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YOU CAN CHANGE

Going from 320 pounds to 168 pounds

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YOU CAN CHANGE

Dennis Wyatt at 168 pounds at age 56.

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POSTED September 19, 2012 12:36 a.m.

You can change.

And it’s never too late to do so.

That’s important to keep in mind when approaching fitness, health, diet, and overall wellness goals. Once you get started you will discover that all four are interconnected. And as such to exercise without giving a thought to what you eat – and vice versa – can be counterproductive and deliver results that fall way short of one’s true potential.

It is what the experts tell you. There are no shortcuts. There are no magic pills. It’s lifestyle, they say.

Of course, l had to find out the hard way. I guess I’m an expert, of sorts, having gone through three “major” weight drops so far in my 56 years.

The first was going from 280 pounds as a seventh grader to 190 pounds as an eighth grader. After high school thanks to college, a full-time job, being on an elected school board, and having my own business drive my eating habits I managed to balloon back up to 320 pounds by the time I hit 29. I dropped down to 190 by my 30th birthday.

The first drop was all about the amount of food and some exercise. I cut out sugar laden sodas and reduced volume. I also started being a bit more active – walking and bicycling.

The second time when I dropped 130 pounds it was by eliminating some types of food, forsaken all soda save diet drinks for good and when I got close to 200 pounds starting a daily exercise program that included insane amounts of cycling with 10,000-mile years and Jazzercise classes five to six times a week.

That was all good until one day I realized I was pushing 220 pounds. I tried to determine what was wrong. I did a lot of aerobic exercise but little anaerobic except trying to muscle up steep grades cycling. I was burning calories but the calories I was consuming were mostly processed foods and a good chunk of it was junk. I had a habit of two king-sized bags of plain M&Ms every day. I also was continuing my lifetime habit of not eating breakfast.

 I also bought into my self-imposed myth that 190 pounds was my natural body weight set-point since I had successfully dropped to that twice and no lower. At the same time I hadn’t eaten meat – including fowl or fish - since I was 30 as part of a conscious effort to watch my calories. I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian. I was simply doing things most people – and myself – assumed were healthy so therefore I was as healthy. It took meeting a vegetarian who – to put it nicely – was grossly overweight to get me to take a real honest look at myself and my habits. Cheez-Its are not part of the basic natural food groups and I was polishing over four boxes a week. But hey, I still weighed less than previous high weights and I perceived myself as in somewhat better shape than most folks around me.

That changed six years ago.

Conventional wisdom is clear on one point – the older you get the better off you are to carry less weight and to stay active physically. Youth and DNA can compensate for a lot of things but eventually age starts taking its toll.

At age 50 I decided I wanted to wake up on every birthday for the rest of my life and honestly say – despite each passing year – that I had never felt better.

I dropped almost all processed food with the bulk of my 3,500 to 4,000 calories a day coming from apples, watermelon, oranges, bananas, almonds, V-8 Fusion, Bocca burgers, salads, broccoli, cottage cheese and enough yogurt to send Yoplait stock off the chart. I do down the equivalent of 550 calories in cookies five days a week and treat myself to a 700 calories banana cream pie Blizzard once a week. Hey, I’m human. Occasionally when eating out I obviously depart from the daily regimen but stay away from high processed food because quite frankly my system doesn’t cotton to them very well anymore.

And food does taste better.

In less than six months without changing anything else I had dropped down to 168 pounds and have stayed there since. I started to mix up exercise a bit as well. I still jog every day and jump around when I can like a wild man but there are more free weights in the mix. As a result my arms are the most toned they have ever been and I’ve seen other changes I never thought were possible. I’m still working on a one-pack but I figure I’ll get there in due time.

Perhaps the best off shoot of getting my nutrition/diet in synch with my exercise I can honestly say I now rarely ever get sick, arthritic-related issues no longer exist, I have more stamina, and my overall wellness from a medical and mental perspective has never been better.

And that really is the bottom line.

Although when I first started to lose weight for the initial time 44 years ago it was because I didn’t want to be fat. But now I realized I could have saved myself a lot of trial and error if my goal had simply been to be as healthy as I could be.

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