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Carrying 21 pounds less baggage

A year ago, almost to the day, my life changed.

I woke up, as usual, I went to the bathroom, as usual, and I weighed myself, as usual. I was disappointed, as usual, with the number staring back at me. I was unhappy, as usual, with the figure I saw in the mirror.

For some reason, that dark morning in April 2018, a light went on in my head. All at once, I realized I had to do something different, and that I had to start doing it right away. It was an epiphany of sorts. I’d spent my entire adult life overweight, often teetering on the brink of obesity. Small changes and short-term corrections clearly weren’t cutting it. I needed to drastically reprioritize my life. And I needed to be prepared to make the necessary changes for the rest of my life.

It was just a brief moment of self-awareness, but apparently something clicked in my brain.

I was up that morning early enough to go to the gym for at least a little while before work, so I threw some gym clothes on and immediately headed to the gym. Actually, that’s not true. I had a cup of coffee first. Then I headed to the gym.

After my workout, I went to the fridge to do an inventory of the healthiest foods we had on hand. I had an egg-white omelet for breakfast. I no longer remember what I prepared for lunch, but I saw there were tomatoes and red onions in the crisper, so I had a salad for dinner.

And so it began.

I wasn’t making a big deal about it to anyone, although it was obvious to Kathryn something had changed in my behavior. However, by mid-summer it was starting to become obvious to others. I was the last one to walk into a staff meeting one morning, and the boss commented that it looked like I’d lost weight. At that point, I’d already lost about 15 pounds, which I acknowledged. Some of my coworkers wanted to know how I’d done it.

I said, you know when your doctor tells you to exercise more and to eat better? Well, I tried it.

(By the way, if you’re overweight and your doctor doesn’t tell you to lose weight every time you see him, you need to find yourself a new doctor. Stat.)

Over the past year, I’ve stepped up my cardio schedule to an hour, four or five times a week. During the week, that’s usually on the elliptical machine at the gym, but when the weather is nice, I’ll often change it up with a hike on the weekends.

On the food side, I’ve gotten reliable about making a relatively healthy but hearty lunch for the whole week, once a week. I usually do this on Sunday, but Monday at the latest. That way, I don’t need to raid the vending machines at work, or worse, find myself at the local Mexican take-out, shoveling an order of carne asada fries into my face. Donuts are no longer my go-to breakfast. Calorie-laden dinners have mostly been downgraded to snacks.

Of course, my weight has had its ups and downs along the way, but I try to stay focused. I let the ups motivate me to push harder, and I let the downs remind me to keep doing what I’m doing.

I still have a lot of work to do — my goal is to get my BMI into the “normal” range, and I’m still several pounds away — but I feel great. For the first time in over two decades, I enjoy buying new clothes. I recently bought jeans that actually fit. When Kathryn and I went to the Easter Vigil this past weekend, I wore a suit I bought when I finished grad school … in 1996 … and it was a little loose!

Several months ago, as we began planning the trip we’re starting tomorrow, I decided my morning weight today would be my “official” one-year weight loss, and that I’d post it on my blog. I’m down 21 pounds. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much, but it’s over 10% of my body weight. And it’s a lot less baggage to carry from country to country.