I don’t know about you, but weight gain has been a constant battle for me as the years have rolled by. I think there are probably many reasons for my own struggles. Well into my 30s I was very active athletically playing a variety of sports myself, coaching and staying active with my wife and kids. I’ve suffered with arthritis in my knees from my competitive athletic days and as I moved into my 40s it became clear that my participation in ballistic sports and training was over. My knees simply would swell up for days after I played in fast paced games and I had to finally give into the realities that my knees were not able to take the beating I was putting them through. That was a tough time in my life to be honest, because playing sports had meant a lot to me for a variety of reasons; fitness being one of them. When I finally stopped competing in sports I quickly went into a tail spin emotionally and physically. The competitive fire that I had to compete went out and I couldn’t imagine finding anything to replace playing on teams and competing. So, with a lack of exercise, a desk job, a slowing down of my metabolism and a bit of depression creeping in, I suddenly realized that I was beginning to put on weight – quickly! To make a long story short, I struggled with weight gain for nearly a decade, ballooning from about 190 pounds to over 260 pounds in that time. It wasn’t pretty let me tell you. On and off I’d try to curb my diet and alcohol consumption and I’d lose some weight – only to gain it back in a matter of months. I was like a yoyo – up and down and up and down but never where I should have been weight-wise, fitness-wise and mentally.
As I edged closer to my 50th birthday we had a family picture taken one Christmas and my wife, Kathy, put a copy of that picture on our digital picture frame and every now and then this picture of my beautiful wife and family would scroll through and I’d see this house of a man I had become standing by my family. To be honest, it shocked me that this once very athletic man had grown into what I saw on the screen. Shortly after, my son Kelly suggested that he and I do the Ride To Conquer Cancer from Vancouver to Seattle the upcoming spring to honour my first wife and Kelly’s birth mom, Darlene, who had passed away years before from leukemia. I had always liked bike riding and the thought of doing the Ride To Conquer Cancer with Kelly inspired me, but I knew if I was going to ride over 200 kilometres over a weekend I was going to have to lose weight and get in shape. So, I got on my mountain bike and went for a ride, and what I quickly realized was that pushing 260 pounds down the road wasn’t easy, and it was definitely hard on the rump! I needed to lose some weight first, get some strength back, and then begin to ride and train for the event.
In speaking with my doctor, he told me about the need to walk 10,000+ steps a day and after reviewing a regular day in the life of Tom we quickly determined that I probably wasn’t coming close to that level of physical activity a day. He advised getting a pedometer which I did and to my surprise most days I never exceeded 2,500 steps. Not nearly enough to burn off the calories I was ingesting daily. I researched walking further and what I learned was that the activity is a low impact activity on the knees, which was what I needed. I also learned that there were a lot of things I could do to make walking competitive for myself. I bought myself a Nike Fitness Band, which helped me track my steps daily and recorded my milestones. It had encouragement functions which detected inactivity and spurred me on to walk or be active, plus I could go online and link my band to the Nike website and compete against thousands of others who had Nike Fitness Bands. All things that were very appealing to a competitive guy! Wouldn’t you know it – with a more conscious approach to what I was eating and drinking in conjunction with the increased activity the pounds began to drop off. So much so that by the time five months had passed I had lost some 30 pounds and was able to ride in the Ride To Conquer Cancer that next spring.
Since that time, I have participated in six more Ride To Conquer Cancers and my weight loss journey has seen me lose another 30 plus pounds. I maintain a weight right in and around 190 pounds now and man it feels good to look at myself in the mirror and know that I look good and feel good.
I touched on the fact that I began consuming healthier foods earlier in this blog. I don’t want to gloss over the fact that eating and drinking properly are absolutely key for my continued weight management success. What we fuel our bodies with matters and it either supports our weight loss and maintenance goals or hinders them. For decades in my life I was a poor water drinker. In fact, I’d drink almost anything but water. Milk, juices, coffee, pop, beer and so on were my choices over water. Water was dead last on my list if I felt thirsty. In speaking with my doctor and researching water consumption on my own, I came to realize is that if I wanted to have my fluid consumption assist me to my weight loss and healthy body goals, I needed to become a far better water drinker. And so, over the past many years I have transitioned my fluid intake away from other sugary fluids and water has become my main drink every day. When we consider most of our body is fluid-based, it only makes sense to replace lost fluid with water. In fact, it’s been proven that water consumption actually helps a person lose weight and it’s far better for you than other forms of fluid intake.
A focus on 10,000 plus steps a day and a drastic change in how much water I am consuming daily has made a world of difference for me. I’m mid-way through my 50s now and I’m more active and healthy on any day today than I was for most of my 40s. It took a defining moment for me to make the decision to get my health and weight under control. I’m so glad I did and I want to share with you that if you are struggling as I did – don’t give up on yourself – you can make the small changes that will provide you with the good results you want, and need to achieve, to live a fuller life. You can do this!