Open Mike

Open Mike: New Habits

Happy to report that my lifestyle changes are going swimmingly*. My problems are worse than some others have, and not as bad as some others deal with. But they're mine so they're all I can share.

I'm either supposed to do, or trying to do on my own, five things:

  • Go back to my plant-food diet, and stop eating sugar;
  • Wear compression socks;
  • Lose weight;
  • Resume using CPAP; and
  • Exercise.

The Five Doctors (I seem to keep seeing different people) are more or less agreed that I was having heart problems caused by sleep apnea—my heartbeat had become uncoordinated and irregular and my heart wasn't pumping enough blood, so I wasn't getting enough oxygen. This was causing all sorts of symptoms. I've been back on the CPAP for 31 days and the difference is...astonishing. I've gone from extreme fatigue (four naps in one day being the signal that got me to the doctor) to no naps; from oxygen hunger and shortness of breath to breathing normally; from lethargy to energy; from badly fractured sleep (with an avalanche of nightmares) to almost normal sleep; from confusion to normal mental sharpness (such as it is, yuk-yuk).

I've been off sugar and back on my plant-food diet for a mere eight days, and have been working out for only six days, and I've already lost 9.3 lbs. (.66 stone). (I weigh myself first thing in the morning on an excellent scale.) Who knows if the weight loss is attributable to the return of normal heart function, or the diet and exercise, or the resumption of normal sleep, or all those things?

The exercise is interesting. I rather enjoy it. I just take my tablet and read, and that makes the time fly by. I use some combination of a total of five different cardio machines, alternating sitting with being on my feet. I get my heart rate to between 90 and 100 BPM and keep it there. It isn't hard. I'm going to add workouts with dumbbells sooner or later.

Books, books!
I'm really enjoying Bill Bryson's The Body: A Guide for Occupants. I love love love his guided tours of subjects far from my usual field of interest; I lapped up his lovely book on physics, A Short History of Nearly Everything. The Body is equally entertaining, and bits and pieces of fascinating information fly by. For instance, babies who grow up in houses with cats present almost never get asthma. (I'm on the chapter about the lungs now.) His vivid account of how long it took before we accepted that smoking was linked to lung cancer is very telling. There's certainly a parallel to the obesity epidemic: as Dr. John McDougall says, "People love to hear good news about their bad habits."  

Speaking of which, that's what I'm working on now, habits. I'll let you know how it goes. I'll report back in a month or two. I hope I can do this. (I initially mistyped "can't" for "can"...Freudian slip?)

And speaking of habits—to briefly get back on topic—I'm carrying the camera again. Too many pictures were going by in my daily life. From now on, where I go, the camera goes.


*Except that I'm having trouble with time management.

Original contents copyright 2023 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. (To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below or on the title of this post.)

Featured Comments from:

Keith Mitchell: "I also enjoy Bryson's writing. Despite being a recently retired registered nurse, The Body left me with a sad sense of my lack of knowledge but simultaneously a sense that more work and research will still facilitate big improvements to our health.

"Glad to hear you are on the right side of your health concerns and hope that your new habits become embedded quickly."

Steven ralser: "If you want to read further about one of the reasons why it took so long to recognize the link between smoking (and second hand smoke)and lung cancer, read Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, by Naomi Oreskes [and Erik M. Conway —Ed.]. See also"

JoeB: "Good to hear the phoenix is rising from the ashes. I have found going to the gym an excellent way to organize my day—I enjoy the routine. I also enjoy the results of my workout. The social aspects of seeing the same folks at the same time of day cannot be discounted. Diet cannot be ignored. What and how much is eaten make all the difference in our life. I should have turned green if the saying 'you are what you eat' is true!"

MikeR: "Yay for you! And aren't those sleep apnea nightmares horrifying?"

Mike replies: They certainly are. I didn't think I was going crazy, but I did think the cause was fundamentally psychological. I didn't realize it was a symptom of sleep apnea.

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