My Journey To Fitness – a guest post by John A. Sanchez
I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was that finally lit the fire under me. Perhaps it was my sorry sleep patterns. Or maybe it was my extremely poor diet (after all, fast food is convenient, if nothing else). Or more conceivably, it was the day that I stepped out of the shower and saw myself in my dresser mirror, a bloated reflection staring back at me in disbelief. Well, it was a culmination of all three – and many more – reasons that made me tell myself that I had to do something about my horrid physical condition NOW or I would be dead or incapacitated by diabetes before age 50.
Some people can go on a diet and exercise plan and stick with it as if it were a job, but not me. I’ve tried it. Working out in the south Texas oilfields isn’t exactly conducive to such a plan. No, I knew me; I knew I’ve been down this road before. I’ve lost weight and then gained it back and then some. The only difference this time was that diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea sunk their gnarled claws in me and refused to let go. No, I knew I needed some outside help, so after hearing about a weight loss clinic on the local news/talk radio station every morning, I gave them a call. I knew such a measure wouldn’t be cheap, but it was either write the check or continue dreaming about getting back in shape while hearing how wretched my health is from my doctor.
So I walked into the clinic on a Tuesday morning with an open mind. I knew they were going to take some “before” pictures. I was embarrassed to strip down to my waist, but that embarrassment quickly became another motivating factor. I went in there on a hot August morning weighing in at 247.8 pounds, which was unnervingly pleasing to me (my weight fluctuated between 245 and 255 pounds). I left the clinic an hour later with boxes of pre-packaged meals that included soups, protein shakes and bars, and even cold drinks. I also had a menu of “regular” foods that I could eat. There was nothing drastic on said menu; the only radical change was the portions. I knew that this was going to be a painful process, but rather than focus on the trip I began to envision the destination. My journey had begun!
My first week was highly motivating. I had lost a total of 10.5 pounds! Amazing… However, I had no illusions about anything; I knew that perhaps most of that weight lost was water weight. The next week saw a loss of 6 pounds, and then week three saw a loss of another 10 pounds! I dropped almost 30 pounds in less than a month; getting fit was no longer a difficult dream to achieve. It was fast becoming a reality!
I’m not going to bore anybody with the details of my visits to the clinic. I will say that I experimented with food and exercise. After all, one can’t eat the same thing day in and day out without boredom quickly setting in; the very same applies to one’s work-out regimen. I tried different “greens”; I came to love spinach, romaine lettuce and snow peas. I also began looking into vegan alternatives. “Veggie” burgers and low-sodium black beans quickly became a dietary favorite. And I rekindled my romance with weight training. I’ve always had some knowledge of weight-lifting principles; my problem had always been finding and/or making the time to hit the gym. And I knew that cardio training would have to play a vital role in my life, so I began walking at a brisk pace.
One more thing that helped play a role in achieving my weight loss goals was the use of supplements. Proper nutrition is key and cannot be circumvented. Supplements, on the other hand, are just that: they are a supplement to nutrition. They are NOT magic pills. A physician should be consulted before using any of them, particularly so-called “fat burners.” Some of these products can be harmful or even fatal, especially to those who have not dieted or exercised in a long time. Even protein shakes should be consumed with the utmost of care.
When I wore a younger man’s clothes I was in shape: slender, athletic-looking, and toned. And I used to mock overweight people. That is, until I became one of them at age 23. No more. I’m not overbearing about anything, but ask me how I did it, and you can prepare to take notes! I will speak about my experiences and my knowledge at length not to brag, but rather to educate and, hopefully, inspire and motivate.
Fast-forward six months later; I am about two-thirds of the way to my weight loss goal, but I am confident that I will get there soon, very soon. My brisk walking will soon increase to a daily six miles and my love of Krav Maga training will help but improve my cardio. I have also toned down my weight training to train for definition and endurance. And nutrition, of course, will always be the key to everything. One can train for hours, but as the saying goes: garbage in, garbage out. I don’t know what motivates most people, but seeing a different me in the mirror helped immensely. Also, I beat diabetes! I have been taken off the insulin, so no more shots in the gut for me. My mother even told me that I wasn’t snoring when I spent the night at my folks’ house one evening, so that was yet another added bonus for me. My upcoming 48th birthday will be my best ever, and what better gift to give myself than having a body of a man half my age? What motivates you? What will you do?