17 February 2007

The Shape of Things to Come

Approximately 6 years ago, I was fat and unhealthy. My BMI was 28.3 (which is more than 3 points above the healthy weight range) and I could barely climb a flight of stairs without feeling winded. For my entire life up to grad school and the start of my career, I was always within the normal weight range for my height (my BMI ranged between 18.5 and 21.3). I was active and in good shape. When I was writing the thesis for my M.Sc., while at the same time attending Teacher's College, healthy eating and regular exercise were the first activities to fall off my schedule due to time constraints. This continued during the beginning of my teaching career, as I was up to all hours planning lessons and marking. Finally, one day, I saw a photo of myself and was shocked at what I saw. I was a puffy, lifeless version of what I considered to be the real me. Right around the same time, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer and died after several months of steady, painful decline. He was only 65 years old.

Then the light bulb went off - I hated how looked and I hated how I felt. My father's death also drove home the fact that life is short. I realized that there are so many things in life that you that you can't control and I had better start taking care of the things that I could control. I started eating better - vegetables, lean meats and complex carbohydrates, instead of cheeseburgers, fries and chocolate bars. I also developed an exercise regimen (cardio and weight lifting) for myself. My ultimate goal was not to lose weight (although it was a happy side effect) - it was to get healthy.

Within 1 year, I had lost 40 pounds. I had reduced my measurements - I went from wearing a size 14 to a size 4. I was healthy, vibrant, strong and unstoppable. I had never been so happy with the way that I felt and looked as during that time.

Fast forward to the last year and a half. I got lax, I got over-confident...I got lazy. Although, the scale tells me that I have only gained back 5 of the 40 pounds that I lost - that doesn't paint the whole picture. I have lost muscle mass and replaced it with fat - I am getting soft and losing definition. In a nutshell, it's time to get my butt back in gear. Looking at the medical history of my family is a grim reminder that I need to give my body all the tools it needs to keep me healthy - I don't want the heart disease, diabetes and cancer that plagues (or, more importantly, plagued) so many of my relatives.

So, that's why I'm writing this blog entry. Here is my plan for the next 12 weeks. After that, I will reassess and determine my next goal.

For weeks 1 to 4:
  • Mon, Wed, Fri - Weight Lifting - full body - 45 min - perform 2 sets (10-12 reps) of each exercise - rest 1 min in between sets
  • Sun, Tues, Thurs, Sat - Cardio & Abs - 30 min - treadmill, Yourself Fitness for the XBox, dog walking, etc., followed by 40 crunches
For weeks 5 to 12:
  • Mon, Wed, Fri - Weight Lifting - full body - 60 min - perform 3 sets (10-12 reps) of each exercise - rest 1 min in between sets
  • Sun, Tues, Thurs, Sat - Cardio & Abs - 30 min - treadmill, Yourself Fitness for the XBox, dog walking, etc., followed by 40 crunches


  • I will use the ratio of 40% protein, 40% carbohydrate and 20% fat to make up a 1400 - 1500 calorie per day meal plan.
  • I will increase my intake of vegetables (unfortunately, I'm not a fruit eater), lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fat.
  • I will eat 5 smaller meals (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner) instead of 3 larger ones.
  • I will continue to take vitamin supplements (multivitamin, vitamin C, vitamin E and calcium).


Anonymous said...

Yeah Shannon - I've been working a very similar routine for the last month. Unfortunately I got sick last week - fortunately I was able to only miss one cardio workout! Today I'm rewarding myself with a new workout outfit. Looking forward to following your progress. g

Stephanie said...

Good luck! I'm in a similar boat. Weight gain isn't a problem but I'd like to be healthier and more fit. Heart disease and breast cancer run in my family and the older I get the more I realize I have to control the things I can control.

Summerset said...

Aaack!!! You and I have some strange similarities - here's another one. My light-bulb moment was about 12 years ago, though. After graduating from college and being married for a couple of years, I saw myself on video tape (wide as a house). I also went to the dr.'s for another reason and found out I weighed 145lbs. Most people wouldn't think too much of it, but I'm barely 5'2". My father's side has a history of heart disease - his first heart attacks were at 38yrs. old. That was it for me - I have never weighed that much since except when I was 9 months pregnant with my second child. At any rate - I love working out, cardio and lifting, plus hiking and biking when the weather's decent.

Good luck! Five pounds may not mean much to some, but if you're small it really does change things!

Linda L said...

I am glad I was reading through some blogs and read your entry. I like you want to be healthy,and if losing weight happens on the road to being healthy, well yeah for me!

My mother died of Alzheimers and now my father has it. I am an only child, so what do you think the odds are. One of many studies show that many Alzheimer patients have or had high cholestrol among many other issues. My cholestrol is always on the border of requiring medication. My doctor always says, you can lower this with exercise and diet. He was right. Going to CURVES at least three times a week and eating better foods, has resulted in one dress size reduction, and my cholestrol down by 10 points. So your entry reminds me that I too get lax at times. Good motivation for all of us sewists.

Linda T said...

You go girl! I just joined CURVES and I'm hoping to improve my well being. Keep us posted!

Avril said...

Good for you! Yes the pounds can just creep up on you. Time to eradicate them. Seems like you know what to do. If you need some motivation there is a wonderful site called www.sparkpeople.com its great and it’s FREE :)

All the best,

Anonymous said...

How weird is this? You, Sommerset, and now me too! In 1998, my mother was killed by a drunk driver, and although I have always struggled to keep my weight down, I was, at that time, at an okay weight. (Keep in mind that I'm (probably) quite a few years older than both of you, and it definitely gets harder as one gets older! - and having been pregnant 5 times doesn't help much either! I should mention that I too am barely 5'2". ) Anyway depression set in, and I gained a lot of weight!
Then in Oct of 2001, I decided I too was going to do something about it! (Notice that was ALSO almost 6 years ago) I started by working out, and eventually cutting way back on my eating. I also have Hypothyroidism, so it was and continues to be a stuggle for me. I DID lose over 30 pounds, but I sure can relate to the "it doesn't take much". I've regained almost 10 lbs. back. When I joined the local smocking guild, I couldn't help but notice so many of the women were overweight, and out of shape. I vowed to myself that I wouldn't let sewing do that to me - ha ha - little did I know!
I also have recommited myself just this past week once again. I never stopped exercising -- I do so at least 5-6 hr/week, it was the eating I wasn't being as careful about. Heart disease ALSO runs on my Dad's side of the family -- and I'm determined to do what I can to NOT end up like him - another long story. Let's cheer each other on!
Jane (I don't have a blog)

angie.a said...

Well I should jump on this bandwagon too. I'm stuck somewhere between wanting to focus on getting healthy, and afraid I'll become obsessed by it (I've got that kind of personality) and then find myself still not "living" my life but thinking about food or my body all the dang time. I just need a happy medium!

And HEY! I just bought that first pair of Target shoes today! I love them, they're so comfy!! Let me know when you find that perfect pair of red shoes. Then send me a pair too. I wear an 8-1/2 ;)