A few months ago I saw a picture of myself that I didn’t like. In the picture I appeared tired and unhealthy. I looked as though I had not gotten much sleep and even though I was smiling I could see the signs of stress. My waistline had more inches than I desired and the outfit I was wearing didn’t fit the same as when I had purchased it. What was I doing wrong? My husband and I were going to Planet Fitness 4 to 5 days a week and were trying to eat the right things. I was trying to limit the amount of bread, sugar and fat we were eating and staying away from fried foods for the most part. The picture disturbed me enough that I was determined to do something about it other than hide the picture and ignore what was going on with my body.
After reading articles on everything from diets to aging I came up with a few conclusions. According to aging experts we go through biological changes the older we get. As our muscles age, we tend to store more fat in our bodies. On average we gain 1.5 pounds each year from the age of 25 to 60. It totally makes sense why my stomach doesn’t look like what it did when I was 30 and maybe even forty. That’s why my driver’s license tells off on me every ten years when I have to update it.
Being without a thyroid and getting older I have double trouble. Having an underactive thyroid, your metabolism is slower and if your hormones are not controlled weight gain is imminent. Each time I visit my endocrinologist the first thing I ask is what was my weight at my last visit. My doctor knows my concerns and tries to help me figure out how to manage my weight by diet and exercise and getting enough sleep.
After staring at the dreaded picture for a while, I decided I was going to make some changes. Working out more wasn’t going to be an option since my husband and I are at the gym already 5 days a week. According to my Fitbit I had climbed enough stairs to reach the clouds and walked the length of Africa in steps. According to my couch to 5K app I was capable of running/walking a 5K, so I wasn’t concerned about not getting enough exercise.
When you really look at it, weight is just like money. When you have a shortage of money, there are only two options; make more or spend less. I considered weight to be the same way; if you want to achieve a certain weight you must have a balance between what is going in and coming out. Since I didn’t think I could do any more exercise to burn calories, I was going to have to manage my diet a little better.
But what if I told you that diet and exercise are not the main keys to weight loss and health? You would tell me “bye Felicia.” But it’s true, it’s not about the calories you eat and burn, it’s about making lifestyle, environmental and behavioral changes. Change doesn’t come easy nor does it come by accident or wishful thinking. Here are 5 ways you can get on the right track for a healthier life.
1. Stock your kitchen with the right stuff. Clean out the cabinets and refrigerator of unhealthy food items and restock with healthier options. Make healthy foods easily accessible. Instead of putting a snack bowl on the counter, replace it with a fruit bowl. Cut up veggies and put them in the refrigerator for easy access. You can’t resist pancakes for breakfast if pancake mix and syrup is all you have in the cabinet. If it’s not good for you throw it out so you won’t be tempted.
2. Change your grocery shopping habits. Stay away from the middle aisles in the grocery store which contain all the processed food. If you don’t have a package of cookies and crackers in the pantry you won’t eat them. Plan your meals in advance and take a grocery shopping list with you and buy only what’s on the list.
3. Stay out of the food desert. Don’t leave the house without a plan for what you will eat during the day. If you aren’t careful you will end up stopping by the convenience store or fast food restaurants and grabbing anything in hunger desperation. When you are in a desert, everything looks good and you give yourself an excuse to eat the first thing you see.
4. Plan movement in your day. Figure out when is the best time for you to exercise. Some people do better working out in the morning while others do better working out in the evening. Prepare your clothes in advance, keep a pair of tennis shoes in your trunk or office so that you can make plans to walk and move. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you are sedentary, make plans to move at least once every hour.
5. Consider your bedroom a place of rest. Proper rest is important for a healthy lifestyle so make sure your bedroom is equipped for proper rest. Make sure your bedroom is the right temperature, quiet and a stress free environment. Finally know that watching television or playing with screen gadgets before sleeping actually hinders sleep.
When you are married and decide to make changes in your household you have to solicit the support of your spouse and family. Since my husband enjoys cooking and does most of the grocery shopping, if I was going to make changes I was definitely going to have to get his buy in. Once I researched the route we needed to take to change our lifestyle and behavior, I had to ask my husband if he was with me. I really appreciate my husband for saying, “I’m in” and adjusting as needed.
Here we are less than three months later and I have already had to give away half of my closet and purchase new belts. My husband looks amazing and needs to make a visit to the tailor to take up his suits a couple of inches. We feel great and are sleeping better. Our church members even dropped off a couple of bikes in our driveway since we were enjoying spending more time in nature. By changing our lifestyle I no longer have to go on a special diet two weeks before I take my annual physical or count calories for weeks before I have to wear a dress I bought several years ago. The Bible says our body is a temple (1 Corinthians 6:9) and it is our job to care for our temple.
Have you looked at a picture of yourself lately? How’s your temple holding up?
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach