Showing posts with label healthy lifestyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label healthy lifestyle. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Being an inspiration

"You inspired me...."   "I got in...I'm so glad you are here today,  wanted to tell you..." were the words I heard yesterday standing in the hallway at the Y waiting for the first Zumba class to clear out of the  Fitness studio for our turn.  It was a greeting from a  gal I had been talking to about the YMCA Diabetes Prevention program and my success.   At first I  look stymied and then she said, "the diabetes prevention.."  which clicked.  I was so pleased that she had decided to check it out and that I can be a part of getting her back to a healthy lifestyle.  She is younger than  me, likely only in her 50's and  has now made a commitment to avoid the diabetes that runs in her family too. I will encourage her all I can but have cautioned her, it is work and no one does this for you only you.  She just asked that she be able to talk with me about it and of course I agreed.  But she will get support from her  facilitator and hopefully her fellow classmates and if she is as serious as she appears she will draw on herself.. 

I have become a walking advocate for this program with my own success of losing  30 pounds since September, moving back to the healthy weight of my 20's and 30's. I never dreamed I would be so successful.  I struggled too and couldn't fathom why that weight hung to me, I finally hd almost decided it was going to be the way it was until the doctor gave me that alert that my fasting blood glucose levels were rising.  I vowed to do all I could to avoid further escalation or getting across tht line to diabetes.  Although my program goal was losing 15  pounds that I surpassed and doubled it amazed my doctor and me. It was slow some weeks only half a pound but it came off.  For the first time in I don't know how many years I did not gain weight over the holidays in November and Christmas and  through it all I was not anti social.  

I've written  before on this blog about the Y's national link to the Diabetes Prevention program, a national effort, which  starts with an hour at a weekly meeting for 16 weeks where  some aspect of nutrition and or  physical activity is discussed along with the dreaded weigh in and review of the past week's food diaries (logs.) After 16 weeks (19 for my group due to holidays and the facilitator being away one week) for the rest of this year long program,  which includes a YMCA membership one attends a maintenance class once a month led by another facilitator who is usually a certified  nutritionist/dietitian. 

While I have met others who have not been as successful, it does not take long hearing  their woes to understand why they struggle. I have a genuine sympathy for those who cannot persevere for whatever reasons and for those who really ask for help but  I have little tolerance for whiners, when they complain that it's not working I ask them if they log their food,  and invariable they say, "no I don't like to do that."  Don't like it, then to me they are saying they prefer fat and diabetes; it's their choice.  Life is all about our choices despite how it's framed or who's blamed.  Along with my lack of tolerance for whining is even less for those who kid themselves and want pity.  Most complainers want magic, the quick fix, the stroke of a wand. Don't we all?  No such magic wand exists for health maintenance and certainly not for weight loss. Long ago a friend and I talked about how much harder we work now to try to stay fit;     don't ever recall it being this much work.  

Sure as there are any number of diets that work in the short term, the nefarious yo yo dieting, which affects the body far worse than just staying overweight is often the result.  It has to be a way of eating that one can follow for life.  Think of it, will you exist from now on eating only cabbage soup or no carbs or no whatever as suggested by certain diets of the month? Weight Watchers is a healthy choice and works for many people so long as they stay with it.  Any weight loss program from which one cannot  wait to get back to the foods  they left behind for a lower number on the scale are sure to create rebound to packing back the pounds and then some.  It must be a lifestyle change.  I have met many who regained all the weight they lost and it is not a mystery why that happens.  
5 pounds of fat compared to muscle..gross

I am  keeping off the weight, doing what I did to lose that fat of  which we were reminded with a visual a 5 lb blob of yellowish matter resembling 5 pounds of fat at yesterday's Maintenance meeting.  Yuck the blob was passed around; as I held the gross looking plastic rubbery clump I was so glad to say, "I  lost 6 of these!"  Medical research shows that one pound of fat has approximately one to two miles of blood vessels so each extra pound strains the heart pumping that much more. Each pound of fat on your body has roughly 7 miles of capillaries (smallest blood vessels) that deliver nutrients to the tissue.  For every ten pounds of fat gained, your heart has to pump blood through an additional 70 miles of blood vessels! Consequently, it is not difficult to see why obesity and heart disease go hand in hand. The more I learned the more I became vehemently committed to ensuring my health.

