There are dates, times and events forever etched into our hearts, mind and life. Just to name a few, most of which had a profound impact on many:
Then there are those dates that mean something only to a handful of people or maybe just to ourselves personally. Weddings, birthdates, job promotions, significant anniversaries, death dates and funerals are a few examples. They leave an imprint in our lives that can never be forgotten (even if there are some events we wish never happened).
Besides two weddings and the birthdates of my children and other important friends and family, my most recent “forever etched in life” moments happened more recently.
November, 2019: I came across two photos of myself that instantly became the “a-ha” moment I needed (for decades actually). Seeing these photos (especially the grey shirt pic), I realized enough is enough and I need to get rid of these pesky pounds once and for all. Like many, I increased exercise over the years, dieted using the latest fads only to lose some weight but put it right back on soon after.
There’s no denying I had a food addiction. Boredom and comfort eating became my way of coping. It wasn’t just the occasional sweet or junk, but the bad, simple carbs, the fast-food (convenience), the sedentary lifestyle, etc. There was no bad day or mood that a McMuffin, mac & cheese or mashed potatoes couldn’t cure!
After staring at these pics for a few days, I finally convinced myself that change was needed and now was the perfect time. I continually repeated to myself that this time it will stick and there is no going back to old bad habits.
The big question was how will I do this without spending a lot of money and not following some fly-by-night fad or gimmick. I know by now you are asking “How did you do it? Get to the point already!”
I don’t say it’s for everyone but it’s what worked for me.*
- Drink 64-80 ounces of water every day (no, coffee, tea, etc. don’t count but you can certainly drink them, preferably without all the extra stuff)
- Your body does adapt and you eventually won’t be in the bathroom as often as you think
- Move from a dinner plate to a salad plate for every meal
- Learn true portion sizes
- Limit the simple carbs (I found trying to cut them out entirely would backfire)
- Put more fruits & veggies on plate than meat and the bad carbs (your body/brain needs carbs; more on that in article 2)
- Protein is important
- Cut out soda (I did this 8 years ago), especially diet sodas–they’re awful for you
- Reduce or eliminate sugars
- Reduce/eliminate between meal snacks; when necessary grab the healthier options
- Little to no fast food
- Those old standby exercises such as leg lifts, squats, arm circles, etc. do work
- Walk, walk and walk often
Enter March 2020–who knew a pandemic/quarantine would hit? It would have been easy to slip back into the boredom, comfort eating patterns of the past. Being at home with access to the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer would have made it so easy to slip up. I chose to not let that happen. I made the commitment to myself and if I couldn’t honor ME, who was going to do it?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I did go through an ice cream phase last summer and I did eat more cookies than I should at the holidays but luckily those where phases I quickly overcame. I found the sugar and carb cravings dissipated for the most part, but when they rear their ugly heads, healthier choices were easier to make. (In part 2, we’ll touch on substitutes; who know a spoonful of sugar-free/fat-free whipped topping could be your friend?)
By November 2020, I was about 20 pounds from goal. I came this far, nothing was going to stop me.
Welcome to January 2021. The holidays are over, and I’m so ready to get back to achieving my goal. All is well until January 16th. I woke up with an upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, and (what I thought) nasty heartburn pain (all in esophagus). These symptoms lasted for about 24 hours. By late Sunday afternoon, I felt better and slept soundly Sunday night.
Monday morning, January 18th found me clammy, sweaty, the pain was back and now was across shoulders. I knew something was wrong. During the ambulance ride is when the heart attack occurred. A big shout-out to the EMTs as they were on the ball. The emergency room was a well-coordinated, perfectly choreographed work. Six nurses/doctors were on top of their game. Within the hour I was in the cath lab watching a stent be placed into the left anterior descending artery (LAD). There was a 90% blockage and yes, this is the one often called the “widow maker”. I am beyond blessed for their skill and for still being on this planet.
Additionally, on the same day, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (my sugar was 411 when I was admitted). I had no symptoms (a small amount of my weight loss may have been attributed to the diabetes. I was not overly thirsty since I drink 80 ounces of water a day, I didn’t have frequent urination, no blurry vision and no chest, neck, arm, jaw or other pain I could attribute to what happened. Bloodwork eighteen months earlier was okay.
So, here I am. It’s March 29th and I am feeling great. Back to walking, sleeping better (well for me at least), sugars are under control most days and I’m ten pounds from my goal weight. I do believe losing 70 pounds and taking the steps for portion control and better eating habits have made the transition to a heart/diabetic healthy lifestyle easier. I’m not always happy that life revolves around food, meds, and finger sticks (and some other residual issues), but I’m so grateful for where I am today.
Dates forever etched in life. Some are beautiful and good, others are sad and heartbreaking. All are worth it! Because of this, we must Live Like We Are Dying Part One
In case you were wondering: March 2021 with just a few more to go.
Coming up next: Don’t Ignore the Numbers