Friday, February 19, 2010

More through less

Anyone who knows me well knows that I've struggled with my weight for most of my life. I'm not morbidly obese, but I'm by no means skinny.

With the exception of the first 9 years of my life - when my parents feared that I was malnourished because I wouldn't finish my Happy Meals - I've always been either overweight or dieting. Those Happy Meals I didn't finish turned into Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger Meals that I'd chow down without a second thought just 4 years later, which put me in a weight class in PE Wrestling with all the really tall, really buff guys in my grade. Needless to say, I didn't like PE.

Throughout it all - the weight gain, diets, weight gain, etc - I've remained largely unchanged (no pun intended). Short of restricting myself to veggie sandwiches at Subway, I've tried most of the diets out there, some more seriously than others, but all with the same results... I fall off the wagon and gain it all back within 6 months.

So this year, I've decided to take a different route. No fad diets, not even going to concentrate on weight. I'm just going to make small tweaks to my eating habits and lifestyle to improve my general health. And if I lose weight in the process, great, but it's about getting healthy first and foremost.

To this end, I gave up soda on January 4th and have not had a drop since. My close friends may now pick their jaws up off the floor. My 6-pack a day habit was the stuff of legend. I'm not off caffeine - still drinking green tea at work - but at least I'm off the sugar.

The green tea was an earlier tweak (lifehack?) from last year when I switched from Earl Grey. As yummy as Earl Grey was, I tended to like it with a lot of cream and sugar which I'm sure negated any health benefit. When I also found out that Bergamot inhibited the body's uptake of Potassium, I promptly switched. I'd been suffering from some pretty bad calf-cramps at night and ever since switching to green tea they're gone. I'd always connected the cramps to a potassium deficiency, but I couldn't figure out why I was so deficient.

I'm going to continue to either remove an unhealthy habit or add a healthy habit to my life once about every 3 weeks this year (since they say... somewhere... that it takes 3 weeks for you to turn something into a regular habit). Later in January I started doing sit-ups and push-ups and now I'm into Portion Control...

To see how these changes affect me, I'm tracking my weight and waist measurement (around my belly & love handles, not where I wear my belt). Both dropped significantly after giving up soda, but have since plateaued and actually rebounded a bit. But hey, that's OK, this isn't about weight, it's about living healthier. And I do feel healthier.

Future tweaks will include giving up fried foods (yes, no more french fries, though I may have to make an annual exception for latkes), starting to walk on the treadmill again, eating less red meat, adding more fruits and veggies to my diet, etc. So far it's been easier to remove than to add, but that's to be expected.

So wish me luck and I'll try to post more frequently to keep you up to date on my progress and as an added incentive for me to commit to some of the harder tweaks (since I'd rather not report failure).

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