Back to it – do you ever really leave your habits beyond or do they just get put in a drawer to rear their head when you get lazy or life gets in the way?
For me, they have been in a drawer. (if you have come to this post from the newsletter, this is the video from the newsletter, so if you watched it there … skip down!)
3 1/2 years ago, I made a decision to get healthy. I was pushing 50 pretty hard and knew that if I didn’t get healthy very soon, it was going to be more and more difficult if not impossible to do so. In January of 2011, I started a program hosted and ran by Prevea Health and Western Racquet & Fitness Club called Executive Edge. It is a 12 week program designed to encourage corporate and community leaders to LeadWell by setting a positive example of health and wellness within their workplace. Each participant achieves a baseline score by undergoing a fitness and biometric health assessment.They then have 12 weeks to improve both both fitness and health scores. Winners are awarded for Best Overall Score and Most Improved in both Men’s and Women’s Divisions. My first year I was very very very close to getting “Most Improved,” but I missed … though that wasn’t why I joined the program.
By the end of year one, I’d lost 12 pounds and whole mess of inches. When I had my annual physical that summer, my biometrics were off-the-charts improved, so much so that my doctor asked me what I had done to make such a change. I told her she wouldn’t like it– no pill, no patch, no fad. I counted every calorie that went into my mouth and I moved into Western Racquet Club. My cholesterol had dropped over 50 points, my resting heart rate had dropped, my BMI dropped from obese to just .1 above the healthy range and I had gotten physically stronger than I had been in my whole life. But I wasn’t done.
Since my goal weight was to lose 40 pounds and to get my bodyfat down into a very healthy lean range, I decided to join Executive Edge for the 2012 year as well. It went well and I had great gains in strength, flexibility, endurance and in all of my health criteria. By the end of 2012 had lost a total of 30 pounds. I was working out regularly, not like I did during the Executive Edge program of course, but working out regularly at least 6-7 workouts per week. Sometimes, when I worked out I did 2 workouts in a day, say yoga and then a strength or cardio class, but I was working out very consistently. I would see people I hadn’t seen in a while and they would literally stop in their tracks (often with their mouth hanging open in shock) because of the difference they saw in me. I had lost over 50 inches overall – I still wasn’t at my goal weight, but I really didn’t know if my goal weight was even correct or not. I was seeing & feeling muscles I never had before. I can actually touch my body and feel my hip bones, my pelvic bones and my ribs without pushing in. Sometimes, when I wrap my arms around myself, I expect to have them stop, but they keep going because I am smaller. A lot smaller. It still surprises me.
You might have thought I had the whole habit change thing down, I know I did!
Unfortunately, life has a way of being – well – life. So between stress and life, and life and, well, stress, I put back on 9 pounds from my low in November of 2012 and that was in addition to the 8 pounds I still wanted to lose.
Some people, when they get under lots of stress, lose weight. NOT ME. I would make it great through the initial stages of some major crisis or Ice Age or something because my body releases lots of cortisol and decides to not burn many calories! Truth in advertising though, I do have to admit in addition to my workout schedule changing from 5-9 workouts a week to 3 or 4 workouts a week; I wasn’t eating as I needed to and had been doing. As in: I didn’t always eat breakfast and I didn’t eat a real dinner, I would just snack and have a couple of glasses of wine most days. So my food choices changed which of course changed the mix of what I had going on with my metabolism.
I also wasn’t sleeping well. Sleep is one of those funny things that you don’t think would make a difference to your health, but it does in a major way. What I’ve discovered is that when I sleep well, my entire system works better. I know you experts out there aren’t at all surprised, but for those of us layman, that doesn’t always make sense.
So, I got to just a few weeks ago and seeing my 52nd birthday coming really soon – in November. That has always been a goal point for me. Don’t ask me why “52” is a big deal. 50 wasn’t, but 52 just seems like … I don’t know … less ahead than behind? I can’t explain it, it is just a big deal for me and I decided I really wanted another push. About that time, I was having a meeting with the marketing team at Prevea since they are the title sponsor for our upcoming Live Healthy Brown County Health, Fitness, and Lifestyle Expo, September 27th & 28th at the KI Center in Green Bay. I mentioned Executive Edge during the meeting. On the way out of the meeting, Brian Lani, VP of Marketing for Prevea, asked if I wanted to be in Executive Edge again, it was starting the next week (last week!). I told him yes, he got me in contact with Brenda and within an hour I was scheduled to begin the 2014 session. This is an unusual one in the timing as they are normally the first four months of the year. But this is good timing for me – great timing in fact!
