"I have enjoyed many pleasures as the result of my experiences as a rancher. I've also learned a thing or two. Every season we would round up the cattle from the range and drive them to the corral. Along the way, we'd come to a gate, the trick was to get them through the gate and not stampede them. I found, after much trial and error, that applying steady gentle pressure from the rear worked best. Eventually, one would decide to pass through the gate, the rest would soon follow. Press them too hard, and they'd panic, scattering in all directions. Slack off entirely, and they'd just head back to their old grazing spots. This insight was useful throughout my management career."
David Packard "The HP Way How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company"
- Sticks and Stones
I was four years old the first time someone called me "fatso." I've been referred to as "husky, chubby, overweight, heavy, big guy," or just plain fat. While names can't physically hurt you, those names can affect your feelings and self-esteem.
I have been battling obesity for a long time. I weighed 75 lbs in the 4th grade and got to 225 lbs by 19. I enlisted in the US Army after graduating from high school and lost 30 lbs in basic training. I rarely ate breakfast, had little for lunch and ate a modest dinner while I was growing up. I didn't eat breakfast in basic training either but the real difference was the physical activity required. 195 lbs was probably my ideal weight for my 6' 2" frame and is how much I weighed when I was done with basic.
- In the Old Days
In the early 60s, when I went to high school, physical education every day was still mandatory in California. So was showering afterward. I was still in the 225 lb range when I graduated from college and began my business career. After getting married, I was eating regularly, still no breakfast (except coffee), and getting little exercise. I was settling into a sedentary lifestyle and began the upward trend until I reached 240 lbs at 35 years old.
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Due to the absence of physical activity, I became diabetic and not long after being diagnosed began taking insulin three times a day. That resulted in gaining 40 lbs in a period of six months. I continued to gain weight until I reached a whopping 345 lbs by the time I was 55 years old.
- Finley Aquatic Center
I was a mess. Not only was I not interested in exercise, I couldn't walk for 5 minutes without experiencing a good deal of pain since my knees, joints, hips and spine were not designed to carry around 150 extra pounds. Thankfully, I began to attend water aerobics through the city-sponsored classes in Santa Rosa. I could move around and even jog in place in the water because my joints were not hindered by the extra weight.
I attended sporadically. Usually 2 or even 3 times a week during warm weather, skipping days when it rained or was too cold since the pool is outdoors. I continued attending sporadically from 2006 to 20012 and lost almost a pound a month. Getting down to 285 lbs was an accomplishment, I suppose, but it taking six years was not.
- Get Moving
In 2013, a nurse at the Veterans Administration suggested I look into the MOVE program. I did and really wasn't interested enough to do something about starting it. However, after completing a 16-week class at the VA, the instructor asked what class we would like to sign up for next? Most of the other members of the group chose the PTSD class but since I didn't think I needed that I signed up for the MOVE class.
- Get a Move On
Frankly, I still wasn't motivated to exercise and eat less but I thought it would be worth finding out more about it. MOVE stands for Motivating Veterans Everywhere. So I began attending weekly meetings with about 10 other overweight veterans and started learning what it takes to get rid of the extra pounds.
In August 2014, I met our class leader on the first day whose name is Heather Haluska. Heather is a registered dietician and well equipped to teach us old dogs new tricks. We began by learning about SMART goals and she encouraged us to complete a form committing to losing a specific percentage of our weight. Since the form suggested 10%, I signed up for losing 28.5 lbs in six months.
- Support Groups
Heather was full of information about nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes we would have to make in order to achieve success and I was reminded of the David Packard excerpt from above. She did not push too hard or run anybody off by intimidating them, she gently urged us to take the next step and kept the encouragement and urging going.
For most of us the next step was logging what we were eating and tracking the calories we consumed. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that consuming fewer calories and exercising more is the way to lose weight. There were many who were (probably still are) reluctant to do the logging. Not only the calories but the exercise as well. Not just the calories after a time, the carbohydrates and nutrients as well, making the logging task time consuming.
I have to say. it is nice to have a social group who encourage each other and who pass along tips about different meals and what is working for them.
- SMART Goals
By February 2015, I lost 13 lbs, only half what my goal had been. It took another 5 months before I lost my goal of 10%. By then I lost 32 lbs, and it came time to write down another goal. I chose 10% again which would be 25 lbs more.
By this time, I lost nearly 100 lbs since my height of obesity, 345 lbs. Because of comments of other MOVE members who were using similar tools on their smartphones, I learned to use a program called "Lose It" which is similar to "My Fitness Pal" that helps track and log what I eat and how much I exercise every day.
Currently, my plan is to get down to 225 lbs, a little more than I weighed when I got out of basic training. I take two 20 minute walks every day, frequently exercise in the pool, get exercise credit when washing the car or going grocery shopping.
I envision myself ramping up to jogging and possibly bicycling in the future. I do eat breakfast now, get plenty of sleep and drink a lot of water. I make sure I fit vegetables into my meals whenever I can and add fruit sparingly because I am watching my sugar and sodium intake.
I enthusiastically endorse the Veterans Administration's MOVE program and have to say I owe my weight loss success to my dietician Heather Haluska.
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