Tuesday Feb 07 2012
Editor's View: If I can lose 60 pounds, so can you
By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
A little more than a year ago, I watched my baby girl come into the world. Little Deirdre weighed six pounds. She was so tiny. Meanwhile, as my wife recuperated from complications in the hospital, I was left caring for our 2-year-old son Liam at home. He was energetic. He wanted to run and play. I did not. I was exhausted and lethargic. My lack of energy wasn’t just because we had small children. No, it was because I had let myself go until I was at a point I was no longer comfortable. I was tipping the scale at more than I’d ever weighed in my life. What had I done to myself and how did I get there? Now that I’ve lost 60 pounds, I can look back at one wild ride. It started with a head-on car crash when I was 20. My back has been in a constant state of pain ever since, with some days better than others. As a runner, I could no longer hit the trail by the river for a quick jog every morning and evening. Since I found myself unable to enjoy my exercise of choice, I did nothing. I quickly gained weight and it has been something I’ve battled for 22 years. The birth of my youngest daughter changed all that. I made a commitment to get healthy and lose the weight without pills, injections, surgery or crazy gimmicky diets. I opted to go with a “healthy eating plan.” I looked at a lot of different diets and there was one I found that seemed to make the most sense for me. I advise anyone looking to lose weight to do the same and consult a physician. The concept that works for me is pretty simple — move more while eating less sugar, fat and high-calorie foods. For the first 10 days, I eliminated all meat, dairy, bread, coffee, soda and alcohol. OK, coffee crept back in after five days. This was meant to “shock” my body into losing weight and it did. The key was to keep those first few pounds off. Prior to making this commitment, I would have regressed to old lifestyle habits. Not this time. The weight continued coming off, at a slower rate as I added more calories into my diet. I started eating five times daily beginning with a healthy breakfast, a non-fat yogurt or piece of fruit for snack a few hours later, a meat-less lunch, another snack a few hours after that and a healthy dinner (usually with 4-6 ounces of lean meat and plenty of vegetables) I also got off the couch and back on the trails (and even some virtual trails). I now exercise at least 30 minutes daily but I find I get the best results with an hour each day. With two small children (and two older kids who are around on alternating weekends and holidays), it hasn’t been easy. I sometimes put baby Deirdre in her play pen while I work out with the Wii Fit Plus. While it’s a game system I bought a few years ago for the kids, it’s proven to be a great tool, allowing me to track my weight and log my exercise routines. I work exercise into my schedule any way I can. Alcohol doesn’t have a place in my healthy eating plan but that doesn’t mean I have to decline a glass of wine or a beer when I’m out with friends. I load up on vegetables and fresh fruit, keep a positive attitude and watch what I eat. Shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “Celebrity Fit Club” can be inspiring if you get beyond all the “drama” of the reality shows. There are some nuggets of exercise wisdom I’ve managed to glean from some of the fitness gurus (such as Bob Harper and Dolvett Quince). One of them is, “you aren’t losing if you aren’t moving.” With a baby on my hip, I’ve dipped, squatted and otherwise made a fool of myself all in the hopes of keeping this body moving. If I’m watching TV before bed, I take out a step stool and do step exercises, alternating each “step up” leg every two minutes. I do this for 30-45 minutes. There are ways to exercise around a busy schedule. My ultimate goal is to be 40 pounds trimmer by this time next year, giving me a total weight loss of 100 pounds. If a former couch potato and desk jockey with two small kids at home can do it, so can you. Don Chaddock is the editor of the Telegraph. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.