By Keith Carver
December 2014 was a low point.
I had just gotten my annual physical. My doctor told me that I was 30 pounds overweight. My blood sugar was dangerously high. And my blood pressure had gotten to a level that had captured my physician’s attention.
I was stunned. While I knew that I was overweight, I had recently completed the St. Jude marathon in Memphis and had set my personal best for that race and distance. I was “in shape.” But I knew that I hadn’t felt well in years. My sleeping habits were suffering, and I had noticed more swelling and pain in my joints. Something had to change.
He suggested that I consult a nutritionist to look at my eating. I immediately contacted a local professional to help educate and train me on good food choices and habits.
I’ve learned a great deal in the last four months.
Lesson 1: You can’t out-exercise bad eating habits.
No matter how much you walk or run, poor food choices will derail any good total-wellness plan.
Lesson 2: A well-balanced diet is easy to follow.
It just takes discipline and preparation. Use your Sunday evenings to plan your week of eating. When are you traveling? How often will you be eating at restaurants? When can you bring your lunch to work? Planning ahead so that you can make food choices ahead of time is essential. We are sporadic about eating healthy. Not planning ahead equates to poor decisions.
Lesson 3: Exercising 30 minutes a day is key to good physical (and mental) health.
I used to think that hours in the gym or on the road were needed to lose weight. I’ve now discovered that a mix of healthy eating plus consistent exercise—regardless of the particular routine—keeps me headed in the right direction. Try 30 minutes of walking with your spouse or riding bikes with your kids. Get up 30 minutes earlier in the morning to go for a run before work. Get on an elliptical machine or stationary bike while you watch the news. Whatever it takes—fit exercise into your daily schedule and make it a priority.
Lesson 4: Figure out your nutritional needs.
It varies from person to person, but I currently subscribe to a 40/30/30 plan. That’s 40 percent of my diet being lean proteins, 30 percent being good carbohydrates and 30 percent being heart-healthy fats. I eat three meals a day, plus three snacks in between. This keeps me satiated and full. A doctor or nutritionist can help you figure out a plan just for you.
Lesson 5: Set attainable goals.
Instead of striving to lose 30 pounds, break it into smaller units. You want to lose 5 pounds. Or, you want to fit into those jeans you wore two years ago. Whatever your goal—make it reachable and tangible.
I’ve lost 19 pounds since the holidays. My blood sugar is down, and I’m sleeping better. Best of all, I feel so much better.
I still have miles to go, but I’ll get there…one decision at a time.
Keith Carver Blog Contact
UT System Administration
Keith is husband to an amazing woman and dad to three active children. He enjoys getting outdoors with his wife, Hollianne, fishing, watching his children play sports all over East Tennessee and reading biographies of historical figures. He currently serves as the executive assistant to UT President Joe DiPietro.