Saturday, May 30, 2009

I Choose Change

Two events have brought the idea of change to the forefront of my life again. The first of those is an event that many of you know about already. In early April as we were returning from vacation I began having pain in my chest and left arm. A couple of days later the cardiologist went in and cleaned out a 99% blockage in my right coronary artery installing a stent to help keep that area from being a problem again.

Medicinally I will likely be on Plavix and Lipitor for the rest of my life. I would love to quit taking those at some point but that may never happen. The whole event has pushed me to make a decision about living healthy.

Honestly this is a decision that should have been made years ago. The truth is I was selfish and undisciplined and allowed my weight to balloon and my body to deteriorate. That all caught up with me quickly. Funny that the procedure took only a few minutes but the lifestyle change to prevent it from happening again takes a lot more time and a lot more effort.

The plain truth is that if I do not change I will be back in bad health and perhaps even facing worse consequences. So far this change has gone well. I realized I cannot diet. My goal is not to lose weight but to change my lifestyle. It is a conscious and intentional change. I am choosing to change.

In my case that means I am eating right and exercising. I like to say I have divorced butter, broken up with sugar, quit seeing sugar and I am only spending limited time with salt and red meat. White processed breads are also being eliminated from the menu as much as possible. Fruit is in as are whole grains. More chicken and fish and olive oil are on the menu. I am not living austerely, just limiting what I eat that will contribute to high cholesterol of the unsavory sort. Interestingly, with many meals I just cut whatever I am served in half and that seems to really help.

Sometimes it is hard. Sometimes I want things I know I don’t need. Sometimes I don’t have full control over what is put in front of me or the choices I can make out of it. Nevertheless it is worth it. It has now been seven weeks and I have lost about 22 pounds. The first 16 came very easy; the last six are being ground out.

The other half of this equation is the exercise component. I have not perfected it yet but I am on the right path. I know I definitely feel better when I exercise. The biggest challenge is MAKING (not finding) time to do it. In addition to the lost weight I received my first round of blood work back last week. The numbers were fantastic!

For fellow strugglers I want to encourage (or scare) you with this. I saw some survey results that said 70% of people with a support group succeeded in changing their lifestyle by losing weight and exercising after a heart attack. On the opposite side 90% of people without a support group failed to change their life style. Let me say that again, 90% failed. Do not try to go it alone. I chose to change my life style and I chose not to go it alone.

Now, let’s go on to a second choice. My company is going through a change…a big change. We have finally eaten something we cannot digest without great change. That change will affect me. I have been in meetings for the last two days in Phoenix with a fantastic group of people who share the same role as I do in various locations in the Western half of this great land. All of us are in the same boat. Change will happen.

At the end of this two days I came away with a new resolve to pursue with greater vigor something I have already been chasing. The choice is simple. During a time of great change you can either wait to see what gets changed, or how you will be changed, or you can decide to be a part of the change. I am not naïve. I know that all the focus and energy in the world MIGHT NOT make a difference. In the end someone else can end up making major choices about me without my input. On the other hand I know that if I choose to change I will more than likely get more say in what happens to me. I choose to have a chance to be part of the change rather than a victim of it.

It is interesting how this kind of decision breeds great clarity of mind and purpose. I know what I need to do to have a seat at the table. If I don’t do anything I might get invited into the room or I might not. Now I know I will be in the room and I might have a place at the table. Choosing to change is a good thing.

I have seen many others in similar circumstances who seem to be paralyzed in fear. They are waiting for something to happen before they decide what to do. I say decide what to do and see what kind of things happen.

Perhaps I will eat these words but at least they are not a detriment to my cholesterol or my blood pressure or my waistline! I choose to change and I like it!