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Calorie Count Blog

My New Lifestyle


By Sheila on Mar 07, 2011 10:00 AM in Success Stories

Taking his doctor’s advice seriously, Jamesmessick has managed to control his diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol by losing over 50lbs.  In his story, he shares his weight loss experience as well as some tips on the necessity of making a lifestyle change, not merely going on a diet.

He contacted us through our Share Your Story feature and provided the following answers to our questionnaire.

1. What made you decide to lose weight this time?

I have been overweight for most of my life. I'm 47 years old and the only time I was ever "skinny" was for a brief period when I was a freshman in college when I basically starved myself to lose weight. I developed Type II Diabetes about 5 years ago. I also had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I quit smoking but didn't really lose weight. At one point I quit taking my medication because I had no insurance and couldn't really afford the doctor's visits and medications I was on. On top of this I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, and as much as I wanted. Last July I was feeling so bad, I could hardly get moving in the morning. I tested my sugar which was coming up at 300 and 400 so I knew I had to go back to the doctor. I went to my local urgent care where I was given prescriptions for my medications and referred to an Endocrinologist. Fortunately they also referred me to a program which helped me get insurance, at least temporarily. The Endocrinologist told me that I would need to start taking insulin shots twice a day. He also said "go to the gym 5 days a week."

I don't know if he was serious or if he really expected me to follow his advice but I took it to heart. I already had a gym membership, though I probably hadn't been in months. I began to exercise seven days a week. I also began to track my calories and exercise with the goal of losing weight. Of course adding the calories that I burned while exercising to my daily calorie goal meant that I could eat more, which made it easier to be satisfied and stay under my daily goal. I never was much of an athlete but I always liked the elliptical machine, so I would spend about 45 minutes on that. The machines at my gym showed the calories you burned, which I liked. I was able to slowly increase the speed and resistance so that I could burn 400-500 calories in a session. I also began to add strength training to my regimen, and I watched The Biggest Loser Australia. The Australian version included much more information on exercise and nutrition than the US version does, and one that thing stuck with me was that you burn calories at an increased rate after resistance training, and that exercising and building muscle also increases your metabolism. I also learned to "mix up" my workouts so that they don't become boring. I have always hated running, but I even added walking and jogging on the treadmill. One day I decided to run for an entire mile non-stop and I managed to do it. What a feeling of accomplishment. I still don't feel like a natural runner, but I enjoy moving now and I'll frequently have short jogs throughout my day.

The other factor in my success, probably the most important one, is food. I cook most of my food, and since I live alone I have control over the food that is around most of the time. I made a conscious effort to reduce the amount of fat and processed food in my diet and I learned to make healthier versions of some unhealthy things I loved, like General Tso's Chicken. I've greatly reduced sweets, but still find ways to enjoy them. There are good diet-friendly frozen treats available at the grocery store, and I visit the frozen yogurt store at least once per week. Also small treats like a few Junior Mints or Coconut MM's pack a lot of flavor.

After five months I finally reached my initial goal weight of 188. My "ideal weight" for my height is 172 which seemed impossible to me at 235, but 188 was barely within the "normal" weight range. I am not about 182 pounds and while 172 might be achievable I don't really think this is a healthy or realistic goal for me. I just want to maintain my weight and increase my fitness even more. At 47 I am more of an athlete than I have ever been. I know that it is partly because I am in better shape and partly because I'm not lugging around an extra 50-60 pounds (my lifetime max was 250 lbs, 68 pounds more than I now weigh!) My entire attitude on physical activity has changed. Now I see all activity as part of a healthy, active life. Even yard work, once just a chore, is now something that I pursue with pleasure. Oh, and I went off my insulin shots and blood pressure medicines about six weeks ago. I saw my Endo and was told that I should stay on a few meds because of my past inclination towards Diabetes. My blood sugar levels are under control, as is my blood pressure, and my total cholesterol is an astounding 112!

Now that I am healthy I feel like a dummy for taking so long to embrace the wonderful lifestyle that I now live. I see so many people who need what I now have and am hoping to be able to move into a career helping those with a desire to move to a healthier lifestyle.

2. What other "diets" (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?

No real diet program other than a combination of fasting and "normal" eating when I was 18. I've tried "natural" supplements several times without much success. When I was first diagnosed as a Diabetic I met several times with a nutritionist. Unfortunately the attitude of the health care industry seems to be to "manage" disease instead of curing it (by losing weight, in my case) so the nutritionist' counseling was on counting carbs, not losing weight.

