« The Most Popular Large Format | Main | Wiki Loves Monuments 2020 Contest »

Sunday, 18 October 2020


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I've been still vegan but less compliant regarding the "whole foods" side. For me it's chips. I need to stay away from them. My wife buys them (she does not have high blood pressure and cholesterol like I do). I end up eating them. Part of it I think is Covid. It's hard to maintain a healthy diet and exercise in such depressing times. I guess the only good thing food wise is I'm eating much less fatty, salty restaurant food. My cravings for things like pot roast and meat loaf have been intense and are only going to get stronger this winter, I think.

For my last throwing my neck and back out adventure (my first time was I was 23 in 1998) I bought one of these things. There's a variety of them on Amazon. It is impressive. It works so well that I stopped using it. Totally changed the amount of tension in my neck and back. You can bring it down around you lower back too.

Not your doctor or your massage therapist or anything else but for me, everyone should get one of these for their 23 birthday. Ask your doctor before using!


Those TENS muscle stimulator things are pretty amazing when you mess up your back. To prevent needing one I try to not bend down without some option to shift my weight if I feel my back giving up.

Alas my freestyle skiing and skateboarding days are somewhat distant now just when those fun looking electric unicycles are all over.

I dunno. If you eat that 100 calorie banana in your oatmeal you ingest an average of 14 grams of sugar. Plus the 27 grams of carbohydrates that your digestive system turns into sugar. True, the carbs don’t add up to a direct 1:1 conversion as both time and energy are involved in processing. But a tablespoon of brown sugar is only 12.5 grams. That’s even less than the sugar alone in the banana. Then add the sugar content of the mango in your smoothie....

I broke my upper right arm on July 24 and since then, the pain has been diminishing, but constant. It's not bone-break pain -- the bone has healed -- but the scar tissue around the torn muscle and surgical incisions. I have to stretch that tissue out, and work on that daily, or I'll never have normal range of motion, which is pretty critical if you're right handed. (If you want to throw a ball, or swim, or lifted things off shelves above your head.) The physical therapy itself creates the stress that results in the pain. I've been told that a couple of more months of PT should do it, but the inability to escape the pain, even with fairly heavy doses of painkillers, drives me crazy. Even sitting absolutely still, unmoving, in the most comfortable position, and I still hurt, not terribly, but in a nagging sort of way. I didn't whine too much the first month, because I figured, you know, break your arm, it's gonna hurt. I may have whined a bit more the second month, because it was really starting to drag me down. Now, I don't know how my wife lives with me -- I'm grumpy all the time, I whine, I make excuses for not doing things that I really probably could do, because of "the arm." Chronic pain sucks.

Hi Mike,
My personal experience is that cold is better than heat. Cold helps cool the swelling of the pulled muscle, and tightens other supportive muscles to compensate for their weak brother.

My layman's hypothesis is that pulled muscle pain is the result of one muscle of an opposing pair getting damaged, and the opposite muscle spasming in response to the lack of tension, further damaging the pulled muscle. Heat helps both relax, which feels great. Really great. But recovery is faster when both sets of muscles are cooled, and when the adjacent muscles that can take some of the work off the spasmed muscle are strong and NOT relaxed.

I've tried both treatments, and heat keeps me laid out in bed for days. Cold keeps me up, albeit crabby and stiff, within hours. My doc said to me some years ago that the best treatment is to keep moving, however slowly, if you can.

Best wishes from someone who's been there, done that. Ouch!

Mike, sorry about your back, hope you're better.

On the Oatmeal, check out Manuka Honey. If your not aware of it you should be, we all should be. While it's quite expensive at highly rated levels of medicinal aid, I can tell you it saved me a lot of pain during a dental need. And it has many other benefits.

