Ayear ago at this time, I felt horrible. My back was aching. My energy level was low. I often had heartburn or suffered late afternoon sugar crashes from feasting on chocolate and sweets of all kinds that circulated through my workplace.
I knew what the problem was, but pretended I didn't. Like a vampire, I avoided mirrors. I dreaded this time of year, when the weather turned warmer and I felt I couldn't hide anymore.
Hide what? My stomach.
I was technically obese, so overweight that my waist swelled to 42 inches. As a Mexican American with a family history of cholesterol and diabetes, I could see where I was headed:
A heart attack. A stroke. Or being forced to spend the rest of my life taking medications and making groaning noises as I lurched out of my chair.
My father did that late in his life and I had begun to do it before my 50th birthday.
I had gone from being a thin guy in college to a guy with a beer gut in my 30s to a guy who was obese in his late 40s.
Looking at old pictures made me sad. Looking at current pictures made me sadder. At the supermarket one day, someone asked me if I was enjoying spending time with my small grandchildren.
They weren't my small grandchildren. They were my small children.
What happened to me?
I ate all the time when I wasn't even hungry and I had given up jogging or any kind of exercise.
For longer than I care to admit, my workout bag sat under my desk, collecting dust.
Then a year ago I looked at the calendar and determined that I was 18 months from turning 50. I had to make a choice. To paraphrase an old saying, I had to get busy living or get busy dying.
I chose life and a radical regimen that would enhance my life.
Are you ready for this, because it's pretty extreme?
I began to eat right and exercise.
No liquid diets. No fads. No deprivation leading to short-term weight loss and an eventual relapse into obesity.
I chose a real lifestyle change that would be gradual and sustainable. I gave up sweets, fried foods, rice, potatoes, French bread. I stopped eating after 9 p.m.
I began to exercise, slowly at first because I was so heavy and out of shape.
One year later, I've lost 40 pounds and nearly 6 inches off my waist. I feel better than I have in years and have broken my addiction to sugar, which was the root of my problem along with inactivity.
Why tell this story? Because I've run into so many people in the last few months who've said they would try to lose weight, too, but can't because they are too busy.
Yes, you can.
You're never too busy to get healthier it's just that sometimes we can't bring ourselves to do it. I couldn't for years until one day I could.