3. What changes did you make to your usual diet, activity, lifestyle, and attitude?

I have basically given up fast food. I rarely drink soda anymore, where I used to go through a large bottle in a day or two. I've reduced the portions of meat that I eat, as well as the amounts of bread, pasta, and cheese that I consume. I eat more vegetables and have tried more new foods like Couscous. I now eat more oatmeal. I still have eggs and bacon or sausage for breakfast on occasion, but before I would easily eat 3 eggs with breakfast meat on a daily basis, with the occasional break for pancakes. I eat much more fresh fruit now, also.

4. How did Calorie Count help you to lose weight?

Tracking my calories helped me keep focused so that I made regular progress. I didn't crash diet but pursued a healthy new lifestyle which I can and will continue to follow. My philosophy was "I'm not on a diet, I'm counting calories. I can eat whatever I want, I just keep track of the calories." Of course this did mean more salads and less french fries, but it all worked out right.

5. What was most challenging about losing weight?

The most challenging thing was when I had to eat out at a restaurant or a catered event where I had no control over what foods were available. There's usually something good at a restaurant to eat, though, and I'll often cut my entree in half and bring the extra portion home for the next day's lunch.

6. How long did it take you to see results?

I immediatley saw results. My weight loss was steady. I actually went past my weight loss goal of 188 lbs on a day when I did not expect too.

7. When did you realize that you were a success?

No particular moment comes to mind, but when I last stepped on the scale at the doctor's office I realized that the base setting for the scale wasn't 200 lbs any more. For the first time in my adult life the base setting was 150, and will be from now on.

8. How do you prevent relapse?

We've all heard about people who lose their weight just to put it all back on and more, and I think that fear is in the minds of everyone who has just lost a large amount of weight. While I do sometimes wish that I could eat with the reckless abandon that I used to it now makes me physically uncomfortable to over-indulge. Plus, I do not feel deprived or hungry. I eat delicious food and probably snack 2-4 times per day. I continue to weigh every morning just to remind myself of where I am and where I've come from.

9. How has your life changed now that you've lost weight?

Before I was accepting of my overweight, unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle. I now think my body is more attractive and I have never felt better, and that's the truth. I feel like a 20 year-old and just want to enjoy living in this body instead of the old slow, tired body that I used to wear.

10. What five tips do you have for other dieters?

  • Count everything you eat and don't lie to yourself. Err on the side of over-counting because cheating on your diet is only cheating yourself.
  • Stick with real food. Preparing your own food from fresh, frozen or canned is best.
  • In addition to a bathroom scale you need to get a food scale and use it with some sort of program to log your calories accurately. Figure out the calories for dishes you prepare and add those to your food tracker as well.
  • Move every day and find exercise that is right for you. Personally I try to include some sort of cardio or aerobic activity every day and also do strength training several days a week, but I also enjoy hiking and mountain biking, yard work, and daily dog walks. You must find things that you enjoy so that you will continue to exercise.
  • Enjoy the process and the new lifestyle that you are developing. The days, weeks, months, years after you reach your goal shouldn't be that different from the last day before you reach your goal because your new lifestyle isn't something that you abandon once you reach your goal and then start up after you put the weight back on. The main thing is to find what works for you. Some people can do the same exercise and eat the same food every day, but I need variety in my food and in my activity. Keep focus on your goal and you can achieve it in a realistic amount of time. Once you reach it then re-access your goals and see if you want to do more of if you want to maintain.

If you would like us to feature your success story, you can submit it here. The most insightful stories will be featured on this blog and in the weekly "Success Stories" newsletter.



Comments


Great story congratulations...



Congratulations. Thanks for the helpful tips and information you have shared. you are an inspiration.



This was just the story I needed this morning.  You are inspiring and brought up several points that all need to be imprinted in our brains.  We have to eat for the rest of our lives.  If we don't make it a new life-style, we will be just setting ourselves up for disaster!  Congratulations on a quest towards better health and discovering how much you liked yourself in the mean time!



Wow, that is very inspiring!  I have thus far lost 40lbs and can very well agree that "it now makes me physically uncomfortable to over-indulge."  Good job and keep up the good work!



James you look great, and you should be proud of yourself for all of your hard work and accomplishments!  Your success story sounds like a great inspiration for those of us having a hard time getting started.  Keep doing all the right things, and congratulations on your good health!!



