Once I finished high school, I was always on the heavy side when it comes to my weight. About three years ago I walked up a long flight of stairs and found myself completely out of breath. That was when I knew I had to make a change.
The first thing I told myself was that “you did not end up like this overnight and you cannot reverse it overnight.” I established very realistic goals for myself to keep things in a healthy perspective. For example, it seems that everyone focuses on losing weight when they realize they need to make a change around being healthy. I had been there and done that numerous times and it was always a short-lived experience. I began by focusing on what it means for me to become healthy as a person, what a healthy ‘me’ looks like. Did this include weight loss? Yes, but it has never been my primary motivation or focus. This also woke me up to the fact that part of the legacy that I was leaving my family, especially my kids, was not what I really wanted it to be. I did not have a healthy image of myself and it showed. Knowing I have chosen to make this change still motivates me every day.
My goal is really simple and it applies to more than just my physical health: Be a Healthy Person. To do this takes more than just focusing on one aspect of my physical health. For me, I not only had to learn how to make healthy choices for my physical health (specifically around how food and what I ate), but I also needed to make changes in areas that affected my mental and spiritual health as well. The good news about this approach is that when you do one healthy thing, it helps you do the next healthy thing. If I make a good decision around food choices, I tend to make good choices around my activity levels, etc.
I use a “FitBit” that I won through the Healthy Saint Paul program and use it to track my activity, what I eat and how I sleep. I love it! You need to find the tools that help you stay focused and on track and for me, this device works great. I also have involved my family to help keep me focused on what my goals are. It’s an amazing feeling when you see the good choices reflected in the choices your kids make. I have learned to celebrate my successes, but NOT with food! I have donated the clothes that no longer fit-I tell myself “you are NOT going back, this is a one-way street!” This helps me to keep my focus moving forward. I also have what I would consider some very audacious things I want to do. These are long term goals that I believe will contribute to me being a healthy person for the rest of my life.
I love to cook and I love to eat, I still do! Because of this, I have learned how to cook different things and found there are a lot of foods that I did not know I liked which are much better for me than what I used to eat all the time. I also share meals with my wife when we go out rather than having each of us order our own. For me it was not just the type of foods I was eating, but the amount as well. I have learned through this process that I really don’t need as much food as what I thought I did. Even though I try to focus on being a healthy person, it’s hard at times not to just focus on just losing weight. You might say WOW if I told you that I have lost 49 pounds, it is a great accomplishment. But it has taken me the better part of 3 years to do it and what makes me say WOW is that I have kept it off.
My advice for someone who wants to make a change is simple: Do it! You are worth it! You have the ability to change whatever is necessary for you to be the healthy person you want to be. Use the tools available to you, like the healthy Saint Paul program. I did not start my journey to be healthy because of it, but I am thankful that good tools are available for me to use. Find what keeps you motivated-if it helps, take a piece of paper and make a list of names of every person you know. Start with those who mean the most to you and list all the reasons you make a difference in their life. When you struggle and you will, take the list out and read it, you will find it to be great encouragement. For those who mean the most to me, I want to be here for a very long time and being a healthy person enables me to do just that!