Saturday, May 30, 2015

Small Changes Make a Big Difference

It took me a few months to figure out what kind of exercise would work best for me on a daily basis. I first tried using the Couch to 5K program and walking/running on a nearby creek trail. While I loved being outside and seeing the beauty of God's creation around me, I faced a number of obstacles. The first was practical: the trail tended to be bumpy with rocks and tree roots so I always had to be watching my step carefully. If I used a different part of the trail, it was paved, and my shins started hurting after a couple weeks of my regimen. Also, the bit of extra effort it took to get out of the house, coupled with days of bad weather, flooded trail, or early heat, meant that I easily found excuses for *not* exercising.

So then I turned to exercise dvd's. I used my local library and checked out at least ten over the course of a few months, trying to figure out what I liked and what worked. I really enjoy dance so I started with some dance/exercise videos. None really clicked with me. Then I tried Leslie Sansone, who has a video series called "Walk at Home." I decided that her style and method were what I needed, and now I've settled on one particular dvd called "5 Mile Fat Burning Walk" that I've used daily for a few months.

While it's called "Walk at Home," Sansone actually guides me in 'multi-muscle walking,' mixed with high-intensity intervals. I use ankle weights and hand weights to make the workout more effective. The 'walking' is actually a combination of various moves, including knee lifts, kicks, side steps and others. During the high-intensity intervals, we jog in place or back and forth, and do some of the other moves (like kicks) at a higher intensity.

When I started my exercise efforts, I couldn't do more than 15-20 minutes at a time. I gradually built up to more rigor and more time, though, and my latest habit is to exercise for an hour each day, for 6 days/week. It should be noted that this is the *first* time in my entire life that I've kept a commitment to exercise regularly. It's hard work, but I feel so much better because of it! Plus it boosts my confidence to know that I can stick with something difficult.

Other changes I've made in my weight loss effort include:

  • Not drinking coffee at home, which means I only drink about 2 cups/week. I tend to only like coffee with cream and sugar, so cutting back to when it's made available to me elsewhere (like church) has helped reduce calories.
  • Drinking a 'green thickie' most mornings for breakfast. I make them with oats, walnuts, fruit, yogurt, water, and spinach. 
  • Paying more attention to my hunger signals and eating less at any meal when my stomach says it's full enough.
  • Cutting back hugely on sweet things. This is my hardest effort of all, and I haven't conquered it. Sometimes I'm better off just not eating anything sweet period. Other times, I've been good at taking very small portions and not getting seconds.
  • Eating fewer baked goods. I used to make a lot of pancakes, coffeecakes and other yummy breakfast items, but now I use that morning time to exercise and we eat more smoothies and eggs instead. I've also cut back on my bread consumption by having fewer sandwiches.
I'm still very much a work in progress, but the longer I go with these changes, the more they're becoming a welcome part of my life. When I say 'no' to a dessert or take only a half-slice of cake, instead of being grumpy about what I'm missing, I rejoice in thinking of the health I'm gifting my body. I love the way I feel these days!

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