Last Tuesday, I did my initial assessment. The initial assessment was, shall I say, not a happy time. But! It really showed me where I am right now. More than just knowing the scale number is higher (which I knew) and that my new smaller clothes are tight (which I knew), but what is happening inside my body. My cholesterol is up, not into the unhealthy range – my ratios are still good but my bad cholesterol is higher than it should be; my resting heart rate is up as is my blood pressure, again neither of them are in the unhealthy range but they are up for me and that is unacceptable. My body fat percentage is also up – which is an indicator of not just the weight increase but also the loss of lean muscle mass I had built up. All of the things that I wanted to fix – and did fix – have gone the other way. Those annoyingly patient and tenacious bad habits!
My goal this time through Executive Edge is to win. It isn’t like a race where I can see my competitors on the track, so it is really just a massive push and commitment to myself and if I get to my goals and still don’t win, I will be beyond thrilled. But, I am a bit competitive.
Now all that said, I’m still in the healthy ranges on everything so the gains I made through changing my bad habits for better ones and creating a new lifestyle over nearly 3 years weren’t lost or for naught. I have nothing going on that would cause any medical professional concern. Well, other then my BMI and my body fat percentage. Even those are very close to the healthy range. I am in a much better physical place than I was before I started this four years ago. The physical condition I am in now is miles ahead of where I was all through the first part of this century. In fact better than it was through most of my life back to my teen years. But the fact remains, this it is not where I wanted to be – or where I want to be. I don’t particularly care about BMI per se, it misses everything about body frame size, which of course plays a huge part in calculating healthy weight for a person; but, even if I ignore that number, I’m still not where I need to be and I know it.
I know I am going into my heavy health care years and the time in my life where things may start to go wrong. Well, let’s face it, will start to go wrong. The body is a machine after all and mine is getting up there in miles. So, now is the time. Now is the time to fix it. So I am. We just finished week one of Executive Edge and I’m down 1.8 pounds, though I realize I haven’t been drinking nearly enough water to push through all the extra exercise I’ve have been doing and the good eating I have been doing. I also have a very sore muscles. I’ve done some very hard workouts this week and last Saturday I was part of a Partner Play training session led by Kari Merrill, an amazing trainer and woman as well as the Group Fitness Director at Western, and three other great women. It was the hardest hour I have ever spent working out in my life. Thanks, Kari, Vikki, MarLynn & Amy!
So my focuses are: maintaining the exercise schedule I have been doing this last week (3 strength training workouts a week, 3 cardio training workouts a week and 3 yoga workouts a week; staying within my calorie allowance by eating good food; getting enough proteins and potassium; and getting good quality sleep. Strength, cardiovascular improvement and flexibility; proper portion control and food choices along with quality, plentiful sleep. I know those are the keys to long-term good health and reduced risk of injury. Oddly enough, you would think with as much as I’ve been working out I would be exhausted. But, I have had a terrible time sleeping this week. I think it is my body adjusting to all of the changes. Last night, I slept 8 hours – that was exciting!
I invite you to join along with me. You don’t have to be on the crazy train like I’m on, doing 9 workouts a week, but I encourage you to do what you need to do for yourself. The national recommendation from ALL of the experts is a minimum of 5 days a week, 30 minutes minimum of good active exercise per session. Eat fruits & vegetables, eat whole grains, eat good healthy fats (a non-fat diet is not healthy either!) a low and healthy fats diet is very appropriate.
Over the next 12 weeks, I will be sharing my journey, my struggles, my frustrations – I will also be sharing links and great information to help you, wherever you are. I hope this helps and you will check back to see what is going on. I encourage you to subscribe to our Live Healthy Brown County newsletter. I will add a link to this week’s edition at the bottom of this post. If you want to subscribe, there is a button to do so in the newsletter. We will get you on the list. It has articles for information & education, a healthy recipe of the week, runs and walks coming in the Greater Green Bay area (some outside the direct area as well) to get you and your family outside and active while we still can here in Northeastern Wisconsin. It also includes volunteer opportunities. I will spend a post in the next several weeks about the importance of volunteering. It is all part of your mental/social health and those are key to good health as well.
Until next week … have a great week – a great healthy week. Live healthy!
PS If you like the LHBC newsletter and are new to it, you can catch up on previous editions HERE