Not Without Me

I've spent most of my life worrying about my weight and vacillating between extreme diets, cutting entire food groups out of my diet, and not regulating my food intake at all. In fact, whenever I find an old notebook kept anytime since my teenage years, it typically contains pages full of goals, notes and other information about how I'm going to lose weight.

In this process, I've gather a lot of information about nutrition, weight loss, and physical fitness. Sometimes my doctors are surprised that I can repeat very accurate information about how to be healthy, probably because by my appearance, I do not seem to be someone who would know these things. 

One thing I've realized, though, is my approach historically has typically focused on an all-or-nothing, pounds-lost approach.  I will spend hours researching and tracking the most minute detail of whether a large Apple has 120 calories or 140, or whether a sweet or dill pickle is called for in a certain popular meal plan. But that is only when I'm trying. When I'm not trying, I don't pay much attention to what I eat, or how much of it I consume.

I say I don't pay attention, but more accurately, I try not to pay attention. Sometimes I know a particular eating choice is a poor one, but I chase that thought from my mind as quickly as possible, often replacing it with a justification of some type...I deserve it, or "might as well die unhealthy but happy rather than eat stale-tasting stuff all the time and never enjoying life."

One problem with this approach is it is a lie. When I was younger, the impact of unhealthy eating was difficult to discern. Perhaps it was manifest subtly in the form of less energy or allergies, but it did not seem to have a major impact on my life at that time. I could consume junk all day every day and still feel relatively fine. Pair that with a teenage tendency to feel invincible and it is not a healthy pair. 

Now that I'm older, I can see the impact of an unhealthy diet in several ways:

  • Acid reflux, especially when eating sugar or refined food
  • Starch-induced drowsiness after large meals
  • A weak energy field consuming my body after eating sugary foods
  • High blood pressure without medication
  • Difficulty controlling high blood pressure, even with medication

Another thing that happens during "trying" periods of time is I learn to hate exercise or the person making me do it. I've worked with a few personal trainers, and I often resent the training sessions and do anything I can to get out of them. The exercise, while rewarding in the sense of feeling good after exercising, is not enjoyable to me at all when someone else is controlling it. 

I've also done well with my own exercise routines, such as gym memberships or focused periods of dedicated exercise at my own home. But, again, it tends to be all or nothing.

One thing is clear, though, is I am dying (as is everyone) and I am not doing anything to slow that process down. Instead, I am doing things to accelerate the onset of disease and disability. The time has come to no longer aid in my self-destruction, but, if nothing else, for the sake of my wife and children, contribute to a healing and healthy lifestyle.

A new approach to this in the field of nutritional science actually very closely mirrors the Word of Wisdom. Eat lots of vegetables, whole grains, and a moderate amount of fruit, with limited amounts of meat. Don't smoke or drink is as if science is finally catching up with what God, of course, has known all along. After all, he created our bodies and wants us to treat them as the temples they are.

Right now, my temple isn't very well cared for, and it represents something I am embarrassed of. Everywhere I go, my own body sends the message that I have not taken care of myself and that I cannot control my own impulses of destruction enough to moderate the food I take into my body.

I've had a lot of ups and downs with weight loss for most of my life. I've successfully lost dozens of pounds and then re-gained them again shortly thereafter. I've tried to motivate myself through contests or rewards. I've committed to personal trainers, Weight Watchers, online coaches, and have signed up for more than one network marketing weight loss product. I've done the extremes and I've done the slower approaches. I've weighed myself multiple times a day and I've tried checking in only once a week. But, here I am at age 43, ending another year nearly as heavy as I've ever been. Sometimes I wonder if it is a part of me I don't want to lose. 

But something different has clicked inside me this past week or so. I watched the movie "The Martian" and marveled at how the (fictional) character approached his more-than-a-year life on Mars trying to survive. His survival was about daily log entries in his NASA video log, lots of solving complex science problems to give him the best chance of survival, and maintaining a desire to live strong enough to keep him going day after day, even when he didn't feel like it.

And that is where I am. My survival depends on blood pressure, despite two medications, is too high. My arteries are slowly clogging. My desire for physical activity is low and my stress level is high. My cholesterol and triglycerides are off the charts, even with medication sometimes. And my blood sugar, the last holdout, is getting closer and closer to the warning level. While I might be lucky and live a lot longer despite all of these symptoms, the odds are against it. Luckily, I have a doctor who will order tests to show exactly how clogged my arteries are and look for every other known sign of health.

I want to live to be with my wife, my kids, my family. I want to beat the patterns of poor nutritional habits and sedentary lifestyle and get off of medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol/triglycerides. And this website is where I'm going to do it. Starting today, December 28, 2015, I am going to change the way I live, so that I can continue living for as long as possible, in as healthy and fulfilling way possible. Starting today, and for the next full year...through my next wedding anniversary Dec 28, 2016, I am going to do the following every day:

  • Write an entry in my Flight Log about the science, psychology, emotions, challenges and triumphs in overcoming my harmful eating habits and replacing them with new, healthy patterns.
  • Take a picture every day of myself in the mirror for one year as I go through this change
  • Eat "Green Light" foods 80% of the time and "Yellow Light" foods only 20% of the time or less.
  • Completely avoid "Red Light" foods for an entire year
  • Track the 12 things I want to each more of each day on an iPhone app (see blog entry for more detail)
  • Meet my step activity goal every day of the year