Andy vs. The Cheeseburger: My Change In Course

So I had this moment in the fall of 2014.  Actually it was the culmination of lots of moments.  Years of putting in long hours at work, raising a family, playing hard… you know, life stuff.  Unfortunately through all of the hectic day-to-day life stuff I became very good at neglecting my body.  It wasn’t so much that I purposely set out on this course, I just never really made my personal health a priority.

Watch what I eat?  You bet I would, sometimes I’d even take before and after pictures of that mega meat BBQ platter!  There was the 30+ pounds I added on while my wife was pregnant with our first child.  Boy was that fun!  I love to eat so living with a pregnant person was a literal dream come true.  When she ate,  I ate and larger portions to boot.  The obvious problem with this scenario is that while she was growing a human being that would eventually leave her body… I was not.  Then there were the years spent working evenings where dinner would consist of pizza or/sometimes and double cheeseburgers.  Followed up with an after work dinner around midnight, washed down with a few beers.

Exercise?  Um… thanks, but that is not really my thing.  If my jeans don’t fit I can get a bigger pair, that’s why they make bigger pairs, right?  Plus I read somewhere that dad bods and man boobs are in!

In October of 2014 I had received the latest results from my annual health screening.  This year’s results were worse than the last, which were worse than the previous year.  It was the same old story; my bad cholesterol was up, good cholesterol was down, my blood pressure was in the pre-hypertension danger zone and my BMI rating even had the nerve to suggest that I was overweight.  As I sifted through all the warnings and red markings that made my test results look like an old elementary spelling test, there was one category that really grabbed my attention: glucose.  Glucose, as the results explained, is the measure of sugar in your blood and the evaluation of your risk for diabetes.  The target score was between 65-99 mg/dL but my score came in at 101.  I have no idea why that number grabbed hold of my attention, certainly there were far worse results.  I barely missed the normal range and honestly that might have been one of my better categories.  But for some reason that one stuck and that was enough for me.  I had officially joined the ranks of the pre-diabetic and it was 100% my fault.  There were no underlying issues, this score… all of these scores were a direct result of my years of neglecting my body.  I needed to make some changes before I was forced to make some changes.

So where do you begin when you are unsure how to even find the starting line?  You start by binge watching Netflix of course!  Okay so maybe this was driven by more than just a hint of procrastination, but you’ve got to start somewhere!  Netflix has a wealth of really good documentaries on the subjects of food, health and wellness (I’ll be sharing some of my favorites in an upcoming post) and this really did provide a great starting point as well as some much needed inspiration.

The next step was diet… ugh.  One of the best documentaries that I watched was Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (http://www.fatsickandnearlydead.com/) where Joe Cross shares the story of how juicing helped to turn his life around.  While I didn’t go on the extreme juice fast that Joe outlines in his film, my wife did buy me a smoothie blender for Christmas that year and I’ve used it nearly everyday since.  I started spending a lot more time in the produce area at the grocery store.  There is actually a lot more there than just lettuce and baby carrots… who knew?!?!?  I started blending a smoothie every morning.  I found some basic recipes to get me started and then as I got braver I started concocting my own green masterpieces.  Some were really terrible, others not too bad and some were actually really good!   Along with a smoothie every morning I gradually started incorporating more veggies into my lunches and dinners while at the same time reducing my portions.  The portion reduction was actually really easy considering I had a wonderfully unhealthy habit of overeating at nearly every meal (plus when you are mixing in more veggies you may be less likely to run back for seconds).  I began subbing ingredients with healthier alternatives; vegetable oil was replaced with unsweetened applesauce, whole wheat flour made our waffles a bit darker – this was met with some resistance from the kids.  To this day I still get asked if we are having “regular or healthy waffles”… baby steps.

So I’m eating lighter and healthier and so far I haven’t had a total meltdown.  Now it’s time to kick it up a notch.  Monday,  Wednesday and Friday were strength training.  I dusted off the Total Gym 1000 that had been in storage since that week 15 years ago when I decided that I was going to get shredded.  The difference was this time I started to use it; hey if it worked for Chuck Norris it could work for me too, right?  Tuesday,  Thursday and the weekends were reserved for the dreadmill… Ugh.  I started slow,  like really slow.  I would run a mile then stop and celebrate the heck out of it, riding that high all day long.  Gradually it became a mile run and some walking, then two miles, then three, then more!

Those first few weeks the pounds were falling off!  After a while the progress slowed a bit but it was still progress! After a month or so friends and coworkers started to notice and of course everyone had a comment or opinion, most of the time it was positive.  Although there was concern from some that I had fallen ill… I guess it was more likely that I had contracted a disease rather than deciding to get healthy?

Slowly but surely all of these uncomfortable changes started to get easier, they started to become habit. I lost somewhere around 45 pounds and for the first time in my adult life I had to buy SMALLER clothes. This is great, however, the best part came in 2015 when I received the results from that year’s health screening.  Every single category had improved!  Even better was that I fell into the normal range of each category… even the glucose!  With the healthy habits that I adopted I’ve managed to keep the weight off and keep moving forward.  After all,  it is a process and my journey continues.

Send me your stories, I’d love to hear them!

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