The last straw was being kicked out of a weight loss study because my blood pressure was too high. It was the final low in a series of them. My doctor said “You’re a ticking timebomb,” my offer to donate blood was declined because my blood pressure diastolic was over 100, and I endured a “walk of shame” at an amusement park because I couldn’t fit on a ride. On top of everything else, I woke up several times a week from a nightmare that I drowned, a sign sleep apnea might kill me if a heart attack or stroke did not.
Lying awake in bed, doom-scrolling headlines and afraid I would not live to see my daughter graduate college or not being there to walk her down the aisle, I’d ask myself, what kind of life do you want to live?
Then one night I remembered something my mother said to me when I was worried that I wouldn’t make weight to play youth football: “It takes a long to put weight on and it takes a long time to take it off.”
I decided to answer my own question. Admit that Mom was always right, and listen to what my body was saying. I had always loved walking, eating fruit, and cooking. Anytime I’d given up soda for Lent, the first glass or two after Easter tasted terrible. I was embarrassed by how much my legs swelled when I ate too much salt. I hated feeling “hungover. ”Finally, I thought back to the concept of homeostasis, which Biology 101 tells us is “the condition for optimal functioning for an organism.”
All that said, here is what I decided to do to change my lifestyle: 10,000 steps, 2,000 calories, and 64 ounces of water a day. That’s it.
Roughly 18 months since I committed to this lifestyle change, I’ve lost 55 pounds. I now donate blood every eight weeks and sleep better than ever. I’m less depressed, have more energy, and watched my daughter graduate college this past May. Life is good and getting better.
Were there days when it was difficult to honor my commitment? Yes, of course. This being New England, I had to wave the white flag, surrender to middle age, and begin mall-walking. Once, I walked up and down the aisles at the grocery store during a snowstorm to get in my steps. Solving the daily food puzzle requires a commitment to shopping and packing healthy snacks and lunches. But, in the end, the pain of change was well worth it because I feel better than I have in over a decade.
As you might have heard, everyone’s lifestyle was impacted by a pandemic in 2020. Based on news headlines and anecdotal evidence of medical practitioners I’ve encountered, Covid-19 left many people heavier and less healthy than they were. As a result, I would like to close this article by issuing a challenge to those who see in themselves what I see in my “Before and After” pictures.
64 ounces of water.
It’s possible to change your life and your health!
Ken House works in resident services with the New Britain Housing Authority and is co-founder of TryCycle Data Systems, a mobile technology company taking on the opioid crisis. He lives in Newington with his wife Morgan, their daughter Susanna, two dogs, and three cats. Ken is working on his first novel and, as of this writing, has walked over 10,000 steps every day in 2021.
*Note: The American Heart Association recommends you speak to your primary care physician before making any changes to your diet or beginning an exercise routine..