Friday, March 14, 2008

THE JOURNEY: Part 4 of 6 - Getting Started

I ordered an exercise bike and started using it on March 15, 2000. The first few days, I only managed to ride for 5 minutes without using any resistance. It took me awhile to get used to exercising, but I didn't quit. Over the next few months I gradually increased my time to 20 minutes and started using a rolling hills program. I averaged 4.3miles/day. Slowly the pounds began coming off.

In late July 2000, I bought a "George Foreman Knock-Out-The-Fat Grill". I grilled beef, chicken, fish, sausage, burgers, vegetables, and sandwiches. I watched the fat drip out into the tray and was glad that it wasn't going into my body.

I started making other changes to my eating habits too. As I ran out of the soft drinks, popcorn, chips and cookies - I didn't replace them. I started drinking more water. I switched from 2% to 1% milk. I started doing my own baking again. I looked for healthier options at the grocery stores. I bought fresh fruit and started eating salads again. I bought brown rice, whole wheat pasta and whole wheat bread. I still made muffins and cookies with chocolate chips in them but I used healthier recipes and at least 50% whole wheat flour. I bought low calorie or low fat or low sodium products whenever I could.

I had a few rules for these new products that I was buying. They had to be the same price or cheaper than the regular variety. If I didn't like the taste/quality of the product then it would be better to buy the regular product and just limit my serving sizes. I wanted to enjoy the foods without paying a fortune and/or sacrificing the flavour.

In December 1998, I had started making my own ice cream, due to digestive problems with the artificial ingredients found in all but the premium/all natural brands on the market. I started adjusting the recipes to make healthier, lighter and flavourful versions that I could have and not feel guilty about eating.

I started keeping a food journal. I listed how many servings of each group I had each day, and I also listed the "extras" like margarine, Miracle Whip, dressings, mustard, sauces, etc. I averaged 6-8 servings fruit/vegetables; 2-3 meat/alternatives; 3-4 dairy; and 4-5 grains every day.

I never denied myself food, I just watched how much I ate and how often I ate certain types of foods. I quit eating between meals. As soon as I my eye doctor would allow it, I also got off the meds that were required to be taken with food. Quitting that bedtime snack was a HUGE improvement!

Even with all the changes, I never gave up chocolate - but I did make a rule that I haven't broken. If I didn't have at least two servings of fresh fruit and vegetables that day, then I wasn't allowed to have my 1 - 1 1/2 ounces of plain chocolate for dessert at supper.

My energy level still wasn't great, but it was better. My good days were increasing and the bad ones weren't quite as bad. I still had to be very careful not to overdo it, but I was on the road back.

In the first year I lost 40 pounds and was almost into a size 16. It was a great start, but the bike was boring. I was just sitting there pedaling. I wasn't working my upper body. I needed a better workout program.


Tomorrow; "The Gazelle"

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