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I don’t do ‘New Year’s Resolutions’. But this year I am determined to make some needed progress toward a healthier me.
The problem? My chair is trying to kill me. I am not an athletic person. I work long hours at my computer— sometimes 12-plus hours a day. In my late 40’s I found the core strength I took for granted when I was younger was diminishing, which is a normal condition of mid-life. It is also a risk factor.
So… I’m fighting back.
My resolution? To be healthier.
- I joined a gym. Yup, I did it. My family is still in shock. My current plan is to walk, do yoga or go to the gym every 2-3 days.
- I’m taking vitamins.
- I’m eating healthier.
- I’m cutting back on junk foods.
- I’m increasing my water consumption. Even one glass of water is a huge increase for me. Seriously.
My goal is to be moderate.
It’s not all about the weight. It’s about being healthier. I have embraced my graying hair and crow’s feet. I have made my peace with a larger clothing size. So what. It happens… to most people, no less. It’s not important and I want to age with grace.
But… That does not mean I need to be unhealthy. I will be healthier if I make some better choices. In the process I expect I will gradually shaved off a few pounds. No matter what, I’m sure I will feel better, have more energy, and be healthier overall.
Why I refuse to diet.
After engaging in ‘eating disorder’ type behavior in high school I stopped dieting in my early 20’s. After about 1-2 years my metabolism recovered from the rollercoaster, and I maintained a healthy weight with no issue until my metabolism changed at around 50 — at which point I gradually gained weight. Yup, a classic menopause side-effect.
After my roller-coaster weight experience while I was dieting, and after watching the same thing happen almost inevitably to dieting friends, I am not a fan of dieting in most cases. I think it messes up your metabolism and makes you feel deprived. We want to lose weight quickly (because it’s more rewarding and we hate to wait for things), but we don’t learn to embrace the changes that would maintain a healthy weight. It’s a marathon, not a race.
Plus our body may think we’re starving if we diet harshly (which I always did) and kick into survival mode. This can involve storing fat, burning muscle, and other bad things that work against our goal of losing weight permanently. Not good.
Ever hear of “set point weight“? Your body apparently has a weight range that it considers appropriate for you, and “whenever your weight changes too much, your brain will intervene to push it back to what it thinks is the correct weight for you.” Fascinating stuff.
Progress is our friend.
Move forward realistically.
Mindfully choose what you consume, and you will soon make new habits. When you choose healthy foods more often, it effects your cravings. Before you know it, you may find yourself craving a salad or healthy meal or snack over a dessert — not always, but more often. You can learn to work with your body, not against it.
- Choose baked or steamed over fried (veggies, meat, etc.).
- Eat one roll instead of two.
- If you were going to eat three cookies, savor one or two cookies instead. Progress.
- Eat more veggies than meat or starch in your meal or snack.
- Eat less and more mindfully in the evening (after 7pm).
Get up and move around. Work exercise — even if it is simple and humble — into your routine. Consult your doctor about what the best options are for you. Appropriate exercise will make you feel better, increase your energy and stamina, and improve your overall health.
- If you walked around the block instead of having no exercise that day, you’ve made progress.
- If you go to a gym and walk on the tread mill for even a short time, progress.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Try yoga — start out simple (or stay simple). It is extremely effective and can even be relaxing. (Don’t skip the warm up and cool-down!)
- If you sit at a desk all day, get up and stretch your legs and walk to the bathroom or down the hall occasionally.
In My Humble Opinion
I have come to the non-expert opinion that the best route to achieving a healthy weight is an inch at a time. If you take vitamins, eat less unhealthy foods, eat more healthy foods, and exercise, your weight and fitness level should inch slowly and more permanently toward a healthy weight, and you will feel better. Makes sense to me.
But… be realistic. Your advisable healthy weight, dietary habits, and exercise plan may be different than you anticipate. Be wise and consult your doctor.
Why am I sharing this?
My goal is to encourage others, and perhaps for a bit of accountability. About 10 months ago I wrote a couple of blog articles that began this adventure: 10 Ways to Stay Healthy If You Work at a Computer All Day and My Struggle With Balance. I am on a journey of sorts, and I would love to hear your story as well. If you would like to share your feedback or your story, please feel free to by scrolling to the bottom of this page and sharing in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you!
Resource Links: Food for thought.
- Why Dieting Doesn’t Usually Work
- What Happens To Your Brain When You Go On A Diet
- The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat
- Why Diets Make Us Fat: The Unintended Consequences of Our Obsession With Weight Loss
- The Truth About How Your Metabolism Changes As You Age
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Please note: I am not a health professional and am not offering professional advice in this article. Consult your physician before making dietary or exercise routine changes.