Friday, September 16, 2011

Long Road to Life Style Changes (Part 1)

Taking the First Steps (to a 5K)

I was more than fifty pounds overweight and led a mostly sedentary life style with a few burst of activity that left me stressed. Body mass index charts rated me obese. As my 67th birthday neared, I decided to improve my health through diet and exercise changes. Not withstanding that my past efforts generally failed or had limited success, I knew that changes were needed. Previous attempts at lifestyle changes were limited to exercise or diet only; this time I embraced both simultaneously.

My two part program for change started in February. At first, I cut out desserts, excessive amounts of carbohydrates at dinner and late night snacks. I had no problems controlling breakfast, lunch and daytime snacks and meals. Dinner and late night snacks were my weaknesses. But I managed to bring these under control and I actually added fresh fruit to my diet and eliminated junk food lunches. My modest efforts began to pay off; I lost eleven pounds the first month.

Shortly after my feeble start, my wife joined Weight Watchers and I reaped the benefits of her efforts. Within a short period of time we began to lose weight consistently. Having a partner in this effort helped us succeed. I must give her credit for the careful planning that is required to have a successful diet program; she certainly paid more attention to the diet program than my merely portion size approach. She knows the values of carbohydrates, fat, protein and fiber components in our meals and the relationship of each in the Weight Watcher point system far better than me.

Rather than start a complex exercise program, I decided to start simple. I would just walk. No machines, weights, formal classes or ridiculously early morning sessions would be part of my program. The Jewish Community Center health center became my first stop after work two or three times a week. I added one day on the weekend and soon found myself in a regular routine.

The walks started with a mile in twenty minutes and I gradually increased both my total time and pace. My walking time increased to almost 40 minutes and over two miles by April. I added a little more time and reached the three-mile mark with ease on the weekends. Often I go twice on the weekend and on occasion I managed to squeeze in a forty-five minute walk during the week.

Both approached to a healthier life style began to show great results. In six months I have lost over thirty pounds and my walking distances are considerably longer.

Not me and not to scale, and I have more hair.

In addition to the measurable results, I feel better. My pants are falling off, my double chin is almost gone and my gut has shrunk. I have always slept well, but now I sleep even better. Soon, I must make the formerly dreaded visit to the mall for new clothes; I now actually look forward to this trip because I will go down in size, not up.

Look for a progress report soon. In the meantime my advice is to KISS. Keep it Simple Seniors. More on this effort in a few days.

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