How ironic that I should finish a session with a trainer at the gym, and then come down with a respiratory infection. I went from the pinnacle of great physical health to the depths of aches and pains caused by picking up “something-that’s-going-around”. That “something” kept me in bed for an entire day. A congested throat meant I needed to delay the next set of podcasts that I’m producing. Being sick also kept me from training for a 5 K race that I have signed up for. But being laid out in bed gave me an opportunity to look back at the six months that I’ve spent in two Wellness Program’s at my local YMCA called Diabetes Fit and Live Smart.

The Live Smart class allowed me to set my own work-out program and I chose to focus on running. My legs needed some strength training. I was naive enough to think that running, and only running, would make my legs strong. Instead, I found it difficult to bend over and perform a simple task like getting something from the bottom shelf of the fridge. The Live Smart trainers, Amanda and Jamie, put me on a workout schedule that included a lot of conditioning for my legs. I found myself doing a lot of squats; the regular kind and something called triple squats, which leaves a burning sensation in your legs if you do too many at once. I was so tired and sore after the first class that I had to go home to have a nap. No kidding!  I stuck through with it and eventually it got easier. I started noticing the physical benefits like more energy and sleeping better and I didn’t have to nap anymore.

This transition was a six month process which started with another Y program called: Diabetes Fit. Diabetes is in my DNA,and with high cholesterol and symptoms of being a pre-diabetic, the plan was to try to prevent the need for insulin. The classes focussed on, among other things, eating healthy foods and portion sizes.  I soon discovered that what I ate and what I thought I was eating, were two very different things. My thought process suggested that if I ran, I could eat anything. “Wrong”, said the scales! This class inspired me to start being more accountable for everything that went into my stomach. That meant taking, what I’ll call, a “forensic approach” to what I was eating.

I put myself on 2 thousand calories a day. That plan allowed me to eat only 65 grams of fat a day. There are other numbers like sodium and cholesterol that I also needed to monitor, but to start with I wanted to focus on calories and fat. I had no idea how many calories and grams of fat I was eating before I started this project. But you get an idea of how high it is when you start reading labels and seeing actual numbers. It’s eye opening to find out how many grams of fat are in a sausage or a hotdog, a piece of chocolate cake with ice cream, a bag of potato chips. I learned that if I eat 21 barbecue chips I consume a third of my fat content for the entire day.  Too think that I used to eat an entire bag on my own. It was time to re-adjust the portions and start counting.

Running, a gym workout and monitoring my food intake has led to a noticeable change in my energy level. I feel different from a year ago when I was just running and eating what I wanted. Now, I have more energy and my legs feel stronger. Sure, I’ve lost some weight but there’s still a ways to go before I reach the ideal weight. Recently my weight did inch up a bit but I was informed it was most likely the muscle weight that I was accumulating. I don’t understand the science behind that,  but I can now kneel down to get something from the bottom of the fridge, eat it, and then log the calorie and fat intake in my journal.
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