Sunday, December 23, 2007

Weight a Minute!

I have never really had trouble with diet or weight. Growing up, I played outside most of the time, all of our meals were home cooked, and I was always involved in a sport of some kind. After marriage, I continued to be careful about what I ate; and I remained active by jogging (off and on) and playing with the kids. Plus, my job has always been somewhat physical...never a desk job.

Before 2002, the only time that I had gained weight was when I hired on with Northrop (1992) and they sent me to California for on-the-job training. I was out there almost three months and ate authentic Mexican food almost every day…sometimes for every meal! I was about 15 lbs heavier by the time I got home. But, once I got back and got into my routine, the weight came off with no trouble.

Then, sometime around the year 2002, I noticed that I had gained about 5 lbs. (and, I was going to a gym somewhat regularly). No big deal, I thought. By the end of 2003, another 5 lbs. So, I tried to watch my diet and started jogging more…but this time the weight did not come off. 2004, 2005, 2006—five lbs each year.So, by the Fall season of 2006, I was about 25 lbs overweight. Looking at the obesity problem in the general public, gaining only 25 lbs is not too bad, I guess…except, I could not lose any of it, no matter how much I exercised. And, it was definitely affecting the way that I felt—physically and emotionally.

So, in October 2006, I went to the doctor for a routine checkup. Everything was fine; and, when he asked me if I had any questions, I told him about the weight gain and my frustration with not being able to lose it. So, after a little question and answer period, he told me that my blood sugar could be part of the problem.He assured me that I was not diabetic and in good health overall; but, he wanted to put me on a ‘diabetic diet’. (Which basically is the diet that we were taught in school—the pyramid thing.)

And, if I understand him right, he said that as I age, my insulin does not work like it used to. When I eat a lot at one sitting, or food high in sugars, starches, and/or carbs; my body simply cannot break it all down like it used to be able to…it is glycemic overload. What does not get broken down of course, gets stored as fat. (He spoke often about the‘glycemic index’ ( He said the key would be to keep my blood sugar from ‘spiking’. Reduce the fluctuations in my blood sugar, and I should see a difference. He gave me a handout explaining it all, and sent me on my way.

So, last November, I began by educating myself. I looked up as much as I could about all of this, and began reading food labels like never before. Plus (and this was key for me) cut my portions (often in half). If I wanted seconds, I had to wait at least two hours. (Like we have all be hearing for a while, eat less at one sitting, but more times throughout the day. Six small meals are better than 3 big meals; and it keeps the blood sugar from spiking too much.) By the end of January (three months), I had lost 5 lbs., mainly by just changing my overall eating habits. I tried hard to keep my calories between 1000-1500/day--giving myself a ‘free day’ on the weekends…sometimes both days! By January 07, I had already lost 5 lbs., and that was before I started exercising…

One bright spot for me is that I work at RAFB, and they encourage us to go to the gym on base. They also give us 3 hours each week to go if our schedule (supervisor) allows. I like to put one hour with my lunch break 2-3 times/week. That is just enough time to get to the gym, work out, shower, and get back. Because of our tight schedule at work, I don’t get to go during work as often as I would like; but, it has got me back into the habit of exercise. If I can’t go during lunch, I sometimes go right after work. But most often, a jog/walk around my neighborhood after I get home.

The main thing is that I have tried to keep up at least 30 minutes of cardio, a minimum of 3-4 times/week.By September 07, it had been 10 full months since starting all of this…and I had lost a solid 20 lbs. (that’s about 2 lbs per month, or almost ½ lb. per week.) I would like to lose another 5 or so if possible; however, I am very pleased to be where I am. I feel better than I have in a while physically, emotionally, and psychologically. It’s amazing what a difference it makes in life by taking control in this area.

It has now been one full year since my resolve to lead a better lifestyle concerning food and exercise; and, my body seems to have naturally ‘leveled out’ with a total weight loss of just over 20 lbs. But to me, the really cool part is the unexpected joy I get out of running.

Now, if I can resolve to keep my resolve, I should be all right…

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