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Achieving my healthier lifestyle
Prior to January 15, 2012, I was living a sedentary lifestyle. I was comfortable doing what I was doing. I would wake up early in the morning, eat a bowl of cereal and head off to work, where I would eat nothing and drink lots of coffee. When home from work, I’d eat chips and dip, play games on Facebook for an hour or two, make dinner for the family (as easily as I could, with little effort or thought), watch TV until bedtime, then do it all over the next day.
Today that has all changed.
No longer sedentary, I am an active person now. Change is not an easy thing to do, but worth all the effort because I feel absolutely great now. Before, my large dinner plate was always full with meat, potatoes, dressing, condiments — you name it, I put it on my plate. I made sure I finished everything on my plate as well, because that’s what was expected of me when I was a child. I remember my dad teaching me how to use a piece of white bread to clean the dinner plate, so I could go back and get more food. This is how I would eat dinner every night.
After cleaning up dinner, the evening was all about relaxing on the couch and watching TV, feeling miserable from eating too much food, yet at around 9:00 p.m. I would start to get that itch for chocolate. I absolutely love chocolate! I would start looking in the pantry and the refrigerator for anything chocolate. The best was when I bought a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Triple Chunk Chocolate. Oh I was in heaven. I would sit on the couch and eat the whole pint by myself.
In January, my medical plan changed, so I started seeing a new doctor. I had a full physical done to check my overall health. To my surprise, I was pre-diabetic and my cholesterol was very high. The doctor knew the history of diabetes running in my family, so we were a little scared by these results. My father and uncle are both diabetic, with excess weight around their mid-sections. I took a long hard look at myself and noticed that I was starting to look like my father. I was tipping the scales at a record weight of 243 pounds. At my size of 6′ 1” I was a big guy. Right then I made a commitment to myself and my doctor that I was not going to take any medicine for this and that I would take care of it through diet and exercise.
On January 16, 2012, I joined the local gym. I also asked one of my fellow co-workers (Frank Lago) if he would like to start walking with me at lunchtime. The next couple of months, Frank and I would go walking at lunch for 30 minutes. We tried to make it every day, but things do not always go according to plan. On the days I did not walk, I went to the gym and started a resistance-training plan. This helped build my muscles to get them into a state where I could walk faster and rev up my metabolism.
At times, I would find it very difficult to get exercise during the days Frank and I did not walk. I would always tell myself that when I got home I would go to the gym. Instead, I would always find something else to do. The last thing I wanted to do was leave the comfort of my home and go to a smelly stinky gym for a workout. My solution: start leaving my gym bag in the trunk of my car so I would not have to go home after work. I could go straight to the gym and help out with the stink.
During this time I told my family about my doctor’s visit and being pre-diabetic. I told them that I had to change my eating habits. I wanted to start cooking healthier meals and limiting my intake of food. I had learned this from taking a diabetes class at Kaiser. The class suggested eating five to six small meals a day and sticking to healthier foods for better metabolism and lower blood glucose levels. I started to plan our weekly dinner menu with my girlfriend, making sure we were eating healthier foods. We both would sit down with three or four cookbooks and find healthy meals to eat. We would then go grocery shopping for the week. Given that I am not perfect, I cheated every once in a while, but I figure that as long as I am eating less, more often, and eating healthier food, I can afford to cheat every now and then.
The hard part about finding healthier meals is finding ones that everyone likes. My girlfriend seems to like processed foods, often high in fat, such as potatoes or rice products cooked on the stovetop. I found that it was difficult to change this part of our dinner plan, so I still continue to eat these. I figure that as long as I am eating a lean piece of protein, lots of vegetables and smaller amounts of the processed food, I should be OK. One other thing I learned in the Kaiser class was to drink lots of water: I upped my intake to about 10 (12oz) glasses of H2O a day.
After three months of walking, weight-resistance training, and eating better, I went back to the doctor to weigh in and check my blood work. When I got on the scale I had lost 30 pounds! The doctor said I look much healthier than I did 90 days ago. I was still a little nervous and excited about the results from my blood work, but when I finally received the results, my glucose was within normal range and my cholesterol was heading in the right direction. I was so excited! I felt awesome! I wanted more so I went for it.
After analyzing my blood work and knowing that exercise would help more than diet, I decided to up my exercise regime. I continued to eat the same way by cutting back on the amount of food and eating at least five times a day, but I upped my walking to a slow jog. My body had had three months of getting used to exercise. I started to run on a treadmill for lengths of about 20 minutes. After a couple of weeks, I upped it to 25 minutes. After a few more weeks I upped it to 30 minutes, then to 40, then finally 45 minutes. I wanted more, so I decided to go outside and run in the fresh air. Damn what a difference! It was so much harder than the treadmill. I got winded within the first 20 minutes. I started the same thing I did on the treadmill and upped my level every other week. I now run about 3 to 4 times a week anywhere from 5k to 10k.
After six months, I went back to the doctor. I had lost another 10 pounds and was weighing in at 203. Down 40 pounds from January! All of my blood levels where within normal range and I felt great!
I am no longer very worried about my diabetes or coronary heart disease. I have continued to live this lifestyle, and as of September 23, 2012, all my blood levels are still within normal range. I have recently gained a little weight back, because I relapsed and started enjoying my Ben and Jerry’s a little too often. I am at 208 right now, but I know what to do and what not to do. I am setting another goal: I plan to weigh below 200 lbs. by next March. I figure the holidays are coming and I do not want to put any extra stress on myself during this time. I know I will be eating a lot of food this Thanksgiving and Christmas.
On September 29th, 2012, I ran in my first 10k race in Fremont for the HERS Walk to help fight breast cancer. My mother is a survivor and we do this walk every year, but this year I ran it!