To be or not to be Fit

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

All around me people are taking steps towards good health and fitness. As you all know I am a big fan of the pool and really feel aquafit is good in so many ways. Many others feel the same as class was packed today in spite of the fact that it was pouring rain. Even Dick made it out to his first class which was great because Paul went because he was going. After a great work out we all enjoyed some homemade peanut butter fudge that Monel brought to celebrate Madame's birthday that just passed.

The Lime Biggest Looser Challenge is on right now and people are competing to see who can loose the most and get healthy. Monel who has become a regular at the pool and is taking part in the challenge sent in a couple of him getting fit climbing the steps at Lamanai with Ruth and some of his family. (The second pic is him and his niece Nicole on the temple steps at Lamanai.) Helda is also taking the challenge and she is loosing as well. The lucky winner is going to get a nice prize to celebrate their weight loss with a shopping spree at Sundancer / Moondancer for some stylin new clothes.

The following letter is one I got from my net friend Pax the other day she has been battling with health - weight and fitness and finally has found herself overcoming obstacles in this area.

She sent me this entry form she filled out for a weight loss contest at her gym and I found it so inspiring that I asked her permission to post it. All through her letter she mentions positive benefits of exercise and loosing weight - everything from not needing as much medication - feeling better inside and out - gaining true understanding of a balanced diet and more.

I hope it inspires all of you who are slugging it out at the gym or where ever you choose to get your fit on.

April 17, 2009

HISTORY: First I'd like to start a little history with how I joined Gold's Gym and joined the transformation challenge. I knew I would be facing the scale at the doctor's office soon and started everything imaginable to try and lose weight. Nothing was working. So, I broached the subject with my primary care physician. While she supported my choice she asked me to confer with my cardiologist. December 3, 2008 I got on a scale for the first time in several months. I weighed in at 306lbs. The cardiologist was supportive in my choice but asked me to do a little more research first. The conclusion I came to was that gastric bypass is a drastic and permanent change to a body that often only temporarily resolves the problem.

I'd rather eat as though I had the operation than to do any permanent damage to my body. In the end, I realized that a strict diet and exercise were the only sound alternative. As I approach my 48th birthday within the next couple of months I can not help but think that this is a significant year due to my family cardiac history. My mother had a heart attack and died at 48; and my brother experienced a heart attack at 48 as well. I guess to say that I am motivated for this challenge would be an understatement.

OBSTACLES: I have many medical conditions that have made it both difficult to lose weight and difficult to exercise: Diabetes, Hypothyroidism, Hernia, High Cortisol Levels, Perimenopause, High Blood Pressure, Fibromyalgia, Depression, Osteo-Arthritis, Frayed Rotator Cuff, Carpal Tunnel, Cubital Tunnel, Peripheral Neuropathy, Degenerative Disk Disease, Migraines, Narcolepsy, Premature Ventricular Contractions, Hernia and Morbid Obesity are what come to mind. I also frequently use a walker for the first hour and the last few hours of my day.

DIET: My diet goal has been 1200 calories a day with a 40-40-20 (Protein, Carb, Fat) ratio. While I often come close to this, it seems more often than not It is closer to 60-30-10 as I try to avoid heavy carbs from about 3pm on in my day. My appetite is greatly reduced and I often find the need to supplement with a protein shake in the evening to keep my protein count up to where it should be to minimize muscle loss. In fact, these past 3 months have showed marked improvement in muscle definition and strength. I've also changed from basically eating once a day to eating small meals every few hours.

WORKOUT: Medical conditions started me in the pool as water aerobics was about the only exercise my body could tolerate. I've slowly added to my routine to the point that I found with a VLCD (very low calorie diet) it became necessary to split my workout between morning and evenings to avoid excessive fatigue.

A typical week for me now is 2-3 hours of water aerobics on Monday and Wednesday mornings. 1-2 hours of water aerobics on Tuesday and Thursday mornings along with an hour of Tai Chi for Arthritis. Friday and Saturday I may or may not take a water class. Typically, you will find me in the gym in the evenings (6 or 7 days) weight lifting. After about 45 minutes of weights, I do half hour on the treadmill followed by an hour on the recumbent bike. I try to include a late evening of steam, water jogging (stretching) and sauna before bed. I probably over-train to some extent. I realize this can work against the weight loss at times by boosting the cortisol levels. However, I have years of bad health habits to correct and am rapid approaching an age where it can make a huge difference.

