This week’s Simply Healthy feature is one of my amazing students, Arlene! I was lucky enough to meet Arlene when I began teaching and have been lucky to have her as a student and a friend ever since. Everyday she can be found taking a variety of classes and enjoying time with fellow YMCA members. She is truly special and I am so happy she has shared some of her tricks for leading a healthy lifestyle!!
When did you begin leading a healthy lifestyle and how has it affected your life to this point?
I guess I have to go back 37 years. I was always thin and not necessarily fit as the only type of exercise back then was Gloria Steven’s and we did tons of leg lifts and ab work but NO weights.
I was 31 when I had my son and for whatever reason unknown to many, especially me, I gained 17 pounds during pregnancy. Once David was born I went from a size 6 back then, it is now a 2, but with that said to a size 14. I looked as if someone blew me up like an air balloon. No matter what I did, starving eating a lettuce leaf and a hard-boiled egg, I kept gaining weight. Finally, I was seen by Dr. Bernard Klinman the top endocrinologist at Mass General Hospital. Because of my pregnancy something happened to my thyroid. It took over a year and a half for the proper dosage to work. At that time they gave you synthroid then waited 3 months and then raised the dosage an mg at a time. Because I was eating properly and exercising, bringing my son to Gloria Steven’s each day and placing him in babysitting services (at a cost of $1.00 per class,) I began to lose this excess weight very slowly.
From that time to today I was so concerned about helping others find why they were overweight. When my son was in nursery school, I became a Weight Counselor for 3 different companies over the next 5 years. One dealt with a limited interview and having clients listen, over 4 weeks, to different tapes at night (cyber something was the name of the co.). The second was a Thin from Within program developed that included individual counseling and group counseling sessions. It also included 4 weeks of a tape program that you listened to at night.
Believe it or not the 3rd company, 35 years ago, had a computer program that in today’s world would be ancient but we asked the clients what they ate, then placed the information into a program that told them how many calories their choice registered and placed them on a very limited (PROBABLY UNHEALTHY) but calorie perfect diet to lose weight.
I then continued at other fitness programs available at the time and for years took my son with me. Unfortunately that was the time that “life time memberships” were offered. I then chose “2” that I remember 35 years later after signing it. It was their lifetime as corporations not mine and lost many hard earned dollars as each went out of business or closed their facility.
No matter where life took me exercise and healthy eating choices were an integral part of my lifestyle. When my husband became very sick and I had to become a 24/7 caretaker the video world was my new best friend. I purchased every video available and when cable TV brought the option of fitness TV, I then became their best follower. Today, I can’t recall the exact instructors I followed but for sure I never ever stopped exercising. Because of the weight gain due to my thyroid I was a portion control person and a behavior modification person from my years of counseling.
I to this day, 35 years later, do believe in behavior modification and portion control and any trick that works smaller plates measuring your food, logging your food and today I am a FIT BIT enthusiast.
It was a $100.00 investment but I log everything I eat and every program I participate in and even wear the unit at night and know how many hours I sleep and how long it takes me to fall asleep and how many times I wake up during the night.
Being honest with what I record and seeing my weekly report I believe keeps me fit and on track and healthy and truly happy that I have been the same weight within a pound or two over a lifetime…..
The joy of coming to the Y is a very personal and joyous part of each of my days. The friendships I have made and the feeling of wellbeing has never been better as a 68 year old woman living alone and creating a life. Only 2 years ago, after making that decision to sell my family home of 40 years, and creating a life alone is the gift that just keeps giving.
What are some of your favorite aspects to healthy living?
Enjoying the choices I make to stay healthy and fit. It allows me to enjoy: Exercising in a variety of group programs offered at the YMCA; choosing all of my favorite foods and eating them in moderation; and taking classes at CCCC (Cape Cod Community College) offered by Academy of Life Long Learning.
Do you prepare a lot of meals at home?
Yes, I cook for myself each and every night. I make my meal times special, using my favorite dishes and wine glasses. My morning meal includes reading the Cape Cod Times; afternoon meal includes listening to music and catching up on articles of interest that I have saved and evenings do include a glass of my favorite Shiraz and watching the news of the day.
What’s your favorite meal to prepare?
The most amazing, exotic, healthy, huge salad I can prepare, including everything from salad greens, avocado, nuts, beans, artichokes, Flax seeds etc. to name a few ingredients off the top of my head.
What do you consider to be the key to your success?
Eating in moderation, not eating in between meals, always being seated when I eat, and choosing the proper plate/ dish or cup to make my choices special.
My motto for exercising is anything I do is better than nothing, I engage in a huge variety of programs, using modifications and good judgment
If you had to name your greatest accomplishment, what would it be?
In the area of family, it is to have a wonderful relationship with my son and daughter in-law and my two grandchildren.
Overall, to begin each day being grateful for, what I do, what I have and who I am; and always embracing a positive attitude, smiling and feeling happy.
Do you have any current fitness or healthy living goals?
To stay healthy and fit, positive and happy and embrace each person I meet in a positive way each day
Thank you Arlene for sharing your story!!
Interested in sharing your Simply Healthy story? Email me, SimplyModernDance@gmail.com