This is one Mean Old Lady!

This is one Mean Old Lady!
Self-portrait: 'Quilter on Fire'

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Biting the Bullet

So, last September I was putting on my tennies, bending over to tie the laces, and I realized I was huffing and puffing due to the effort.  No doubt about it--overweight, out of shape, and not getting any younger.  And then there were the blood pressure meds and unacceptable cholesterol (Thanks, Mom and Dad, for those genes!)  Time to make long-overdue changes.

I started walking the neighborhood and a nearby park trail--45 minutes a day.  I listened to NPR on the DHubby's walkman-toy and plodded along.  When I got home, a change of clothes was necessary (so, at least I was walking fast enough to work up a sweat.)  Later on, park drainage construction and weather made me decide to dust off the dis-used treadmill in our spare room.  The added advantage was that I didn't have to be presentable--running shorts, sports-bra, and a headband were the bare necessities.  (Don't be afraid--I am not going to upload a photo!)  And I could keep track of my speed and mileage--two miles a day, even if it took longer than 45 minutes.  I almost never skipped the treadmill.

Part Two of the reformation:  I devised a strict diet.  No, wait--make that 'a strictly BORING diet.'  Feel free to follow this diet if you want to, but don't say I didn't warn you.  

     1/2 cup Kashi Go-Lean Cereal; you may substitute cardboard plus twigs and dead leaves if desired
     1/2 cup Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk; I started out with Blue Diamond, but Silk has even fewer calories
     1 cup fresh or frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, 1/2 banana, fresh figs)
     (Maybe once a month, eggs; and sometimes a smoothie made with yogurt, almond milk, and fruit instead of the cereal)

     Spinach, arugula, or mixed greens, sprinkled with red wine vinegar
     1/2 cup non-fat cottage cheese; it's no worse than the low-fat.  In season, chopped fresh tomatoes
     9 Wheat Thins (low salt, low fat, baked)
     1/2 apple, 1/2 cup fresh figs, 6 grapes--fresh fruit of some kind

     1/3 to 1/2 cup brown rice (or quinoa, or occasionally pasta)
     4 oz. lean meat (chicken breast, pork tenderloin) or fish (cod, salmon); maybe once a month, beef
     approximately 1 cup vegetables (steamed or sauteed in olive oil)

     Two-three times a week, vegetarian meals (rice curry, eggplant pizzas, veggie pasta)
     Wine  (yeah, I know, but a gal's gotta have something!)
     1/4 cup toasted almonds, one square dark chocolate (morale is important)

Nothing between meals, except for guzzling water constantly.
If eating out, stay within these guidelines as much as possible, or if carrying a lunch, substitute a diet protein bar or drink (190 calories.) 
I lost only 2 lbs. a month--pretty slow--but eventually I had dropped 10 lbs..  However, I was feeling constantly dizzy.  The doctor reduced one of the blood pressure medications.

By  July, I had lost another 8-10 lbs, and my BP was running 96/65, with a heart rate in the 50's.  The doctor dropped the one BP med entirely.  In August I was back in the doctor's office with dizziness and shortness of breath, though I felt otherwise well; he dropped the diuretic from the combination medication.  Immediately I gained 4-5 lbs. and had swollen ankles, but over the next month that resolved.  When I saw the doctor again, it was for an annual check-up, and the dizziness had cleared up.  I had worked my way off two of the three blood pressure treatments! 

I did bring up the disappointment I was feeling:  after a year of the above boring diet and exercise regimen, my total cholesterol was an above-normal 241.  (Anything over 200 is considered high.  My parents, neither of whom suffered from any heart disease nor ever dieted, ran in the 300's.)  The doctor agreed that my genetic tendency was for high cholesterol, but he pointed out that the LDL was below the 'maximum desirable' 160; and the HDL, which has protective value, was 74.4 (whereas  an HDL of 50 thrills most doctors.)  These good numbers cancelled out the concerns that the 241 total cholesterol might have excited.  I went home feeling pretty good.

And as of this week I've officially shed 25 lbs.  I am certainly more fit.....and speaking of fit, some of the clothes I hadn't worn for a long while are back in the closet and bureau.  I'm not shooting for 'Gorgeous'--those days are behind me--but I do feel better, move more easily, and appreciate being off most of the medications. 

Here is a summary of too-true observations:

1.  Being very slim all of one's young life is Very Bad Training for Life after 45.

2.  If you have weight you need to shed, make every effort to lose it before menopause gets under way.  It is a much more difficult, and much slower, process once past 50, or 55, or 60.  Trust me on this one.

3.  It is easier (for me, at any rate) just to eat the same thing every day for lunch and breakfast.  Fewer temptations, less time and thought required.  Dinner is another matter; I enjoy cooking, and it's easy to achieve variety within my guidelines-- so I cook.

5.  Similarly, it is easier to maintain the exercise routine when I don't skip any days.  It is too, too tempting to find reasons to miss a day...and then another...  And, thanks to the DHubby's audio-visual arrangement, I'm finally viewing TV programs like "Glee" and  all the movies we've never gone to the theater to see.  (Plus it distracts me somewhat.) 

4.  Quite probably I can never completely stop dieting.  Metabolism is a stern master.  And if I'm sensible I won't stop working on the treadmill, either. 

5.  Realistically, I still need to lose an additional 10-15 lbs.  I do not aspire to be the same weight I was when I was 30--or 40--and besides, things wouldn't be where I left them.  My goal isn't to be killingly slinky and svelte; I just want to tie my shoelaces without getting out of breath.  

--And finally--when it comes to diet and fitness, remember this:

                                                                             Virtue is its own punishment!


  1. What an HDL score. This is one test on which a 74.4 = an A+. Congratulations!

  2. Your dedication is even more impressive than the amount of weight lost (and that itself is pretty stunning)! You are an inspiration to me, for sure, and I have so few excuses for not doing what I should.

    What do you think of Glee? I'm way, way behind, but really enjoyed what I saw!

  3. Why, thank you, all.

    Hap, I had only seen a few episodes (widely scattered) so it has been interesting to pick up on the story line in the right order. I am a bit tired of the big production numbers, and I'm glad the writers got over the 'teacher caricature' overload of the first season. (Most of us ole schoolteachers are pretty ordinary folk.) We raised our children in NE Ohio, and Show Choir was a *big* deal, so I am entertained by all the Lima/Ohio references. All in all, I'm enjoying it. A really gripping movie, however, is a more helpful distraction by comparison. Must go polish my halo, now...

  4. Hey, what a great saga, Elaine. Good for you. Yes, you will never be able to go back to the bad old diet. What you have now is a completely new life style. I have shed over 30 lbs. since I started my macrobiotic diet, and this is simply the way I eat now - no regrets. BTW I made a nice fig-kanten tart with a millet base. And the week before that I made some very yummy fig-date-nut bars. V. good and all within the dietary guidelines.

  5. OK, now we need pictures. You sound like you've been doing spectacular. Congrats! Your pulse and blood pressure are better than mine.

  6. When it was really low like that, I did not feel at all good--dizzy and even short of breath. Now I am generally 118/68 with HR in the 60's. Probably I won't be able to do without medication entirely but that is a small price to pay. I still have some 'muffin top' issues and could stand to lose more, as I said....It'll take time. But it was fun going in and buying new undies in a smaller size!


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