I completely relate to your philosophy of "I'm not on a diet, I'm counting calories. I can eat whatever I want, I just keep track of the calories."  That is exactly how I feel.  It is actually a powerful feeling for me and not one of being deprived.  Because I can eat what I want, which is often still healthy.  I just need to account for those calories.  And it may mean eating less at one of my other meals.  And once you get into that groove, it is really quite liberating!

Great story and very inspiring.   Wishing you continued success and happiness!



What a motivating, inspiring story!  Thanks for the advocacy and encouragement. Today is my second day and I did terribly on the first day. Unfortunately, I am very addicted to sugar and I think that is my biggest hurtle. You have motivated me to move more which will be a huge help.

Thank you again for your story.



Right on!  You are doing many of the things that I am doing but the few things that you also did that I am not would probably make a big difference.  I am SO resistant to calorie counting.  It's tough when you are in a household with three other people and they are not calorie counting -- I know -- it's just an excuse.  Also, my portions are still too big and I don't eat the small snacks during the day to keep me from getting too hungry all at one time.  Got to work on that.  Thanks for the inspiration & all the best wishes for continued success.



Congratulations on living life a new way!  I am enrolling in a weight loss program at my office today!  Your story has inspired me and I like that you have such a sensible and realistic take on food and exercise.  Like you, I get frustrated eating the same thing over and over and actitivity needs to be varied or I get bored and quit.  Sage advice all around and quite motivating! 



Congrats, sounds like you and I could have had the same doctors warning! I must say it was a life changer and probably saver!  I am down 80lbs then added 20 in muscle.  It was a great motivator to get started and as you said enjoying the healthier body makes it easier to continue, I am 2 years since loss and have maybe put about 5 lbs back on from my lowest (which was probably too low like a few I went a bit overboard) but now feel great! 

 

It is great to have people willing to tell there stories!  Thanks for sharing such a good one!



Congrats James!!! You look ripped. Another plug for weight training's amazing results. I didn't know that The Biggest Loser Australia was way more informative on the nutrition and exercise part. Hmmmm???



tcalish, I have a sweet tooth too. It really helps finding treats that pack a lot of punch in the flavor department while being low in the calorie department. A single dark chocolate Hershey Kiss has 30 calories, but when you let it melt in your mouth it's like eating a whole dessert! I also like things like gum and hard candy. Whether you go with the sugar-free ones or not the calories will still be low and they'll be providing a flavor release for a long time. I also like to chew gym when I'm exercising. I almost never drink sugary drinks, though occasionally I'll use some flavored creamer in my coffee. I drink a lot of ice tea, I do live in the south after all, but I sweeten it with splenda. I use liquid Stevia in hot tea which is wonderful. I've also tried packets of Stevita sweetener which is another form of Stevia. I like the Stevita but am having trouble finding it in the store. As far as sugar-free soft drinks I find that some are just more appealing to my palate than others, like caffiene-free diet Mt Dew. mmmmm. The only exception is that I am trying to gain a little muscle so I consume a protein shake make with whey protein powder and skim milk after I do resistance training...very high calorie but very tasty as well. Try the vanilla!



I'm personally 330 and there is 3 generations of diabetes in my family all the way back to my grandmothers father all on my mothers side of the family.

I was told when I turned 18 when I went in for blood work I maybe at risk of diabetes.

 

My grandmother has a pacemaker and my mother has a artificial leg from rite below the knee.The day she went in for a infection in her toe because of a sliver she was told about her diabetes.And the next day she loft half of her toes and 1 week after coming home they realized they did not get all of the infection and now shes got a artificial leg.

 

There are 4 people in my family that I know of with diabetes ll on my mothers side of the family.And 3 in my fathers side of the family have died cause was cancer including my father on October 9th of 2010.His birthday was on the 8th of October.

 

I want to be able to lose weight so that I can live longer and healthier.My grandmother will be celebrating her 80th birthday in may.

 

I want to do just as good even better.In my life and I know I wont be able to do it as 330 I want to lose to survive.

 

I want to reach a small goal of losing 10 percent of my current weight which would drop me down to 300.

That is one of my goals for now.It will not happen over night but I'm still trying t make it happen.And reading his story above I think,no I know its possible its just about watching how much you eat and how much you move.I already know all of this.I just don't move the way I know I should.

