“It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.” – Carl Sandburg

In 2015, I took a long and frank look at the way I felt and looked, and I did not like my self-study. Although I had always maintained a physically active lifestyle and did not overindulge in ‘bad’ foods, unwanted pounds somehow found their way to places I did not appreciate. So, last December, I decided it was time for some changes.

My 2015 profile: 67 years old. Weight, 242 pounds. Overweight by 30 pounds – over my target weight, which is 212 pounds (high school). No real health problems. Moderately high blood pressure. Not diabetic, but glucose levels are a little high. I play golf and I love gardening and yard work.

After some frank discussions with my family doctor, I decided to use my knowledge and understanding of nutrition, physiology, and kinesiology to develop a diet/lifestyle change that works – for now and for the years ahead.

What separates my plan from others? It’s not really a diet. You don’t give up anything (food-wise). You do not have to order expensive pre-packaged pre-cooked meals. I do not use a ‘points’ system. No food to weigh. No shakes to buy or mix. And, you do not have to enroll in a gym or buy expensive exercise equipment. Lastly, the only exercise outside of my plan is general daily life activities.

Y-4-3-B: I designed it for seniors (like me). However, it will work and I emphasize “Will Work,” for any age. Plus, it is a sustainable lifestyle. But first, there are some precautions and ‘understandings’ I want to discuss before we journey through the plan.

Make sure your doctor agrees with your goals. Have a thorough physical and understand your blood work. Do not settle for, “Your blood work looks fine.” Make sure they explain (at least) your cholesterol levels (HDL & LDL), platelet counts, Kidney and liver functions, blood pressure, and glucose levels. There may be more to your weight gain than what goes from ‘hand-to-mouth.’ Follow their recommendations.

Consider genetic realities. I remember a cartoon which shows a father and son walking on the beach, shirtless and in swim trunks. The son looks at his father saying, “Dad, I have inherited so many of your fine qualities. Thank you.” Then the son thinks to himself, “All except one.” They both have very large derrieres. Genetics will not prevent you from achieving a healthier lifestyle, but it may make it very challenging. Listen to your doctor.

A must: Talk with your spouse or partner. They do not have to totally ‘buy in,’ but they should be supportive. It could be a joint project. Remember to say, “We’re not giving up anything. Just moving the pieces around.”

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If you dare, and I would suggest you dare: Take a couple pictures of the way you are now. For the truly brave, put on that swim suit and strategically keep the pictures close. Reminders help.

Ladies, do you remember the Yoplait commercial, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini?” The Y-4-3-B will allow you to snatch it right off the wall, just like in the commercial. And guys, if you are tired of ‘sucking it in’ and leaving your pants unbuttoned with an untucked shirt, give my plan a try. It will allow you to breath regularly.

Now, it’s time. Y-4-3-B: Four steps to a better (quality) life

The Y is for Yoga. I do it 4 – 5 times every week. Always in the morning before my day becomes too complicated. For me, yoga is more than breathing control, adopting specific body postures, meditation and stretching. Yes, I do it for all these reasons but I am also very practical.

At 67, what old athletic injuries and ‘boy stupid’ hasn’t stiffened up, old age and arthritis has. Today, I seek greater flexibility for a couple reasons. Yoga has helped take 8 strokes off my golf handicap. Also, it is now easier getting in and out of my classic roadster. I can now get in, no longer having to put it on- less head bumps. And yes, I have seen other benefits from yoga. Everyday bending, picking up, and twisting is easier. My advice for the first-timers: Take a class before you strike out on your own.

The 4 means giving up the “Bad Fours” Monday through Thursday. Eliminate pasta, rice, potatoes, and bread from your diet. The “Bad Fours” are loaded with carbohydrates and carbs turn to sugar and sugar to fat. Eliminate them for four days. Helpful hint: More salad (read dressing labels) and green vegetables, especially leafy, fill the void.

Also, eliminate all sugars (if possible) and substitute with artificial sweeteners. No sweets! If you drink alcohol, cut the consumption in half, if not more. Alcohol is loaded with sugar/calories.   Trust me, you will see and feel the difference. I have.

Oh yes, eliminate fast food delicacies. In a selected popular burger, I found it had 930 calories, 47 carbs, and 1,480 mg of sodium – button busters and hook up to the water bottle! If you must, only once per month.

The 3 is for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. On these days, the “Bad Four” become the “Moderate Four.” Shrink the portion sizes. Eat whatever you want, but only half as much.

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We like pizza on Friday night. Instead of my previous 4 slices, I now eat 2. Instead of 4 hotdogs (mustard, chili, onions – WV’s staple) and a big plate of fries, I eat 2 dogs and a small plate of fries.

Focus on your meal. When Sandra and I have dinner, I like to think about, and taste the food. Let your taste buds enjoy the experience. Do not eat while watching a football game or a great couple’s movie. You begin with a full plate and suddenly everything is gone, “Who ate my food!” Good food should be enjoyed and remembered. Only second to the company.

The B is for “Stability Ball.” I invested $20.00 in a large stability ball. Most include basic exercises but it is very easy to “Google” specific purposes. Me, I focus on core and back strengthening exercises and balance. The balance exercises, I do for safety and well-being. Falling is quick and easy. Getting up, not so easy. Breaking can be fatal.

I do the stability ball and Yoga following one another. Both routines take about 30 minutes. I average 4-5 times a week but more is all right, but no less than 3.

Well, that’s my “Four steps to a better (quality) life”. Simply called “Y-4-3-B.” It works. And, it’s sustainable… for the long haul.

I am proof it works. Look at me at 242 pounds and six months later at 220 lbs. I still have 8 pounds to lose to reach my target weight but, it is the holiday season and I do love eating. I may cheat a little the next few weeks, but that’s OK. January is close.

y-4-3-b-before-after-1

What you have just read is my condensed version. If all goes well, I plan to publish a full-length version soon, which will include many helpful hints on exercise and nutrition, combined with many suggestions and examples: Examples of my mistakes and how to avoid making them.

In the meantime, I would be willing to meet with any groups or organizations to talk and answer questions and even help set up your own programs. Remember. It works. And it is sustainable. For those interested in learning more, you can contact me at mlambiotte@frontier.com or comment at the end of this column. Also, my blog at michaelslambiotte.com (Hello World) will have further information beginning this Wednesday. There is also a comment section.

In closing: Each week I lost between 3-5 pounds, but gained 1-2 back over the “3” period. That’s OK. I enjoy life too much for ‘radical.’ Slow is the way to go.

Y-4-3-B… The non-diet.

Until next time: Relax, take a breath and enjoy the holidays and your families. They go by and grow up way too fast.

Michael