Having recently turned the big 5-0 , I've noticed a common thread amongst all of my old friends who have also walked the coals this year. Turning fifty seems to be much like a New Year's resolution writ large, like a January freighted with more meaning, because this time the month won't swing back around, the last chance, perhaps, for a new beginning. For me, many of life's chapters can be summarized by what vices I've given up, thankfully the more pernicious of them fell by the wayside early on. I remember giving up the occasional use of marijuana when my oldest child was born. I dropped cigarettes when I was 39.
What I came to realize this year was that if I didn't make a lifestyle change that would get my weight under control now, I would continue the inexorable march to the portly department at Brooks Brothers. And that my bad back was just going to get worse. It's somehow odd that the friends we make in life are often of similar build or have similar traits-'birds of the feather..', if you will, so more than one old friend has been grappling with this same issue. Maybe it goes hand in hand with the seemingly ubiquitous convertible in the garage?
What I've come to understand about human behavior regarding diets is that they're much like gym memberships purchased in January-destined to fail. So I've begun an effort to keep track of what I'm eating and more importantly, how much I'm eating. My diet has historically been healthy, though too heavy on red meats. It's really always been more of a quantity issue, not a quality issue. A trainer I work with told me about a great app for iPhone and iPad called MyFitnessPal, which makes keeping a diary of caloric intake and daily exercise quite easy. The beauty of the app is that you can enter your starting weight(quel horreur!), a target weight and a duration over which you want to reach the target. My target is 200lbs, my old fighting trim, and a duration of one year, the rest I'll leave to your imagination. In order to reach my goal, MyFitnessPal says I need to keep my calories under 2200/day, I've keeping them at about 2000, and have dropped about 8lbs in 3 weeks. It turns keeping track of your caloric intake into a game, much like trying to eek out the greatest mileage when driving a hybrid.
In addition to the epiphany that I can no longer eat what or as much as I like, it occurred to me that my thrice weekly strength training and stretching regimen wasn't cutting it. I needed to up the aerobic exercise in order to ramp up my metabolism. So I've started walking- a lot- I try to walk at least three miles each day, my preferred route is 4.3 miles with a killer hill at about the half way point. The beauty is that walking makes an amazing difference in the amount of back pain I've been suffering, and I'm losing weight at a faster pace-a win-win.
All of this has been playing out in the context of our oldest leaving for college, so there was already
a change in the daily patterns of our household and family greater than just my new outlook on life.