Saturday, January 29, 2011

Now and Then

At the beginning of 2010 I decided that I wanted to be healthier. It was easier said than done but looking back I can see that I made a great deal of progress. I started out with a goal weight of 165 (which I later changed to 150). In mid-January I went for a health screen and wrote this post about knowing your numbers. I also took some physical measurement around that time. I recently went back for another health screen appointment. Let's compare -these measurements were taken a year apart almost to the day:

Weight: Then- 234.5, Now- 212 (I actually weight quite a bit less than this. I got on the scale in full winter gear- jeans, double layers of clothing and winter boots.)
Non-fasting Blood Sugar: Then- 106, Now- 85 (ideal is <140)
Cholesterol: Then- 165, Now- 151 (ideal <200)

Blood Pressure: Then 132/78, Now- 120/84 (ideal <120/80)
Waist Circumference: Then 42.5 inches, Now- 37 inches (ideal <35 inches)

In summary, I've lost > 10% of my body weight, my cholesterol went down 14 pts., systolic blood pressure dropped 12 pts., blood glucose dropped 21 pts and I lost 5 1/2 inches from my waist. Small changes can make a big difference. This is an excerpt from You on a Diet, one of the first books I read when I began my journey. I had highlighted this section:

"Losing 10 percent of the weight you've gained since you were eighteen (that's only four pounds if you've gained forty) can result in a decrease of 7 mmHg (stands for millimeters of mercury to measure the partial pressure of a gas) from your systolic number and 4 mmHG from your diastolic one. The message is clear: Drop your waist and you'll drop your BP."


"Simply being overweight, especially have a waist greater than 37 inches (85 centimeters) for women and 40 inches (100 centimeters) for men, makes your body less sensitive to insulin..."

The nurse that I met with asked what I did to lose weight and the answer is actually really boring. I did all the things that we hear that we should do... exercise, eat more fruits and vegtables, decrease how much you eat, eat less fast food, switch from white to wheat, drink more water... She also asked whether I just knew what to do or if I did research. My answer to her was that I did research and not just a little, a whole lot of it. Going from knowing generally what I needed to do i.e. eating better and exercising to implementing it did not happen overnight. I did not use a weight loss program so I had to figure it out along the way. In retrospect, it took a lot of "brain washing" to get me to this point. I have read countless articles on eating healthier and exercising and sure enough, the things I read about daily began showing up in my habits. I didn't just get up one day and say "I'm gonna eat vegetables everyday." and then it just happened. It took a lot of trial and error to find healthy food and methods of preparation that worked for me. I am always looking for new recipes to add to my collection especially since this is not how I grew up eating.

Even though I made the decision to become healthier in January, I actually didn't start working out until February and it was very sporadic. As March approached, I was up to about four days a week and I kept that up until about May when the workouts became sporadic again. In June I started over and began working out five days a week, then I moved up to six days in November (something I never thought I could do). My food and exercise diary has days and weeks here and there of missing information before I became consistent. Even now I am still tempted to skip workouts or writing down what I eat but it occurs much less frequently than before.

The point I am making with these examples is that striving to be better today than I was yesterday is what really worked for me. I've had to recommit to this process many times since I began and today, a little over a year later, I am much closer to my reaching goals.

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