This program  is a lifestyle change,  not a diet and is based on a few simple keys:

  • daily food tracking, writing it down for me in lieu of electronic gadgets which abound.  One participant said she did not want to do homework and record; she did not lose much weight.  Her rebelliousness hurt no one but herself.  Every participant has an individually calculated personal daily fat gram allowance based on age, weight, medical data, etc.  Mine limited me to 33 fat grams a day and   the facilitator often admonshed me to consume all each day to avoid yo yo rebounds.  Now  keeping it at or  below 33 grams a day is my goal because above that I have determined that i my weight would begin to increase.  Along with that calories are recorded but not the I would begin to add weight.  I have also  learned that high fat foods = high calorie foods. 
  • the program recommends  30 minutes a day or 150 minutes a week of physical activity for me it is from one to one and half hours physical activity each day even in this tundra arctic where we have  been confined all winter.  My physical activity occurs now mostly exclusively at the Y unless I am shoveling the blasted snow while Jerry's back heals. I have always been active  so this was  a no brainer for me.  But I sure do miss outdoor walks in this so too cold winter.  
  • weighing every day faithfully and recording  it on the food log. That's paying attention to what the old  enemy, never my friend, the scale  has to say.  I weigh in every morning now. This is a big change for me; I would avoid the scale in every way possible before, kidding myself that I could tell when my weight  edged up by my clothes.  I no longer shudder when I go to the doctor's and they weigh me in first thing. 

The  Y program director asked me to share my story which I readily obliged by writing a  three page article which she loved and sent on to the national headquarters.  The next thing I knew I became a rock star of  the Y Diabetes Prevention Program; my story is to be featured in their national publication.  I will soon post what I wrote here on this blog describing my entry to the program with all the skepticism I could bring... I  was also asked to work on a team for this year's YMCA annual campaign which will feature our prevention program.  One thing keeps leading to another and last week I was interviewed for television here in the LaCrosse area, WKBT-TV  to publicize the campaign.  I am not shy nor tongue tied and have had extensive experience in  public speaking in my career and in organizations everything  from live  news interviews, cameras to legislative testimony in Sacramento and in Washington, DC, so it was old times for me.  Actually I am more of a natural born ham.  I knew the Y loved personal stories but didn't think mine was  any big deal, however I am learning that it is indeed.  

At my ripe age of 69 years to regain my lifestyle healthier than before, through this program has been a blessing and if I can share this to help others including the YMCA I am more than willing. My fasting blood glucose which was showing red warning flags is now low normal and my cholesterol  decreased 17 percent.  My doctor is so pleased and proud that he gave me the flyer about this program; he said he wished he could have me talk with so many patients who just  cannot get on the wagon to improving their health.  .  

