My Major Lifestyle Change

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Last summer, when I saw my cardiologist, after taking more tests, he told me that I had to cut the salt from my diet (the last time I did this was when I was pregnant; I have hypertension). He added, I also should limit my intake of caffeine and alcohol. He also told me I need to do more cardio, at least 2x a week. I usually do weights and yoga, so I added Zumba Rush Kinect to my routine. (We do lots of walking every weekend.) 

I set my weekday intake to 1400 mg of sodium (this involves reading lots of labels at the grocery store!). Breakfast is yogurt and granola. I did a major overhaul with my lunch. Instead of having a full size meat-laden (ham or turkey) sandwich, I switched to salads (lots of different veggies for variety- romaine, green cabbage, artisan greens, spinach, broccoli, bell peppers, cucumber, avocados, mushrooms, tofu, roasted corn, beans, diced raw onions, some cheese, seeds, spice mix (no salt; I made it myself with various different spices like pepper and chili powder), croutons for crunch & dressing (don’t overdo it, though); of course, this changes depending on the grocery store we visit that week, I prefer Trader Joe’s and Sprouts) and having one slice of bread (when I started, I had half a sandwich, but I try to keep my meat intake to once a day now, weekdays, anyway). I stopped having chips as my daily snacks; sometimes, I had two bags a day! My daily snacks are nuts, uncrystallized ginger, fruit, spiced potato mix (sweet, russet, or yukon gold w/ onions or shallots). I have decaf tea and decaf coffee instead. For dinner, I have protein, chicken, tuna, or other natural uncured meat and it’s a full sandwich (if I have Boar’s Head or natural uncured meat, it’s half the serving), sometimes, with a side salad. Sometimes, I have low-sodium crackers or chips with salsa. I also have more fruit. I easily have the daily recommended five or more servings of vegetables and fruit during weekdays.

I dropped seven pounds; this might not sound like much, but on someone who is five foot, it made a huge difference! I went down a size (sometimes two, depending on the brand), and I had to donate my old pants, jeans, and shorts, to get new bottoms in a smaller size. I was happy to do that! My belly fat went down significantly, I will probably not have a completely flat stomach (and that’s ok), but I’m at my lowest weight in, dare I say, decades, nearly my high school weight. Also, my face was less chubby, too. I have an oval face shape, so with the added weight, makes it appear round.

As I’ve gotten older and more in tune with my body, I’ve learned which type of food doesn’t agree with my system. I have lots of food allergies (this is not uncommon as the food system in the US became industrialized in the 1950s). During the week, I feel much better (less bloating, less disruption with my tummy). I frequently get the question, “Have you lost weight?” Everyone has noticed— even people who check my driver’s license. So, here it is, “my secret”; I wasn’t trying to lose weight, but this was a nice side benefit. I just wanted to be healthier, so I can be here for my family, especially my young son. My cardiologist told me on my return visit, to “keep doing what I’m doing, but don’t lose any more weight.” And to think, my regular doctor told me there was nothing I could do, in the way of diet and exercise (of course, when another issue came up, he wanted to prescribe more drugs).

Anyone can do this. Just cut out ALL the bad foods. Eat good foods for you. I didn’t know what processed foods were (factory-produced; chemicals, antibiotics, additives, artificial colors, preservatives, GMO’s, “frankenfood” is a popular term these days), or what whole foods were (fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans, without GMO’s). I always knew I had to eat more fruits and vegetables, now I practice it. (Some people swear by vegetarianism, veganism, raw juicing, extra large doses of vitamins, paleo, carb-free, fat-free, low-calorie, etc.) I’m just explaining my way, how I did it. I don’t drink alcohol much these days (it puts weight on me, found this out in my 30s). Even before my lifestyle change, my main meat staple was chicken. Red meat was never a must-have. Don’t  get me wrong, I eat it, but it’s not my main protein source. Sugar and soda is not a big issue for me. I do prefer dark chocolate because there are actual studies showing that it’s beneficial. I do prefer ice cream to most junk foods, but I make better choices now.

Exercise. Move more. Take the stairs. Take a walk (and take your dog with you). Just do something you enjoy (if you don’t like it, you won’t stick with it). Weight training, yoga, pilates, zumba, landscaping, yard work, dancing, swimming, circuit-training, shoot hoops, play catch with your children, play with your dog, jump rope, calisthenics, boot camp, there’s so much you can do. People think that weight loss is hard, but the truth is, maintenance is THE hard part, but it’s the key. Be consistent and persistent. Set goals. You’ll get there. Maybe you just need to do these things in steps (one week do one thing, the next week, add another thing, and so on and so forth). You’ve got to come up with the best plan for your life (single, family, multi-generational) and particular needs (limitations, if any).

A local TV news personality, Monica Jackson, recently credited her new lifestyle diet than on the reliance on medications (heard recently that doctors today are “disease managers”), to keep her diabetes under control. Congrats to her! One of my co-workers recently lost weight by switching ALL her food to organics. It may seem extreme. My husband lost weight by himself without the use of drugs, a personal trainer, or other aids. He went low-fat, low-calorie, and started out doing lots of cardio in the beginning. As he lost the weight, he added weight training. So, yes, there are many ways to get healthier, but one thing reigns true: Diet (sure, it takes some planning and lots of food prep, but it’s well worth it). The simple truth in a nutshell is it’s 80% diet and 20% exercise. (In my teens, I tried so many different fad diets, but they were not long-lasting. In my 20s, I learned my metabolism changed dramatically. In my 30s I cut out several things.) Isn’t it better to do something worthwhile for your overall health?

Hope these tips sparked your interest in creating an active plan.

 

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