Healthy choices for life

"You use it or lose it" meant more to Sandie Jockers than just not being able to climb that third flight of stairs
by: Photo by Bob Schoenberg/Regal Courier, Sandie Jockers works out at Curves in Tigard six days a week and works part-time evenings at her job at Fred Meyer.

Sandie Jockers had a disease when she was a teenager that has since then been virtually eradicated. Once deadly polio is no longer the fear it was once was. But the damage it did often remains.

She was cured of polio, and has been strong and active in all of her 65 years, but her doctor told her a few years ago that because of the earlier bout with the disease and her relatively sedate lifestyle as a senior, along with some weight gain over time, she was losing muscle mass.

The doctor told her it was becoming critical and that she needed to do something about it, adding that the consequence could be fatal. So on the advice of a friend, she started exercising.

In July Jockers, who drives into Tigard from Yamhill, recently passed her 1,014-workout session at the Curves in Tigard. To accomplish the monumental task she worked out an astonishing six times a week for three and a half years.

'When I first started, within two weeks I noticed the change, I was able to climb stairs that had been difficult for me and I was sleeping better. It really saved my life,' she said.

She continues to work at her job at the Tigard Fred Meyer electronics department and walks up to 3 miles a day when she can.

Through her workout and nutrition regime that she created herself, she lost 72 pounds over the three and a half years and instead of losing muscle mass, she has gained some.

The first thing she did was to start a detailed food diary keeping careful track of what foods she was eating. She also used books available at the library on how many calories were in the foods she ate.

It helped somewhat that she was trained as a food chef and knew where to look for information on nutrition.

And she drank 'lots and lots of water,' she said.

She started to steer her food intake to fruits and vegetables with a limited amount of protein from meat.

'I wanted high on flavor, savory foods,' she said. 'When you are on a diet you don't want to eat bland things. Any stir-fry with lots of vegetables and very little meat are great. You can have huge portions of food with only 300 calories using Asian sauces that are very flavorful. Curries are good and extremely flavorful and satisfying.'

She was also careful to read the labels on foods she buys. Any packaged foods are required to provide calorie information and size of portions. Books and Internet Web sites also provide information on how many calories there are in raw foods and how many calories adhering to the right foods can burn.

The idea is to burn up more calories than you eat to burn body fat and to then maintain muscle mass by eating enough protein and by taking vitamins.

She said she likes going to Curves, an exercise program geared towards women, because they have a proven exercise regime coupled with nutrition education. Curves also have a device that accurately measures body fat content so that the right exercises are targeted.

Jockers also include high fiber content foods in her diet, like multi-grain breads and have switched to soymilk for reduced fat and calories. Her advice is to 'stay away from processed foods,' like those coming prepackaged with high sugar and salt contents.

She invested in a scale to weigh her raw foods and for meal proportions. The scale can be a battery operated digital scales that can run you over $50 to spring scales that cost under $20. They are found at most kitchenware stores and department stores.

Weighing the food assures that you are eating only the number of calories you need, to stop overeating.

'Your not eating as much and so you save money too,' she said. 'And your not paying the high cost of processed food. Compare the cost of a bag of chips with what you get from it and the cost of a bag of apples. Which would you want?'

For protein she buys pork and fish as they are low in calories and fats, and high in good oils for proper nutrition.

She said that food stores are making it easier now to make better food choices from picking organic foods and bulk foods, fruits and vegetables from more and more aisles of those type of foods offered at Safeway, Albertsons, Fred Meyer as well as Wild Oats and Natures, she said.