As a teenager I was very active as a distance runner and basketball player. It seemed like I had boundless time and energy for school work as well as competitive athletic activities. After finishing graduate school I continued to enjoy running, racketball, and tennis for many years. My first professional job was as a college professor at the University of Iowa, where I taught urban and regional planning. It was a busy and exciting life, but my salary barely covered my living expenses.
I left higher education and took a project management position at AT&T in the 1980s. The job was mostly sedentary and involved long hours at the computer, but I maintained a strong personal fitness program of running and other outdoor sports.
Then my wife and I had two sons and found that the pace of our lives accelerated significantly. Family and job responsibilities took their toll on my free time, especially on my personal fitness program. I no longer had the luxury of coming home and taking a leisurely hour for running and exercises before dinner. As the kids got older, they demanded a steady diet of fast food or a full-course meal whenever Mom was home to cook dinner.
When the AT&T job ended, I was involved in a number of consulting positions that required long hours and/or up to 100 nights a year in hotels, which further disrupted my dieting and eating plans. At that point I started putting on 1-2 pounds of weight per year and continued doing so for the next 20 years.
By 2009, I peaked at 245 pounds and was unable to find more than a couple days a week for regular exercise. My physician told me my cholesterol level was too high and suggested that I either go on medications or find a way to improve my physical fitness.
In the winter of 2010, I joined Life Time Fitness in the hope of getting into a more regular pattern of exercise. Many staff members have helped me along the way, including Kadri, Marie, Brian, and Liz. Kadri and Marie gave me advice about improving my eating habits and provided excellent information through the MyHealthScore assessment tool. They also introduced me to MyFitnessPal.com, which is an excellent resource to keep track of your daily caloric intake, as well as break down your diet in terms of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. I was shocked to learn that I was consistently eating 300-500 calories a day more than my daily metabolic rate, which explained the weight gains I had been experiencing for several years.
Brian and Liz helped me considerably in developing exercise routines to improve my functional fitness, particularly in the core muscle groups. Through their patient coaching, I’m now able to do squats, lunges, and back hyperextensions—all of which were beyond my fitness level at the beginning of 2013.
At this time, I’ve lost 22 pounds from my peak weight in 2010 and am halfway to my goal of getting down to my “normal weight” of 190-200 pounds. I typically work out at LTF four times a week and do stretching exercises at home the other days. I’ve also started using the Garmin VivoFit fitness band to keep track of my walking. I started at 7,500 steps a day and am now consistently walking 10,000 or more steps each day. This has been one of many great “tips” that the Life Time staff have given me.
I have made 20-30 incremental adjustments to my diet and exercise programs based on suggestions from my Life Time coaches. Some of these are: increasing my protein intake by 100 grams per day; cutting at least 100 grams of carbs per day; starting each day with a hearty breakfast including oatmeal, whey protein, and fruit; exercising all the muscles in the "posterior chain" to improve my core strength and posture; and making daily health choices that will increase my lean muscle mass and/or reduce body fat.
My coaches and other friends tell me I’m looking a lot healthier and have better posture these days—and I tell them I’m only halfway to my ultimate goal. I look forward to every day at LTF and am now confident that I have the tools—and support—to continue improving my strength and flexibility without going on medications or diets that involve counting calories or going on crash diets. I’m confident that I will continue to lose a pound of weight every month—while gaining muscle mass—until I reach my "normal weight" goal.