When I Made Getting Healthy a Priority
This is my story about when I finally faced the need to lose weight and get healthy. It is no fun being overweight and I hope my story will encourage you.
In this post I share what I have learned about weight loss, and the battle to keep the pounds off.
I hope it will entertain you and maybe even inspire you.
Everyone turns 49 years old
In March of 2007 I turned 49 years old. No big deal…it happens to almost everyone. But it was the year I had a wake-up call which initiated a change that has stayed with me until today.
Also, in this year our family planned a get-together which would include a trip to hike up Half Dome in Yosemite.
We live in the central valley of California and one of the biggest blessings of where we live is that we are 1.5 hours away from Yosemite National Park.
Over the years we have made many trips into the park enjoying the beauty and wonders of God’s creation in Yosemite.
Climbing Half Dome
When it comes to climbing Half Dome, I had made two other trips to the mountain when the three oldest kids were teenagers. One time we made it all the way to the top, and the other time we made it to the base of Half Dome unable to go up the final leg because the cable had already been taken down for the season.
210 pounds and counting
The plan was to make the trip in May of 2007. The only difference this time was that I was very over weight and out of shape.
At this period ofmy life I weighed over 210 pounds, which considering my height is very over weight. I am not sure how much more over 210 pounds I hit because once I hit 210, I stopped weighing myself.
That was in January of 2007. I was too discouraged to weigh myself after that for a long time that year.
I was excited to have all the kids home and to have a positive experience together as a family.
I made a few feeble attempts to lose some of the weight before the trip, but I really didn't make any headway.
My youngest son, who was still home with us at the time, went with me to make a couple of practice hikes in order to get in better shape for the big hike.
Mama Bear with two cubs
On one of our practice hikes, we even encountered a mother bear with two of her cubs on the trail.
What did we do when we saw the bear? Well, we jumped onto a rock off the side of the trail and began to wave our arms as we tried to scream and make lots of noise.
It is amazing how your voice stops working when you are scared to death! Anyway, I guess we made enough noise that the mama bear barked to her cubs and they all ran up the side of the mountain away from us in just a matter of seconds.
After that experience with mama bear, we decided our practice hike was over and it was time to head back to the valley.
As we started back, we went from a fast walk to a run thinking the bear was right on our tail.
When we finally stopped running and started walking to catch our breath, I told my son it was crazy to think we could outrun a bear.
He said, “I wasn’t trying to outrun the bear – just you!”
The big hike
In May of 2007, during Memorial day weekend we made the trip to Yosemite with the plan to climb Half Dome. I tried to get my weight down for the trip but I was still very over weight. With ace bandages around my calf muscles for support I was as ready as I was going to get.
The night before the hike, we stayed at a hotel close to the park so we could hit the trail bright and early.
Hiking Half Dome
A hike in Yosemite is incredible, spectacular and almost beyond words.
- Huge granite mountains,
- Amazing landscapes
- Big open amazing skys
The weather that day was postcard perfect….and we all made it to the top!
It is a dangerous hike, and there have been hikers who have fallen to their deaths on the cables. So if you want to make the hike be sure you understand what you are getting into. (For info about Half Dome, click here)
The spectacular view from the top of Half Dome is like nowhere else in the world! The hike is not only breath taking due to the elevated climb, but the view from the top is also breath taking!
I made the hike with my kids out of pure determination. I was not in shape at all andI just forced myself to keep going until the top. I didn’t want to be the party pooper.
Make the change before you need to
But after our weekend experience on Half Dome I started to think that now was the time to take my health seriously and really start to lose my fat.
Body for Life Challenge
My wife suggested a 12-week plan called Body for Life. There is a website with all kinds of testimonies and stories about men and women who took the 12 week challenge and they show their before and after pictures.
The website also sells supplements such as protein powders, protein bars, etc…which is their business side of the plan.
The book that goes with the program is Body for Life by Bill Phillips. Phillips started the supplement company and then sold it to the current company. Eating for Life by Phillips is his recipe book that goes along with his plan.
The book, Body for Life, made sense to me and it became my guide to losing the weight I wanted to shed during the 12-week period. I read the book almost every day during my twelve weeks for inspiration.
In July, 2007 I began my 12 weeks on the plan.
6 small meals per day
The book is very easy to read and has a great concept. Eat 6 small meals per day: One carbohydrate and one protein with each meal. And then you are allowed a FREE day once a week, which for me was on Sunday. On your free day you can have anything and as much as you want.
This was a great plan for me because my food problem was junk food. I ate a lot of fast food and junk snacks on the road, as my work kept me in my truck and I traveled a lot of miles each day.
On the Body for Life plan I stuck to eating healthy Monday through Saturday and then I piled on the junk food on my free day. After a couple of weeks into my twelve week program, I was making some progress but I began to realize that my Sunday free day needed to be adjusted.
So slowly I cut back the free day to be more reasonable. By the sixth week, my Sunday free day was pretty much a healthy eating day just like the other six days.
The good news was I was breaking my junk food habit and taking my food intake seriously.
At the same time, I became dedicated to daily exercise like walking, running, swimming and biking and also I started weightlifting.
I was very focused and took this 12-week plan seriously. Reading health books for recipe ideas and exercise tips. And all the effort did paid off. At the end of the 12 weeks I had lost over 40 pounds, getting down to 168 pounds.
This diet, like climbing Half Dome, It took pure determination and I pushed myself to make to my goal.
What to do after you accomplish your goal?
But when I finished the twelve weeks and I made my goal (which was 169 pounds) I felt like hum…Now what do I do?