Good luck with your back, Mike. I've had occasions when my back went out. The first time it was just bending over to pick up a tie I had dropped getting ready for work - bent over and there was no way I was going to straighten up - had to shuffle over to the bed and sit. Went to the doctor and he said time was the main thing - I had to grab both sides of the cubicle I worked in to stand at work for a while but in time it went away. Then I had back pain for years; it just kind of grinds you down over time. In the end it turned out it was from a kidney stone; after having the stone blown up and it passing, I haven't had that kind of back pain in years. But just the other day I did have another back pain/spasm that took about a week to work out. My wife has had rheumatoid arthritis since she was 19 (we're both 68) and that's a constant and sometimes debilitating pain she's lived with. She says you just do things in spite of the pain, otherwise you wouldn't be able to live. She has had both shoulders replaced and one knee. She's an amazing woman.

I have some experience here, 30+ years in fact. I first did my back in when heaving heavy stuff during the racing days. (Aside, adrenaline is perfect pain medicine - all I needed was to strap in the race car and all the pain disappeared for the next couple of hours.) I've suffered off an on for all this time, with the help of a chiropractor in Boston, her recommended exercises and a simple book.

Get a copy of

Maggie's Back Book: Healing the Hurt in Your Lower Back Paperback – January 1, 1977
by Maggie Lettvin (Author)

My chiropractor introduced my wife and I to it around 1990. We developed a set of exercises I follow every morning when I wake up, when I need most to limber up for the day. My routine takes about 20 minutes and makes me feel so much better.

If you do something stupid - I do every few months, like lifting groceries the wrong way, I continue the exercises gingerly and add in a back brace (I use these guys https://www.coreproducts.com/collections/back-support-belts) for a few days.

Never use drugs - back pain is how most Americans get hooked on opioids. Exercise and patience. And your brain get's used to it.

BTW, I tried a chiropractor again last year and discovered my 73 year old body needed recovery time AFTER the visits to the doctor.

Try cold packs 20 minutes on per hour alternate with heat pack. Cold reduces swelling, heat relaxes the muscles. I have a few degenerative back issues and this is what the doctors and therapists recommend. It works!
I’m one of those that lv3s with pain every day. It is impacting my photography in ways I wish did not happen, but I’m learning to adapt.

I went through many years of repeated back issues. Doctor told me that if I treated it with exercises, muscle relaxers, adjustments to sleeping position, et cetera, it would probably resolved itself in about 14 days. If I did nothing, about 2-weeks. My experience confirmed. Good luck to you.

Have you tried apples, or unsweetened apple sauce, to sweeten your oatmeal? Goes well with cinnamon.

Hahaha to John's advice. I did something similar in my youth--I used to go to the chiropractor, who after adjustments would recommend ice and ibuprofen. I eventually cut him out and just did ice and ibuprofen and found it equally effective.

For me, I have an issue with the L5-S1. My physical therapist taught me if I put it out of joint to use two fairly light (locker room) towels rolled up. Laying face down, put one under a thigh and the other under the opposite hip, and do a couple of glute squeezes (crack a walnut between your cheeks). That always puts me right. Over the last 18 months I've been doing Pilates and the strengthening of my core muscles (and lengthening of my hamstrings) has really helped me feel much better. I occasionally have a cranky (tight) piriformis (it's in that same area), but I've learned how to stretch it out.

Congrats on cracking the 200. I'm behind you--I broke my 212 plateau, just to sit on 206-208...

Sadly, having your back go out on you can be a permanent condition as I discovered a few years back. I was recovering from an unconnected surgery and walking daily to rebuild my strength when one morning I started walking down the driveway and simply could not continue. Not just pain but weakness and suddenly feeling uncoordinated. I saw several doctors and my family physician had a myelogram scan performed. The scan showed multilevel bulging discs, bone spurs, considerable arthritis, one huge herniated lumbar disc and spinal stenosis. I expected I would need surgery but the spinal surgeon said absolutely not. Too many levels of the spine were involved to attempt surgery. I've had several steroid injections and two lumbar ablations performed. Ablations consist of an Xray guided hot needle to burn out the nerves. Unfortunately the nerves are persistent little bastards that keep reconnecting and growing back. So I now use a cane and hobble around like an old man (which I am) and live with the pain. I take pain meds when I need to do something that requires being on my feet or moving around a bit and that keeps the pain manageable. Most of the time, I sit and do nothing because anything I do will hurt. Limits my photography and everything else.

