Recipe for Health: Dany's Story

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"How'd you lose the weight?"

It was not a magic pill, special diet, or a shot from the doctor - wouldn't that have been nice?  How did I lose my baby weight?  I finally got back to what I've been telling folks to do most of my life:  eat right and exercise!  Well...maybe there's a little more to it than that...

I’ve been a very active person most of my life.  My father, a career Air Force pilot is my inspiration.  For as long as I can remember he’s been fit and strong.  He’s now 77 and reaping the benefits of taking great care of himself.  He’s able to keep up with his 5 and 3 year old grandchildren which is no small feat!  He’s traded his running shoes in for cycle shoes and doesn’t lift as heavy…but he’s still at the gym nearly every day!  My dad continues to be my inspiration, and, as a result, my children’s inspiration as well.

I started teaching horseback riding lessons when I was 15 and went on to teach aerobics classes when I turned 21 and have been teaching ever since.  I took a break for 4 years while I had kids.  When I had my kids 22 months apart I put myself on hold and my health suffered.  All my energy and spare time was spent breastfeeding and caring for my kids.  They are my #1 priority and I don’t regret this time helping them thrive and get a good start in life.  I fell into bad eating habits and without the workouts it was a recipe for disaster.  I have never really had to watch my weight. As I got older and the good ol' metabolism slowed, I noticed changes in my body that I wasn’t thrilled to see.

My wake-up call came during a routine check-up at the Health Care Center.   My blood glucose level was high - approaching pre-diabetic level.  I was floored!  My family doesn’t have a history of diabetes…in fact, I come from pretty good genes.  As it turns out, not even good genes are an excuse to eat anything you want! I began watching what I ate and prioritizing my workouts beginning with cardio.  Then I added strength training three times a week.  This routine is now a part of my life and I can’t imagine putting it to the side again.   Here is my recipe for getting my health back to front and center of my life:

Watch what goes in:

  • Hydrate – Drink 8-10 glasses of water each day.
  • Eat a balanced diet with a variety of healthy food.
  • Limit sweets and keep in mind that calories have to count to feel full and satisfied.
  • Keep a food/calorie diary each day to stay on track.

Monitor expenditure:

  • In order to lose weight, burn more calories than you consume to create a calorie deficit.
  • Weight train 2-3 days per week with the understanding that as we age, we lose muscle mass.  Since muscle mass burns more calories than fat it stands to reason that if you have a higher lean mass then you can consume more calories.
  • Aim for 4-6 cardio workouts each week.
  • No matter what…Take 1 day off each week for recovery.  Read more about Performance Recovery with Amanda Pack, cPT.
  • Keep moving and maintain an active lifestyle.  Take the stairs, park further away, move briskly and don’t watch a lot of TV.  When I do watch tv, I make it active…I strength train or stretch during my favorite shows.
  • Use an activity tracker.  Mine reminds me to take movement breaks throughout my day.
  • Continue to challenge your workout program.  If I stop seeing results I know it is time to shake up my program.  I do this by:
    • Trying a different class
    • Adding new strength exercises or putting them in a different order
    • Trying a different cardio piece
    • Incorporating interval training – high intensity bursts followed by recovery stages
    • Chatting with a personal trainer on what changes I should make to my program

Things to consider:

  • You WILL hit weight loss plateaus.  Be prepared for this and try not to get discouraged.  When you hit a plateau, it's time to re-adjust your routine.  Our bodies gravitate towards efficiency.  Mix it up with of the suggestions above.
  • You WILL not be perfect every day.  When you get derailed, review your goals and try to figure out where you are getting off track.  Make modifications to your program to set yourself up for success and get back on track as soon as possible.  This is a life change…not a short term change.  You’re in it for the long haul so a small detour is not a big deal.
  • Weigh in daily…this worked for me.  It doesn’t work for everyone.  It helped me stay on track if I saw myself gaining pounds.  Then I could reflect on the day before and figure out where I went wrong.  Some fitness experts tell you not to weigh everyday – that you should be going by how you feel and how your clothes fit.  See what works best for you and stick to it!
  • Start slow!  Trying too much at once can be overwhelming and discouraging.  Who wants to be so sore you can't move?  Find what works for you and implement things a little at a time.

I’m happy to report that my blood glucose is back to normal!  I’m glad I made myself and my health a priority again. It took consistency, a healthy plan, support from friends and family and goals.  I want to be a good role model for my kids just as my dad was for me.  Recently my daughter, 5 years of age, came outside to greet me after my morning run.  She warmed my heart by telling me she wants to run with me! I imagine us training together for her first race and it brings me such joy.  My son, 3 years of age, enjoys joining me for floor and TRX workouts and it provides me with much comic relief!   I feel I’ve come full circle…my children see that staying fit is an important part of their lives.  My wish is that they find and embrace their own recipe just as I did.

If you are trying something new or have pre-existing health conditions, it's important to check with your health care provider for clearance.

Do what makes you feel good and powerful!

Make the time for yourself.  It’s a busy world we live in and you must be at your best to take it on.   I’ve shared some things that work for me in hopes that it will help you find your recipe for a healthy life.  Remember, not all things work for all people so you’ll need to find your recipe for success.  Do things that work with your lifestyle and you’ll be well on your way to better health!

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