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A man, a plan and not much else
Losing weight the journalists way
BJatSawnee
Staff writer BJ Corbitt takes a break while hiking Sawnee Mountain last summer. - photo by For the Forsyth County News
One day this past June, I stopped by the local VFW lodge to make a blood donation.

It had been a decade since my last donation, back during my college days.

There was no particular reason for the long layoff other than a mind with a stunning proficiency at fixating on the trivial.

In between memorizing the outcome of every Super Bowl and seeing “The Dark Knight” four times, giving blood just hadn’t occurred to me for 10 years.

At any rate, the good folks with the Red Cross had a lot to catch up on with me.

I moved down the checklist of personal questions intended to screen out folks with risky behavior. (If the Red Cross turns down your blood, odds are you’ve at least got a few good stories to tell.)

Then it was time for a quick interview. The lady went over all the questions again, just in case I remembered having once traveled to Equatorial
Guinea or engaging in behavior that’s illegal in 49 states and the Virgin Islands.

Then she whipped out the blood pressure cuff, worked the pump and observed.

“Hmm.”

That’s not a good response to pretty much anything, I’ve learned.

My blood was fine to donate, it turned out, but my blood pressure was a little high.

It wasn’t entirely a shock, since the condition has worked its way down my mother’s side of the family like a left tackle at a free buffet.

I had never noticed any symptoms, so the thought that I might have been blessed with this genetic trait never occurred to me.

Still, it was enough to make me look in the mirror. Some of it might be genetic, but I couldn’t shirk off all the blame on DNA.

I was one of those rail-skinny kids who had been taught by years of firsthand experience that he could eat anything he wanted. Somehow, it all rolled right off.

Until it didn’t.

For the last five years or so, I’d been carrying around a slight but noticeably round midsection.

I’ll never play power forward for the Atlanta Hawks basketball team. Give me a couple of months to grow my hair out and enough gel and I could probably pass for 5 feet 8 inches tall.

I had tipped the scales near 170 for a while, just enough to place me in the overweight range on the body mass index scale. I knew it wouldn’t hurt to lose a little of that.

I wasn’t interested in joining a gym. I just wanted to drop 10 or 20 pounds, enough to make me feel like I had made some effort to stave off the hobgoblin of hypertension.

There were just two problems with this idea. First, it was June, and I absolutely despise summer heat. Second, I have a severe allergy to strenuous physical effort.

I settled on a routine that wasn’t too demanding. Just around sunset, when things had cooled off, I’d walk from my house to the other side of the subdivision, then walk back.

It was about a 40-minute stroll altogether. I mapped the route online and found it came out to a little more than 2 miles.

On the diet side, I didn’t do anything too drastic.

I cut back on the salt, kept a rough calorie count in my head throughout the day and cut out vending machine snacks, instead opting for packaged goodies labeled at 100 calories or less.

I had been on the verge of almost eliminating carbonated drinks for a while, so I kept that up by sticking with flavored water, sugarless “just add water” drink mixes or plain old iced agua throughout the day.

When the job threw me a curveball, like sending me to cover a game during my normal walk time, I’d try to get the stroll in before coming to the office, weather permitting.

Sometimes I improvised. One night, I got in my time by hoofing it around the Milton High School campus before a softball game.

At some point, my daily walks turned into a hybrid jog/hike. I’m still not sure how that happened.

In the words of the immortal Forrest Gump: “I just felt like running.”

I did not make it to the Pacific Ocean and back, but I felt good to make it a mile before dialing it back down to a walk.

I started running full speed the last stretch of the route on my own street, after reading that a minute or two of getting after it at the end of a workout has positive results disproportionate to the effort.

By the time summer turned into fall, people were regularly asking if I had lost weight. I had — just over 20 pounds, to be exact.

That’s not an eye-popping number, but it was enough to put me in the healthy BMI range. My blood pressure numbers have come down too.

Obviously, your mileage may vary. We’re all wired differently, but it didn’t take a huge commitment for me to get the results I wanted.

I’ll have to end this with a confession. I’ve slacked off my little regime as the days have grown shorter and the weather cooler.

It’s well past dark by the time I get home these days, and the walks aren’t as easy to fit in, especially when I never liked taking them at the front of the day.

So far, the weight has stayed off. I don’t expect that to last forever.

But the next time I notice myself expanding, I’ll have a simple plan of attack. And I’m pretty confident it’ll work — since it already has.