March 25, 2013 by Ando
Two Halloweens ago I was putting my costume together, a Cold War era US soldier, and thought the olive drab work pants from my former mode of employment would complete the outfit perfectly. I hadn’t worn them for about four months. What I found was scarier than a covey of Twilight themed trick-or-treaters. Upon trying to button up, I found I had plenty of waist but not enough pants. They were never exactly loose to begin with, but the size of the gap to be spanned was an alarming discovery. I honestly can’t remember if I found another pair of pants to wear or if I managed to suck my gut in enough to wear them and endure the most uncomfortable Halloween ever.
Around the same time, I don’t remember when exactly, I stepped on a scale for the first time in months. What the digital readout told me, I was not prepared for. I knew I had let things go, but I didn’t realize they had gone this far.
Now, I won’t say what the digital readout told me, not because I’m embarrassed, but since we all struggle with weight to varying degrees, what might seem like a big deal to me, might not be to somebody else. I don’t want to lead anyone to believe since I was aghast at where I was that I would be equally aghast to learn someone else is of those same, or greater, proportions. We all come in various shapes and sizes and we all have various shapes and sizes we’re comfortable being. And that is, of course, totally fine. So while I won’t give you the specific poundage, I’ll just say the shape and size I was in I was not at all comfortable with.
What made it most alarming was just a few months before I was in the best shape since high school. Maybe ever. I had a physically demanding job, which required a great deal of physical training and, without tooting my own horn too loudly, I looked and felt pretty darn good. Before beginning the job I attended a rigorous training program that whipped me into a lean, mean, fighting machine. However, circumstances conspired against me and my belt—not to mention my wallet—when my wife and unborn son ended up in a hospital away from home for nearly two months. Living out of a hospital room and the fold-out sofas and vacant homes of friends, my meal options were mostly limited to the hospital cafeteria and the plethora of restaurants that surrounded the hospital on all sides. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy myself just a little bit choosing which eateries to patronize two to three meals a day. But after a while one does crave for some home cooked food and vegetables that aren’t cut into wedges and deep fried.
After the family and I were able to return home and resume our somewhat normal lives again, I was waaaaay out of any good eating habits I may have had. On top of that, I no longer had a physically demanding job that required a great deal of physical training. I now had a mentally demanding job that required a great deal of sitting. Hmmmm, poor eating habits and sitting 10-12 hours a day in a comfy chair. What could possibly go wrong? See first paragraph.
After my Halloween revelation, I determined to get myself, if not back to where I was the previous year, at least to where I was before I started my training program. Of course, trying to rekindle a love of a balanced diet and fitness at the dawn of the holiday season, which also includes my birthday, is not the easiest of tasks. I didn’t begin in earnest until the New Year. My wife and I planned a trip to Hawaii for the following October, without the kids, and set a weight loss goal for ourselves. We called it Hawaii 5-0. Our goal was to lose 50 pounds between us before our trip. We were…moderately successful. We both did lose weight, but didn’t even approach our 50 pound goal. When we returned from Maui, the spirit of vacation followed us home and we continued eating as if we were still on vacation. And we all know how we eat on vacation.
But at the start of 2013 we decided enough was enough. We were tired of not liking how we looked. We were tired of not liking how we felt. We were tired to feeling out of control. So we made a plan, again, to lose weight together, again. I think we called it Thin Club 2013, or something equally silly (we like to name things, like the way CNN will name some big disaster). I gotta say, we’re doing pretty great.
We’ve both lost close to 10 pounds and we’ve done it without resorting to any fad diets. We cut out (most) junk food, fast food, and soda. We don’t keep many sweets in the house and control our portion sizes at meals. We exercise almost every day. Just common sense stuff, and guess what? It actually works. We’ve still got a little ways to go before we reach our goals, but the journey has been far less painful then one would expect. We feel much better than we did when we just ate whatever, whenever. Our food lasts longer now that we’ve not shoveling it into our faces as fast as possible. We don’t completely deny ourselves our favorite treats. I give myself one cheat day a week where I eat pretty much whatever I want. Even then though, I don’t overdo it. I don’t like that overstuffed feeling. It’s really not all that hard. Just a little self-control.
Hopefully we’re making changes that are permanent, and we don’t revert back to the same old bad habits once we reach our goals. Time will tell. I haven’t tried those old work pants on since that fateful Halloween. Another week or two and I might give it a try.