Last year I had the dubious distinction of being chosen to participate in the American Heart Association’s BetterU Challenge. Myself, and a few other women were chosen to experience a lifestyle makeover. For 12 weeks we were provided with lifestyle coaches, nutritional advice, physician consultations, and personal trainers.
In other words – I was so out of shape, the AHA found it necessary to intervene.
Now, I’ve always been relatively unhealthy. I’ve struggled with my weight since I was young and my southern-born mother believed corn was the only vegetable that didn’t necessitate deep-frying. I may have started out as a normal sized infant, but I was chunky kid, and then a fat middle-schooler. Before my fifteenth birthday I spent a summer following along a Richard Simmons video and eating turkey sandwiches. That seemed to work and I managed to lose quite a few pounds, but then it all came back when I went away to college. And then I lost some of that with another popular fitness tape, only to gain it back again. So the cycle began…
Before my second child, I managed to lose the weight with the help of a premier diet plan and an expensive gym membership. Then I got pregnant (isn’t that always the way). I gained pretty much in one pregnancy what most women gain in 2, er, 3, actually. But I carried the weight well…well, everywhere.
Enter the AHA. My new writing career required me to sit more than I ever had before. I tried typing on the treadmill once, but all that did was lead to an unfortunate near-death experience involving a wall and broken flash drive. I thought I was too busy to exercise and eat right. I had a book to promote, another to write, a full time day job, two kids at home, and a husband.
I simply didn’t have time for fancy gym memberships and I didn’t have the money for designer diet plans.
What I didn’t understand is that I didn’t need those things to live a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps the best lesson for weight loss can be taken from history. Highlanders believed oats kept you regular, Regency women found that walking could help one keep a trim figure, and before cross-country travel became commonplace, people ate what was in season. There were no NordicTracks…only Nordic tracks. Exercise happened during your everyday – lifting pails, doing the wash, and simply walking from place to place. Granted, over-indulgence was common amongst the rich, but for the rest of the people, meal size was relatively portion appropriate. You didn’t eat what you didn’t need.
Who knew history could provide us with such great fitness tips? And who would have guessed so many of those lessons held true today?
So, what did I learn from the AHA? I learned that simple exercises I could do in my home worked just as well, if not better, than anything I could do in a gym on a fancy piece of equipment. Push-ups, squats, jumping jacks – that’s what worked. I learned that eating right meant eating well. I ate natural foods whenever possible, natural being anything not packed with preservatives and chemicals. I filled up on whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables. There were no snacks that were off-limits, I just had to enjoy them in moderation.
I’ve lost over twenty pounds, and I still have some to go. I’m determined to combat the dreaded writer’s spread. I try to get up every so often and do a few squats or spend a minute in a wall-sit during my writing day. I try not to eat while I’m at the computer, and often times I turn to almonds when I’m feeling particularly stressed (deadlines!).
Perhaps the real secret to maintaining a healthy weight, is that there isn’t a secret at all. So, what do you do to keep yourself healthy during your busy days?
The Romantic Pursuit question today – How did Regency women keep their figure trim? Click here to answer!
Jessica Jefferson makes her home in northern Indiana, or as she likes to think of it—almost Chicago. She is heavily inspired by the classic sweeping, historical romance novels, but aims to take those key emotional elements and inject a fresh blend of quick dialogue and comedy. Visit her at http://www.jessicajefferson.com for more of her random romance musings. Be sure to like Jess at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jessica-Jefferson/ and follow her on Twitter, https://twitter.com/authorJessicaJ/