Monday, June 13, 2011

An effective weight loss plan

As I am nearing the weight that I was on the 21st anniversary of my birth I take a moment to reflect upon weight loss in general, what it has taken to get there and the benefits that I have received. I expect, rather I demand of myself, that I will lose the three pounds necessary to achieve the interim goal of my age 21 weight by the end of June. After that, the final goal is my high school graduation weight of 129 when I was age 17.

That was not my initial goal though. At age 19 I was a professional athlete who got struck by a vehicle and nearly killed. It wasn't until four years ago, at age 38, that I was able to begin athletics again. It took that many years for my body to restore itself to a usable level, for the pain to become manageable and to be able to walk without periodically stumbling or falling. The pain resulting from major nerve damage, which had been so severe the first year that contact with the surface of my skin such as wearing a sock had the same feeling as being burnt by fire, gradually subsided. By my mid-30's pain was no longer chronic. I began having pain-free periods after being well-rested, sometimes lasting until noon or occasionally later.

At my highest point, which not surprisingly was during my divorce and while getting an upper body workout from masonry and roofing work, I weighed 196 pounds. Typically, following my mid 20's, my weight had fluctuated between 165-185 pounds, often with the seasons. It seems that the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's food eating frenzies, which occurred during a time of reduced outdoor activity, was not conducive to maintaining my weight.

On 12 December 2009 I decided I was going to start running competitively. That day I was 178 pounds. My goal then seemed easily attainable – a waist size the same as my hips – which I estimated would put me at a weight of about 155 pounds.

Rolling my ankle, resulting in a triple sprain, in February didn't help this mission. But through proper diet, walking and pure determination I had reached that goal by Spring.

Still dissatisfied with my body image I pursued further weight loss. Additionally, the proper balance of weight to provide the muscle mass to carry myself, yet minimize the load I had to carry, had not been reached. I kept setting and achieving incremental goals. Three pounds, seven pounds or one pant size smaller.

The process was as much psychological as it was physical. I relied upon the instruction I had received at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado when I was age 17 and also upon research I had conducted at the current time using the internet and health and nutrition books that I have.

While researching I came across every fad diet, hypnosis, medical procedure, device, exercise machine and all other possibly conceivable methods by which one could be persuaded to part with their money in the pursuit of weight lose. All of which do not produce the desired results. One claim that I would find reminded me of some late night infomercial about cleansing the body of toxins and the digestive tract of years of “built up sludge” lining the intestinal walls. The claim was that an adult can never return to their teenage weight because of maturation stages where bulk is added but more importantly because of this weighty mass of “built up sludge”.

To me it simply sounded like nonsense. None of the other diets or various other “secrets” to weight loss made sense either. In making a logical examination, as I do with everything, I asked myself – if any of these weight loss methods actually produced the desired results then why would there be new methods? The simple answer is – they don't! They only exist to separate people from their money not fat from their bodies.

I couldn't help myself from obsessing about that claim I had heard that a person cannot naturally return to their normal teenage weight. This concept is borne by common folklore as well as weight charts which differentiate based upon age. People kept telling me that it's just not biologically possible. To me it all sounded like a myth just as the “you must drink at least 64 ounces of water per day” myth is so commonly accepted, promoted and repeated, even by so-called knowledgeable medical professionals.

Inclusive of all the walking, running and bicycle riding that I do each day, while 90+ degrees lately, I have not consumed 64 ounces or more of water or any other beverage each day. But I have ensured that I stay properly hydrated. That 64 ounce myth may sound catchy just like a fad diet but what they have in common is what keeps people on a diet treadmill -- neither is based upon sound scientific evidence.

It is important that everyone maintain a healthy lifestyle of which part of that is a healthy weight. If you are involved in a child custody case then it can have added importance. By law a parent's health is one of the eight factors that a court must consider when making a child custody decision. A healthy lifestyle and a healthy weight can both be achieved regardless of what justifications some people may provide for their failure to do so.

My weight loss has certainly allowed me to be more competitive but it has done much more for me. All of my vital signs have improved. My resting pulse is generally around 45 now. I eat less, usually around 1200-1500 calories per day which is inclusive of my daily 5-10 miles of running and walking. More important, I generally feel more rested, alert and energetic.

The level of stress placed on my body has been reduced which has a corresponding effect on mental stress. The reduced caloric intake will lower my immune response and increase my longevity. As my son places higher demands on my time and energy level I am able to keep up. That is the most important thing to me.

So, I say now and assure you that I will attain that impossible weight of 129 pounds that carried this 5' 10” body across the finish line in 100+ races per year 25 years ago.

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©2008, 2011 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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