My Friend, Leigh

I met Leigh in high school.  He is one of the sweetest, nicest people I know.  And truth be told, I had me a little crush on him.  He’s such a wonderful guy and, thanks to Facebook, email, and his mom (she’s awesome!!) I’ve been able to keep in touch with this dude over the years.

So I was surprised to hear about Leigh’s health issues.  Thankfully, Leigh had his “a-ha” moment and has QUICKLY turned his life around and he’s doing so wonderfully that I asked him to share his story.  Here it is below.  Leigh – YOU ROCK!!

I was asked to put something together talking about my journey from being clinically obese to what I consider the beginning of a success story. At the beginning of July this year I was 184 cm (6 foot 1) and 132 kg (291 pounds). This gave me a BMI of 38.4. While a BMI never tells the whole story, that is well above obese. I told myself I carried it well.

On July 3rd I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes which runs in my family. It is entirely likely that even if I were the picture of health I might have eventually developed diabetes but my lifestyle certainly accelerated the onset and I was prescribed Metformin. Suddenly I had a tangible goal in my mind. Get my blood sugar under control and if possible get off the medications. These were real and tangible goals for me with long term consequences I could understand.

So the same day I started changing my diet. I hate vegetables but they were going to be my new favorite thing and what I discovered was that smoothies were an easy way to consume a lot of vegetables very quickly.  And I started walking. My first time out I travelled 3.2 km and I averaged a kilometer every 12 minutes and now I can walk 5 km and take 9 minutes and 30 seconds per kilometer.  In the evenings I did some strength training, a program called 90 Day Revolution by Jillian Michaels. Walking burns sugar and muscle building makes it easier to burn sugar in the long term.

I started doing more research using resources like the Canadian and American Diabetes associations and my Google search history was full of “type 2 diabetes <insert food name here>”. What I learned was that I was putting a lot of effort into maintaining my weight. A lot of chips and burgers and fatty foods. So now with a diet consisting of a good breakfast of Special K or something like that, a smoothie or a spinach salad for lunch and a chicken wrap and something similar for supper and another smoothie, the weight started falling off. The smoothies helped me feel full between meals and I stopped snacking. Almonds helped for those in between times as well until eventually I wasn’t as hungry between meals. I needed and wanted less on my plate during a meal. I began to adjust and I was starting to feel better for it.

I did run into a bump though. I am learning how to eat again. Somedays I have to actually look for ways to get more protein. I’m not hungry but I know I need to eat a little more. It’s a strange place to be in but it demonstrates for me how complicated our health is.

So two months later I have lost just over 18 kg (40 pounds) which had reduced my BMI from 38.4 to 32.7 and I weigh 248 pounds. I have a ways to go, I want to lose another 18 kg (40 pounds). I’ve started at the gym and I am doing more strength training to build muscle (which helps burn sugar) but most importantly I feel like I have successfully changed my relationship with food. With the support of an amazing family and friends I can say I have a new lifestyle which no longer involves fatty foods and sugary treats. On a hot day I still take the kids for ice cream, but instead of three scoops I take the single scoop, and on my birthday I am going to have a piece of cake I just won’t go back for seconds.

It is possible and it is doable. It was easier than I thought and there are days I really don’t want to get off the couch but once I do and I have put a couple of km’s behind me or some weights in my hand I always feel better afterwards and I’m glad I did. If I didn’t make a change it is very possible I could die relatively young and I am determined to keep that from happening. I am going to get healthy, stay healthy and most importantly enjoy life to the fullest extent possible.

My buddy Leigh's before  pics and after pics.  He rocks and is ready to roll!!

My buddy Leigh’s before pics and after pics. He rocks and is ready to roll!!

You have no idea how proud I am of this guy!  It’s unfortunate that so many of us don’t realize how important our health and lifestyles are until it’s too late.  But the good news is that so many side effects of unhealthy eating and unhealthy lifestyles ARE REVERSIBLE.  All it takes is a a little effort, proper diet and exercise, and support and love – especially love from ourselves to ourselves.

It’s not too late.

~Fit Bitch

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