Wanting to stay healthy as I aged, a couple of years ago I decided to walk off my extra weight. In my younger days, I enjoyed a svelte figure. I ran three miles every other day and lifted weights on the off days. But, as I aged, knee problems gave way to a more sedentary life style. I started to pack on the pounds. So two years ago, already walking a mile six days a week, I thought, “Just work up to two miles and voila, the weight will come off.” The best laid plans, right? I didn’t reach the two mile goal and even gained a few more pounds. So, when my wakeup call came from my doctor last fall, it was really no surprise. My glucose numbers were up. The sugar number was high enough to garner a warning from my doctor to get it down or risk diabetes and meds. Did I get serious then? Uh…no, not really. As is human nature, I rationalized. You know the kind of self talk I engaged, telling myself it was part of aging, this happens to everybody, something’s going to get you. Well, serious finally arrived in March. When one of my nieces posted on Facebook how she lost 30 pounds using an App on her phone, I was intrigued. In her updated photo, she looked fabulous, healthy, glowing. How could an App help someone lose weight? You know I like technology, but don’t pay much attention to Apps. For starters, I didn’t quite understand their purpose. But, like I said, I was intrigued. So, I took a look at the App, downloaded the free version and started figuring out how to use it. Aside from the 15 pounds I lost and my now normal glucose numbers, along the way I learned a few things about myself and aging.
Remember the old advice from your work days about putting goals in writing. Some business management gurus of the day even wrote about writing it all down, one year, three year and five year goals. Well, writing it down was good advice. Inserting goals, logging into the App every day and having my progress stare me in the face, incentivized me to push harder. So hard, in fact, there are days when I logged nearly 6 miles walking! Two and a half miles is now my bare minimum. As someone who does a lot of physical activity gardening, bush whacking and hiking, one would think I was already at the top of my game. Uh…that’s another no. When I really started pushing myself in a way reminiscent of my younger days, I realized I was more of a mosey along type, not really getting my heart rate up high enough to get the most benefit out of burning the fat. Telling myself I was in better shape for my age than most, I complacently let the bum knee, weight and aging keep me from putting out my very best effort. After slipping into a good pair of walking shoes last March, my lower legs and feet still hurt so much, I did my usual web surfing in search of an answer. I learned I needed extra inserts to support my sagging arches, part of the aging body territory. The extra supports worked! And, as the weight started to slide off and my muscles strengthened, the bum knee turned out to be a non-issue. I learned aging means my body, not my mind, will tell me when I need to slow down, when it’s had enough. Sure, I don’t have the stamina I did at 30 but, with a little help from arch supports and stretching I can still chug it out at my personal best rate.
And, then there’s food. Yup. That little App told me how many calories I could have every day in order to reach my goal weight losing just one pound a week. I wanted a healthy loss and, naturally, of course, I didn’t want to deprive myself. After plugging in all my data, shock, surprise…what do you mean I can only have 1,730 calories a day?!!! The exercise got me extra calories but not as much as you might think. On an outstanding walking day of thousands of steps and miles and miles, this stingy little App only lets me have an extra 180 or so calories. As my niece said, “The App helps me make better food choices.” (Thanks, Stacy.) And, it did. Again and again, I looked like deer in headlights as I scanned items like peanut butter into my App only to see how my favorite peanut butter on english muffin breakfast is loaded with fat. And, since when does black coffee have calories? This was definitely a learning experience! It took about a month for my body to adjust to the calorie intake. I knew I made it the night I realized less than 2,000 calories a day was actually a lot of food. It filled me up. Yes, I am sick of salads with grilled chicken for lunch. Once in a while I have a sandwich or a turkey with green beans Lean Cuisine to break the monotony. I only eat potato, rice or pasta twice a week. But, also, as my niece says, “I don’t deprive myself.” Desserts are still something I enjoy. Last night a cup of fresh raspberries with a teeny (and I mean teeny weeny) scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia Fro-Yo hit the spot. I eat four to five cups of fruits and vegetables a day. So long high glucose numbers! Recently, I gained nearly 2 pounds on a trip to Michigan. Yes, I definitely fell off the wagon, eating, drinking and lazing around all too much during that week. With my new, improved metabolism, those extra pounds just melted off during the following week after my return to what is now my normal diet and exercise.
That’s how a little App helped me lose weight and learn a lot about myself and aging. Aging doesn’t mean getting heavy and sedentary. It means making adjustments to a changing body the same way we make adjustments to other things in our lives. It means making an all out effort to be your personal best. I can’t eat the way I once did and not pay a price for my bad habits. I also don’t have the stamina and young, pliable body that can take a pounding. But, I’m still here. And, I can still do plenty. Staying healthy and strong as I age is up to me…with a little help from MyFitnessPal App.