Kick off 2021 with “A Year of Health” series

For many people— myself included — making resolutions or goals typically includes something about getting healthy, losing weight and exercising.

At the beginning of each new year I vow that this is “the year” I get healthy and lose weight, however, by the time March rolls around, I am well into my old habits of eating not-so-healthy foods, sucking down numerous sodas a day and making excuses for not exercising.

With 2020 being such a bizarre and stressful year, I not only fell off the diet wagon early, the wagon backed up and ran me over a few times. I was the queen of ordering from food delivery services and using the pandemic as an excuse to not exercise.

My lack of motivation, combined with never-ending excuses, brought me diabetes, anemia and high cholesterol.

It’s pretty safe to say that my year went out with a bang and if I don’t get my act together in 2021, I might not see 2022.

Weight loss has been a lifelong battle for me.

While I was always active playing soccer, softball and volleyball as a kid and young adult, I was never a slim or skinny person. After I gave birth to my son in 1996, my weight began to drastically yo-yo and never stopped.

Over the years, I have been on every diet imaginable, including Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, the cabbage soup diet, Slim Fast — you name it, I’ve tried it. And while I did lose weight, once I got off of the diet and tried to go back to eating regular food, the weight came back with a vengeance.

Despite being active, I was also on the chubby side while my younger sister, on the left, was petite and small. (Photo courtesy Tamara Markard)

Part of my problem is that I expect to see immediate results. As fast as the weight came on, I want to see it disappear twice as fast.

Unfortunately, that’s not realistic, said Cree Carrico, founder of ButtaBeeFit and professional opera singer. With society pushing different products like pills, fad diets or extreme weight loss programs, promising fast results, it’s hard to accept anything less.

“I think the main problem is the diet thing,” she said. “We’ve all hopped on a bandwagon of some kind of diet and we’ve taken off 20 or 30 pounds, and it feels really good and it’s really exciting and sure enough, it all comes back.”

Carrico knows all too well the highs and lows of weight loss. She lost 100 pounds and has managed to keep it off through a lifestyle of healthy eating and consistent exercise.

“For me, it’s really being consistent with my habits,” Carrico said. “The very basic thing about losing weight is calories in and calories out.”

Yo-yo dieting began to be my norm. With a new diagnosis of diabetes, high cholesterol and anemia, it’s do or die time for achieving a healthy lifestyle. (Photo courtesy Tamara Markard)

Instead of trying to lose a bunch of weight all a once through massive changes to her diet and exercise routines, Carrico made small changes one at a time.

“The first thing that I did was stop drinking soda, and it’s the one thing that I’ve never gone back to. It’s been like 15 or 20 years since I’ve had a soda,” Carrico said. “I think everything in moderation is important.”

Carrico suggests setting SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely — and creating detailed steps for plan.

“It’s all about starting slow. Like starting off with drinking more water, or eating more vegetables or getting more protein into your diet,” Carrico explained. “It’s little things like that that really add up and make a huge difference.”

She also advises following a 2,000-calorie per day meal plan for women and a 2,500-calorie per day plan for men.

“A kind of popular thing is eating no more than 1,200-calories. No one should be eating 1,200 calories,” Carrico stressed. “Most people will take it down too far, so I suggest keeping a food journal so that you can see what you’re eating and how much. It really opens your eyes.”

Opera singer and fitness instructor Cree Carrico’s before and after photo after shedding an amazing 100 pounds. (Photo courtesy Cree Carrico)

It’s hearing stories like Carrico’s and reading about singer Adele, who lost nearly 50 pounds, and actress Rebel Wilson, who shed 60 pounds, that have inspired me to create “A Year of Health” series and share my journey toward achieving a healthy lifestyle.

I’ve enlisted the help of Aims Community College physical fitness trainer D’Ann Anderson and other healthcare professionals in the community to guide me on this process.

I can tell you it isn’t going to be pretty and it’s going to take a lot of work on my part. My goal is to lose 60 pounds, get my cholesterol down and be well into a new healthy lifestyle by Dec. 31.

I’ll hit plateaus, have setbacks and will probably cry when I walk past a cupcake, but in the end, good health outweighs any of the struggles.

My hope is to be able to share what I learn, as well as my successes and challenges, with the community to inspire others to meet their goals.

The series will not just focus on physical health, but will also include information on financial health, relationship health, work health and other aspects of our lives.

So stay tuned to my progress and if you have specific topics or questions that you would like me to report on for the series, feel free to email me at [email protected]