Friday, 14 March 2014

From One Couch Potato to Another

Credit: John Carney (Flickr Creative Commons)
I was so big …

How big were you?

I was so big that when I stepped on my new digital scale it said, “One at a time please.”

Body weight can be a funny thing. Some people seem to be obsessed with every extra ounce of weight that they might possibly gain, whereas others seem not to care one way or another how much they weigh. We range in extremes from the anorectic to the obese, and everywhere in between. Neither extreme is healthy.

While my wife has always been physically fit, and after more than thirty years of marriage can still comfortably fit into the same clothes she wore when we were dating, I wandered the other way and began to pack on enough extra weight to create another half of me. At least that’s the way I saw myself in my own mind’s eye. At 230 pounds, I certainly wasn’t that obese, but according to the BMI, I was obese none the less. The bottom line is, I was not happy with my weight and how sluggish I was beginning to feel. It was time to get serious and do something about it.

I tried the gym-thing, but I quickly discovered that scene wasn’t for me. If it wasn’t for my wife’s passion for exercise equipment, I would have been scared to invest too heavily in home fitness equipment for fear that, as happens in many homes, it becomes little more than expensive clothes hangers. Fortunately for me, I could invest in some decent equipment with the assurance that it would be used by at least my wife. So we took the plunge a while back and decided on the TRUE M50 Elliptical Trainer. As I anticipated, it is used every day, hardly without fail … by her.

And as she worked on her cardio, I worked on putting up my feet in my favorite chair and psyching myself up to buying yet another larger waist size of pants.

Like all things in life, I suppose you’ll never do anything about your situation until you’re fully committed. The smoker will never quit until he’s fully committed to doing so, the alcoholic won’t stop drinking until she’s fully committed to doing so, and likewise the obese will never entertain a weight loss program until they’re committed to doing something about it.

I became committed to do something about my weight.

Recently we purchased a second cardio machine, a relative to our first machine, the TRUE LC900 Upright Bike. Now between the two machines, I work out for 30 minutes at least four times per week. The downside of this is that now my favorite chair has to be dusted more often. We are planning for a possible future weight machine as well, but we’re not there yet. Maybe next year.

Through my doctor’s office, I learned about a ‘Healthy Lifestyles’ program that they sponsor, and I signed up. The first meeting was a group setting where among other things, we were reintroduced to the Eating Well With Canada's Food Guide and the idea of journaling what we eat. Subsequent weekly visits are a one-on-one with a Lifestyles Coach that includes a weigh-in, discussion of eating and exercise habits of the previous week, and a brief doctor’s visit. The big thing, though, is the encouragement and sense of accountability.

Another big help that I discovered was the myfitnesspal smartphone app. I highly recommend it. You begin by entering things like your gender, age, weight, weight goal, and how active you are (or aren’t). It then creates a recommended daily calorie count for you. As you enter your various meals and snacks, it automatically calculates and tracks your daily calorie consumption. There are many other great features to it as well.

I found that the big thing to get used to with meals is to reduce the portion sizes, to increase vegetable consumption, and to avoid as many processed foods as possible. As a matter of fact, I learned that if I do the bulk of my grocery shopping in the produce aisle, I am probably on the right track. I also have gotten in the habit of dividing my lunch into two smaller lunchtimes of at least one hour apart. When combined with a mid-afternoon snack, there are now essentially five small meals in my day.

So, how has my weight loss plan been working out for me thus far? At the time of this writing, and for the second week in a row, my weigh-in at the Healthy Lifestyles program showed a 3.5-pound loss in weight from the week before. In just over seven weeks, I have lost 15 pounds so far (and, No, I don’t want them back). Once I pull off another 35 more pounds, I will have reached my goal. Wish me luck.

Do you have a personal health and/or fitness goal? From one couch potato to another, go for it! If I can do it, so can you. Check out and talk to your doctor. He/she can probably refer you to a similar program, and in no time at all, you too can start feeling healthier and better about yourself.

Drop me a quick comment if you’re on a similar journey. I’d love to hear about it. Peace.

Update: April 16, 2014

So here we are, about a month since I originally posted "From One Couch Potato to Another." How's it been going? Glad you asked.

My initial rapid weight loss found the plateau that I was warned would probably happen. For a couple weeks, despite my staying with my plan, my weigh fluctuated a bit up and down. I then also had a few days where I enjoyed my son's visit and we celebrated a little more than I probably should have, but I have no regrets; the BBQ ribs, the home-smoked Italian sausage, and draft beer at BP's were so good! Someone once wisely told me that if you don't live a little along the way, your weight loss plan likely will not be sustainable. At the end of the visit, I had packed three more pounds back on. Oh well, it was still very much worth it!

Today I came back from another weigh-in, and despite the hick-up's along the way, I am down another five pounds since my last post. Yes, I've hit the first 20 pound loss marker. Only 30 more to go.

Another big change has been the frequency of my work outs. When we last talked, I was striving for a work out of at least 30 minutes four times per week. I am now regularly exercising for 30 minutes five to six times per week, and sometimes (as in the last two days) 60 minutes per day. It seems like the more regular I am at it, the easier it becomes and the less difficult it is to increase my endurance.

Today I also hit a new personal daily best and burned 538 calories doing 30 minutes on my elliptical trainer followed by another 30 minutes on my upright bike. No wonder I was a little sore. However, twenty minutes in the hot tub's 102 degree water quickly fixed that.

My goal for the next five weeks is two pounds per week. If all goes according to plan, by the end of May 2014 I should have snuck under the 200 pound mark. We'll see how that goes. I will check in again when I reach that milestone. Until then, happy dieting.

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