July 7 always will be remembered by Mets fans as the day of the only All-Star Game in Shea Stadium history. Ron Hunt ran out the play second base, the first Met player selected to be a starter.
But I'm also going to remember it as a day one year ago that an iPhone app changed my life.
You have to know that I’ve been overweight most of my adult life. I was a bit of a yo-yo dieter, losing a bit, getting frustrated when I couldn’t lose more, then falling back into old habits. I knew it wasn’t healthy, and I knew I had to change.
Then I discovered Lose It!, a free app that asks you to set a goal, and sets a daily a calorie limit to help you meet that goal. I’d record what I ate after every meal, adding up the calories. Then I recorded my exercise, which subtracted the calories I burned.
The app also has little charts and graphic to mark progress, which is key because it provides visual proof of accomplishment, like a box score.
The value here was not necessarily the app, but the education I gained because of it.
I used to think I was eating in a relatively healthy manner. But I was stunned when I learned the actual calorie count of some of my favorites. I used to think I was dieting if I ordered the foot-long roast beef sub, but passed on the cookie or chips.
And I learned how exercising every day — rather than just two or three times a week — makes a tremendous difference. I spend about an hour a day on the treadmill, though with the weather nicer I can run outdoors and paddle my kayak.
As I started to see results, I became more focused. Some might use words like "obsessed" and "annoying."
I set an initial goal of losing 20 pounds and blew past that in a little over a month.
Initially, 30 pounds was bold but realistic goal, 40 pounds a big audacious goal, and 50 pounds was a fantasy. Today I sit here down 60 pounds, hitting the mark in late winter and maintaining it since.
Eating in restaurants has been a challenge. Chains are good about posting nutritional information on their websites, but I’ve also learned enough to know what to look for on a menu, and that it’s OK to bring some things home in a box.
I’ve also learned about the importance of portions, especially with snacks. A cookie once in a while is fine. Eating five of them, not so much.
I’m also ramped up the amount of fruit and vegetables I eat. We’ve always had healthy family dinners, but I make sure to pack an apple or a banana — or both — in lunch everyday. I also make my own lunches, and it's a good thing that I'm a creature of routine who can happily eat a turkey sandwich every day.
There’s a different mindset, to be sure. I often think, which would I enjoy more, the brownie or good news on the scale?
And there are some things I miss. Qdoba's three-cheese nachos, China City's sesame chicken and the aforementioned Jimmy John's sub are now just fond memories.
But I've learned a taste of a treat is as good as the whole thing, and running can be fun, especially with an iPod loaded up with "God rock" and 1980s hits.
I feel so much better physically — save for some sore knees once in a while — and I no longer duck for cover when someone brings out a camera.
Not long ago, I was in a store and picked up a 40-pound bag of bird seed, and thought it was pretty heavy. Then it dawned on me I was carrying around all that weight and half of another bag, and realized how difficult that must have been on my body.
I’ve heard that most people who lose weight gain it back over time. That might happen to me one day. But I can make sure I won’t head down that path today, and will take it one day at a time.
Making such a dramatic lifestyle change requires a supportive family, because I suspect I’m not as quiet as I hope I am when I rise a 6 a.m. and head to the treadmill. And buying new clothes was an expense we didn’t consider initially, and we all had to sacrifice. I’m grateful to have their backing even when I test their patience.
Now, I share this for a reason. As some of the people leaving comments on this blog tell me often, I’m not a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon. Yet, I could do this. If I can do it, so can other people.
And if you need someone to cheer you on, you know where to find me.