My Senior year in college I played basketball at 195 lbs. In January, 2012 (some 23 years later) I tipped the scales at 284 lbs. I have never been one to diet, but I knew I had to get my weight under-control. So for me, the new year meant a chance to do something about it. I decided to start swimming. The pool I go to is 25 yards long; 1 lap equals 50 yards. The first day I could only swim 8 laps. By the end of 2012 I was swimming 60 laps (3,000 yards), 4 days a week. Every-once in a while I would swim 72 laps (2 miles). The most I ever swam was 80 laps. The result? At the end of 2012 I weighed in at 240 lbs. At one point, early in the fall, before Thanksgiving, I bottomed out at 234 (-50lbs).
By no means do I consider myself an expert at losing weight, but here is what I have learned over the past year. Take my advice for what it is worth.
- Losing weight is NOT a worthwhile goal. My goal was never to lose weight. My goal was to become healthier. In my opinion, if a person’s goal is to lose weight, the moment they achieve that goal they stop taking care of themselves. I think, if you are not careful, the goal of losing weight can lead to an eating disorder. If, however, you goal is to become healthier, then the result is a change in lifestyle, not just a change in your waistline.
- DO NOT weigh yourself very often. I bet, over the course of the year, I weighed myself less than 6 times, and 2 of those times were at the doctor’s office. If your goal is not to lose weight then there is no need to constantly weigh yourself. For me, doing so would have been counter-productive. I would have been discouraged if I weighed myself every week. For me, only weighing myself a few times took the pressure off and when I did weigh myself ,to be down 10-15 pounds from the last time was encouraging.
- Find your MOTIVATION. The bottom line is you will never better yourself until you find your motivation for doing so. My motivation was a loss of insurance. In August of 2011, I went from being a full-time faculty member at a local college to being an adjunct faculty member. As a result, my family lost our insurance. When we applied for private insurance, everyone in my family was accepted except me. Because of my weight (and some other issues) I was uninsurable. That was my wake-up call! Fortunately, my wife was hired full-time at an elementary school and we were all picked up on her plan. But being labeled “uninsurable” was all the motivation I needed to make a lifestyle change.
- Stick to it! This is obviously the hardest part. Once you decide to make a change, come up with a plan, and then stick to it. For me, I found out the best time to go swimming and scheduled that time into my day. My goal was to swim 4 days a week. The time of day I went swimming became the top priority for that time of day.
- Don’t beat yourself up. For the most part I stuck to my routine. However, there were times when things could not be avoided and I missed my swimming and ate to much. But you know what? Who cares. If I never lost any weight, it would not be the end of the world. God would still love me and so would my family. So I would get over it and just start again.
- Don’t buy new clothes. Eventually, I will have to buy new clothes, but so far I have refused to do so. Instead, I have enjoyed wearing clothes that are too big on me. Call me strange, but I found motivation in it.
Well, that’s my advice, for what it is worth.
My goal for 2013 is the same as it was for 2012. I simply want to be healthier. That’s it. I would like to increase my exercise, and I will try to eat better throughout the year. But the goal of doing so will not be to lose weight. It will simply be to feel better so I can do more and be more productive.