Take care of your back, Mike. And congratulations on the weight loss. It's something I need to take care of myself.

Back injuries suck. I have an on and off pinching nerve problem originating in the lower back but the pain runs down the thigh almost to the knee. There has been no day in months without pain. I am hoping surgery is not needed.

My best to you and your condition. This makes me feel better than a heating pad. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jShMQw2H2cM&feature=share

[I see what you mean--it looks like a fitness video. They were big in '83. Note how inclusive that group is. Good to see Tina on bass! --Mike]

Sorry to hear about your back, Mike. I'm 6'2.5" (or was) so I can identify with you. As a geologist, there was always a lot of bending (to hit rocks) and lifting heavy things (such as core trays full of drill core). Early on I learned to position my feet close to the item and get low using ONLY my legs, and to keep my back as upright as possible. And to do all that with someone on the other end of it.

Congratulations for getting your weight down. Regarding breakfast, your old-fashioned oats are good but, yes, bland. I'm coeliac, so I cook red or black quinoa, then - and this is what I suggest for you - stir in a layer of seeds and nuts and then natural Greek yoghurt, with blueberries to suit. The protein and good fats provides high satiety that your oats (which is just starch and fibre) don't. And it's full of interesting texture for eating.

Use date syrup as a sweetener for your oats. You can make it easily by blending pitted dates and water in a blender.

After dealing with chronic back pain for years, I discovered this book - "Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection" by Dr. John Sarno. It changed my life.

when I was little, my mom would add the banana to the boiling oatmeal water. It becomes almost like a pudding that way. These days, I also like it unsweetened with olive oil (butter if I am feeling decadent) and salt and pepper. It's sort of like a healthier version of grits.

Oww. It’s been many years since I’ve had a spasm but I sure remember the discomfort. I was once stricken while setting up a campsite during a hiking weekend. I spent much of that beautiful fall weekend flat on my back in a tent.

Doesn’t bode well for getting out to shoot with that “new” lumberyard this fall, does it? Maybe you can hire a sherpa from town like most old guys who still use these things? 😆

Seriously, hoping for your relief soon, Mike.

Hi, Mike. I can't get to your house at 5pm, but I'll be there between 5:00-5:30. It's the same with my weight. I have a 5-lb range that I am willing to be in. If I get to the top of that range, time to cut way back. But I can't hit and stay on a number.

I lost 30 lbs this summer by walking daily and also with a diet of only fruit for breakfast, (and of course coffee with cream, just one cup,) no lunch except maybe some roasted almonds if feeling hungry, and then a big salad and bratwurst sandwich or burger for dinner, and one beer. Didn't eat before 9:00am and stopped eating exactly after 6:00pm dinner.

It worked for me years ago when I did fruit smoothies for breakfast and lunch, and then anything I wanted for dinner.

But the biggest takeaway is the weight range, I think that's key.

I'm not joking--a friend said I looked good, how do I feel? I said hungry!

Slow, slow and slower is the only way to loose pounds long term. You are doing the right thing by relaxing your goals.

A half pound a week is about 1700 calories, or just a couple hundred per day off your intake. Any more than that and you will feel deprived.

Take heart that you are now “below average weight” for an American male!

Every back is different. For me what has worked best with back spasms/back "thrown out" has been Flexeril (muscle relaxant) that I took at night, regular Advil dosage around the clock, and ice (which is good anti-inflammatory).