 

If anyone would like to become a buddy to help me out and that would just like to talk about there goal and what they have so far achieved please don't hesitate to contact me by using my profile or by e-mailing me at animetipsblog@yahoo.com

 

GOOD LUCK AND GOD BLESS TO ALL!!!



Yes, 4photochik, there are a lot of websites and programs that are useful for tracking calories. CalorieCount of course. Lose-it.com is excellent. And there are SparkPeople and LiveStrong and many others that I'm less familiar with. You just have to find what is easiest for you and get in the habit, then you'll lose it. The weight that is! ;-)



Guitardefector, I think I look more muscular but I think mostly it's because you can see the muscles that were formerly hidden by the fat. I'm working to increase my strength and would like a little more muscle, even though I hear it's difficult as you get older. I recently watched an interesting documentary about someone who underwent a crash program to develop a body-builder type physic. The results were amazing but what a miserable way to live. Anyone who's interested should check out http://www.iwanttolooklikethatguy.com



animechic88 I wish you the best of luck. I know it seems impossible to lose weight sometimes, which is why I was overweight for almost all of my life. It shouldn't and doesn't have to be a miserable starvation experience. As a matter of fact severe dieting, i.e. starvation, actually will cause muscle loss resulting in a lower metabolism which makes it that much easier to put weight back on, which is why so many people are stuck in a yo-yo diet cycle.

 

If you're interested in another excellent resource I'd check out fat2fitradio.com which is an excellent weight-loss podcast. It's very interesting and educational and you can download many of the old episodes. They also have a book that I'd like to get someday.

Also, I mentioned that I like The Biggest Loser Australia. This can be hard to find in the US but if you can it's an excellent show. I would recommend Season 5, which just concluded last year, as that was the season they included the 'Master Classes' where they provided a lot of extra information on nutrition and exercise. The timing was perfect for me.



Thanks for sharing..........good advice



"Now that I am healthy I feel like a dummy for taking so long to embrace the wonderful lifestyle that I now live."  I hear ya!  Me too!  Great job! Congrats!

Chris

see profile to link to my blog

lost 130 lbs so far



Thanks for sharing!  Your story is inspiring and I love your advise.  And, your dog is so cute - maybe he gained a little of the weight you lost :).  I will check out "The Biggest Loser - Australia".  I love the inspiration from the US one but there's too much "drama" and not enough hard fact advise about diet and exercise.   Also, I've found the book, "Eat This, Not That -Easy and Awesome 350 cal meals".  These meals are FLAVORFUL and filling and not based on minascule portions.  And, for folks who eat out a lot, they have one that is geared toward restaurant eating only.   My mom has had great success using that one since she has to eat out a lot.    Cheers! 



Thanks for your great story. Both of my sisters were diabetics and I know how much it means to get off the insulin and kick the disease. YEAH! YEAH! YEAH! 

You have the skills and knowledge to keep your trim, healthy body. I like your sense of adventure and your willingness to enlighten us and lighten out loads.

Jane



Great Story.

I'm 7 weeks into learning to eat nutritiously. I on track losing 1 pound per week.



Congratulations! Awesome story. Proves you are never too old to start loosing weight. You look great too!



Great inspiration! I have a similar story.....substitute hbp and upper digestive problems for diabetes.....and I had to learn healthy eating a long, long time ago.....it's just about staying with reasonable intake and asking myself; are the splurges really worth it? NOT!!!......I've been lax since the end of the summer and gained some weight.....but I have been good with my main exercise, bike riding, which I love.....could definitely use some upper body work....I'm in the process of getting back on the wagon now so thanks for your story James. I also was interested in your thoughts about your ideal weight and wondered how tall you are.  Thanks and best to you!



Wes, I'm almost 6'2" and 47 so my "ideal" weight is 172 according to "the charts". I chose 188 as my target weight because that would give me a BMI which was just under 25, or at the top of the "normal" weight range, and that seemed possible. Currently my weight is in the low 180's and I am just trying to maintain that. I like mountain biking which is a great cardio workout, and I'm also trying to build muscle with weight training, so I'm in the gym at least 4-5 days/week.



Hey thanks James......I'm 6.0 and my range is 160-196......I have been at 155 when I was young.....too skinny, no muscle....I would like to be able to maintain 180 with good muscle.....although to see my gut the way I want it, I would probably have to minus 10 #'s.  Last spring I was at the high 180's and gradually put 15 + pounds back on.  I'm going at it again now. Thanks again for the inspiration and good luck with your new life!



