“Less of me than there used to be”

January 13, 2014

An inspiring Reta Baker, Mercy Hospital Fort Scott president,
 shares her 100+ pound weight loss story

Prior to turning 50, I received mail prompting me to join AARP. I thought, “Geez, that’s for old folks!” Well, at 51, I joined to take advantage of member discounts. Now 56, I enjoy the AARP newsletter and find many of the articles too easy to relate to! They focus on getting, staying and being healthy. Not too long ago, an article entitled, “The Only Exercise You’ll Ever Need: Walking” piqued my interest. According to the article, British author George Trevelyan wrote about the health benefits of walking in 1913, saying, “I have two doctors; my left leg and my right leg.” Over a century later, modern medical experts echo the same advice: “Get up and walk.”

It doesn’t matter what program, diet or even surgical procedure a person chooses to lose weight, it will not stay off without a well-balanced, healthy diet and exercise. Simple hard fact, there is no easy button to get slim. And walking may be the single best and easiest exercise you do to improve your health.

Over the past five years I have lost 108 pounds. I’m still 10 pounds shy of meeting my personal goal.

Walking is how I exercise. To break my recent plateau, I’ve added bicycling. Each day is a challenge because I have never had a passion for exercise. I keep waiting for that day, but five years into creating a habit of regular exercise, it hasn’t happened. I still struggle to hit the treadmill at 6:00 a.m. and the bike at 6:30 a.m. I can think of many reasons to miss a session, but I stick to it anyway.

I also know I could gain back every pound in a fraction of the time it has taken to get rid of it. Each day is a conscious decision about what I eat or don’t eat. I now eat most anything I want (in moderation, of course) with Weight Watchers as my fall-back plan when I see my eating getting out of control again. On a fun note, my dog (don’t tell her I called her that) is part of my routine. On the days I don’t go down to the treadmill, she sits near the bedroom door looking at me. I loudly hear her doggy thoughts, “Get with it, lazy bones. I need to watch you sweat!”

I would challenge anyone who has not engaged in some form of exercise to get up and walk! My tips:

  • Get a good pair of walking shoes that fit well, have a flexible sole and a good cushion for your heal

  • Start with short distances, five to 10 minutes at a time if you need to

  • Warm up with five minutes of slow walking, then walk briskly, then cool down with five minutes at a slower pace

  • Exercise 30 minutes at least three to five times a week, breaking it up into 15 minute blocks if need be

  • Wear a pedometer. (5,000 steps a day is considered sedentary. 10,000 steps is active)

  • Walk outside, inside or on a treadmill

  • Watch portion sizes

See you walking!

Reta Baker, president of Mercy Hospital Fort Scott in Kansas, has been with Mercy 32 years.

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