Considering My Health

At the end of November I went in for what I figured would be minor surgery. I took a few days off work assuming I’d be back within a week at the latest. But sometimes your body has other plans, and I ended up being in bed for most of December.

I was able to read, watch Netflix and listen to podcasts during that time, but at about the two week mark I felt like my mind wasn’t holding up well. Getting up from bed and dragging myself to the bathroom to brush my teeth took every ounce of energy I possessed. I half-jokingly mentioned to Kim that I could understand how someone with a chronic illness that kept them down without hope for recovery might consider ending his or her life.

My mother and my mother-in-law have health issues that limit their activity and ability to move about at times. One of them is on oxygen and both use canes and/or walkers to get around. When I attended a funeral last year, my dad wheeled my mom around in a wheelchair because that was the safest choice. That was a shock to me as I hadn’t seen my mother in a few months and didn’t realize how much her mobility had been reduced. I’m happy my father is healthy enough to take her out of the home to the store, to church and to family activities.

It’s been about 2.5 months since my surgery which has given me time to consider my own health. I’ll be 50 in two years, and my health could be a lot better. Although the recovery has taken longer than I anticipated, I’m glad I got it done. My next issue to get resolved is my toe that’s caused me a lot of pain the past couple of years and has limited my physical activity. I’ve been to two doctors and both recommended surgery. I’m not looking forward to that, but the pain and limited mobility is enough that I need to have it done.

Back in 2006, I lost about 60 lbs over a very short period of time. I drastically changed my diet to the point that it wasn’t sustainable. But my body felt good, and I was able to do more physically demanding activities with my kids.

So my goal for 2016 is to find a balance between health diet and exercise that I can maintain for my life instead of merely a few months. If any of you have successfully found this balance I’d love to hear from you.

2 thoughts on “Considering My Health

  1. There are a couple of excellent sites with low carb recipes that we use Kalyn’s Kitchen (from Utah) and Skinny Taste. Some people also have a lot of success with Weight Watcher’s.

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  2. I can relate somewhat (though not with the surgery part); right about that same time, in 2005 for me, I got serious about South Beach and fast treadmill walking and lost about 70 pounds in a year, getting close to a weight I hadn’t been at since just after college. I was really puritanical about sweets and carbs. And then some issues our family and church were dealing with, combined with a busy/stressful new job, came up — and I fell into bad old habits, junk food and stopped exercising, and I wound up 20 pounds heavier than I’d been to begin with. My blood pressure started creeping up and last year got into a more serious range, and I was finding myself getting winded from things that should not have tired me out.

    I realized I needed to get serious about this again, but I didn’t want to do what I did before. So, no puritanical mindset this time. This is the core of what I’m doing, with only a few hard and fast rules: (1) Enough sleep every night. I find that everything in the plan falls apart when I’m too tired; I make bad food choices, and I don’t exercise. (2) Light carb breakfast every day. I used to just not eat anything, and I think this is better. Peanuts, cheese, an orange, and yogurt is my typical weekday, and scrambled eggs with veggies on weekends. (3) Walking every day, 3+ miles at a 3+ mph pace. In addition to weight loss and stamina, I find it clears my head (I do it at lunchtime) and makes the afternoon coding go better. (4) Absolutely no convenience store or vending machine junk food. This is my one strict rule. I use the “Don’t Break the Chain” method, and today is day 268, which I’m pretty proud of. (5) I don’t eat huge desserts after every meal; especially not my favorite “big bowl of ice cream”. I keep individually wrapped chocolates at home and I let myself have 2 after dinner, if I’ve done #6 right that day. (6) Intentional portion setting when I fill my plate. Here’s where I have forsaken a rigid South Beach framework. I let myself have a half piece of bread or a few potato chips or rice/potatoes/etc. if I want, as long as the proportions of vegetables and protein is much higher. I eat enough dinner that I won’t be tempted to return for a sugary snack before bed. If I’m still hungry I try water, then peanuts. (7) Mindful, slower eating. Enjoy the food; chew it more; eat it more slowly. I was prone to race through meals as something to “just get done” and I think that led to eating more than I should; I wouldn’t get the satiated feeling until it was too late. (8) On special occasions (birthday, anniversary, etc.) I throw out the rules and enjoy the meal. But I find I don’t want to stuff myself; I’ve gotten used to smaller portions again. (9) Weigh myself just twice a week, and record it. I find this motivating. And finally (10) Every day is a new start from where I am now. I am really prone to this silly notion that once I “cheat” or go a few days without following the above, I think “well, what’s one more day” and “well, I’ll do this today but TOMORROW I’ll start over” etc. I am trying hard to consciously reject this, and start every day fresh. If I fail it just isn’t that big a deal, I forgive myself and move on.

    The result is that I’m down about 40 pounds since May, about 4.5 pounds per month. That may still be too fast, but the key difference is that my current system feels sustainable. I don’t feel exhausted at the end of the day just from sheer calorie lack, and I don’t find myself craving sweets too often. I wouldn’t call this a “diet” and I don’t feel I’m being cheated out of anything. Most surprising of all is that I really enjoy walking, especially outdoors, and I miss it when I don’t get out there; I wouldn’t have expected that. I also want to try biking to work this year (about 9 miles one way) as an alternative to the daily walk.

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