It was kind of a big letdown now that I had accomplished what I wanted.
I remember the day after I had made my goal and the 12-week challenge was accomplished. I did what I really wanted to do. I got saltine crackers, peanut butter and honey, and ate as much as I wanted!
I really "pigged out" in celebration!
I had made my goal using pure determination, but I had not changed my daily habits. I made the goal of losing the 40 pounds, but once I hit the goal I wasn’t prepared mentally to know how to keep the weight off.
What I have learn over the past 7 years
In the past seven years, since I began to take my health seriously I have learned a lot about diets, exercise, and motivation. As humans, emotion plays a big part in our daily lives.
We are emotional creatures, and I don't mean that in a negative way. Because emotions play a big part in our daily lives, It is impossible to just "go on a diet" without working on your emotional part of life.
I have learned that motivation, meaning and purpose are the most important elements in order to maintain weight loss. If you can figure out your why then the weight loss will take care of itself.
You see, it is not normal or humanly possible to stay on a diet as we define diets in America.
The best thing you can do for your health is to stop dieting.
Setting a "goal" should not be your goal
The Body for Life book is a very balanced diet and is not an extreme concept at all. It should be something we all could do without much trouble.
But the truth of the matter is that many people who bought the book never finished reading it. Or they finished reading the book but never tried the 12-week challenge. Or they start the 12-week challenge but never finish the full twelve weeks. Those people who do finish the full twelve weeks and lose weight…gain a lot of the weight back over a period of time.
I did go up and down with my weight after I hit my goal but I never went all the way back to where I was.
But it bothered me that it was so hard to stay on a diet.
Why is it so hard to stay on a diet?
I remember one day, when I was on the treadmill, and not being happy with myself because I fell off my diet again, I said to myself, If only I had self-control, I would not have to worry about being on a diet.
Learning better habits in now my goal
And then it hit me. My goal should not be a number on a scale or a special diet but my goal should be learning good healthy daily habits.
This change of thinking gave me a higher purpose and a more powerful motivation. It took my health mission to a new level, which had more meaning and focus. The weight scale or a special food diet was no longer my motivation.
A higher purpose or "know your why"
If you are going to make life changing strides in your life, you have to have a strong purpose and reason. Just being on a diet and stepping on a scale is not very purposeful.
So yes, I did make it all the way to the end of the 12-week challenge and I lost over 40 pounds.
It took 100% determination and focus to the extreme.
Just like climbing Half Dome, I was 100% focused and dedicated.
But just like it would be very hard to climb Half Dome every week, it is hard to stay on a restrictive diet every week.
So what should be your goal if it is not to be on a "diet"?
Habits: the good ones will make a difference
The key to weight loss and good health is not a diet that works, but changing your daily habits. Work on your daily habits and then your weight loss and good health will be a natural outcome.
Start small with one daily habit change. Then slowly add another. Start today. Forget dieting. Seek after good daily habits concerning your food choices and exercise and then watch your weight and health change for good.
How does a healthy person eat?
Ask yourself-If I were a healthy and athletic type of person, what would I eat today?...What exercise would I do today? Once you figure that out-start doing it-today!
Don’t wait until someday in the future when things settle down or for sure don’t wait until next Monday!
Now I focus on habits...not "staying on a diet"
My plan of attack now days is to develop good habits. This sounds simple I know, but I have found that it is more noble than dieting.
Building good habits gives me a better mind set for my goal of good health.
Be willing to start with small baby steps. Just start with one new habit before you move on to another.
I know it sounds more glamorous to set huge goals and plans in order to lose the weight. But think about it-If that kind of thinking and plan worked, why is the success rate so low?
So here are some thoughts about what I have learned over the past seven years about weight loss.
- Food is the most important factor in weight loss
- You cannot exercise enough to erase overeating
- Don’t go “on a diet”
- Change your diet. Ask yourself-How would a healthy person eat today?
- Setting huge weight loss goals is not effective
- The weight loss battle is won or lost in your mind first
- Humans are emotional
- Emotions are a big factor in our daily life
- Good daily habits are the key to weight loss
- Change your bad habits for good habits
- Thinking healthy is more important than exercise
- Exercise will help make you feel better
- Monday is the worst day of the week to “start a diet”
- Never “start a diet”
- Realize what is most important about weight loss
- Excuses will not help you lose weight
- Don’t fool yourself
- There is not an easy button to push to do the right thing
- There is no such thing as a "magic food" that will melt fat while you sleep
- Sleep is just as important as exercise
- Exercise make you feel like a million dollars
- Just because you exercise doesn't mean you can overeat
- You can lose weigh without exercise
- What you put in your mouth is your own choice
- Don’t blame others
- Daily pushups are a good daily habit to form
- You don’t need a gym membership to exercise
- A lot of exercise can happen in 30 minutes per day
- I am responsible for myself
- Weigh yourself everyday
- The best exercise to do each day is the one you will enjoy doing
- Enjoy your food so that you will not feel deprived
- Eat real food
- Your body is made of mostly water
- Drink water…lots and lots of water
- It is normal to have good and bad days
- The perfect diet that “works” is a myth
- Change is possible
- Change before you have to
- It is never too late to change
- Changing your habits is not easy but possible
- God made food for our enjoyment
- Excuses and blame will make you fat and unhealthy
- It feels good when you eat good
- It feels good when you exercise
- Having a why and real purpose or meaning to be healthily is the key to success
- Today is the best day of the week to eat healthy
- Today is the best day of the week to exercise
- Today is the best day of the week to go to bed at a good hour
- Healthy eating and exercise is a lifestyle habit not a diet you start…and then stop