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My Best Year

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Last year, something drastic changed for me. I wish I could say exactly when that was. No lightning bolts struck, no angels descended from a cloud with prophetic announcements, nothing so easy to point to and declare – that’s it! That’s the moment when I changed my life! In reality, I think it might have happened one night as a dragged my weary body up the stairs, with creaking knees, and thought, I’m still 4 years away from retirement. If I’m feeling this exhausted and out of shape now, what how will I feel by then? It occurred to me that while I had been busily making financial plans for retirement, I hadn’t given much thought to how my physical state might impact the quality of my life.

I’ve been overweight or obese for decades. Like many over-weight people, I’ve tried to lose before. Usually, I’d successfully lose 10 – 15 pounds, then get stuck, fall back on old habits and put it all back, and then some. I think what changed this time was my motivation. When I’d tried to lose weight before, it was for superficial reasons. I didn’t like the way I looked, or how my clothes fit, or some special occasion was coming up. This time, I was focused on something more important – my health. And I had a real goal – to be in condition to enjoy a healthy, active, and hopefully, long retirement. At that point, I decided that even if I again only lost 10 – 15 pounds, I would consider it an accomplishment worth pursuing and maintaining.

There was one more difference this time – I decided to look for help. Lucky for me, an internet search brought me to SparkPeople. That was one year ago today. What a difference that year has made! When I set up my account and entered my goal, to lose 57 pounds, it seemed impossible. I set my goal at one pound per week, which would mean that if I could actually accomplish it, I would reach my goal weight on July 3, 2013. In reality, I didn’t think it would happen. But I was committed to doing the best that I could to get in shape and improve my health, even if I never actually reached my goal weight.

I picked 57 pounds because that would put me at a healthy BMI. I started tracking my food immediately, as well as my water intake. I also began adding more fruits and vegetables to my diet, which wasn’t hard for me since I like them anyway. It wasn’t long before I started adding some exercise to my regime. Now, the fact is, I HATE to exercise. Never have liked it, never will. However, I do like being outside, walking, hiking, dancing, planting vegetables, and generally having a good time. As long as I’m not “doing exercise”, I’m okay. So, rather than joining a gym, I went for walks, danced liked an idiot around the house (ABBA featured largely in this plan), and found other ways to move more. I started slowly (15 minutes at a time, 3 times a week) but before long, I’d worked to moving for longer periods and more often.

It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be once I got going. By October, I needed a new wardrobe. My pants were so baggy, I was afraid I’d lose them. I was 30 pounds down and counting. And on April 19 of this year, I passed my goal by 1 pound! Today I’m 4 pounds below my goal and have been holding steady for over a month now. I’ve gone from a size 18W to a size 8. My cholesterol has dropped from 245 to 196 in the past year, and my blood pressure (which has always been good, thankfully) went from 120/80 to 100/70. I’ve stopped taking sleep aids at night, and I can run up the steps at work without getting winded. And I feel great! While it’s nice to get all of the compliments I’ve been receiving from friends, neighbors, and colleagues at work who have noticed the change, the best part is that I look and feel the way I did years ago. No more dragging myself up stairs, and no more creaky knees. I’m no longer worried about the quality of my life in retirement, instead I’m thinking of all the new ways that I can find to stay active, all of the new recipes I can try, and extra things I can plant in my garden, once I have the time to do even more.

So, thank you to SparkPeople, and my wonderful SparkFriends, for making this one of my best years, ever!
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