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60 Pounds in 6 Months: My Health and Wellness Journey

by Paul Hennessee


60 pounds in 6 months

On October 15th, 2023 I was in Upstate New York apple picking with my family. After a long day on my feet, I decided to take a bath rather than my usual shower. After getting undressed, I caught a glimpse of my body from the side and froze. I could not believe how heavy I looked - how heavy I was. I vividly remember leaning into the mirror, looking deeply into my eyes, and saying, “Enough is enough” (yep…I was channeling Bernie Sanders). Something clicked in that moment and somehow I knew I would succeed - this time. It was a strange, yet comforting feeling. 


I’m turning 58 in June. Ever since my mid-20s, my weight has yo-yoed - gradually creeping upward. When I stepped on the scales on October 16th, I weighed in at 220 - an all-time high. At that moment, I knew my entire lifestyle had to change and I was (and am) completely dedicated to making and maintaining that change. I tell myself daily that my health is and will always be my top priority. Living that statement has made all the difference. So what does living that statement look like? Let me break it down!


My approach leans toward what TO do rather than what NOT to do. While I acknowledge this is mostly a difference in semantics, it has made all the difference in my mindset. 


My diet:

I LOVE LOVE LOVE food (GET IN MY BELLY! could easily be my mantra). Loving so many different foods can be viewed as good or bad news. I chose (I choose) to make it GREAT news! There are so many incredible cuisines and dishes that I love. 

My strategy is to focus on the foods that love me back! At breakfast, I enjoy eggs, bacon, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, French toast, etc (get the picture?). So what do I eat for breakfast regularly? Eggs (often as an omelet with one whole egg and 2 or 3 egg whites, wilted spinach, and sometimes feta cheese). I also frequently eat overnight oats with chia seeds and berries. Do I eat pancakes, bacon, and French toast? Rarely. It’s not off-limits. Nothing is off-limits. It’s just not a staple of my diet. Am I happy about that? Yep! Because I LOVE the foods that love me back. This is probably a good time to tell a quick story about an “ah-ha moment” I had after I had lost my first 20 pounds and had broken 200. In addition to that, I had a stressful day and missed a meal in the process. There were Doritos on the counter and I thought to myself, “Hey…I deserve a special treat! I just reached one of my goals AND I haven’t eaten dinner, AND I’m feeling HANGRY! Before I reached for the chips, I thought to myself. You know what? No! I will no longer use food to reward OR soothe myself. That doesn’t mean I won’t eat Doritos on other occasions. But I am not going to do it for either of those reasons ever again. Using food as a “reward” implies that what I normally eat is at best, less than fabulous and at worst, is a punishment. No more! I went for a walk instead and when I returned, I whipped up a delicious dinner! 

My biggest challenge with food has been portion control. The first batch of chili I made back in November was spectacular (if I do say so myself). It was so delicious that I kept serving myself large portions of it. While everything in the chili was healthy, the portion size contained too many calories. So, I needed to employ a few well-known strategies to help in this area: 1. Drink water before and during the meal. 2. Use a smaller plate/bowl to create the illusion of more food. 3. Slow down! This is the hardest one. Ever since Air Force basic training, I tend to eat rapidly. I’m getting better but slowing down (not only with food…but in life) is its very own journey! Finally, I eat at consistent times: Breakfast at 7 - 7:30 am, Snack at 10 am (nuts, berries), Lunch at noon, and Dinner at 5 pm. 

I won’t be going into my full menu in this blog post. I’ll save that for another day. Suffice it to say, I do a lot of wilting and roasting of vegetables to eat with my lean proteins and healthy fats (Avocado oil is my go-to cooking oil). And I use a generous amount of delicious spices. 


Exercise: 

I walk - a LOT. I average 25 - 35K steps per day. While walking doesn’t burn tons of calories, I find the benefits of it to be legion. In addition to keeping me up and moving, it allows me time to think and plan, come up with melodies (which I record into my phone as I walk), see my beautiful city as I cross bridges, watch sunrises, greet fellow walkers/runners/bikers, and last but not least, visit my favorite coffee shops for coffee, matcha, and often a delicious and healthy breakfast before making my way back home. A long walk first thing in the morning sets me up for a successful day. I find myself going to bed at night looking forward to the alarm clock going off at 5:30 am, so I can head out on my walk (I rarely need the alarm, as either I wake up on my own or my 2 cats assist!). I also often experience a feeling of euphoria during my walk - an overwhelming sense of peace and contentment with myself and my life’s journey. It’s akin to waking up from a lovely dream.


So that’s it in a nutshell. I was just fitted for a new custom suit for a photoshoot coming up in May. I am also about to leave on a 10-day cruise with my youngest daughter and I’m looking forward to spending time with her as we explore the Caribbean. I’m also looking forward to finding foods that I love (and that love me back!) on the ship’s buffet. Not to mention rolling out of bed every morning and hitting the gym and the walking path. 


60 pounds in 6 months. From 220 to 160. A new me. I am energized, positive, confident, and ready for anything life throws my way. I often think back to October 15th and smile. I did it. I’ll keep doing it. You can do it too. And I’ll be here for you. xoxo Paul


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