For the majority of my 32 years on this planet, I’ve lived a life of bad habits. I ate whatever I wanted, I didn’t exercise, and I was happy. I am a non-smoker, and I always have been. I attribute this to my tortured childhood living with two ravenous smokers who could care less that there was no clean air in the house or the car. With that one exception, I was the poster child for death before 50.
What I have observed since starting the UAMS Weight Loss and Metabolic Control Program is that many of my bad habits have changed for the better without additional effort. Part of this I attribute to the extra energy that I’ve gained from losing nearly 90 pounds and getting the nutrients my body needs. Some of it goes hand in hand with actually using my kitchen for preparing meals. I’m still not sure what’s behind this, though.
When I started the program, the sum total of steps I took each day consisted of those from the house to the car, from the car to work, from work to the car, and from the car to the house. In class, I’d sit on a stool to lecture. In the office, I’d send students to check my mail. A trip to the front office would take my breath away. Before starting the program, I had never walked to the other side of campus.
Now, I walk several miles each day. I took a long car trip Sunday, and my first order of business wasn’t to eat, unpack, or visit. I had to get my miles in before the sun went down. I’ve joined Walk Across Hot Spring County, and I log my daily miles as a part of an eight-person team. I’ve completed a 5K. I’ve criss-crossed the Arkansas River on foot so many ways it’s not funny. I plan to reach the top of Pinnacle Mountain.
There was a time when I thought it might be less expensive to cook my own food. My motivation then wasn’t cooking to be healthy, but cooking to be miserly. I made a bunch of breakfast burritos and froze them. I made a dazzling array of things with ground beef that I could microwave at work. Once, I even tried making my own bread. Although the cooking wasn’t exhausting, I typically ate what I had made and then returned to my fast food ways.
Since beginning the program, I’ve discovered that it takes all of five minutes to plan a day’s meals. I pack my meal replacements in a lunch box, include the fruits and vegetables that I plan to take along, and make sure that I have any necessary utensils at work or in the bag. I keep Walden Farms dressings, some basic utensils, and a ramekin at work so I don’t have to tote them back and forth. Having formed a routine, I always have a meal planned the day before.
Although I didn’t learn it from my dietitian, I feel that my housekeeping has improved as a direct result of my participation in the program. Whether it’s because I have more energy, because I have a better range of motion, or because I actually use my kitchen for its intended purpose, I keep it clean. This is one of those positive side-effects that I hadn’t counted on.
I’ve shared with you three areas in which my life has improved since I’ve let my Couch Potato Certification lapse.