TRANSFORMATION CHALLENGE: I started the fourth flight of Gold's Transformation Challenge at the end of January. My beginning weight on January 23,2009 was 265lbs. - 41lbs lighter than when I saw my cardiologist in December. By March 3, 2009 (3 months to the date) I was down to 248lbs. for a loss of 58lbs in 90 days. I had the good fortune of joining Gold's right as the transformation challenge began. Consequently, I had the help of Robert one of Gold's finest personal trainers to help me with my diet and workout plans. Robert has been a treasure in adjusting my workout to strengthen my areas of weakness and altering my workout to fit my disabilities. His explanation of nutrition was invaluable as for the first time I truly understood the importance of a balanced diet and how carbs, fats and protein need to work together.

SUCCESSES: I am expecting to weigh in with approximately a 50 weight loss at the end of this challenge(91 total weight loss since December). My diet has changed drastically and I am eating far more often and healthier than ever in my life. My doctor has been constantly amazed and thrilled to watch the muscle definition emerge. For the first time in over a year of struggling with diabetes I have had an A1C (blood glucose reading) under 7% as recommended by the American Diabetes Association. I've gone from taking eliminated 3 different diabetes medications to completely controlling my diabetes by diet alone. My blood pressure has reduced drastically. I've gone from taking 6 blood pressure medications to 1. When I started the treadmill I was hitting a pulse of 152 within 3 minutes. Now, I am topping off with a pulse of 125 during my entire duration on the treadmill. While I used to fall frequently, I am finding this is happening with far less frequency.

I still have my disabilities; but the Transformation Challenge has taught me how to adapt and live with them. My attitude towards food has transformed as well. I find myself constantly reading labels Too many ingredients and too many empty calories find me putting food back on the grocery shelf. Rather than looking at food as a source of entertainment and comfort, I now view it primarily as fuel for the body. While others may disagree, I can't say that I have become a gym junkie. But, I now understand the necessity of chosing to get up and move. I guess the old phrase use it or lose it comes to mind. When I started the Transformation Challenge I thought of it primarily as a physical transformation. I now understand it has been a far bigger transformation than anticipated. It has been a transformation of mind, body, thoughts and health.

Before I made the decision to change my life through diet and exercise I was also facing some pretty difficult emotional and psychological issues. I have struggled with depression, anxiety and poor body image for longer than I care to remember. Sometimes, the mere idea of getting out of bed was an ordeal. I seldom left the house, unless I had a medical appointment, or an important errand to take care of. I did not want to deal with people, or stressful situations, so I would choose to do my grocery shopping in the middle of the night. I avoided interacting with people as much as possible.

SUMMARY: My desire to improve my health and work out regularly, has challenged my world view and motivated me to go out and face the world, even when I am feeling depressed, anxious and in great pain. This wasn't easy, especially when I first started. I have learned a great deal about myself and others as a result. I have made great progress in coping with my shyness and fear of people. I find myself enjoying my interactions with people at the gym. I feel more positive about myself and I realize that I am not the only person struggling with obesity. Instead of feeling rejected, I have discovered that people can be very supportive and helpful. I have learned to open up more and I have discovered that people actually want to help.

I feel accepted by people and as a result, I also feel a greater sense of self acceptance. Instead of feeling powerless in the face of my disabilities, I feel that I have triumphed over adversity and gained a greater sense of self-esteem. I have also noticed that my attitude to life has become more positive. I see progress, and this has become an intrinsic reward. I have always been a strong willed person, but I now see that will can work against me, and that my stubbornness has held me captive for many years. Now, that same willfulness is what is helping me to keep moving forward even on the difficult days. I am beginning to like my body again and feel a sense of pride in my weight loss and muscle definition. I feel more attractive and therefore, also more confident.

My quest for better physical health has also improved my psychological health, and promoted a greater sense of well-being. I feel that these less quantifiable changes are the transformations that will have the greatest long-term benefits. I am still a person with disabilities, but these problems no longer define how I see myself. I can perceive them as challenges, but they no longer control me. I have reclaimed my personal power in ways I would never have believed possible. This is the most meaningful transformation of all, is a greater a sense of self-worth.

Pouring rain

Hanging out under the bridge before class

Ruthie joins in

Dick Carole and Ruthie

MMM fudge - everything in moderation

Dick and Carole

Paul Chunky and Ruth


Shopgirl said...

Thanks to you and Pax for sharing her story. It is truely an inspiration and not one just for getting fit but also applies to the struggles we sometimes have in life in general. Once we set our minds to it we can find the way to overcome and work through any obstacle in our path. Congratulations Pax!

tacogirl said...

So true Shopgirl - I agree congratulations Pax your results are amazing