On January 1, 2009 I made a New Year’s resolution to become healthier. I have a 12 year-old and a 3 year-old and I expect to work a long time to support them. I want to be around to see them get married and have children. I knew that my physical condition might prevent me from doing these things, so I determined to change for my kids and for myself.
I started by giving up soft drinks cold turkey. I used to drink 3 or 4 sodas a day. When I first quit, I would have nightmares of sneaking a soda while telling myself, “Don't do it!” I missed the sugary drinks a lot in the beginning, but I don't really miss them now.
I started doing other things to improve my health as well. I take several vitamins and herbal supplements. I drink more water and herbal teas.
I reduced the amount of junk food I eat. I now eat many more fruits and vegetables. I cut down on my portion size. I eat smaller portions more often so I don't get the low sugar effect or the starving sensation I’d get when I only ate three large meals. I eat fairly often and people are always asking whether I am eating “again.” I tell them, “No, I'm still eating and still losing!”
I still eat sweets but not nearly as often. By eating more fruits and vegetables I’m getting the natural sugar and satisfying my craving for sweets without giving in to the candy.
Many of my friends have come to me for advice. I tell them that I am not a nutritionist but I can tell them what I'm doing that works for me. The most important thing is this: I am NOT on a diet. I've just changed the way I eat—I eat much healthier.
By making permanent changes to the way I eat I’m avoiding the yo-yo effect that so many people experience. Additionally, by doing it my way I saved all that money that other people spend on programs. I just buy healthier foods and that’s that.
I also make conscious decisions to move more. I work a lot, plus I have two children, pets and a house to care for, so I don't really have much time to work out. I just try to be more physically active. I park further away from the door at work and at the grocery store. I walk on lunch when I can. On my breaks I'll do sets of stairs in my building. I make house work my workout by finding ways to move more, even if it means investing more time—I find it time well spent on myself.
I've lost 57 pounds and want to lose another 15 or 20 in order to reach my goal. I’ve also dropped my cholesterol 56 points just by exercising and eating healthy—no drugs involved. My journey certainly hasn’t been without its challenges, but it does get easier. Once you adjust your way of eating it becomes natural.
I've been getting lots of compliments that make me feel good about myself. I also find it flattering that people come to me for advice. My positive experience fuels the desire to continue to read and learn so that I can improve my life and share what I learn with my friends so that their lives improve as well. And that is my story.
Mary Ann Burlingame