Here we are starting a brand new year and I know some readers have resolved to make changes in their lives for various reasons. I’d like to share a few true stories, including mine, in hopes that some reader(s) finds support and perhaps even inspiration.
Exactly one year ago today, on Jan. 3, 2011, I began my self-improvement program. I was depressed every time I went to my closet and tried on blouses and jackets that wouldn’t button and pants that felt too tight. My cholesterol had gotten higher and so had my blood pressure. I had turned 60 and was worried about my health. I had a new granddaughter and wanted to be a part of her life and watch her grow up. I told a girlfriend that I really needed to lose 20 pounds.
She suggested we use a buddy system to help each other. We both knew what it would take to get the desired results: a reduction in calorie intake plus a regular exercise routine. On the morning of Jan. 3, we got on our scales, 500 miles apart, and texted our weight to each other. From that moment on I texted my buddy every time I exercised or passed on a dessert. And I weighed in with her every Monday.
On Jan. 1, 2011, an age 20-something-young man I know made a New Year’s resolution to lose 80 pounds. When I asked him about it last week, he said he made the resolution because he knew he needed to make a change. “It was discouraging to walk into a store and instantly know that nothing would fit,” he said. He had to order all his clothes online. “I hated being so out of shape that I couldn’t enjoy hiking or any strenuous activities,” he added.
Twelve months later that young man has shed 90 pounds and 14 inches from his waist! For a year now he’s eaten meals low in carbs and sugar but high in protein. He says he found the process relatively easy. “Typical meals would consist of a variety of vegetables, meats and lots of salads. I only drank water and when I wanted something different I would substitute flavored water. If I wanted coffee I used sugar-free creamer and no sugar.”
He didn’t join a gym but walked every day and hiked occasionally. He added calisthenics to his morning routine. “Since reaching my goal, I’ve found myself with more energy. I’m less lethargic and a lot less fatigued.” He looks great, I might add, in his new fitted sweater with horizontal stripes – a present he picked out for himself when he walked into a store at Christmastime.
A young woman about his age made a resolution last year as well. This petite-framed woman told me she finally came to the decision that she needed to lose weight when the scale tipped over 200 pounds. She noticed she was out of breath while doing simple tasks and that her pant sizes kept increasing. For the last six months she’d been living with her fiancé, eating what he ate and consuming the same portion sizes.
Last January she enrolled in Weight Watchers online and joined a gym. “I soon learned that I should eat half the amount of food my companion was putting on his plate. The weight has been steadily falling off since then and I typically go to the gym for at least an hour three to four times a week.”
She has lost over 60 pounds and gone from a size 18 pants to a size 10. She says it’s fun to flex her biceps and actually see a muscle pop up. “Starting to work out again was so difficult but I love how much stronger I’ve gotten and that I’ve built up my endurance. It wasn’t an easy journey to start but I’m so glad I did.”
She plans to keep losing in 2012 – just another 10 pounds before she goes shopping for her wedding dress.
Another woman – 20 years older – was motivated to start her self-improvement program last January because of her daughter. “I want to be around for my daughter and live a healthy lifestyle. Once I started losing the weight it became easy to make good choices.”
This woman has lost 77 pounds since last New Year’s. She started running-walking until she could run three miles then participated in 5K runs every few months. Now she runs three miles a day, three days a week and lifts weights two times a week. She eats meals high in good proteins (not liquid protein drinks) with low carbs and has basically cut out sugar – no more than 7 grams a serving, she told me. She also stopped drinking carbonated drinks. “I went down 7 pant sizes and I’m healthier and happier now in my 40s,” she told me last week. “I have 15 more pounds to lose and I plan to continue what I’m doing for maintenance and continue to do the running and eating healthy. My friend and I text each other every Monday with our weigh-in weight and text each other every day we work out with what we did or didn’t do to keep accountability. It’s been great.”
My story has a happy ending, too, although my buddy dropped out after a month. On my own, I started weighing myself daily to make sure I don’t slip up and if I do, I’m on top of it. I eat (and enjoy) the same breakfast every morning: fat-free Greek yogurt, homemade granola and fresh fruit. For lunch it’s salad or soup with protein, and for dinner a protein, fresh vegetables and salad. If I really crave dessert, I have nuts. I’m 99 percent vegetarian, so most of my protein comes from fish and beans.
It seemed pretty effortless once the needle on the scale started moving and my clothes started loosening up. I joined a gym and eased into riding a recumbent bicycle three or four times a week. I continued yoga lessons and when I can I practice with an instructor for 90 minutes twice a week. I think yoga has done more to tone and strengthen my body and keep me focused than anything else.
I’m not the biggest loser but I’ve lost 40 pounds and dropped 4 pant sizes this past year. What’s more important is that my good cholesterol is higher and my bad cholesterol is low. My blood pressure still runs a little high but I think that’s just who I am. I have more energy and stamina and just plain feel better. And I’m proud. I’m proud of myself and I’m proud of the people who agreed to let me tell you about their year.
If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution (or if you want to – there’s still time) to get healthier, lose weight, exercise more, eat better – or any or all of the above – you can. Take it from us. We’ve lost over 267 pounds in 2011! If you need a buddy, I’m here.
Reach Michele Thomas, the Del Norte Triplicate’s publisher, at firstname.lastname@example.org, 464-2141 or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.