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Adjusting the diet to wean myself off the cane

January 22, 2018 - Andy Flynn
This week: 435 lbs.

Last week: 436 lbs.

Start (Jan. 2): 444 lbs.

Total lost: 9 lbs.

With my current mobility problems — in the middle of winter — quality exercise has been limited, so I’ve had to rely mostly on modifying my diet to lose weight.

More than likely, when you see me around town, I’m walking with the help of a cane. Even when I have a good day, I’ll carry my cane just in case the pain gets too much and I need it.

Since 2016 — when I gained back the 80 pounds I lost two years prior, plus another 10 pounds for good measure — it’s been painful to walk. Even as I began to drop the weight a year ago, topping off at 480 pounds at Christmas in 2016, I was recovering from open, weeping wounds on both my legs, so mobility was a challenge. Those wounds healed by March 2017 (in five weeks) thanks to the team at Adirondack Health’s Wound and Hyperbaric Treatment Center in Saranac Lake.

Since my pulmonary embolisms in September, I’ve had four acute attacks of gout in my feet — the most recent one lasting five weeks — but I’m on medication again, and it’s helping.

Now that my feet are feeling better, I’m using a cane to walk around because I strained a muscle in my lower back while shoveling. It will probably heal within a few weeks, and then I can finally wean myself off the cane. That’s the top item on my “get healthy” to-do list.

In the meantime, shoveling is the only real exercise I’m getting, and Mother Nature hasn’t disappointed this year. She’s giving me quite a workout. When I’m not shoveling, I have a set of free weights in the dining room, where I use them and do my squats while watching the birds in the back yard through the sliding glass door. Even walking around the grocery store is a workout for me.


The diet

Let’s be clear, when I’m talking about adjusting my diet, I’m not talking about a pre-programmed diet such as South Beach or Atkins or losing weight with Marie Osmond on Nutrisystem. I’m talking about diet in the broadest sense of the word — the food I consume.

It never fails. Whenever I lose weight, people ask, “How did you do it?” I can only say that I’m getting more active and eating more sensibly. That’s it. Plus, I’m working on reducing my stress, which is always a challenge and I never feel that I’m reducing it enough.

As for food, making better choices is the key.

I’ve seriously thought about transitioning to a vegetarian diet, with eggs and dairy and no animal meat, but I’ve found that the work involved — including cooking a separate meal for my wife and learning a lot of new recipes and protein-based ingredients — would add even more stress to my life right now. Instead, I’ve cut back on my meat intake and started to eat more vegetarian dishes. This way, I can get the dietary benefits of eating more plant-based meals, and I can learn about vegetarian recipes and protein-based ingredients over time, instead of rushing into it cold turkey.

Cutting back on junk food is an obvious adjustment to losing weight. I have done that without eliminating it completely from my diet. I’ve learned that saying no to junk food all the time is not healthy. Treat yourself once in a while.

Adding substitutions is helpful. Such is the case with my Achilles heal — ice cream. I’ve found that a bowl of fresh fruit — bananas, pears, apples, mangoes or frozen berries — with plain Greek yogurt satisfies my ice cream urges. I usually buy nonfat plain Greek yogurt; however, I accidentally bought plain Greek yogurt with 5 percent fat while shopping last week. I wondered why it tasted so good! It’s the 9 grams of fat in every serving (160 calories for two-thirds of a cup).

As I make my way through 2018, I’m having a good time learning more about vegetarian ingredients and recipes and creating substitutions for the junk food I crave when I get stressed. I feel as though I’m exploring new territories while losing the weight I need to finally get rid of this damn cane.


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