My Fervour for Cycling

Terraced rice paddies in Toyono, Osaka 

My favorite aspect of living in Japan is being able to road cycle relatively safely. Because there are a lot of pedestrians and cyclists, they have the right-of-way, which is opposite in my home country of the USA  where cars rule. I think it is part of the reason people are healthier here than in the USA because everyone walks and rides to do their daily errands. I think it was a mistake for American society to make the car “king” and make it almost impossible in many places, to walk or ride to get your daily activities. Things such as zoning laws, lack of bike lanes and sidewalks, low-density housing, etc. have all contributed to this. These topics have been addressed by many before and there is some progress, but America has a long way to go to reach a level citizens being able to move daily for health and reduction of reliance on fossil fuels.

I have a long glorious summer to cycle every day and I absolutely love it. It is pure pleasure to ride up and down the rolling hills in the northern Osaka and Kyoto prefectures just outside of our suburb of Minoh. I feel myself getting stronger.

View from the Osaka Hokusetsu Cemetery 

Watching the Tour de France also helps get me motivated to get out daily. Using a VPN, we are able to watch the SBS (Special Broadcasting System) coverage. SBS is similar to National Public Radio in the USA except that it is specifically geared to multiculturalism. Their sports programming included the World Cup and Tour de France.

There are risks to cycling and I try to be as safe as possible. I try to obey traffic signals, am cautious around intersections and high-traffic areas. I also go much slower than I possibly could downhill and always wear a helmet. Cycling has prolonged by exercise by giving my knees a break. My knees have a lot of running miles on them as I have been active in distance running since my early teens. I can only now run a couple of times a week and cycling has taken the place of running.

Sugi (Cryptomeria japonica) trees line many of the roads in northern Osaka Prefecture

I ride a Merida road cycle which was a hand-me-down from a departed faculty member. He left it and it sat unused in the parking lot until I took it into a shop to refurbish it and get it road worthy. It may be time to buy a proper cycle with biking shoes and pedals. I am still resisting wearing Lycra shorts and top and going all in on the gear and equipment, but I see the appeal. I read some articles about the MAMIL (Middle-Aged Man in Lycra).

The other part of cycling I like is the stress relief it gives me. Going for a ride first thing in the morning or after a day at school is such an uplifting mood-boosting activity.  The camaraderie with friends is also  great. Kids are back from running with mom. I’ll blog a bit more about cycling later this summer.


Bill and Nadia’s Diet

In April Nadia and I visited Dr. Ana Gifing’s “Anti-Aging” Diagnostic Center here in downtown Belgrade. We both were carrying some extra weight from a long winter and based on a recommendation from a friend, we decided to try Dr. Gifing’s program.

We brought in blood test results, underwent a “Body Composition Analysis” which is basically a device that measures muscle and fat content, and a food allergen test. The staff then put us on a 28-day “chrono-nutrition” diet plan. This was the first time I ever went on a diet and I must say, it really worked for both of us.

The diet consists of eating vegetables and meat, avoiding sweets and carbohydrates. It also gave me some good habits of always eating breakfast and eliminating snacking between meals, especially the late night binges I used to do. My friends compared the diet to the Atkins or South Beach, or Paleo Diets in the US. High protein and low carbs to burn off fat. My results speak for themselves.

April 17, 2013

  • Weight – 76.9 kilograms (169.5 lbs.)
  • Body Fat Mass 18.0 (normal range 8 – 16)
  • Body Mass Index BMI – 25.5 (normal range 18.5 – 25.0)
  • Percent Body Fat – 23.4% (normal 10 – 20)
  • Lean Balance – Over in arms, trunk, and legs)

May 17, 2013

  • Weight 73.9 kilograms (162.9 lbs)
  • Body Fat Mass 14.7
  • Body Mass Index 24.5
  • Percent Body Fat – 20 %
  • Lean Balance – all normal except slightly over in trunk

My 32 waist pants now fit me! Over the Christmas holidays I had to buy 34 inch waist pants. I feel so much better with the fat taken off me. I highly recommend the clinic. It really made me think about what I eat and when I eat it. I will follow the concepts given in the diet. After the first 28 days, the diet is much more relaxed. The chrono nutrition is concerned a lot of certain combinations of foods, when high sugar foods are consumed, and continuing with eating of breakfast, a decent lunch, and small dinner. These are good habits to maintain a healthy weight.

Yearly Physical & Blood/Urine Test Results

On July 11 2008 I went to Dr. Vickie Marie Cloutier at the Iron County Community Hospital for my yearly physical and testing. Overall I continue to be in good health with some concerns on my cholesterol.

My cholesterol levels were high however. I had a total cholesterol level of 226 which is in the range (200-240) of borderline risk. My past results are 215 in December of 2005 and 199 in July of 2007. The risk of having high levels of cholesterol in my blood is for heart and blood vessel disease. As this level increases, the possiblity of clogging the arteries which would result in a heart attack or stroke.

My bad cholesterol or low density lipoprotein (LDL) level was 166 and this puts me in the high (160-189) range. My previous results were 148 (Dec 05) and 146 (July 07). Deposits of cholesterol form in the arteries when these levels are high.

My good cholesterol (HDL) level was 41. Previously I had 40 (Dec 05) and 33 (July 07). The good cholesterol takes away the deposits in the arteries.

My triglyceride level was 95. Previously I had 133 (Dec 05) and 123 (July 07). Normal levels are 35-160 so these are fine.

I should get those levels down a bit. I need to eat less fatty foods, exercise more, and I really think, eat less in general. I have a healthy appetite and love food, but as I get older, I should eat less. I am much less active than before, especially with three young children and a busy career.

The rest of the test was fine with two exceptions. The urinalysis, HIV, Hep B, and GGTP were all normal. In the hemotology, the two results that were abnormal were as follows:

RDW 11.4  low (11.5-16.5 normal) RDW refers to the Red Blood Cell distribution width. The red blood cells need to be within this width to properly carry oxygen.

Mono % 14.3 high  (1.7 – 9.3) The monocytes or white blood cell count was high but I think this reflects the strep throat infection I had in late June.