About this time last year, I was assigned to fly to San Diego to attend a conference on creating healthier communities, which a team from Marquette County was participating in. As part of writing articles both about the conference and about the county in general, I found out (a lot of things, but for the main purposes of this column) three things:
1. Marquette County has some of the worst numbers in the state in terms of overweight/obesity rates.
2. I myself qualified as obese, and that I was more than 40 pounds over the top of the normal weight range for my height.
3. I was really uncomfortable knowing I was contributing to the statistics mentioned in No. 1.
So I threw myself a bit of a pity party standing there on the scale (purchased soon after the San Diego trip). Then I decided that, if I can do anything about anything in the world, it's making sure I was taking better care of myself. And if I was going to be writing about healthier living, I should probably take some of that advice.
For the rest of that summer, I made a conscious effort to exercise more, riding my bike mostly. And that worked. A bit. But after losing five pounds, I stopped seeing results. Then, when the weather got cold, I stopped riding my bike and was just kind of frustrated with the whole process.
A few days before Christmas, I decided to try again, this time keeping a food journal that listed what I ate for each meal, how much of it and how many calories that portion contained. It might seem crazy, starting something like that during the holidays, but really, if you're going to go around making big, important, necessary changes to improve your life, and you're serious about it, it shouldn't matter what time of the year you start, I told myself.
It worked. I wont say changing my lifestyle is easy, because it really isn't, but the whole process was and is easier than I expected.
Between writing down what I was eating and making sure I was eating them in recommended portion sizes and being more active, I saw results, slowly losing weight and feeling a lot better about myself. Suddenly I had tons of energy, like "I need to move around, maybe I'll do dishes or clean something," which was an improvement from running out of cereal bowls on a regular basis.
During the winter I tried out snowshoeing and cross country skiing, making sure I got outside more days of the week than not, even if it was freezing cold and snowing. That led to running in the spring, which led to races and a growing collection of event t-shirts.
I've lost almost 40 pounds since I started, with a bit more to go. I can almost say I am no longer in the category of "overweight" when you measure my Body Mass Index, or the ratio of my weight to my height. I can run seven and a half miles when I was barely able to make it a mile in February. I can cook a lot of really tasty food. I have no trouble waking up at 6 a.m. for work, usually. I feel great.
Over the past six months I've added the following to things I've learned:
Feeling satisfied does not mean having to eat to the point of feeling really full.
I feel better when I am active. Not that it doesn't take some mental arguing with myself to get out the door.
It's ok to start small. In fact, for me, it's probably better.
Sometimes it takes a while to see a difference. Don't give up.
If I have time to watch an entire season of NCIS, I have time to do something active.
If I surround myself with healthy things, I'll be more motivated to be healthy.
If I want to do something, I'll find a way to do it.
Editor's note:?Mining Journal Ishpeming Bureau reporter Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.