I will not say it's easy but it's achievable.  And when one values health one will commit to doing whatever it takes.   I thought I was a  fairly healthy eater, I do not eat fast foods nor overindulge in red meats nor sweets.  In fact I prefer sour or salty crunchy to sweets.  But my weakness is cheese, oh I love cheese, melted, hard, grated, there is not a cheese I do not like and cheese is so good because it's heavy in fat.  A grilled cheese sandwich has always been my very favorite lunch.  And so where do I land in retirement but right across the river, Cheese-head Wisconsin country...heaven for me.  It was here I discovered cheese curds, another delicacy for me.  I love them raw or even better  coated and deep fried, melty.  Almost daily  my quick lunch had been cheese and an apple or other fruit and perhaps some triscuit crackers  or a fast quesadilla. Healthy right?  Wrong! One ounce of cheese has between 8 to 10 or more grams of fat.  I ate a hunk of cheese way more than an ounce, more like  5 ounces and through the day it was also a favored snack for me.  You do not have to be a math genius to calculate that  I could easily exceed my daily fat gram allowance on cheese.  So now I know, yikes I  learned something about nutrition.  I never thought of this before despite my constant pursuit of  education in nutritional eating. I have counted calories and carbohydrates, never before fat grams.  Now I can eat cheese but never again the way I used to; one ounce of cheese which is about a  one inch square is an allowance for a snack, carefully monitored and recorded.  I found the culprit and it was me!  Besides cheese, ice cream and frozen custard were almost daily evening treats and well, now you have the keys to my success.  Awareness and admitting, that I was doing this to me.  The same with nuts that had been a  favorite snack. Nuts are healthy and so a handful now and then when passing by the counter didn't hurt, so I thought.  And wrong again.  Nuts may be nutritious but  they are full of fat.  Now my favorite snack is pretzels which provide  the crunch and salt and  no to  very little fat.  And my glass of wine has no fat either.   

But back to the program and my spokesperson role.  Besides the interview the film crew followed me around though  the gym on my workouts on the elliptical and the  recumbent bike after the interview.  At least I had my hair combed and was not as "just got out of bed looking" as I routinely am when I go to the Y.  Why dress up and clean up to sweat it all off?  We appear with a brush through the hair grooming and begin our workouts.. But on interview day  I was looking a bit better still, not aware that I'd get the full paparazzi treatment which had folks in the busy sweaty gym pondering, "who's she?"  I did admonish the camera man that  it was not necessary to get  butt shots from behind me as he laughed he wanted every angle.  I  refused to don my swim suit for  them and allow the film to show the water logged me as well. Just when I thought we were done, they asked if I would return to the lobby and  entry to the Y  so they could film me walking in and talking...another natural talent for me, talking to as I told the reporter, I can talk to anybody about anything and or to anybody about nothing, which way do we go!"  They later told Nate that they had not had so much fun on an interview  for a long time and proclaimed me, " an awesome natural."  Aww, watch out now I'm puffing up!

 But the kicker was yesterday at Zumba class--Monday morning with my hair combed and reverting to my "just out of bed au naturel look" as we rehearsed a new Zumba routine, Nate, the Y's marketing director,  appeared with  the same film crew, pointed me out and there they were as was I, film at 11.  What could I do but keep on dancing!  The instructor told the class, "we have a celebrity in our midst, blame Ms P M." I have been explaining to the ladies ever since.  Now we have our viewing celebration party coming up soon as it shows on TV and the news which will be sometime in March.  I have a lot of explaining to do all the time now just like today at Yoga, "hey did you bring the film crew along?"  Glad to say, no it's just us.  But it's a;; abput working it and it's all good for the Y and for ourselves.     

For more information talk to the YMCA near you to learn about this excellent program based on extensive national research through the National Institutes for Health.  . It's healthy for you.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Doing what it takes to triump in the battles of the bulges

Autumn colors different around  town.
Partial color changes, early leaf drop, 
I've  had a fairly healthy lifestyle over the years and yet it is not enough, so to step it up, I  enrolled at the YMCA sponsored diabetes prevention program at the advice of my doctor who commented that the past two years my fasting blood glucose levels had risen.  While not yet to a stage considered medically "pre-diabetic" he advised, "don't let this get away and take your good health."  I have some family history of diabetes so I do not want to go there and will avoid it with all my power. Well, I also avoid the scale like the plague but was aware of carting along some excess poundage  because my clothes did not fit as well.  My annual doctor's check up (or any medical visit) involves encountering my enemy, the scale;  I could go in with a broken arm and I would be weighed first.  The pain of reality is diminished slightly  though because the pounds are no longer visible instead a metric version is displayed these days which gives me a content moment, being blissfully unaware of my weight in metrics. That lasts until the nurse translates it to  pounds for me or leaves the chart and I see the conversion.  I am a "nosey" inquisitive person so I always look or ask her.   Well my annual check up this July followed our month long trip in the motor home to New York and Pennsylvania which involved good times, good food, good drinks, good friends. 
Mid morning "snack" of immense cinnamon rolls
at Braeburn Lodge, Alaska

