Beginnings

When I first set out on my healthy lifestyle plan I had to start somewhere. A coworkers wife had been trying the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet so I did some research to see what the plan was like. Now I have never had hypertension except in the rare cases when I was, say, in the emergency room, so while I didn’t technically need a diet for that it just sounded nutritionally sound. I don’t follow the diet as strictly now but I do keep to mostly whole grains, lean meats and lots of fruits and veggies. I also like to keep my sodium intake in check when I can so I no longer eat much overly processed foods and very rarely do I eat fast food.

I also cut out all caffeine for about 6 months or so, maybe longer. This is something I have since gone back to but not nearly at the level I was at before. Now I just enjoy a nice cup of coffee at work in the mornings and the occasional latte as a treat. I rarely ever drink coffee at home or on the weekends.

As for exercise, I started with walking. It’s simple and doesn’t cost anything to get going. Eventually I did invest in a nice pedometer (I recommend the Omron HJ-112 Pocket Pedometer, works great) so I could start tracking my steps with the idea of trying to get 10,000 steps a day. It was slow going in the beginning, I could only do about 10 minutes or so of walking and it was a real eye opener. I injured my knee early on, April of 2009, and that made it a little harder. I did a lot of physical therapy and put off surgery for nearly a year.  Near the end of summer I was walking up to 6 or 7 miles but then I went and broke my foot, but that’s a completely different story.

Also during the summer of 2009, I joined the UNL Campus Rec Center and started using the treadmill, stair stepper and rowing machine to get in cardio work. I was a member until the start of 2010 when injuries prevented me from really enjoying the place. I looked into and even tried another gym and while I liked it somewhat it just wasn’t the right fit for me.

These Days

Lately I’m still sticking pretty close to my diet guidelines of just eating whole, healthy foods. I have some simple things I look for to decide if I’m going to eat something or not. If it has high fructose corn syrup, that’s an automatic out. I’m not going to get into a debate about HFCS but I know that cutting that out has helped if only by eliminating foods I shouldn’t be eating anyway. There’s no HFCS in the broccoli, at least for now.

I also have a 200 calorie rule – if the item is, on it’s own, over 200 calories then it’s not usually something I will eat. I will make exceptions for things like smoothies or a Jimmy John’s sandwich but those are rare and only on days I know I’ll be working out a lot. This is about eating for life not about eating towards a specific weight loss goal. I never use the phrase “I can’t have that” because that’s not true, I can eat whatever I want but I’m choosing to fuel my body with the things that will get me where I want to go. I could put diesel gas in my car too but that doesn’t work out so well in an unleaded tank. It’s the power of choice that makes it so easy to just eat what I decide is good for me.  Many of the “foods” I used to eat don’t even sound good any more and when I try them again, I just don’t like the taste.

I also cut out, for the most part, any beverages with calories. I stopped drinking all diet beverages and eliminated artificial sweeteners too. I do like the occasional bottle of root or birch beer so I make exception for that and I rarely have those either. I find most commercial sodas to be way to sweet now, I once commented that I thought Gatorade was too sweet. I like to make my own substitutes for things, using whole ingredients, whenever I can.

I don’t use any traditional “diet” foods either, most of them are still overly processed and packed with things I don’t want to put in my body. If I want a brownie then I’m going to go get a nice brownie, a small one, and be done with it. I’ve learned it’s better to give in to some cravings versus stalking around the kitchen overeating “health” foods because nothing is working. My biggest snack type foods tend to be granola bars from Kashi, they have a chocolate mocha one that’s awesome. I call them my candy bars.

For exercise I am still a bit obsessed with walking but my foot problems have been keeping me off the trails. I broke the 5th metatarsal in my right foot and then developed some pretty bad plantar fasciitis in my left foot thanks in part to being in a walking boot. I had some really bad calf cramps and spasms that have seen be resolved via deep tissue massage. Then in April, 2010 I had surgery to finally fix my knee issues, ended up having part of the cartilage removed and I’ve been really happy so far.

In response to not being able to walk, I finally bought a good bike. I found a nice one on Craigslist and bought it. I added a basket, water bottle holder, speedometer and lights. It’s been a great bike so far and I plan to ride it as much as I can. I’m already starting to ride it in to work, which I never dreamed I’d be able to do!

Daily Burn.com

I don’t think I could have accomplished as much as I have without the wonderful tools and people at Daily Burn.com. They focus strongly on using proper nutrition and exercise to lead to a healthy lifestyle. They don’t really push a particular diet but give you the tools to record your weight, track your food intake and track exercises. I love the challenges too where you can compete against others in various things like, most weight lifted, most weight lost, etc. Here is my profile page: TheAng at Daily Burn

Tips

So do you want to change your life too? Want to be more healthy but don’t know where to start? My biggest tips:

  • Go slow and make goals – pick one thing to change and do that for a week
  • Go for a walk already! Even if it’s just an extra 10 minutes a day, it’s better than nothing. You can work your way up from there.
  • Understand the foods that you eat. Know how many calories you are consuming. Know what’s in your food. Be proactive about your health
  • Talk to your doctor, get a physical, find out what you can be doing.
  • Laugh, smile and love life.
  • Be forever awesome. Be your biggest fan.