Happy New Year 2015 to everyone 🙂
Two years ago today (New Year’s Day 2013 actually), I embarked on a journey to create a healthy lifestyle. Today, I am continuing my journey to a healthier lifestyle with a renewed commitment to maintain it. Why write yet another blog post on this? Because I want everyone to know they can make a change in their life and that it can be maintained.
Over the past two years I have changed my life in several different ways to promote a healthier lifestyle. Let me say right up front… there is no secret, no magic formula, no key that works the same for everyone. What has worked for me, may or may not be what you need in your life, and it would be arrogant and presumptuous of me to assume otherwise. I have followed this simple rule: consistency + time = results.
There are many different programs and plans, and most, if not all, will work IF you follow them consistently over time. There is no ‘one size fits all’ however, and you must find what works for you. That usually means finding something you are capable of sustaining over a long period, and that is where the problems arise. Most plans and programs are not built for the long haul and people eventually toss them aside. Find what you can live with and stay true to it.
One of the most important decisions I made was to see this journey as a lifestyle change and not as weight loss. I have lost weight in the past, significant weight, and always put it back on (almost overnight is seemed). This is different. I still cringe when people ask me about the diet I am on, because I am not on a diet… I have changed my lifestyle. My current journey has never been solely about the weight loss, the weight loss is simply a natural by-product of my healthier lifestyle. For that reason, I am not doing something until I lose the weight and then going back to what I was before. I have changed my lifestyle completely, and I intend to continue it for the rest of my life.
Over the past two years I have lost 71 pounds. I lost about 50 pounds the first year, and I lost about 20 pounds over the past year. My jeans have gone from a tight 40 inch waist to a comfortable 30 inch waist. My shirts are no longer XL or XXL, but rather M and S.
The photo at the left shows where I came from and you can see the after picture below.
But even more significant than the weight loss has been my renewed health. Two years ago I couldn’t walk up a single flight of stairs without being seriously out of breath. Now, Beth and I can bike 60+ miles on a Saturday afternoon on the Silver Comet Trail and not miss a beat. My blood pressure, heart rate and lung capacity have improved dramatically. In addition, I now have flexibility and balance that I have never had before at any point in my life (think Yoga!). At 59 years of age I am in the best condition of my life, and I intend to keep it that way. 🙂
Here are some of the things I did to change my lifestyle:
- Choose the healthy food option – whenever faced with a choice, whether at home, out to eat, anywhere, I try to make the healthiest choice available. Sometimes this may be difficult and seemingly out of my control (social gatherings, etc.), but I try to take the time to evaluate the options and choose wisely. Note: I have not eliminated pizza, french fries, ice cream, etc. completely, but I have changed how I think about food choices and the affect they have on me. Foods affect us physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. and once you realize how you are being affected by food choices, you can begin to take control of your overall well being, outlook and moods. I have made the conscious decision that some choices just aren’t worth the trade-off for me anymore.
- Control portions – it isn’t enough just to choose healthy options, I needed to limit the amount of that choice. I have not felt deprived in any way, but I have changed the size of my portions significantly over time. Our stomach stretches or shrinks accordingly, and I have tried to condition myself with smaller portions. Once your stomach adjusts, you will still get that “full” feeling but with much smaller portions. Warning: this takes time, so don’t give up!
- Track food intake – I can’t over emphasize the impact this has had on me. But first, I had to adjust my thinking about it. Tracking my food intake was something I resisted for a long time. I thought of it as too much trouble and a burden. However, once I found the MyFitnessPal app for my iPhone and computer, that all changed. The app is simple and easy to use, including a scanner for bar codes. It made tracking my food intake a non-issue. However, I still saw it as a burden, or rather a way to show me my failure. That all changed as I begin to realize it actually gave me a way to not feel guilty about my food choices. I saw exactly where I stood at any point during the day, and it gave me the freedom to make better choices with my meals and snacks.
- Get active and move – As I have said, my journey has not been solely about weight loss, but about creating a healthier “me”. For that reason, incorporating exercise and movement has been an integral part of my healthier lifestyle. Beth and I started with walking, just a brisk walk in the neighborhood. We tracked it with Endomondo on our iPhone so we could keep up with our distance, speed, calories, etc. But we wanted more. So we took up biking, and it proved to be one of the best choices we could have possibly made in building a healthier lifestyle. We invested in our health by getting the proper bikes and gear, and it has become our favorite thing to do together. We not only get outside, have fun, and spend time together, but we get healthier each time we ride.
Obviously none of this is rocket science. These are things we all “know” and understand, but it takes discipline and commitment to maintain them over time.
I started my journey towards a healthier lifestyle two years ago. I got tired of telling myself ‘one day’ and ‘some day’. I stopped telling myself ‘tomorrow’ or ‘Monday’ or ‘after the holiday’. Instead, I finally said ‘today’. That was two years ago.
When will you say ‘today’?
My previous posts on my healthy lifestyle if you are interested: