To be or Not to be Fit
There are so many people all around me taking steps towards good health and fitness. As you all know, I’m a big fan of the pool and really feel aqua-fit is good in so many ways. Many others feel the same, as class was packed today. Even in spite of the fact that it was pouring rain. Dick even made it out to his first class, which was great because Paul went because he was going. After a great work out, we all enjoyed some homemade peanut butter fudge that Monel brought to celebrate Madame’s birthday, that had just passed.
The “Lime Biggest Loser Challenge” is on right now, and people are competing to see who can lose the most weight and get healthy. Monel, who has become a regular at the poo,l and is taking part in the challenge, sent in a couple pictures of him getting fit climbing the steps at Lamanai, with Ruth and some of his family. (The second picture is him and his niece Nicole). Helda is also taking the challenge, and she is losing weight as well. The lucky winner is going to get a nice prize to celebrate their weight loss with a shopping spree at Moondancer for some new clothes.
The following letter is one I got from my net friend Pax, awhile ago she said that she has been battling with health – primarily weight and fitness, but has recently found herself overcoming obstacles in this area.
She sent me this entry form she filled out for a weight loss contest at her gym, and I found it so inspiring that I asked her permission to post it. All throughout her letter she mentions positive benefits of exercise and losing weight, feeling better inside and out, and gaining true understanding of a balanced diet.
I hope it inspires all of you who are slugging it out at the gym or where ever you choose to get your fit on.
April 17, 2009
HISTORY: First I’d like to start a little history with how I joined Gold’s Gym and joined the transformation challenge. I knew I’d be facing the scale at the doctor’s office soon, and started everything imaginable to try and lose weight. Nothing was working. So, I broached the subject with my primary care physician. While she supported my choice, she asked me to confer with my cardiologist. December 3, 2008, I got on a scale for the first time in several months. I weighed in at 306 lbs. The cardiologist was supportive in my choice, but asked me to do a little more research first. The conclusion I came to was that gastric bypass is a drastic and permanent change to a body that often only temporarily resolves the problem.
I’d rather eat as though I had the operation than to do any permanent damage to my body. In the end, I realized that a strict diet and exercise were the only sound alternative. As I approach my 48th birthday within the next couple of months, I can’t help but think that this is a significant year due to my family cardiac history. My mother had a heart attack and died at 48; and my brother experienced a heart attack at 48 as well. To say that I am motivated for this challenge would be an understatement.
OBSTACLES: I have many medical conditions that have made it both difficult to lose weight and difficult to exercise: Diabetes, hypothyroidism, a hernia, high cortisol levels, menopause, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, depression, osteo-arthritis, frayed rotator cuff, carpal tunnel, cubital tunnel, peripheral neuropathy, degenerative disk disease, migraines, narcolepsy, premature ventricular contractions, and morbid obesity are what come to mind. I also frequently use a walker for the first hour and the last few hours of my day.
DIET: My diet goal has been 1200 calories a day with a 40-40-20 (protein, carbohydrate, fat) ratio. While I often come close to this, it seems more often than not it is closer to 60-30-10, as I try to avoid heavy carbs from about 3 PM on in my day. My appetite is greatly reduced and I often find the need to supplement with a protein shake in the evening to keep my protein count up to where it should be, to minimize muscle loss. In fact, these past 3 months have showed marked improvement in muscle definition and strength. I’ve also changed from eating once a day to eating small meals every few hours.
WORKOUT: Medical conditions started me in the pool, as water aerobics was about the only exercise my body could tolerate. I’ve slowly added to my routine, to the point that I started a very low calorie diet. It became necessary to split my workout between the morning and evenings to avoid excessive fatigue.
A typical week for me now is 2-3 hours of water aerobics on Monday and Wednesday mornings. 1-2 hours of water aerobics on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, along with an hour of Tai Chi for Arthritis. Friday and Saturday I may or may not take a water class. Typically, you will find me in the gym in the evenings (6 or 7 days) weight lifting. After about 45 minutes of weights, I do half hour on the treadmill followed by an hour on the recumbent bike. I try to include a late evening of steam, stretching, and sauna before bed. I probably over-train to some extent. I realize this can work against the weight loss at times by boosting the cortisol levels. However, having years of bad health habits to correct, I’m rapidly approaching an age where it can make a huge difference.
TRANSFORMATION CHALLENGE: I started the fourth flight of Gold’s Transformation Challenge at the end of January. My beginning weight on January 23, 2009 was 265 lbs; 41 lbs lighter than when I saw my cardiologist in December. By March 3, 2009 (3 months to the date) I was down to 248 lbs. For a loss of 58 lbs in 90 days. I had the good fortune of joining Gold’s right as the transformation challenge began. Consequently, I had the help of Robert, one of Gold’s finest personal trainers to help me with my diet and workout plans. Robert has been a treasure in adjusting my workout to strengthen my areas of weakness and altering my workout to fit my disabilities. His explanation of nutrition was invaluable as for the first time I truly understood the importance of a balanced diet and how carbs, fats and protein need to work together.
SUCCESSES: I am expecting to weigh in with approximately a 50 LB weight loss at the end of this challenge (91LB total weight loss since December). My diet has changed drastically and I am eating far more often and healthier than ever in my life. My doctor has been constantly amazed and thrilled to watch the muscle definition emerge. For the first time in over a year of struggling with diabetes I have had an A1C (blood glucose reading) under 7%, as recommended by the American Diabetes Association. I’ve gone from taking eliminated 3 different diabetes medications to completely controlling my diabetes by diet alone. My blood pressure has reduced drastically. I’ve gone from taking 6 blood pressure medications to 1. When I started the treadmill, I was hitting a pulse of 152 within 3 minutes. Now, I am topping off with a pulse of 125 during my entire duration on the treadmill. While I used to fall frequently, I am finding this is happening with far less frequency.
I still have my disabilities; but the transformation challenge has taught me how to adapt and live with them. My attitude towards food has transformed as well. I find myself constantly reading labels, and too many ingredients and too many empty calories find me putting food back on the grocery shelf. Rather than looking at food as a source of entertainment and comfort, I now view it primarily as fuel for the body. While others may disagree, I can’t say that I have become a gym junkie. But, I now understand the necessity of choosing to get up and move. I guess the old phrase “use it or lose it” comes to mind. When I started the transformation challenge I thought of it primarily as a physical transformation. I now understand it has been a far bigger transformation than anticipated. It has been a transformation of mind, body, thoughts and health.
Before I made the decision to change my life through diet and exercise, I was also facing some pretty difficult emotional and psychological issues. I have struggled with depression, anxiety and poor body image for longer than I care to remember. Sometimes, the mere idea of getting out of bed was an ordeal. I rarely left the house, unless I had a medical appointment, or an important errand to take care of. I did not want to deal with people, or stressful situations, so I would choose to do my grocery shopping in the middle of the night. I avoided interacting with people as much as possible.
SUMMARY: My desire to improve my health and work out regularly, has challenged my world view and motivated me to go out and face the world, even when I am feeling depressed, anxious and in great pain. This wasn’t easy, especially when I first started. I’ve learned a great deal about myself and others as a result. I’ve also made great progress in coping with my shyness and fear of people. I find myself enjoying my interactions with people at the gym. I feel more positive about myself and I realize that I am not the only person struggling with obesity. Instead of feeling rejected, I have discovered that people can be very supportive and helpful. I have learned to open up more, and I have discovered that there are people who actually want to help.
I feel accepted by people and as a result, I also feel a greater sense of self acceptance. Instead of feeling powerless in the face of my disabilities, I feel that I have triumphed over adversity and gained a greater sense of self-esteem. I have also noticed that my attitude to life has become more positive. I see progress, and this has become an intrinsic reward. I have always been a strong willed person, but I now see that will can work against me, and that my stubbornness has held me captive for many years. Now, that same willfulness is what is helping me to keep moving forward even on the difficult days. I am beginning to like my body again and feel a sense of pride in my weight loss and muscle definition. I feel more attractive and therefore, also more confident.
My quest for better physical health has also improved my psychological health, and promoted a greater sense of well-being. I feel that these less quantifiable changes are the transformations that will have the greatest long-term benefits. I’m still a person with disabilities, but these problems no longer define how I see myself. I can perceive them as challenges, but they no longer control me. I have reclaimed my personal power in ways I would never have believed possible. This is the most meaningful transformation of all, a greater a sense of self-worth.