There in is the culprit, the food, always. Why does so much of social life revolve around food, meals, snacks, treats.  Food is all over everywhere.  It is no wonder we have an obesity problem.  Most of us eat way too much. Our trip to Alaska involved more food than I could consume in any given  setting and less physical exercise daily than that which I routinely do, so those pounds joined my body.  But not to fear back home, again it is boot camp, baby, I cannot allow that poundage to become overly attached to me.  BTW, the other half  of this household seldom battles weight and is one of those fortunate people who can eat whatever.  Even he, did some cut back to trim back after the trip because he is very conscious about weight gain and will not go there. 

While I battle poundage, the  last maybe 20years especially, and acknowledge my metabolism is not what it used to be when I could eat half a bucket of KFC chicken and not gain an ounce. 

This is week 5 of the 16 week program; my doctor will retest my fasting blood  glucose in  December when I expect a clean slate, "ya done good girl".  This program developed by the American Diabetes Association after significant research and clinical trials is administered by local YMCA's country wide.  Like anything, results require commitment  Changing habits takes time.This multi faceted approach (food target and physical activity) involves a weekly meeting, a program lecture and participation, recording  every bite and morsel into our food journal  along with  amount of daily exercise, daily weight, any issues or concerns.  We turn these journals in at each meeting to our group leader who returns them the next week with helpful comments.  She has advised me to eat more and use those 33 grams of fat each day to avoid yo yo bounce dieting.  Yeah!  Eat more, slow down the loss which they set at only 15 pounds for me, but I set at 20. We have these dandy graphs to track our weekly weights, officially what her scale shows and yes, we weigh in every week. I still have not made friends with the scale. 

Because we meet at 6:00PM which  would be  right at  or before our dinner time.  I learned after weighing in the first time to not eat my dinner until after class.  There in is another mystery--how can I gain 3  pounds when I don't eat three pounds of food at a meal?  Yet, there's that dreaded scale lying in wait to annoy me.  There are about 20 other participants in the program with all their varying tales and excuses.    

 The sessions are interesting and I am reeducating myself in a lot of healthy food lifestyle choices.  We count total fat grams for which my daily allowance is 33 very easy to reach when eating cheeses (one of my favorite foods) and other non-essential things. My daily lunch or  midday snack was always apple, cheese and  maybe some crackers.  Now it might be a sandwich, apple, yogurt and only an ounce of cheese, that's a 1 inch cube.  I could eat 10 of those no problem.  So it is a process of learning or relearning.  I have indeed become a "fat detective" and carefully consider whether an indulgence is too costly a price to pay, in fat grams. So far I have dropped 12 pounds and the program has me stepped up to increasing my walking to many miles a day instead of just one or two, interspersing some jogging on the track, and finally  adding water aerobics, lap swimming and Zumba classes and toning at the Y where we have a free membership with this program.  Our weather has cooled down a lot so it is good to have the option of indoor classes at the Y.  
Wooly caterpillars abound; legend predicts winter by the
middle red, the head represents remaining time of autumn
and the tail the length of spring. 

So it goes with a step up in physically challenging activities and carefully paying attention to foods.  I doubt I will ever befriend that scale, but keeping healthy is my goal, healthy aging.  I love it when folks think I am much much younger than my 68 years. A healthier lifestyle, that's the choice here.  Doing what it takes.  This endeavor is requiring that we delay snow birding south until January; ironic in that now that we have no responsibilities of caring for elderlies, this old gal gets tied up in  a delay.  Such is life in retirement.