I parked and where the sign was located. I won and the case was dismissed. 😀

So, with that story to give some context, I have not made any progress in weight and, in fact, have gained about 1.6 pounds, weighing in at 186.6 pounds this morning. But, having said that, I plead "Guilty with an Explanation"
I lifted a lot of weights in HS and college, and so when I get back to weight training, after a long layoff, as now, I tend to put muscle back very quickly. And, I'm definitely seeing some results from the lifting, would estimate that I've added a few pounds of muscle. Trust me, I still don't have abs- it is more of an ab in the singular. Three weeks ago I could not fit into my size 32 shorts and now I can, so I believe that I've moved some weight around from places that I don't want it, to places that I do. So, it may take me a little longer to get down to 178, but I remain committed to that goal.

Oh, yeah, I tried the Superman technique; I did 70 minutes of cardio on the elliptical stepper then 22 minutes in the sauna and weighed myself at 181! So, using my "cheat weight" I have lost 4 pounds! 🤣 But, rehydration soon burst my bubble, lol
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I'm still pre-op (4 weeks to go) but I like this idea. Here are my goals:
  • Spend as much time as possible with my daughter before the operation
  • Survive the operation
  • Jog 5km within 6 months and run a half marathon within 12 months (ideally sub 90 minutes)
Your goals are excellent and realistic and I hope that your operation is all you hoped for. I completely identify with your first two bullet points. However, I am way too over the hill to attempt your third point but I’m feeling quite lucky to now be living with my daughter. She and my son-in-law have a terrific gym in their barn and as they are both personal trainers I have access to them and their equipment. I am hoping to lose some weight via intermittent fasting but I have to surmount some problems like my not having a pituitary gland and also having to take meds that have weight gain as a side effect.
Hi Bizinsider.

I walk 4+ miles almost daily at a very fast pace, including steep hills.

Excellent! The fitness world is obsessed with intense work outs. While these are good for us, walking, and especially brisk walking with some steep hills tossed in, is one of the best forms of exercise for good health and longevity, supported by many correlational studies. 4+ miles per day would put you on the more active end of the spectrum for sure. With your other day to day movement, I'd wager that your getting more than 10,000 steps per day, probably more that 12,000.

I have to think the weigh gain is the result of the metoprolol. At least I'll blame it on that.

That sounds like a good plan to me. Since I was also on metoprolol, I too shall lay the blame there for my weight gain. :)
Slightly off topic but does anyone have any views on the "obesity paradox", which is the phenomenon that obesity results in improved operative and long-term survival from heart surgery? It seems to have been indicated by a number of studies.

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