Marcos Breton

Marcos Breton

Marcos Breton: Turning back the years through weight loss

Published: Sunday, May. 5, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 5, 2013 - 7:12 am

On Feb. 11, 1989, I woke to one of the two happiest days of my life as a slender 26-year-old who easily slipped into his wedding day tuxedo.

Though not as fit as I could have been, I weighed only 218 pounds that day – not bad for a guy nearly 6 feet, 5 inches tall.

But to my regret, I got much heavier as the years rolled on.

Two years ago this month, at the age of 48, I stepped on a scale in May 2011 to confront a frightening number staring back at me: 292 pounds.

I was moved to finally get serious about my health, though I wish I hadn't waited until I'd put on 74 pounds.

That's why I'm writing about this issue again – as encouragement to those who need it – because it took me years to embrace a beautiful thought: You can regain your health, even if you think it's impossible.

It's not.

Two years ago, my eating habits were horrible. I constantly had heartburn from eating food in quantities too large for what my body needed.

I was addicted to sugar, salt and fat. I stuffed myself with sweet snacks late at night, which affected my sleep patterns and only caused me to overeat even more. I drank sugary, carbonated drinks packed with empty calories that didn't nourish me but made me heavier.

Worst of all, I forgot the sensation of being authentically hungry and simply ate whether I was hungry or not.

From the early 1990s to my epiphany two years ago, I tried all the major, national weight loss plans but all I ever did was lose the weight and gain it back with interest. The only thing that grew lighter was my wallet.

So how did I lose it? It may sound crazy, but here goes: I began eating right and exercising. I didn't starve myself, didn't set out to run a marathon in mere months, didn't try to lose weight in four weeks that I gained over 20 years.

But I did make some mistakes.

At first, I completely eliminated rice, bread and pasta from my diet, making me so cranky that soon my wife and my editor wanted to divorce me.

I thought I would celebrate my 50th birthday by running the California International Marathon last December, but I came to my senses and didn't.

If I had made running the race my health goal, what would happen when the race was over? A better long-term goal was simply being healthy for life. I hope to run CIM someday – but only when I'm truly ready and have put in the training required without shortcuts.

So I worked carbohydrates back into my diet at appropriate levels. I'm running 20 to 25 miles a week now, because that's what my body can handle after more than a year of working up to it slowly.

I have friends who can cover far more miles at much faster paces, but who cares? I'm not racing against them. I'm racing against the heavy person I used to be.

I began using an iPhone app called "My Fitness Pal," which counts the amount of calories I need each day. If I stay within the margins, I lose weight. So I do and I have.

In fact, I now have people telling me I need to stop, that I'm too skinny. I was heavy for so long that people got used to me in that shape.

But the more weight I've lost, the better I've felt. I've ended up losing a little more than 2 pounds per month, a reasonable and doable progression.

But it goes beyond calories and pounds. My heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol levels are all improved and normal. I used to snore terribly, but don't anymore. My daily consumption of leafy green vegetables means I no longer need vitamin supplements for eyes that were once overly sensitive to light. I need no medications at all.

At 50, I feel healthier than I have ever been. Last week, I comfortably slipped on a pair of pants I had not worn in decades – pants that were part of a suit my late parents had tailored for me as a college graduation present in 1986.

And when I began writing this column, I walked over to my scale, stepped on it, looked down and smiled.

For the first time since 1989, I weighed 218 pounds again – the same as I did on my wedding day more than 24 years ago.

The moral to the story: If I can do it, you can do it.

Call The Bee's Marcos Breton, (916) 321-1096. Back columns, Follow him on Twitter @marcosbreton.

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Read more articles by Marcos Breton

Marcos Breton, news columnist

Marcos Breton

Hello, my name is Marcos Breton and I'm the news columnist with The Sacramento Bee. What's a columnist supposed to do? I'm supposed to make you think, make you laugh, make you mad or make you see an issue in a different way. I'm supposed to connect the dots on issues, people and relationships that cause things to happen or prevent them from happening in our region. I also write a weekly baseball column during the baseball season. I am a voter in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Yes, I have voted for Barry Bonds - twice. I am a native of Northern California. I am the son of Mexican immigrants. I've been at The Bee for more than 20 years, and I love Sacramento.

Phone: 916-321-1096
Twitter: @MarcosBreton

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