Toward the end of 2013, I was doing terribly. I spent the night in the emergency room due to an extreme experience with then-undiagnosed PVCs (which ended up being entirely benign). I started using a CPAP, and though I slept better than I had in my entire adult life, I dealt with a range of odd side effects caused by the fact that I was no longer thrashing around as I struggled to breath while asleep. Lots of joint pain, trouble training my body to a new sleep position, etc.
Then my left leg swelled up and I was off to the emergency room again with concerns of a clot. I was tested in every way, and they found nothing. It reminded me of that scene in The Meaning of Life (“Get the EEG, the BP monitor, and the AVV.” “And get the machine that goes ‘ping!’.” “And get the most expensive machine – in case the Administrator comes.”). My leg kept swelling daily, and I started having severe pain in my left ankle.
Have I mentioned weight gain? I packed on almost 15 to 20 pounds in a three month period while all the rest was going on, in spite of having a relatively stable weight the previous 12 years after all my reconstructive foot surgeries. What about arthritis? I was suddenly having trouble, and significant pain, with the fingers in my right hand, and my left hand was gradually becoming more tender.
In mid-March I finally started to figure things out, though none of the many doctors I had seen offered more than another test and another prescription (or, in one case, a walking boot for 6 weeks). I don’t mean to diss any specific doctor. This was a complex situation. As far as I could tell, I was having a severe reaction to omeprazole, which I had started taking in September of 2013 based on the recommendation of my gastroenterologist. The timing fit, and if it was causing inflammation, it could connect the dots to many of my problems.
If I was swelling in my gut, and I was now lying perfectly still at night on my left side due to the CPAP, perhaps that was why my left leg kept swelling. I had watched that leg for a couple months, and become convinced the swelling was starting at the top and working its way down to the ankle. When I had finally shifted my sleep position to my back, I was sometimes experiencing swelling in both ankles.
The weight gain, the feeling like I was TIGHT in my abdomen, the sense that I couldn’t take a deep breath due to pressure on my diaphragm, the inflammation leading to arthritic symptoms… perhaps it was all connected.
I took action. I dropped the medication, significantly simplified my diet, and started exercising as best I could, given I can’t run or jump due to my many foot surgeries.
First, the diet. Tricia and I had a sort of running joke. She’d say something like, “But you can eat such-and-such. It is allowed on the South beach diet.” And I’d say, “But not on Jay’s beach.” I did adopt for a time a diet that resembles south beach, or paleo, or whatever, but I kept it super simple, and ultimately fairly satisfying to me. I limited my consumption to 5 categories:
1) Water (and lots of it)
2) Dairy (full fat, no reduced fat anything)
3) Meat (I love healthy meats, but that wasn’t the point… meat of most any type was allowed)
4) Non-starchy vegetables
5) Liquor (and occasional red wine)
I tried to totally avoid ANY added sweetener of ANY kind to ANYTHING. I avoided foods with super-complex ingredients as much as possible. I generally avoided substitute pretend food items (no pancakes made out of bacon, no kale made to taste like a cinnamon bun)… I wanted to take the food on its own terms. I ate no fruit, no sweet potato, not carrot, no corn, no bread, no pasta, no chips (can I tell you how hard that was here in Texas?), no desserts, no soda, no smoothies… you get the idea.
The exceptions. I drank coffee (lots of cream, no sweetener), ate the super-dark chocolate on occasion (the entire bar had to have 12 grams of sugar or less… think 88% cacao and up), and ate whatever I was served in small portions if I was a guest and served the food. I am truly opposed to being an ungracious guest except out of dire medical necessity.
I held this diet for two months, and then began softening it a bit. I’ve softened it by simply taking an occasional break from it, not by modifying it. By “taking a break”, I mean for a single meal (like the fried oysters I ate this weekend), or a single dessert. In a sense, doing something like this cold-turkey is easier than allowing exceptions, so I’m trying to toughen up my will power to allow for those exceptions.
That’s the diet… I call it the Jay Beach diet. When I give the list to someone, they often raise their eyebrows at #5 (liquor), and I joke that liquor may not be on the south beach, but it is on Jay’s beach. I don’t drink beer, and I rarely drink wine, but I’ve found liquor (served neat, e.g. straight from the bottle to a glass with nothing added) is both enjoyable, and helps suppress any cravings for sweets I might have. In the end, I don’t consume much liquor, and the amount I consume is far less caloric than the food items I’m craving. Honestly, if I let myself go I can eat half a carton of ice cream, which, if we are talking Blue Bell (and we are), is 136 grams of sugar, and 1440 calories in total. Suddenly that 96 calories in a serving of whiskey seems pretty modest.
About those cravings. The first two weeks were TOUGH. My body used hunger pangs to try to force me to eat sweetened food. Continuously. I could eat four pounds of meat and vegetables, and my body would signal that I was about to starve. It still happens occasionally, but has largely stopped. My pallet changed during this time, too. Green beans steamed with butter taste sweet to me now. Very sweet.
One last point on the diet. Contrary to my Blue Bell example above, I don’t pay attention to calories. I don’t even track how much food I’m consuming, let alone the calories in the food. I just stick to my list.
