I knew what was best, yogurt, low-fat anything, fruits, veggies, high quality cold cuts and frozen diet meals. And I knew what was bad: soda, rice, potatoes and pasta!
... and that bacon, eggs and cheese were my friends!
I signed up for a weight loss class at my local gym where I first started counting calories. They gave us a little lecture on staying away from pizza, wings and fast food. The trainer even taught us fractions as we divided up our plates into thirds. Of course we exercised 2 times a week for about an hour as well as being encouraged to do a third on our own.
Two out of three In it to Lose It sessions our team took first prize for the largest percentage of weight lost. (and the most farts during sit up circle!) Go us! I was on my way to losing a small child.
In the midst of all that, I got sick, really sick - like congestive heart failure sick.
After a week in ICU, a surgery, a "we don't really know, but some people need heart transplants" prognosis and a long recovery, I decided that maybe I didn't know as much as I thought I knew. (No surprise to the people that know and love me!)
I worked with the cardiologist, the doctor, an immunologist and a nutritionist to find a path back to health and fitness. And I prayed. Truthfully, I had only desired to swoon over myself in the mirror before that. Now I wanted to be healthy and fit too.
So what did I learn since they took me off the heart monitor?
- Not all calories are the same. They are just a guide for comparison; actual mileage may vary.
- Losing weight, even a lot of it, is not a guarantee that you are healthy or fit.
- There are many factors to being fit: basic strength, cardiovascular health, aerobic capacity, pain free joints, blood work within healthy limits, and best of all, you feel good.
- If you can't pronounce an ingredient on label, it's suspect.
- All natural foods can still have too much sugar, salt and unhealthy amounts of carbohydrates.
- Whole foods are not the same as low-calorie foods.
- Walking is not running.
- Hydration is very important! You can get water from other sources besides water; like fruits, veggies and water based drinks. There is even water in margarita!
- Hydration, according to the spies at the CDC, is good for the following: Keeping body temperature normal, lubricating and cushioning your joints, protecting your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues (I guess like your privates) and gets rid of waste through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements. Eww!
- If you are counting calories, vegetables are better choices than fruit - if you have to make a choice.
- Processed foods are, IMHO, not good for you. There are plenty of studies to prove it. They are linked to every scary disease you can think of.
- Everyone plateaus at some point during weight loss.
- We all have 6-pack abs, some are just shrink wrapped.
- There are super foods which help you get the most nutritional value for the amount of calories you eat.
- There are so called healthy foods which are not particularly healthy.
- The right kind of fats don't make you fat (within your caloric limits), or cause high cholesterol. Stick to Omega 3s and avoid saturated fats.
- There are simple and complex carbs, choose complex ones unless it's fruit with other nutrients and fiber! Foods that contain simple carbohydrates include white flour, honey, milk, yogurt, candy, chocolate (which is a food group!), fruit juice, cake, jam, biscuits, molasses, soda and packaged cereals.
- Whole grains are the best kind. Did you know that whole wheat bread may not be any healthier than white bread if it is not whole grain?
- Learn to love whole grains! Brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur (cracked) wheat, millet, wild rice, popcorn, quinoa, triticale, whole-grain barley, whole-grain corn, whole oats/oatmeal, whole rye, and whole wheat.
- B-I-N-G-O, sugar has a name-o. Brown sugar, Corn sweetener, Corn syrup, Dextrose, Fructose, Fruit juice concentrates, Glucose, High-fructose corn syrup, Honey, Invert sugar, Lactose, Maltose, Malt Syrup, Molasses, Raw sugar, Sucrose, Sugar, and Syrup.
- The older you get, the more important fiber becomes. No, $h1t, really.
- If you are going to run, get your shoes fitted at a running store!
- Supplements (and some medications) should be used rarely. If you are eating a healthy and balanced diet, your blood work should be near perfect. If it's not, do as the doctor prescribes. Keep in mind a healthy diet and weight can reduce or eliminate the need for medication and dietary suppliments.
- There are no experts except possibly me. ;)
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