Inspirational James...have taken several comments and tips and will try to apply them.

I have less to go than you did but my wieght has varied from 80kg to over 90kg (176 to 198 lbs or 13st to 14.5 st) for the last five years.

What is siginifcant now is my three children are living with me after a messy divorce. I now find I have less usuable time to cycle (my main activity), eating more 'kids' type food and depression has led to comfrot eating. I am currently 14st4lbs.

 

Regards

 

Andy

 

 



Andy, reality really does throw many challenges at us including the lack of time and the food that we find in front of us (and many other things). Actually being unemployed and the end of a relationship were actually positive, well-timed events for my weight loss because it meant I could really concentrate on getting my workouts in, planning my menus, cooking, and learning about nutrition, etc. It also meant that I wasn't sitting down before a plate of deep-fried food and pastries every night.

Wes, you should Google the documentary "I want to look like that guy." You may just learn that having the physique of a body builder just isn't worth it!



 James,  I got a bodybuilding mag many years ago mainly for one story. It was about a Man who had a body basically like mine and had transformed it into a fully ripped masterpiece. It required everyday in the gym for 4 hours or more. The trade off was that he basically lost everything else in his life......in particular, his family. That was sad. It made me think a lot about balance, self acceptance and love and what do I really want.   I'll be sure to check out that film.   Thanks



I found it quite interesting. The guy was 42 and pretty overweight at the beginning of the documentary and he looked amazing at the end, but he went through a lot in between and the "end product" was ultimately unsustainable. No more spoilers on that one. ;-)



Original Post by: animechic88

I'm personally 330 and there is 3 generations of diabetes in my family all the way back to my grandmothers father all on my mothers side of the family.

I was told when I turned 18 when I went in for blood work I maybe at risk of diabetes.

 

My grandmother has a pacemaker and my mother has a artificial leg from rite below the knee.The day she went in for a infection in her toe because of a sliver she was told about her diabetes.And the next day she loft half of her toes and 1 week after coming home they realized they did not get all of the infection and now shes got a artificial leg.

 

There are 4 people in my family that I know of with diabetes ll on my mothers side of the family.And 3 in my fathers side of the family have died cause was cancer including my father on October 9th of 2010.His birthday was on the 8th of October.

 

I want to be able to lose weight so that I can live longer and healthier.My grandmother will be celebrating her 80th birthday in may.

 

I want to do just as good even better.In my life and I know I wont be able to do it as 330 I want to lose to survive.

 

I want to reach a small goal of losing 10 percent of my current weight which would drop me down to 300.

That is one of my goals for now.It will not happen over night but I'm still trying t make it happen.And reading his story above I think,no I know its possible its just about watching how much you eat and how much you move.I already know all of this.I just don't move the way I know I should.

 

If anyone would like to become a buddy to help me out and that would just like to talk about there goal and what they have so far achieved please don't hesitate to contact me by using my profile or by e-mailing me at animetipsblog@yahoo.com

 

GOOD LUCK AND GOD BLESS TO ALL!!!


just do one day at a time..that is what i am going to do..i hope you alot of success ...connie



Thank-you. I have been under the weather for a while and last night I had some chicken soup, and a couple of other things, after I had logged out the day. I was feeling anxious and irritated. This morning, for just a moment, I thought about not listing the extra food. But that would just be "cheating" myself. So I added it, looked at it and let it go. I had thought, gee, I will just subtract those extras from today, but as I do not "add" extra calories to the days after I eat less than allowed, cutting them would be as bad idea. I think was is going on here are some real changes in the way I think about and handle food. Several things you said this am, struck home. I understand about the "health issues"(at first I said o well, it is part of getting old) but now I am thinking, getting older doesn't mean giving up or hurting all of the time from so many conditions, related to what I call "The Weight". I am going to get a scale( I think about all the ones I have had and tossed or sold a yard sales and dang..I had quite a collection. But getting one now is saying to myself, I am really going to make these changes a part of my life, good habits (and I think those are as hard to break as bad ones). Thanks again, as someone else said: I needed to hear your story this am. Just a foot note: scanning down the comments after reading your Story, I saw someone looking  for a "buddy", another person with health concerns and a bit of hope. I am going to contact that person, perhaps we can help each other.



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