Now exercise. This one is really easy. I started swimming. For a couple months I would swim as many laps as possible in a 30 minute period, three times a week, then I shifted to swimming a mile as fast as possible. My first swim was 34 25m laps in 30 minutes. This past Monday I swam 64 laps (a mile) in 36 minutes, so there has been a ton of improvement. I also do a lot of pushups, mainly from my knees since it hurts my post-surgery toes to do a full pushup. I use one of the ab roller wheels several times a week. I do an exercise I call “doing pull-up.” Maybe one day I’ll do pull-ups… okay, I actually broke in to the multiples a few weeks ago. And I walk up the 122 steps to my office when at work.
That’s about it for the exercise.
I dropped the over-the-counter medicine omeprazole, changed my diet, and started exercising. The results? In a word, it was transformative.
First, though, here’s what it wasn’t. It didn’t turn my body into some ridiculous 20-something lean, mean fighting machine. I’m 43. That ship has sailed, and I have no regrets, and am not looking for eternal youth. It also didn’t heal my every hurt, increase my IQ by 20 points, or cause me to love my children better.
The first surprise, though, was how much muscle mass I put on in a very short time. Again, I’m not a 23 year old body builder. I didn’t put on 30 pounds of muscle. But with relatively little exercise, I did see significant gains in muscle mass across my entire upper body. It turns out when you consume a ton of protein as a major component of your diet, start swimming, and sleep well (thank you, CPAP), your body responds. Pretty cool.
The swelling in my legs went away. Just gone, after months of struggling with it and seeing several doctors. My aches and pains of sleeping with the CPAP gradually lessened and went away as well. The tightness in my abdomen faded away. And the arthritis was greatly reduced. I regained full motion in all but one finger.
My energy level started to increase, and my waist dropped 2 inches in under 3 months, almost down to where it was coming out of college. And I shed all the weight I had gained, in spite of gaining muscle mass. My acid reflux (the reason I had started taking omeprazole) didn’t go away, but it was so reduced I can now manage it with Tums and an occasional ranitidine.
In short, I’m experiencing less pain and discomfort than any other time in recent years, and have more vitality. I’m a fan of the transformation. Your mileage may vary.
Today is my hubby’s birthday. He is 39 years old, so he’s entering the last year in his 30’s.
It’s been an inauspicious birthday week for him; our third child had surgery a few days ago, I am sick as a dog and so is he, and he’s been really slammed at work for a couple weeks now. There won’t be a ton of celebrating this weekend I’m afraid, but we are looking forward to some downtime and rest together as a family.
So, in addition to cooking him his favorite meal – lasagna – I am offering up the following list in honor of his special day. Here are, in no particular order, 39 things that I dearly love about my sweet, wonderful husband.
39 things I love about Jay…
1. that he’s mine
2. that he loves my cooking and tells me so, often, as well as anyone else who will listen!
3. his fierce love for each of our children
4. that I always feel safe and protected with him
5. the fact that he actually thinks I am more beautiful today than the day he married me
6. his amazing patience
7. his ability to just sit down and talk to most anyone, anywhere, anytime
8. that he likes to cook omelets in a plastic bag in a pot of boiling water
9. and somehow also finds time to make his own homemade yogurt for us
10. that he works hard for our family
11. that he loves to practice hospitality
12. the way he dances
13. his mind
14. that he can fix anything, and if he doesn’t know how, he will work on figuring it out till he can
15. his guitar playing
16. that he’s a gentleman: opens the doors, carries all the groceries, etc
17. that he loves to organize closets and cabinets
18. the way he lives out his faith every day in front of me and our children
19. that he buys me chocolates
20. that when I married him I got the best mother and father in law in the whole wide world
21. his amazing relationship with his parents
22. his humility
23. that he loves to fish
24. his innovativeness
25. that we share the same hopes and dreams
26. that he likes the beach as much as I do!
27. that he cuts his own hair
28. that he cuts all our boys’ hair
29. his love for family
30. his appreciation for so many different types of music
31. his attitude in the face of adversity
32. how much he loves to eat leftovers
33. that he regularly tries to send me out for some quiet and/or “girl” time
34. his wisdom and sensibility where finances are concerned
35. his affection for animals
36. his sense of humour
37. his generosity
38. that he loves God with all his heart soul mind and strength
39. that he doesn’t mind growing older…
Happy Birthday, Sweetheart! So glad to be alongside you in this journey we call life!
All weekend, despite being very, very sick himself, Jay has done the dishes, picked up the toys, run loads of laundry, carried children around, etc etc in an effort to make certain I don’t injure my back any further. He’s also played nursemaid to me: bugging me about my Ibuprofen dosages, taking issue with my poor posture a thousand times a day, and applying heating pads/icy hot wraps as needed to help me. Very sweet.
As if that weren’t enough, he also took it upon himself to continue my cleanup efforts – what a guy!. Toward that end he tackled four horrific junk drawers in the kitchen, my messy desk, and the top of his own dresser (which was also not looking so pretty). He might have spent some time ribbing me about all the long-lost household goods he discovered on these little adventures. And we might have thrown away about 80 pounds of trash after he culled through everything. But either way, it’s progress, don’t you agree?
