I think most of us can relate to being overworked, stressed and how that can play a destructive role in our health. Here is a story of someone who got the message and changed her habits around to get her health and life back on track. In Kati’s story, she explains how she lost 50 lbs. and kept it off.
I wish I could say that one day I woke up and decided to change my life for the better. I can’t. Instead, I woke up one day feeling ill and, to make a long story short, it turned out I was having a heart attack. A combination of bad genes, stress, poor eating habits, and a lack of exercise slapped me upside the head just like the V8 commercials that you regularly see on TV.
I was lucky. I had a fairly urgent (but not life-threatening) wake up call. A stent was inserted and I began a 12-week cardiac rehab program. During that program, the therapists taught me better nutrition, how to de-stress, and how to (and how often to) exercise. They didn’t focus on my weight, but rather on how to change my lifestyle…forever. I found that once you get with the plan, the weight takes care of itself.
Following a low-fat, low sodium diet isn’t easy. Drinking 8 full glasses of water each day isn’t thrilling. Giving up caffeine was a headache (literally). Finding the time to exercise an hour a day, six days a week was (and continues to be) a challenge. However, being a caretaker of others means that I need to be healthy enough to be around to help them. Being out of shape, overweight, stressed, and eating everything in sight doesn’t help anyone. Whenever my motivation waivers, I think about my husband, my children, and my grandchildren. I want to be around to see them grow up happy and healthy – so I do what I need to do to make that happen.
After rehab ended, I looked for a variety of exercise activities so that I wouldn’t get bored. At one of my MHealthy (a healthy lifestyle program for employees at the University of Michigan) circuit classes a couple of years ago, we had a substitute leader, Molly Stamos. I liked her style and enthusiasm so much that I asked if she ever took on personal clients. When she said yes, I immediately hired her to help me do more physical workouts once a week. Those workouts increase my body’s metabolism and cause me to burn calories at a higher rate for days after each session. Plus, I know that Molly makes me work harder than I would by myself.
Additionally, there is a wealth of information available to help. I have found that the eMeals low-fat menu plan is great (see: http://emeals.com/). And, there are tons of exercise programs, gyms, and consultants around. I personally walk 3-4 days a week on my lunch break or to/from meetings around campus. I embrace various fitness classes sponsored by MHealthy, I take a water aerobics class once a week, I workout with Molly weekly, and I do my best to stick to a healthy eating pattern using the menus I receive from eMeals.
I love the free app “Charity Miles” (see: http://www.charitymiles.org/). While walking, running, or biking, I “earn” donations for a variety of charities. So not only am I helping myself, I am helping others by exercising. I also find the free app “MyFitnessPal” (see: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/) helpful for tracking calorie intake and logging my exercise.
I have to admit that I did not think exercise would ever become a habit for me. But after about 6 months of making myself do it, every day, I actually enjoy exercising now. I miss it when I can’t get out and MOVE. I’m not saying it is easy. But, it is NECESSARY for my own personal well-being.
Now, two and a half years after my “near-miss”, I am down 50 pounds (4 sizes), am able to exercise without panting excessively, I have more energy to play with the grandkids, and I naturally eat a more healthy diet. In fact, I’ve even caught myself taking fruit instead of cookies from a buffet. Go figure!