Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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July 10, 2013

HEALTH: FitCounty Success: Starting with baby steps counts as progress

JACKSONVILLE — This isn't my first time to this rodeo.

Being healthier and losing weight has pretty much been a struggle since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, if I'm being honest.  I'm not going to chronicle the entire journey, because that would take up way too much newsprint, but I will start about two years ago.

It was a rough time for me, I won't lie. I wasn't sleeping. At all.  I was so stressed out I couldn't keep food down and eventually started vomiting blood. Various doctors prescribed anti-depressants, sleep aides, digestive aids, antacids, more sleep aids.  I put on 40 pounds in about three months. In the meantime, an old injury, herniated discs in my lower back, flared up. More meds. Needless to say, exercise wasn't scratching my radar and I ate whatever food would stay down.

Finally, it all came crashing down. I quit all the medications cold turkey (Disclaimer: That goes against all medical advice, do not try that at home.) I made some drastic life changes. For a short time, I worked out with a great trainer who showed me how to strengthen the muscles in my back and encouraged me to just GET MOVING. I started sleeping better. I stopped throwing up.

Life returned to a new normal. But the weight wasn't coming off, not that I was really trying, and I still wasn't getting much exercise. I have a desk job, an hour commute every day and two kiddos. (Excuses, excuses).

Back in January, I gave up Diet Coke. I had what you might consider quite the Diet Coke habit. Chugged a can as I drove to work in the morning and hit it again around 3 p.m. when I got sleepy mid-afternoon. I'd tried before to quit the DC habit and it never quite took, but this time it did and I'm not really sure why. That's not to say I quit caffeine; I didn't. I have black coffee in the mornings and, if I need something in the afternoon, I go with unsweet tea. Now all those people who SWORE the weight would fall off when I gave up soda/carbonated beverages were wrong. At least in my case. But that's OK. I feel much healthier not pumping my body full of unpronounceable chemicals.

I also joined a health facility in the city where I work. I finally figured I'm at work more hours than I'm at home, so I'd better have access to a place to workout during the work day. I try to go three days a week, at lunchtime. I've hit that goal every week so far, except for Fourth of July week. I forgot to pack my workout back going back to work that Friday after a day off. I'm not breaking any world workout records; I get in about 30 minutes of cardio before I have to shower and get back to the office. Plus it's not easy starting back after years of relative inactivity. I did feel really great yesterday, however, when I looked down at the "Time Elapsed" readout on the elliptical machine and it was a lot longer than I thought I'd been exercising AND I didn't feel like I was going to drop dead that instant. Baby steps.

As all of this has been going on, I got some results of routine medical tests that were less-than-routine. As a result, I've been seeing a chiropractor who believes in healing the body naturally. Without medications. Now that's not to say toss your prescriptions in the trash. No, no, no. For me, personally, this approach is working. I'd never, EVER tell my best friend to jettison the medications she takes to keep the stents in her arteries open. But for me, and my particular challenge, this means limiting all medications, prescription or over-the-counter.

I want to add in some weight training, maybe a day or two a week, to my exercise routine. I want the weight to come off. This is my biggest frustration. I don't eat that badly. I post all kinds of fat-laden foods on Facebook and Pinterest, I'll be honest, but I rarely EAT any of them. (I will cop to a weakness for cheese). So that part is maddening.

I've been more aware of whole foods and you won't find a lot of processed foods in my pantry any more. My kids have become more aware of drinking water.

As it says in the tagline for this feature, FitCounty Success Stories, you don't have to post a 100-pound weight loss to consider your changes to be a success. As I've gotten older, success is defined less by how good I look in a bathing suit and more by how good I feel and how strong my body is. I consider my progress a definite success. And I plan to keep moving forward with it.

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