I don’t have before pictures of everything to show you, but the desk looked like this:
The drawers all resembled this:
And after some careful attention from Jay and his young assistant,
they merely store phone books and office supplies once more, and look a whole lot like this:
So, many, many thanks, Jay for entering my Cleanup Contest.
Readers, for some reason, he doesn’t feel a need to be entered into the drawing for an organizational book of his choice. Ah well, all the better chance for one of you to win!
Remember…….There’s only one day left!! I will randomly draw a winner at 8pm CST, tomorrow. Get those cleanups done, and leave me a comment so I can put your name in the hat!
A few days ago, we finished the Recipe View and launched it on Viewzi.
I think it is a fantastic way to search recipes, and was really excited to show it to Tricia. After about a minute of looking at it, Tricia asks, “Does it have Southern Living recipes?” Well no, as it so happens, it didn’t.
Hmmm… turns out Southern Living hosts their recipes, along with several other magazines, on myrecipes.com. It also turns out myrecipes.com has the sort of data that we need for this particular View (a rich picture contained in a well-labeled div). So now we have Southern Living recipes.
There are advantages to being married to the product manager (that is, the guy who helps decide what gets built next).
Sunday night found most of us viewzers huddled around a table sorting out the final details for our launch until almost midnight. Thankfully, the table was at a nice country club, so it wasn’t all that bad. Monday morning at 7 a.m., TechCrunch posted their exclusive coverage of our launch. For the next 12 hours, Viewzi was live but only accessible via the TechCrunch link. Then at 7 p.m., the wall came down fully and we were live.
It has gone fantastically! All the new platform code, some of which was written just days before launch, worked flawlessly and the site absorbed a massive increase in traffic without so much as flinching. At 8 p.m. last night, a huge group of us (well, huge for a company of 12) met at Kenichi and celebrated the success with wives, husbands, and even a set of parents. What fun! There’s pretty much no better way to enjoy your success than to eat some raw tuna.
Now go use the coolest search on the internet to find something fun.
My first post on the Viewzi blog went up a few days ago. More to come over the next few weeks.
Yesterday, Tricia and I celebrated 13 years of marriage. She was amazing then, and is so much more now. What a privilege it has been to grow and love and live and work together these many years. I am not the man I was (which is a good thing!), and much of that change is due to Tricia’s patient love for me.
May God bless us with many more decades together. I love you, sweetie!
Okay, first, let’s just clear up one thing. The whole “newzi” rhyme was Tricia’s idea. So if you loved it, now you know. And if you didn’t, well, there you have it.
Yesterday around 4:30 p.m. a news-team of two showed up at our offices to put together a story on Viewzi’s upcoming live launch. Stephanie Lucero interviewed several of us, got her footage, and had a story run on the 10 p.m. news. We were on the air at about 10:15 p.m. The end of the story included a teaser for a referral code found at the story’s accompanying web article. At approximately 10:22 p.m., our servers became a giant molten blob that sank into the earth’s crust…
Actually, the platform did amazingly. And the story had a fun “local boys try to make good and take on the big-bads of internet search” angle to it. You’ll see me briefly. If it was a movie, I would be listed in the credits as “Man 1, 3 men at a table”. Here’s the video. Enjoy!
It is with great pleasure that I announce I am now an employee of Viewzi. It’s a great bunch of folks working together on a great product, and I am extremely excited to be part of it. I began contracting for Viewzi on April 7 after a whirlwind interview/discussion period. On May 1 I became a regular employee and showed up on the About page yesterday.
Viewzi’s got several great ideas all rolled up into one product. Ask yourself, should search results always look the same (e.g. a text list)? No! The display of results should merge two things: the intentions of the searcher and the results. I may enter “Madrid” as a search term, but I likely have a goal in mind such as “I wonder what it would be like to stay in Madrid?” or “I think that song I heard on the radio had ‘Madrid’ in the title”. Should travel information and MP3s be presented in the same way? Not to humans. Viewzi solves this need. It’s all about the Views.
Also, should everyone be forced to use the same means of traversing search results? No! Even with multiple Views, you still need to be able to customize your experience. Viewzi is currently hard at work on the first wave of enhancements to support user customization.
What about the long tail of niches? If you know you are searching for recipes, why get song titles or travel destinations in your search results? Why even search sites other than recipe sites? Why indeed? Viewzi tailors niche Views to appropriate data sources. So for general search Viewzi uses the big 4 and others. But for all the other Views, it pulls from a rich diversity of specialized sites and data sources.
And all this is built on an open platform that (eventually) allows anyone to build their own View. Viewzi isn’t trying to figure out the best way to search automobiles. Instead, Viewzi is building a platform that will allow the wisdom of crowds to settle that issue, and even come up with a diversity of answers.
If you are interested in joining the beta, I’ve set up 50 referrals for our steadfast readership. Go to www.viewzi.com/invite and enter the referral code “hornes.org” and you are in.