Friday, August 03, 2012
Prior to beginning our journey to a healthier lifestyle, we ate good, nutritious, healthy food. For many years, I started my day with a bowl of oatmeal, packed my own lunch which usually included a salad or a sandwich with whole grain bread and usually some fresh or frozen fruit with yogurt, and our evening meal would be homemade, usually with a lean meat, potatoes or rice, vegetables, bread, and fruit. I would snack on at least 2 pieces of fruit during the day and often would also eat nuts and other healthy snacks. It made sense, it included a lot of good, healthy food, but if I exercised more, recorded how many steps I got in during the day, it didn't seem to make a difference, I had a hard time losing weight or maintaining if I lost weight. As a male at 6'6", I needed fuel to keep my body going.
So what did I learn that made the difference. First of all, breakfast, I did make a good and healthy breakfast, it was oatmeal, cooked in skim milk, I would include honey or raisins or dried cranberries or nuts, and flax seed. I would also have orange juice and coffee. The first and simplest change I made was cooking my oatmeal in water, cutting out the honey, most of the time, and using Almond milk instead of skim milk. I cut out about 100 calories from my breakfast alone. Now I average about 400 calories for breakfast.
Lunch, what could be healthier than a salad? Well I found out, it all depends on what you put on it. I would include tomatoes, broccoli, sometimes fruit, I love adding avocado and nuts. The avocado and nuts have good fat, so they should be good, right. What I found out was at 9 calories per gram of fat, yes the avocado and nuts are healthy, but also very calorie dense. I would put a half an avocado in my salad and if I included nuts and cheese, and a low fat dressing. If I had a 1/2 cup of vanilla along with my fruit, my lunch was probably in the 600 to 750 calorie range. Now I use non fat yogurt, make sure I use only 1/4 an avocado at the most, and make sure I add nuts when I don't have the avocado, and most of the time, skip the cheese, or stick to a small amount of very flavorful cheese. Now my lunch is generally about 450-500 calories. Now with 1-2 fruit as snacks, I have about 1000-1200 calories before dinner.
Dinner has probably been the biggest change we have made. I have almost totally cut out bread, we have cut back on meat, even lean meat, and have tried to make better choices by having meatless meals 3-4 times a week. We have gotten much better at portion control, sometimes making sure we have the measuring cup and scale at the table so that Dinner is about 600-800 calories, rather than 1200-1500 which it probably was before.
We have learned to add flavor, add foods that help make us full and my wife and I have each lost about 50 pounds. Food was not the problem, but learning about and making sure we made better choices about what and more importantly how much we eat, PORTION CONTROL.
Monday, July 16, 2012
I has been just about 10 months since our journey to a healthier lifestyle started and the past 2 weeks were the first time we had limited computer access and access to tracking out food and exercise. Initially we planned on being gone 4-5 days, but it stretched into a nice break and vacation. But how did we do with the scale when we got back?
Fortunately, we were at a place where we were in charge of what we were going to eat, and we were able to buy and eat what we would 'normally' eat. The great thing is we both have some pretty established eating routines, particularly for breakfast and lunch, and we were able to continue that with little difficulty. Dinner on the other hand was a little bit more of a 'wildcard'.
We did have facilities to cook, but it was also about 90 everyday and there was no great interest or desire in heating things up by cooking. So that left the options of eating out, take out, or cold food. We actually did a little of each, and were quite proud of ourselves when we did eat out, rather than each ordering and over indulging on over-sized meal portions, we actually ordered one entree and split it between the two of us.
Snacking now was a bit of another issue. We did try to buy and have available fresh and healthy snacks, and for the most part were successful. But not having the regular activities and routine, did result in some challenges in this area.
Exercise; if anything, I was most pleasantly surprised that I was able to exercise regularly, though tried to do it early in the day because of the high temperatures. We did not have access to indoor exercise, which was a little detrimental. I mapped out several walking/running routes, and actually was able to do more running than I anticipated, even making it up a hill midway through one route by the end of the two weeks. Along with the planned exercise, we were able to be fairly active during the day in many other ways.
