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What Fitness Has Done For Me

[After][Before]At the age of 53, I found myself having to think very seriously about my health. I was diabetic (diagnosed at the age of 37) and was taking 60 units nph insulin and a second shot of regular insulin every day. I was sixty pounds overweight and sedentary. I didn't pay attention to exercise, and my diet was very unhealthy. I ate out at restaurants too often and I was making very poor food choices. My diabetes was out of control, and I was afraid of having to face a third laser surgery for my eyes. It was time to do something.

I began reading voraciously about diet, exercise and nutrition, and then I began putting the information to use. I purchased a HealthRider bike and began to exercise. It wasn’t easy at first. In the beginning, I could only manage to exercise for two minutes without becoming out of breath. But I persisted, exercising in two-minute sessions six to eight times per day. My resolve began to pay off. Soon I could easily exercise for forty minutes at a time. I bought a heart rate monitor and increased my resistance until I was able to raise and maintain my heart rate at 70-80% of maximum for forty minutes. When the weather became warmer, I added variety to my workouts by walking 3-5 miles per day.

[Food Pyramid - click for larger image]

I also altered my diet. I became more aware of portion sizes and the types of foods I ate. I purchased a digital scale to weigh my foods, and an accurate scale to weigh myself. I followed the Food Pyramid very closely to make sure I was eating a balanced diet, and I cut down eating at restaurants to twice per week.

Breakfast on a typical day would consist of oatmeal with raisins and 1-% milk, ½ a grapefruit and a banana. For lunch, I’d have a turkey, tuna, or egg salad sandwich (made with light mayonnaise) and an apple. My midday snack was usually a piece of fresh fruit.

Dinner would consist of pasta, baked chicken breast, extra lean pork (fat removed), or extra lean hamburger with a baked potato, and 2 servings of fresh vegetables. For quick meals, I'd have a Weight Watcher’s® or Lean Cuisine® meal, adding a baked potato (with a small amount of lower fat margarine), and two portions of fresh vegetables. I'd satisfy my sweet tooth and get a serving of fruit in at dessert with sugarless Jell-O® made with canned fruit. And when I did eat out, I'd make healthier choices: At Burger King® , I'd choose the BK Broiler, at Wendy’s® , I'd have the Chicken Wraps, and at Papa Gino’s® , the Turkey Club Wrap.

After only six months of following this program, I’d lost thirty-five pounds (about one pound per week), and with my doctor’s permission, I was able to discontinue my intake of insulin and take pills instead.

Now, five years after starting my diet and exercise program, I have maintained a seventy pound weight loss.  My waist has gone from 44" to 36", and my cholesterol has dropped from 200 to 142. I subscribe to numerous health letters to stay informed about diet, cooking and exercise, and I continue to make healthy eating and exercise a part of my life. Living healthy has now become a way of life for me. I can honestly say that by starting a fitness program, I have not only improved my life, but I may have saved my life as well.

Arnold J. Gold,
Connecticut, USA

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