Funny What A Change In Diet Can Do

Among the advantages of being married to a registered nurse includes having doctor’s appointments made for you. I was informed in January that I was to go to the doctor. I didn’t know why, but I’ve been married long enough to just do as I was told. Hint – if you don’t understand this last statement, recommend watching the following video:

I dutifully showed up at my doctors appointment at the scheduled time and the lady at the reception desk asked why I was being seen. I looked at her and gave her the best answer I had: “Because my wife told me I have an appointment.” She seemed to understand that, looked at her computer, then informed me: “Mr. Asbury, you’re having a physical today.” I thought, well, I am 47. I’m probably due for a physical and proceeded to the poke and prod room….

My doc ordered up a blood test, and the results were pretty scary. My overall cholesterol was sitting at 300, and my LDL’s, the bad cholesterol, was at 190! I was a stroke waiting to happen!

Coincidentally, at about this same time, Ellen was launching her new business, Living Healthy Md. I volunteered to be one of her initial guinea pigs for her weekly course on how to live a healthier life and make better eating choices – something I, embarrassingly, needed to do.

In January, along with the ridiculously high cholesterol, I tipped the scale at 216 pounds – equaling a weight I had attained some 11 years prior. In 2003, I dropped roughly 50 pounds essentially by not eating, substituting my caloric intake with beer instead of food. It was a man’s diet! I should’ve have written a book, but it would have been a very thin book! Don’t eat, drink beer, lose weight. The End!

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Crossing the finish line at the Army 10 Miler

In the years that followed, I began running – a lot! I ran 5K’s, 10K’s, 10 Milers, working my way up to half marathons, and finally culminating in running the Rock and Roll Marathon in Phoenix in January 2008 (4:17 in case you were wondering…). During those years – life was awesome! I never once thought about what I ate or drank – everything I put in my body was fuel to be burned! Wasn’t always the best fuel, but fuel was fuel!

Following the marathon, I lost some of the passion that had inspired me to travel 26.2 miles. My legs never seemed to come back – my times consistently became slower, my distances shorter – I chalked it up to getting older.   At the same time, I began working a job that had me starting my day at the office at 3am. Strange, out of synch hours, coupled with not “feeling good” about working out led to easy excuses to begin skipping out on the gym. To top it off, we were sending kids off to college – a couple of whom played college sports which required us to attend their college events – which meant many hours in the car on weekends going to and fro – there was no time for working out!

But that didn’t change my eating patterns! If anything, it made it even worse – especially road food!

Slowly, but surely, the weight came back. Just as before, I no longer enjoyed getting on the scale to see just how bad it was becoming (unlike when I was losing weight when I was on it daily – sometimes several times!).

I hadn’t made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, or to get healthier – it just happened to be that it began in January with Ellen’s class. After a self-assessment of food intake – it became very apparent that I was not eating nearly enough fruits or vegetables. Now, I like veggies, and even some fruits – but I needed to “learn” to incorporate them in to my daily diet. On top of that, I needed to cut out certain bad habits that I had picked up along the way. Most especially: grabbing snacks out of vending machines (regardless of my attempts to justify the “healthiness” of the choices I was making) and cubicle grazing (taking advantage of gracious co-workers that love to taunt and tempt with public candy dishes at their desks!).

Ellen’s program also stressed exercise in addition to a healthier diet. This still took me several weeks to incorporate in to my daily routine. By mid-February though, a month after being prescribed a statin to lower my cholesterol, I knew I needed to make a commitment to get back in the gym.

What I’ve found, where I could previously pull any number of excuses out of my hat for not going, is treating the hour spent in the gym is essentially the same as attending a meeting you can’t get out of – only this meeting is for me and me alone. Once incorporated in to the daily routine – it’s calendered!

Between the change in diet and time exercising, I’ve begun running a calorie deficit of roughly 4,000-5,000 calories a week (or in other words, 1 – 1 ½ pounds a week). And I’ve been doing this while eating constantly. The biggest change is what I’m eating. This morning (a typical morning) featured a banana, grapes, tangerines, and an apple.

Ellen’s program stresses the health benefits associated with living a healthy lifestyle. Since starting it, I’ve dropped 19 pounds – which is great! But more importantly (or every bit as importantly!) I’ve decreased my cholesterol from 300 to 190 in the space of two months! The LDL drop from 202 to 106! My doc said he’d never seen anything like it before.

Where I was a stroke waiting to happen, my risk for heart disease and a stroke decreased like a rock!

Of course, this doesn’t get me completely out of the woods. I still have approximately 17 pounds I need to lose to get back to my desired weight and I need to maintain the good habits I’ve lived by over the last three months. And, just as important, I need to keep my appointment with the gym on a regular basis without excuse.

If you are having some weight or health issues of your own and you’re looking to make a change – recommend contacting Ellen. Even if you don’t do her program, she can point you to resources that can help – especially if you’re outside of Maryland.

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