What did the scale read when I got home? I was pleasantly surprised that I was within 2 pounds of where I had been prior to leaving for vacation. I was within the 3-4 pound range I am working at maintaining my weight at and was able to purchase a couple of items of clothing while on vacation in my now much smaller size.
It is a matter of establishing and maintaining a habit of healthier choices in what we eat and in what we do. It can be done, even in very different from normal circumstances.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
The change in lifestyle that we have been working on for the past 9 1/2 months is having a positive effect in many ways. Along with losing nearly 50 pounds and now being at a healthy BMI, the blood test showed that I had a great blood cholesterol result, all without needing to take medication.
My cholesterol has generally been good, but unfortunately for as long as I can remember, I have struggled to attain a good HDL reading. For some reason, darn genetics, low HDL has been a problem. For the first time ever, my HDL was not only in the good range, my LDL dropped below 100 and the HDL:LDL ratio is at a very good point.
As my doctor put it, apparently my body likes the fact that I have lost the weight that I have and is rewarding me with an increase in the HDL and lowering the LDL.
Here is the best part, rather than driving 3.5 miles to the doctors office on an absolutely beautiful late June day, I rode my bike and then proceeded to ride to the library to drop something off before returning home.
Friday, June 15, 2012
OK, I will confess at 52 years old to try and identify the 'athlete' inside me seems more than a little silly. I have never been overly athletic, involved in sports, though physically active with walking, biking, gardening, yard work, and light construction work around the house most of my adult life. As of today I am actually at the lightest weight I have been in my adult life, and have lost 50 pounds since beginning this journey to better health 9 months ago and am actually trying to find out, what kind of 'athlete' may be in me.
At 6'6", the same height as Michael Jordan, many people ask if I play basketball. My most common response has become, I did my best dribbling in the crib. I do enjoy getting out and kicking a soccer ball around with students at the school I work at, actually coached and refereed soccer for several years. But at my age, I don't think being a soccer player is in my future.
Hmm, what does in mean to be an athlete? According to the dictionary an athlete is; a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill. OK, gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, I don't think so. I had more sprained ankles as a child and have still been know to hurt myself walking, of course some of the time it is from running into low objects with my head. A disadvantage to being tall. What about, "a participant in an exercise", now we may be getting somewhere. I am still a little concerned about the part that says "requiring physical skill".
OK, I am going to adopt the philosophy of our daughters high school cross country team, 'the only way to know your limits, is to exceed them'. OK, I am not, nor will be a world class athlete, but what can I do to find and exceed what I think I can do. As each of our children did in sports, they worked to be better than they had been or done before, always striving for a personal best. I am going to work at walking, biking, and maybe even running faster than I have before. I don't expect to beat anyone, but I will work at trying to do better than my previous best.
Have you found the 'athlete' in you? What is it trying to tell you to do?
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
I have been on 'maintenance' now about 10 weeks and except for a couple little distractions, things have been going really well. It took me a little while to try and figure out what maintenance meant and now with summer here, I am learning to make some more adjustments.
During the first few weeks, I had some ups and downs, going back to a few 'indulgences' that I enjoyed prior to working on developing a healthier lifestyle. The crazy thing was, though it seemed sort of satisfying to try those not so good for you foods, every time that happened, I ended up with some incredible side effects. The main one being, I literally would get a headache and stomache from overly processed/sweet foods. My body was telling me these were in essence 'poison'.
I had increased my calorie consumption about 200-400 calories a day when I achieved my goal of a healthy BMI. My weight fluctuated within about a 5 pound range, which I was generally ok with, but I am now deciding that I want the peak of my range of fluctuation to be a little lower, so am working on losing 4-5 pounds from my previous low weight.
Now that summer is here and I am more active, I have found that the number of calories I consume actually needs to increase. This weekend I had two very active days, well over 20,000 steps on my pedometer and I had stayed within my higher calorie intake range. Monday found I was feeling really light headed and almost ravenously hungry, which meant I did eat a few things that I knew weren't the best for me. Inspite of that, I did have a slight weight decrease.
I am learning to make those adjustments that calorie output, needs to be balanced my calori intake and calorie intake needs to be balanced by calorie output. Though continuing to track the foods I eat and my exercise, I am certain I will lose those few extra pounds, but also find the balance I need for those extreme days.
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