A while back I posted on social media that I had lost 45 pounds this year. A friend asked “how” and I said I’d get back to him, so here goes.
The brief answer is a combination of motivation, diet, really good luck, and exercise.
Out of respect for the privacy of others, I’m not going go into complete detail of all the factors motivating me, but a key one was the birth of a granddaughter this year. My focus shifted from a vague “oh, I should get in shape someday” to “I really want to be around decades from now.” My own daughter never really knew her paternal grandfather, and I don’t want that for me granddaughter. I know there are no guarantees, but I wanted to tilt the odds.
Exercise, the beginning
A few years ago, with an obese Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30.7 and arthritis in the right hip, getting up was a 20 minute evolution which consisted of groaning my way out of bed, urinating, grabbing coffee, and sitting while the pain subsided to bearable. I knew I had to do something, had heard positive things about yoga from the daughter, and saw a group on for a place near work. First class March 4, 2013: I liked it, and I liked the “beginner / gentle / slow” instructors. Flexibility increased, pain diminished, and I was able to lose about ten pounds without thinking about it too much.
Diet, part I
On a warm beach last January the wife and I had time to relax from the life / work hamster wheel and admit to each other we weren’t really happy with the shape we were in. I had a good idea, exploiting our own personal proclivities — we’re competitive. We made a bet with each about losing weight. In order to keep it safe and reasonable and challenging, we settled on losing twenty pounds in six weeks. She won. I “lost” — only making it down eighteen. But it got the ball rolling. The diet was basic nutrition stuff — more veggies, less sugar and sweets, more awareness.
A new routine
Due to the unfortunate closing of my first yoga studio, one of my fav instructors started teaching at a hybrid Pilates / Strength Training / Yoga studio, Total Body Pilates and Yoga. The owner and primary coach attended the first several yoga sessions, and, although she seemed inhumanly flexible in yoga class and the online workout descriptions kind of scary, she convinced me to give it a try. A combo of yoga-ish stretching, weight training, and Pilates apparatus strength, flexibility and balance, a continual variety of exercises –not the same thing every day — and a small core of fellow members who turned out to be fun people to workout with made going relaxing and fun.
I had had a decades old misperception I should only work out every other day — a chance conversation with a friend to be on a Saturday morning in the parking lot clued me in that the studio programming allows daily workouts, so I started going roughly six days a week.
A shift in work brought me to working in the main building complex at UConn Health; the main cafeteria includes both all the decadent stuff a soul could want (pizza, fries, burgers) and protein rich main dishes (if you leave the sauce off), nicely done veggies and salads. Carb loaded breakfast sandwiches from coffee shops were replaced with freshly made omelets or oatmeal with fruit.
Between the workouts, and better breakfasts and lunches, after a couple months, the change started to become noticeable.
Diet, Part II
September brought a studio challenge to try something called “The Whole Life Challenge,” a combination of sound and fad diet choices, a tracking / game playing / social media site and lifestyle choices. The lifestyle stuff was mostly covered by existing workout habits. The main things I ended up taking away from it were:
- drink lots of water. A full stomach displaces perceived hunger and thirst for coffee and the like. I guess there’s some calorie consumption heating it, too.
- you don’t need that many carbs.
- sparkling water (mainly Pellegrino) adds a little taste and makes a nice substitute for my previous glass a drink moderate drinking which may, or may not be healthy, depending on which survey you believe; regardless not drinking is definitely less calories.
- cheese should be an occasional flavor treat (like zero to one servings a day), rather than a staple.
Have a grand child. Workout, including strength training, almost daily (whatever works for you). Eat healthy — sort of paleo without being whacky about it. Drink lots water, avoid stress, get enough sleep.