And so the saga continues. If you need a refresher, please refer to Part 1 and Part 2 before reading on.
All caught up? Good.
So where was I? Oh yeah, that's right . . . before I could get myself into shape, I had some bad habits to break.
First and foremost, I had to figure out my time management. I've mentioned once before on this blog that I'm NOT a morning person. I cannot do anything in the morning but barely get up, shower, and head to work. I would never, EVER, wake up an hour earlier to exercise when I can sleep. So this left me with only the time I have when I come home from work, but before dinner. Roughly 6 to 7:30. Say an hour of actual exercise, since the other half would be taken up doing stretches and warmup/warmdown.
You see I was on my own here, but I wasn't completely clueless. There had been a time when I was in excellent shape. Although it had been 8 years, my body still knew what it had to do.
I started on a basic schedule of jogging on the treadmill 6 days a week, and doing free weights and calisthenics 3 days a week. I allowed myself one free day of NO workouts (typically, Friday). Where the two routines overlapped, I would do 30 mins of one, and 30 mins of the other. Usually weights before treadmill, as jogging left me way too exhausted to do anything afterwards but pass out on the couch and cry.
Next, I changed my diet. I cut out ALL sodas, juices, iced teas, and other harmful (read: high caloric) beverages. Instead, I drank nothing but water -- 3 liters a day, to be precise. Because I didn't want to loose calcium or Vitamin D, I switched to skim milk instead of my usual whole or 2%. Eventually I allowed myself 8 ounces of diet Pepsi with dinner because drinking so much water--and especially at dinner--was just too depressing after a while. I needed at least SOME kind of zip, jeez!
I stopped eating: white bread, pasta, most cereals, and pretty much any other harmful carbohydrate I could think of. Wherever I could I brought the low-sugar, low-sodium, and low-fat versions of the products I normally ate. When no such alternative existed, I simply eliminated it completely from my cupboards.
I switched to whole grain everything. Whole grain bread, cereals, brown rice, fiber-rich crackers like Triscuit, and so forth. I also started eating oatmeal for breakfast EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. Whether it was 10 below or 90 degrees outdoors, I didn't care. Oatmeal was my way of life as far as I was concerned. I started eating breakfast in general, in fact. Something I used to never do before this traumatic health scare.
I learned a valuable lesson: eating breakfast is perhaps the most important thing you can do in this world to make yourself healthy and loose weight. The trick is to eat sensible breakfasts. My typical breakfast during this time period (and indeed, it still is to this day, 4 years later) was simply: one small bowl of oatmeal, and two egg whites on whole wheat toast. And water. That's it. For a between meal snack, either fresh fruit or almonds, if not both (at separate times, of course).
For lunch, I had a home made sandwich made with whole wheat bread and low-fat/low-sodium turkey or ham. Plus an apple. I made it a choice to ALWAYS eat at least one apple a day. Red Delicious variety (my favorite).
For dinner, I always made a variation of the following dish: half cup of brown rice, two big servings of leafy green vegetables (favorite being spinach), and a very small portion of grilled chicken breast. Sometimes I would substitute the chicken with a fresh turkey patty, or with salmon. Basically something low fat but full of protein.
In between these meals, I would eat LOTS of fruit. I mean, A LOT. My greatest discovery was freshly cut pineapple. Lisa brought some home one day, and it was like my body SANG to me when I ate some. Something inside me told me: Hey, dude -- EAT MORE OF THIS THING! Stat!!!! :)
And so I did. I eat lots of different fruit now, but to this day fresh pineapple is my absolute favorite. I love it to death! I could not live without it. And you know what? Secretly I think it helped a lot with my diabetes. I'm serious. I honestly think now that pineapple saved my life. I don't know the science behind it, but my body reacts so strongly to it that I can literally feel myself getting healthy each time I eat a cup of cut pineapple, or better yet the slices off the whole fruit itself. I should write a book about its curative properties!
Now, it's important to know that I did not come by all this over night. A lot of trial and error went into developing my own special diet to suit my personal tastes and preferences, while maintaining the new health guidelines I had to stick to for a diabetic diet. Since I also had to worry about cholesterol and blood pressure, this was triply difficult. You can't imagine just how hard it is to change so drastically at almost a drop of a hat.
It was a trying time for me, but I was so motivated. I mean, really motivated. It was like someone lit a fire under my ass. I was determined not to be a victim and just let life take me out of the running.
Armed with all of the above in place, I was ready to take back control of my life and not be a victim to bad health.
I was ready to make the commitment. And oh what a glorious battle it would become . . .
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 4.
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