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by Ashley Gangloff

January 5, 2009

A total health makeover with swimming

Every new year brings forth the dreaded question, "What is your New Year's Resolution?" Each of us strains to think of a resolution we can commit to without really having to change our daily habits. We all claim to dedicate ourselves to the promise that this year will be different. "I will lose five pounds," "I will give up caffeine," "I will go to the gym every morning." Snap out of it! Put down the champagne and noisemaker, it is time to get real. This is a new year and it is time for a new you.

Tinjin Chang swam throughout his childhood, through high school and during the first two years of college until "it just wasn't fun anymore," according to Tinjin. After a 15-year absence from the sport of swimming, Tinjin returned in the summer of 2004 and trained with the Plano Wetcats. Since moving to Omaha, Neb., Tinjin has trained by himself at a local fitness organization. Though there are many Masters programs in the area, Tinjin has found it difficult to balance a busy work schedule with the practice schedules of local programs. Tinjin explaines, "I get most of my training ideas from the USMS discussion forums and from other Masters swimmers."

Tinjin's passion for health and fitness are inspiring, but his dedication to himself and his well-being were not always as evident. One year ago, Tinjin was a self-proclaimed "walking heart attack." Tinjin explains, "I came back to swimming in the summer of 2004 but once work got busy later that year I missed more and more workouts until I stopped altogether. Between fall 2004 and summer 2007 I gained 40 pounds, topping the scale at 198 pounds! I knew that I needed to act or my family history of diabetes, heart disease and cancer would soon have another ugly chapter. I started swimming slowly again and by Christmas I had lost 20 pounds."

What sounded like a fantastic success story quickly darkened when Tinjin was given the news of his increasing cholesterol, triglycerides and fasting glucose levels. Tinjin explains his fears: "I was petrified because my father is a diabetic and my fasting glucose put me in the severely prediabetic zone." Though his family doctor suggested prescription drugs to cure his ailments, Tinjin's endocrinologists recommended a commitment to a healthy diet and a serious dedication to exercise. "[The doctors] were right. I kept up with my weekly swimming (12-15 miles) and ate only healthy meals. By March 2008, my cholesterol and fasting glucose had fallen to 176 and 98, respectively. This Christmas, Santa brought me incredible news on my lipids and fasting glucose. My overall cholesterol was 130 with a healthy breakdown of vLDL (12), LDL (74) and HDL (44). My triglycerides fell to 61 and my fasting glucose was 77. My body fat percentage has gone from 30 percent in February 2008 to 16 percent today. I am seeing stomach and back muscles that I haven't seen in decades," shares Tinjin.

Tinjin's commitment to a total health makeover goes far beyond his work in the pool. "My wife and I grow our own veggies and herbs between spring and fall. I eat two large fresh, colorful salads every day. My breakfast is a smoothie of wild blueberries, strawberries, carrots, celery, hemp protein with acai, sprouted flaxseed and a splash of pomegranate juice. We may even grow an acai tree indoors this year," says Tinjin.

The best part of Tinjin's transformation? "I can think clearly, act decisively and have plenty of energy to meet life's challenges," exclaims Tinjin.

With a challenging economy and most of it beyond our control, 2009 has offered each of us the opportunity to take a step back, evaluate our own lives, our own health, and an area in which we can have impact is the power to transform ourselves. Many of us stayed up late, socialized with friends, counted down the last few seconds of 2008 and wondered, "What will this year bring?" Rather than perhaps worrying what is in store for you in 2009, it might be more appropriate to ask, "What am I going to do for myself in 2009?" Tinjin, when faced with a chance to start fresh, resolved to be healthy, improve his fitness and live a better life. "I resolved to beat prediabetes because I've seen what diabetes has done to my dad. For years I wished to be healthy and fit again but I never wanted it bad enough until I was served with a prediabetes ‘margin call.' What's your margin call?"

What is Tinjin's New Year's Resolution? "I'd like to earn a Top 10 spot in the USMS annual rankings someday but staying fit and injury free are my primary goals." Tinjin enters 2009 with a continued commitment to a healthy lifestyle and pride from his fitness strides in 2008. "I may never catch Roque Santos in the breaststroke, and I've been trying ever since we were kids, but at least I will live long enough to keep trying."




  • Weight Loss