Losing about 250 pounds allowed me to achieve my dreams. How did I do it? I climbed up the mountain—step-by-step—and transformed my life in the same way.
Bob above at 260 pounds—my high school graduation picture. At my maximum, I weighed over 100 pounds more. I could NOT have gone hiking!!
Hi! I wanted to share with you my step-by-step journey. I lost about 250 pounds and have kept it off for over 43 years, and have been drug and alcohol-free for over 28 years. I weighed about 400 pounds in the eighth grade.
My story shows an example of how one person worked with the process of making lifestyle changes. For me, it turned out to be pretty easy to learn about new foods and to become more active in my daily life. I found the difficult areas to transform to be life-balance, self-esteem and self-talk, my depression, intense emotional eating, and learning the skill of problem solving when things weren’t going well. These are all steps up the mountain of lasting lifestyle change. All of these areas influenced my food and activity choices.
When I started my journey, my lifestyle behaviors were out-of-control and unhealthy. I was always the fattest kid in school. My eating habits and lifestyle kept me that way.
I found that success at achieving a healthier life requires learning a series of new lifestyle skills. These skills allowed me to create my life in a NEW way. Before I started my journey, I didn’t know any of these skills. Learning them opened for me the prison door to my isolation cell of overweight. I was no longer a victim of my out-of-control, unhealthy habits. It was so ENJOYABLE to discover the freedom of new options for living.
Skill power, not will power, is the key to success!
SKILL #1: Take time to create a new life. I found that choosing to take the time is absolutely essential. If I don’t make the time to evaluate my patterns, select skills to try out, and practice them, I will find myself stuck with the same old habits (patterns) that keep me overweight and unhealthy.
For me, the pattern of “over commitment to others and under commitment to myself” sets me up to make unhealthy choices in my life. This pattern has been a key obstacle in being healthier. Does your brain and heart dream up commitments that your body can’t keep? Mine sure does! I had to find out how to slow down and chill out!
SKILL #2: I couldn’t change what I didn’t observe. Keeping a food & lifestyle journal is like looking in a mirror. I can see the type and amounts of food I eat each day, and how my emotions, people, places, and events, influence my choices. I can notice my problem eating and lifestyle patterns. I can also see the benefits of trying out new foods or different lifestyle choices. Keeping a journal allows me to “write away” the pounds. I can learn new things and try them out. I discovered how to be my own lifestyle trainer and coach.
SKILL #3: Make great tasting, healthy eating a priority–-even in the midst of a hectic lifestyle. I plan ahead. An ounce of preplanning is worth a pound of fat! I take time to plan meals and snacks for myself (and my family). To help me, I discovered menu planning that celebrates vegetables and fruits! I use food to fuel my busy lifestyle and to provide energy for all the activities I enjoy. I found a new, healthful style of eating happens one new recipe and new food idea at a time. Also, mouth fun, enjoying what I eat, is essential if I’m going to make my new choices a permanent part of my lifestyle and not just a “diet.”
SKILL #4: The reward for consistent physical activity is vibrancy! I tried to be flexible and jump into a variety of different physical activities. I began to feel the power, to celebrate the inner strength and sense of well being that come from allowing my body to experience the joy of movement.
I make fitness a priority. I plan family and personal vacations around fitness, or invite a colleague to “do business” over a walk rather than lunch, coffee or drinks. I walk to the bank to use the teller machine. It’s like winning the lottery. I put your card in and money comes out!
My increased physical abilities brought me a sense of awe and appreciation for life. The quality of my life has improved dramatically because I lost weight and became more full of zip. I never would have been able to hike to the Goat Rocks Wilderness Area if I hadn’t made a commitment to myself of regular physical activity. I am SO grateful for the miraculous changes in my life!
My normal workout is with daily activities—that is I have a home in NE Portland—so I mow my own grass, edge the lawn (with a push edger!!), do my own gardening, paint the house, repairs, etc. Then there is the inside of the home too…mopping, scrubbing, cleaning…cooking! That burns off many extra calories, and saves $$$ too. Even my garage door doesn’t have an automatic opener—I’M IT!
- I also blend two activities at once—take a 30-block walk as I walk up to the bank, post office, or store, etc.
- I walk 6 times/week—just around the neighborhood—in a number of large loops, OR, plan walks in the many, beautiful Portland parks and gardens & green spaces. I love going on walks with friends—and plan them regularly. Instead of going out for dinner, we get together for activities, and perhaps bring along healthy snacks!
- Then, there are the weekly hikes to many of the beautiful sights in Washington or Oregon—wow! Cheap fun! I get into my aerobic zone for hours—and it is enjoyable!
- Then, lastly I make a date with—ME! I put my gym & yoga appointments on the calendar—every Wednesday & Friday mornings—there I am at Yoga from 6-7 am, then I do an hour strength training, and 15 minutes on the stationary bike. I also plan another days— just strength training. I’ve done this for the last 15 years and have raised my metabolism by 300 calories/day (I know this because I kept records of my calorie-weight-maintenance levels). This has also kept me injury-free and pain-free.
- WHAT’S THE BENEFIT TO ME?? Blending in regular physical exercise has been an important part of helping me maintain a healthy body, mind, and emotional life.
SKILL # 5: Learn the skills for emotional nurturing. They’re euphoric and non-caloric! Learning and practicing these skills helped me transform emotional eating and low self-esteem. I learned to celebrate my life! I became a compassionate and loving friend—to me. I make a commitment to give myself more pleasure and enjoyment in my life, to nurture myself. I remember that I deserve the best! I try to be kind to the being that lives inside of my own skin.
SKILL #6: For me, counseling and support groups have been invaluable. I tried to fix the “unfixable family, friends, and work places!” This proved to be quite frustrating, unproductive and self-destructive. I didn’t have any role models about how to live a healthy life and to find out about wholesome relationships, problem solving, and conflict management. Through reading books, individual counseling, and various support groups, I was able to dismantle unproductive conditioning and responses to life events. Ah. I’m so GLAD this help was available. It saved my life.
SKILL #7: Cultivating life-long health: Learning and practicing all these skills can bring friskiness and life-long well-being throughout all of the seasons of our lives. Weight and a healthy life is managed, not cured. It’s an ongoing investment in ourselves. It is similar to good dental hygiene. There is brushing, flossing and use of a periodontal tool, and regular visits to the dentist and hygienist. Making the investment in yourself pays rich dividends: you can chew foods of any texture without problems, you don’t experience the pain of gum disease or cavities, you save lots of money, and you feel self-empowered and capable because of your self discipline.
It is rare to have someone tell you that your life may be out of balance due to MANY different choices you make on a moment-to-moment basis. It is your environment, lifestyle, genetics, and personal habits that keep you off track. It’s not JUST diet or exercise, but ALL of the factors in your life that influence your choices. Your life is an ECOSYSTEM.
As you learn about your choices and the patterns they form, make small changes, and learn new skills, then day-by-day, overtime, you form new habits. These new patterns gradually bring to you NEW RESULTS (being healthier, happier, and thinner). This happens as you learn to practice problem solving when you relapse to old ways of doing things. Over time, you learn what works and what doesn’t work for you. You cultivate within yourself the answers and skills to manage the challenges that you face!
For a PDF version of this story: GUTS TO GLORY Walk About Article.pdf
I encourage you to check out the rest of this site. I share all of these Essential Skills for life-long success, plus TONS of other fun ideas. Happy exploring. May your life blossom into friskiness!
🙂 Hugs and love, Bob