Losing weight…unfortunately nothing magical

Posted: July 19, 2009 in Miscellaneous
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A couple of Thanksgivings ago, I had some chest pain and ended up going into the emergency room. Now as it turns out, it wasn’t really anything. Heck, probably an anxiety attack for all I know. But it was the wake-up call that I needed to finally try to get into better shape. At that time, my weight was flirting with 220 lbs or so. Now my weight hovers around 165 lbs. Pretty good, right?

Now from time-to-time I get asked about what my secret is. I wished it was some magical formula that allowed you to do whatever you wanted and still lose weight. But unfortunately that’s not true, and as it turns out all that stuff that they say about better diet and regular exercise actually works. Food-wise, I am probably still no angel, but I definitely eat a lot better than I used to. I am not much on cooking, so I like to get the Weight Watchers, Healthy Choice tv dinners and then supplement those with some sort of meat and/or veggies (as those don’t have enough calories on their own). When I eat out, I like to refer to the “Eat This, Not That” website to help myself make better choices. Also, many places will have nutritional information posted on their own websites. Armed with the appropriate info, you can avoid most of the bad choices that can ruin any diet. I actually don’t feel that I am sacrificing much. I am eating stuff I like. Don’t get me wrong, if there weren’t consequences, I would choose the potato waffles over the fruit cup at Chick-fil-A every time. But it’s not like that I don’t like fruit and I am forcing myself to eat it. Fruit is good stuff.

For exercise, I started off just walking 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes or so. You know, just doing something, ANYTHING, will improve how you feel and help you lose weight. As I started losing the weight and getting into better shape, walking just didn’t seem like it was doing much for me anymore. So I figured I had two alternatives. One was to just walk more. I think that is probably fine, but the problem is that it is more time consuming. And with work and actuarial exams, I am not blessed with a whole lot of spare time. So the other alternative was…gasp…running! Now this is something that I couldn’t have even imagined doing a year ago. And how would I even go about starting to run. The last time I even tried, I was much younger, and my attempt didn’t last long before I burned out.

So first I found this simple program, which basically went like this. The first week you would walk for 4 minutes, then run for 1 minute, then walk for 4 minutes, and so forth and so forth for 30 minutes. The next week, you would walk for 3 minutes, then run for 2 minutes, then walk for 3 minutes, and so forth and so forth for 30 minutes. You would keep shifting your time each week until eventually you are running for all 30 minutes. I did that for 3 weeks, but by the forth week I knew I wasn’t ready to do 4 running, 1 walking intervals. So I switched to something called “Couch to 5k”, picking it up at the program’s 4th week. And that seems to be working out extremely well. I ran 25 minutes straight yesterday, and felt like I had enough in the tank to do more. So starting tomorrow, it’s 28 minutes. I plan on running a 5k in October, and everything seems on track. Better yet, it’s actually becoming a lot of fun, something I would have never imagined before. I think it helps that we have a pretty good sized group at work who runs during lunch. It’s a nice support system, and provides good camaraderie.

So that’s my “secret”, which really isn’t a secret at all. If anyone else has any tips or advice regarding eating or exercise (or you do happen to know some magical formula!), I would love to hear about it. In particular, I am having some trouble with side stiches when I run. If I can keep focused on my breathing, it tends to help, but if there is any other advice to be had, I am all ears…um, I guess I mean eyes, you can’t hear people talk on a blog!

Helpful websites:

Eat This, Not That

Couch to 5k

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