All About Bodies Body Transformation – Contest Essay
I made a choice to become healthy. That’s what it was, a conscious choice. I had gained almost 50 pounds since graduating from college in 1993. My activity level was nowhere near what it was back then. Family life, including a wife and three kids, conspired against me. I rarely played sports or exercised, and ate the easily cooked, heavily processed foods that seem to be a cornerstone of the modern American diet. I gained weight, and my fitness level plummeted. I had no energy and was starting to feel the aches and pains of “growing old”.
Then I decided to change my lifestyle and see if healthy living would make a difference in my life. All I needed was some motivation and some willpower and I could see if I was truly growing old or if I could recapture the vigor I had when I was in college. I had several things going for me:
• I have a wonderful wife who made the same choice I did. We could start buying healthier food and increasing our activity level together. I couldn’t have made this change without her.
• I have neighbors who wanted to become healthier. We made our own bet to see who could lose the most weight. This added some competitive spirit to my quest.
• I had a desire to be active when my daughters and son are old enough to participate in sports. I don’t want to be a “sideline” Dad. I want to run with them, play catch, and teach them the joys of sports.
Now I had to decide how to go about making myself healthier. I had always read
Men’s Health magazine, and incorporated their tips into my life, but not on any scale to make a difference in my fitness level. I often wished I could be as fit and healthy-looking as the models on those pages, but I didn’t make the effort required. I did find one thing that I could use; The Abs Diet. One of the editors developed a simple new way of eating, incorporating 12 “power foods” into an everyday eating plan. It isn’t a diet per se, but rather a way to eat healthier foods to encourage weight loss and muscle building. I bought and read the book, and began to apply the principles to my diet.
One of the core principles is eating more often during the day. I had become accustomed to eating three large meals, and maybe a snack before bed. I began to eat more often, with three main meals and three substantial in-between snacks. I cut way back on the fatty and sugary junk and began to make healthier choices, including lean meats, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and whole grains: foods that are recommended by the Abs Diet as “power foods”. I had to force myself to eat that often, but it helped to raise my metabolic rate. After a while, I felt like I had more energy, and I sensed that my body was burning this food constantly, rather than resting to digest a large meal.
I realized, however, that diet would only be one component to meeting my goals. I needed to increase my activity level and begin exercising. Several years ago, I bought my wife a treadmill so she could shed the weight from her second pregnancy. I decided that I would incorporate it into my fitness plan. I also knew I wanted to build muscle mass as part of my fitness regimen. That meant weightlifting. Luckily, there was a gym right around the corner that I could join. Now I had the pieces in place to begin my lifestyle change:
Now I just had to find a way to fit everything into my schedule. Eating better was
easy. I was already eating, so I just began to follow my diet. Exercising was a little more troublesome. I didn’t want to give up a lot of family time. I have a fairly long commute, and I don’t spend enough time with my kids as it is. I decided to start getting up early to get on the treadmill. I now awaken ½ hour early to run for 25 minutes at least five times a week. I like to try to run every day before I come to the office. The early morning exercise helps me wake up, and I am more alert those days. I also feel like I am jump-starting my body to burn fat and build muscle during the day.
I still wanted to work with weights, so I try to hit the gym at least twice a week. During the first few months of my program, I wanted to burn fat as efficiently as possible. I found that experts recommend circuit training as a fast, effective workout for fat loss. When I get to the gym, I try to do two abs circuits and two full-body circuits, with minimal rest between sets. I am strength training, but the circuits feel like high-intensity cardio workouts. I always feel tired after a workout, but more satisfying is the feeling of accomplishment.
I also try to incorporate exercise in my life where I didn’t before. I joined a softball team, which plays once a week. I play outdoors more with my kids. I also do a “TV” workout. Whenever I’m watching television at night, I do a set of push-ups or crunches at every commercial break. Before I know it I’ve done 100-200 push-ups without a whole lot of effort.
I’m not where I want to be yet, not by a long shot. Over the next year, my goals are to get down to single digits in body fat, put on another 10 pounds of muscle, and look good when my wife and I go on a cruise this spring. I’m going to start doing more strength and muscle-building lifts at the gym, although I’ll probably continue to do a circuit a few times a month. I want to continue to run before work, since it not only positively affects my body, but also my mind. I want to continue to eat healthy foods, so the exercise I get will have the proper effect on my body.
Most of all, I want to enjoy my life as much as I can, for as long as I can. I want to be there for my wife, my kids, my grand-kids, and my great-grand-kids. There are plenty of things I can’t control in my life, but I can continue to decide, every day, that I want to lead a healthy lifestyle. There’s the motivation, so now all I have to do is actually do it…. Every day.