Post-Crescent business editor Larry Avila taken March 6, 2013.
July 4, 2012, is a day I won't soon forget.
It had nothing to do with the country celebrating its 236th birthday. On that morning, I got on my scale at home and saw a number pop up I hadn't seen since January 1992.
In late fall 2009, I weighed about 290 pounds. When I saw that there was 75 pounds less of me, if you're wondering whether I felt good at that time, I didn't - I felt awesome!
Since then I've lost more weight and I'm within less than 10 pounds of hitting the never-thought-possible 100 pounds lost.
Losing weight has resulted in this for me: dropping six pants sizes, two shirt sizes and my neck size is 3½ inches smaller. Physicially, I'm about the same size I was when I was 17, which was 27 years ago. And yes, coach seats on an airplane don't feel quite as snug to me as they once did.
Those closest to me and people who see me frequently have noticed the physical changes most, since I began seriously addressing my weight in June 2010. Some readers also have sent along congratulatory and tip-seeking emails to me when I've mentioned my successes with weight loss in recent Post-Crescent columns I have written for the Fox Valley Inc. section.
The most common questions have been "How have you done it?" and "What got you motivated?"
The motivation was easy. I had a conversation with my doctor, which had an underlying theme of "if you don't do anything to make some changes in your life, you're on track for some serious health issues."
Diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol problems. These health issues are common in my family, so the likelihood of one or more of these things plaguing me later in life were and still are very real.
Nearly three years ago, I was put on assorted medications to right was going on inside me and I'm happy to say everything is working.
The weight loss also has contributed to lowering some of those "bad" medical numbers. My doctor began gradually scaling back my medications and I'm hopeful that, someday, I won't need any.
The biggest thing I've learned since I started all this is that patience is essential. If it took years to let myself go and it will take time to fix everything.
So how have I done it? By following some basic rules that have been around forever, eating healthier and the part most people don't want to hear - exercise.
I admit I'm not doing this alone. In the beginning, I had the opportunity to work with registered dietitians and some nutrition experts at an independent nutrition club in Appleton.
These people taught me things from portion sizes to making better buying decisions at the grocery store as well as when dining out. I still consult with the nutrition folks on a regular basis, which helps keep me focused and provides me with a support group to keep me accountable.
I've never been the gym type, but I'm more active today than I was two years ago. I get in anywhere between 30 minutes and 70 minutes of activity daily.
My favorite things to stay off the couch are walking at least 2 miles to 3½ miles daily or getting some time on my low-budget elliptical machine or treadmill at home.
Does this mean my life has turned upside down? No. I still enjoy my favorite foods, but I know not to eat them as frequently and in smaller portions.
I also reward myself from time to time, where my diet gets a furlough. However, I'm at a point now where I understand I have to put in extra activity time and make dining adjustments to pay for those times when the diet gets the night or weekend off.
There was no easy button when I decided to make lifestyle changes and I do slip on occasion, but I also know how to get back on track. The ongoing challenge is not to revert back to my old habits, such as dining out for nearly every meal and not doing some kind of regular daily activity.
When I started this journey, everything was gradual, from changing food portion sizes to how far I would walk.
I also set realistic activity goals for myself. Trust me, I have no delusions of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
My goal ultimately is just to feel better, which I do now, but I know I can do more for myself.
My next goal is to hit 100 pounds lost and re-evaulate from there. I have no timetable for when I want to get there but I know I will.
I once thought losing any weight was impossible, but now I realize, with commitment and patience, it can be done.
- Larry Avila: 920-993-1000, ext. 292, or firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @LarryAvila