'I made a list of needed changes'
Raymond Soleau, 66, Homosassa HEIGHT: 5-foot-11 STARTING WEIGHT: 211 pounds CURRENT WEIGHT: 169 poundsWHY I DID IT: In December 2012, I was feeling pretty bad, both physically and psychologically. I was sedentary and my weight had ballooned to 211 pounds. I was suffering from depression and made a doctor's appointment. My doctor confirmed that I was in bad health. My cholesterol was 298, triglycerides 241 and blood pressure 130/90. The doctor prescribed a statin drug, a depression inhibitor and a host of dietary supplements including fish oil, calcium and vitamin C. Within six weeks, my cholesterol was a healthy 159, and the other numbers were dropping. But I still weighed 211 pounds. And I had taken up cigar smoking. HOW I DID IT: I began weight and cardio training in January. My initial workouts consisted of four days of weight training (two upper body and two lower body) and five days of bicycling. I also discovered that it matters more about what I use to fuel my body than how many calories I consume. After some research and taking a hard look at my eating habits, I made a list of needed changes. So as not to overwhelm myself and sabotage my program, I made the following changes gradually: I quit smoking cigars; I gradually reduced my daily diet cola consumption from six to zero cans, replacing soda with water and green tea; I began consuming at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day; I replaced fatty forms of protein (hamburger, sausage and hot dogs) with lean proteins (chicken breast, fish, peanut butter, eggs and beans); I reduced my consumption of sugars and processed flour products, replacing them with almonds and fruit; I put down the salt shaker, replacing it with other herbs; I replaced corn oil with extra virgin olive oil; and I began eating five times per day while combining protein and carbohydrates and consuming the right amount for a healthy weight. I do have one cheat day, Sunday, when I eat whatever I may have been craving through the week - pizza, hamburger, cake - within some degree of responsibility. I discovered that bicycling was fun and a great way to burn calories. I have averaged 125 miles per week since Jan. 1. Now, 22 weeks later, I have ridden a total of 2,800 miles (farther than a New York City to Los Angeles road trip) and lost 40 pounds. I no longer need medications to control my cholesterol or depression. At 66 years of age, I feel like a young man again. The bottom line is that I get regular exercise, stopped eating junk and stuck to a "balanced" diet. I subscribe to Jack LaLanne's philosophy that "if man made it, don't eat it." It's hard to argue with a guy who was trim, fit and healthy until he finally passed away at the age of 96! GOING THE DISTANCE: To stay on track, I record each day's ride (distance, average speed, time in saddle and cadence) and challenge myself with goals such as the Century Ride (100 miles) that I completed in March. My next goal is to ride from the gulf coast to the Atlantic coast of Florida in the daylight hours of one day. BEST ADVICE: There are no weight-loss limitations due to a person's age. Weight loss will not be achieved through pills or fad diets. The tried and proven method of burning more calories than you consume will result in lasting weight loss through lifestyle changes such as getting plenty of exercise and eating wisely from a variety of natural, non-processed foods. I Lost It is a regular feature highlighting individual weight loss success stories and does not reflect the opinions of 4you, which encourages you to work with a physician or a nutritionist before embarking on a diet. To share your story, visit TBO.com, search Lost It; or email firstname.lastname@example.org; or mail to 4you, The Tampa Tribune, 202 S. Parker St., Tampa FL 33606.