Good luck, and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Re oatmeal. Although being a Scot I thrive on porridge during the winter (just a spoon of honey or maybe another conserve to sweeten it). But during most of the year I use a kind of homespun meusli mix that is about 70% oatmeal plus some nuts, dried fruits and other grains to make it up. All soaked in the fridge overnight with oatmeal based milk (I use Oatly brand). I then add something,fruit or berries, and I concur with robert e about an apple, chopped with all the skin and other bits. That's my regular go-to. Dead simple to prepare as well

A touch of maple syrup does a wonderful job of sweetening your oatmeal. Not the crap sold in every grocery store, rather boiled down sap; the real stuff.

good abdominal core muscles stabilize one's back. A solid core means no back problems. Five or ten minutes per day of planking or other exercises to build and strengthen your core might be the best health related practice you can adopt. I am turning 65 next week, have been working on core strength for decades and haven't had a lower back issue since the 1980's. And I do lift lots of heavy stuff on a regular basis in my work.

There is way too much sugar in some fruits. Calories are calories no matter what the diet cults say. Fiber is good, vitamins are good, but sugar is sugar no matter in what guise it gets delivered.

Porridge. I suspect the root of your problem is “QuakerOats”. There’s a lot of variation in flavour in oats. I use Flahavan’s Irish Organic Jumbo Oats and maybe you have something similar in US. The “Jumbo” are larger and not broken up like the usual oats and retain their structure to some degree and have a better flavour. I think the only thing worth adding is some freshly ground hazelnuts (other nuts, not so much) before cooking. I eat it with plenty of milk, no sugar etc. I’ve a feeling you don’t use milk — oat milk is easily made in a liquidiser and has a good flavour and may suit you.

While reading a portion of this, I had an image of white haired men around the world grasping their chins and nodding at the notion of mashing up bananas with a fork to put in their oatmeal. Each of them thinking that "hmmmm, that sounds like a great idea—I'm going to try that." Good god man, where have we ended up?

"Never-ending pain must be wearing on the body, but also on the soul and one's peace of mind and mood"

Thou speakest the truth. It's like noise from a neighbor; you can handle ten minutes, but hour after hour after hour, it just kills.

(I have fibromyalgia.)


mike, you're in cognitive dissonance. I've been following you for a long time and I'm aware of your diet and weight loss journey - however since you seemed so happy with plant-based I thought you somehow reached a healthy status.
I hate to break it to you, but at 100kilos you're most certainly obese and diabetic and have metabolic syndrome as well. How's your blood pressure and renal function? If all these are allright then you are a wonder of medical science and should be the subject of deep medical research.

I can't believe the amount of carbs you're eating. oats and bananas for breakfast? do you ever measure your blood sugar? a blood sugar meter is cheap and very easy to use. just try measuring 3-4 times a day for a few weeks, before and after those crazy carb-rich meals.
you should not be surprised by values of 200 mg/dl or above. that drives your insulin high and you will not lose weight on high insulin no matter how "plant-based" your diet is. Insulin doesn't care about dietary tribalism, man...

[I'd be suspicious of where you're getting your nutrition information, Dan. While I appreciate your concern, at 89 kilos I'm nowhere close to obese; my fasting glucose is well into the normal range and I'm not anywhere near diabetic; my blood pressure (112/60) is excellent for my age (63); and in fact all of my blood test numbers are excellent without exception. My doctor's comment: "Whatever you're doing, keep doing it." My brother (double-boarded in pediatrics and internal medicine) reviewed my recent blood work and returned a one-word verdict: "flawless." I take virtually no medications and I feel great, lots of energy, no issues. And by the way, I can *feel* an insulin spike and whatever provokes it, I avoid. Bananas score 51 on the glycemic index scale and oats 55. Neither are high glycemic-index foods.

"Carbs" are what power humans. (And the most common and widespread first-world nutritional deficiency is fiber. Fiber doesn't come from steak and butter.) If you're involved in one of the ideologies that demonizes carbs, you should rethink that. I highly recommend the evidence-based, non-profit website nutritionfacts.org to get yourself started. --Mike]

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007