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Everyone who has tried to lose weight knows how difficult it can be. Sometimes it takes an important event in your life to provide the motivation. For me, it was an upcoming backpacking trip with teenage boys for two weeks on rugged mountain trails in New Mexico. Yes, I am the Scoutmaster for our troop, and members of our troop started looking forward to this great adventure in early 2020. Since this trip requires stamina and endurance, every participant must be cleared by a physician to qualify. I am 6’ 0” and weighed 325 pounds when we first started talking about this trip, and I certainly did not want to disappoint my oldest son and not be able to accompany him on this trip because I was overweight.
I began exercising and started watching what I was eating. And then something called COVID-19 rocked our world and threw everything off course. In early February of 2021, I was down to 286 pounds but knew I needed to be 239 by June in time for the weigh-in at my physical.
It was at this time that I heard about ConnectCare3 (CC3) through my employer and how they offer nurses, health coaches, and registered dietitians. I called CC3 and requested the assistance of a health coach. I needed to lose over 50 pounds in four months and needed professionals to help me safely accomplish that goal. I knew it would require a lot of discipline and consistency, but I was up to the challenge as failure was not an option!
I was assigned to a health coach named Phil Thompson. I felt my dietary habits were already good, so Phil examined my current workout schedule. I have a full gym in my basement and was accustomed to working out for an hour 3-4 times a week and had fasted from 6:00 p.m. to 12 noon for about one year. I knew it was time for fresh ideas and suggestions from a health coach if I was going to reach my goal.
Phil developed an aggressive exercise program designed for the weight loss I needed by mid-June. He suggested I start walking in the morning before work and do High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) at night. HITT is a workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less intense activity or short-term rest. Phil explained that high intensity exercise is great at breaking down fats to be released into the blood but not as effective in using it. Low intensity exercise isn’t as good at putting it into the blood but is very effective at pulling it out of the blood. This is why it’s important to do high intensity work to push fats into the blood followed by low intensity exercise to actually burn it up.
As for eating, I stuck to the 18-hour fasting schedule (only ate between noon and 6 p.m.). For meals I mostly ate salads with a protein such as chicken or salmon. At lunch I’d sometimes add a non-creamed soup and for dinner I’d add additional vegetables. I track my calories each day and I’m averaging between 1400-1900 calories a day depending on how busy the day is. I try to limit snacking, but if I do it is typically fruit, a raw vegetable, or lightly salted roasted almonds.
There were days when the scale didn’t seem to be dropping quickly enough, but I put my trust in my health coach, strictly adhered to his plan, and followed any additional suggestions he made. In May, Phil added HITT to my morning exercise routine, and he suggested I add a protein shake and banana after those workouts. And I ended my day with a brisk walk outside, which was so much better than the treadmill! Phil also discussed the importance of resistance training with me to build muscle and keep my metabolism high. I am very goal-oriented and remained diligent.
In early June I reported to my doctor for my physical. I weighed 236.4 and was cleared to go on the trip. I felt relieved and proud of my accomplishment. I plan to get to 225 pounds to make it an even 100-pound achievement prior to my departure. My scout troop and I have been training for this trip for a long time, and I feel all of us are prepared to handle the challenge of hiking 7-8 miles/day for 12 days with a 60-pound pack on our backs up to an altitude of 12,500 feet. The Sangre de Cristo mountain range should provide some spectacular scenery.
When I return from my trip, I plan on continuing to exercise and watch my diet. Phil will assist me with the maintenance phase focusing on higher calories, less cardio, and more focus on resistance training and toning. My new lifestyle is here to stay. I feel energetic, have now lost 50 pounds since starting to work with Phil, and have gone down four pant sizes. When I reach my goal of 225 pounds that will be a total weight loss of 100 pounds. Many thanks to Phil for helping me accomplish my goal. I am also the Cubmaster for my youngest son’s Cub Scout Pack, and I plan to take my other two sons on this same hiking adventure in the upcoming years. But I won’t have to lose 50 pounds to qualify for the trip!