Lifestyle Changes with ChiRunning
Height 5′ 8″
Health: Diagnosed hypertension, pre-diabetic, 3rd-stage kidney disease
Medications: 2 high blood pressure, one blood sugar and one for cholesterol
Lifestyle: Non-athletic, couch potato, hated running
Based upon blood tests in Feb. 2010, my MD sent me to a renal specialist because I had lost over 30% of my kidney function. After many tests, on March 12, 2010 the renal specialist recommended the following actions be taken immediately: No table salt, reduced processed food intake, no fried foods, no alcohol, no processed sugar, an immediate weight reduction program that involved two different regimens: A. Reduced calorie intake that would consider my weight, amount of calories burned through exercise and be calculated weekly. B. An agressive exercise program
The goal is to weigh 155 pounds (same weight before developing these health problems) and be able to eliminate the medications which are contributing to the kidney problems. My diet now consists of mainly fresh vegetables and fruits with chicken and fish, occasional beef and pork, whole grains, non-fat dairy and nothing that contains manufactured sugar.
My exercise consists of 3 days of strength training (Weight lifting) because testing had shown I had lost muscle mass and bone density. Pretty much what Danny speaks about in the ChiRunning book for folks my age. Exercise also includes 3 days of jogging per week. I purchased the ChiRunning and ChiWalking books and DVDs and got started. I rest one day a week with a “light week” every six weeks that consists of only walking and recreational sports – attempting to learn tennis right now.
Current status as of July 1, 2010 (3 1/2 months since diagnosis and plan execution):
Weight loss: 32lbs – 18 lbs to go but on schedule.
Health status: Latest lab tests have shown no more loss of kidney function – specialist believes I may get some of it back if current lifestyle is maintained.
Medication status: All medications have been reduced to 1/4 of their previous levels and MD and specialist believe we should reach the goal of no medication required by the end of the year if current lifestyle maintained.
Biggest win so far: Resting heart rate down from 76 to 48 and know it can get better. Blood sugar testing is done at fasting and eating intervals and is very stable and approaching non-diabetic tolerances at this time. Not quite there yet.
I have NO athletic skills, overpronate, use arch supports, and running was a huge struggle at the beginning. Have followed the ChiRunning book’s advice and concentrate on a single Focus during each run for now, maybe two in the future: Form and technique, not distance and speed. Followed some of the run/walk suggestions from “Couch to 5K” while applying ChiRunning methodology. I’m far from executing all of the Focus’s perfectly but am pleased (along with the specialist and MD) with the outcome so far.
Finished a 3.2 mile run/walk yesterday in 36 minutes. No pain or discomfort.
Have a very consistent 82 cadence that I should be able to increase to the recommended 85-90. (Very short stride right now – little lean and working on mid-foot striking and balance) My MD thought a 170 max heart rate would be a conservative top limit and all running activities are below that at the current pace. (Heart rate slowly increases with distance but very slowly getting better)
Danny’s notations regarding males and non-rotational pelvis is absolutely true in my case. Whenever I can relax enough and focus on leveling the pelvis and getting it to pivot at the same time, it always lengthens the stride and I see a minimum of a 1mph difference in my running speed. With more work on this Focus and others, my speed should increase naturally over time. Something that also makes a difference here is the elbow swing to the back to balance the pelvic pivot. When you find the “sweet spot” it feels real good.
My dog and I are going to do our first 5K Fun Run on Sunday, July 4th in a benefit race for the Austin, Texas State School. The goal is to complete the run without injury or pain. Mel, my dog, is wonderful around people and hopefully we can spend the rest of the day interacting with the residents.
So far the most encouraging feedback has come from the medical professionals:
Renal specialist: “Keep up what you are doing. I can’t protect you from all the maladies of life but you aren’t going to die of kidney disease if you keep it up.”
MD (whom I’ve know for many years): “I don’t know what the **** you are doing but keep it up. You’ve added 10 years to your life.”
Will update my status after we accomplish all of our goals. In regards to running, I’m now hooked. I love running and truly enjoy the process of “Focusing”. Very relaxing as the miles slip away quickly and know it is an ongoing opportunity.
To find out how Terry’s doing now, read his inspiring follow-up story.