Monday, May 19, 2014

my fitness journey

i gained thirteen pounds over the winter.

in florida on our family vacation.

last july i was at the lowest weight i can remember being since 9th grade. i felt good in my body for the first time in a very long while. i had energy. i enjoyed being active with the boys. i loved being outdoors with them, going on walks and bike rides and just generally playing and having fun. i could carry them up to bed without getting winded. i felt strong.

i was not thin. i haven't ever been thin, not since puberty at least. but the point of this story isn't about weight. this is about my overall health and well-being.

at that time last summer i was focusing heavily on the food i ate, avoiding gluten, dairy, soy, sugar and most grains but i did not exercise except for activities i did with the boys. i was concentrating on eliminating certain foods (mostly sugar) because it seemed as though my body felt better when i avoided them. any weight loss was not an intended goal, just a nice side-effect.

but then, as it does every year, halloween came around and i made my much-loved popcorn treat to give away to neighbors. it's a mixture of popcorn, peanuts, pretzels, peanut butter and plain m&m's and, best of all, CANDY CORN all covered in a melty buttery marshmallow mixture. it's the perfect combo of sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy. it's divine. and, as i do every year, i indulged in far too much "monster munch" and fell off the healthy-eating wagon, which led other unhealthy eating habits, specifically the purchase and ingestion of far too many reese's peanut butter cups.

reese's peanut butter cups are my kryptonite. in the fall they put out the pumpkin shaped ones, then come the christmas tree shaped ones, then the valentine's hearts, and lastly the easter eggs. from october to april i am screwed by reese's peanut butter cups. and this past winter i ate thirteen pounds of them.

march arrived and, with it, the epiphany that i could not fit into the jeans i just bought last fall. the numbers on the scaled were way up. i was feeling very tired, so much so that i scheduled a doctor's appointment to check and make sure my thyroid was functioning properly. my attitude was lousy. i lacked energy. i had no desire to keep up with the housework, to play with my boys, to carry them up to bed. i simply did not feel good. my body ached and i was not sleeping well.

although i didn't really want to change i knew i needed to change. 

i started slowly.

i joined the planet fitness near my house and started going two-three times a week. the first time i went i hopped on the arc trainer and within ten minutes i felt like i was going to vomit. each minute - second - crawled by and i watched them tick down, begging for it to just be over already. my goal was to just get through 20 minutes of cardio, nothing fancy, nothing fast, just twenty minutes of movement.

i used my birthday money to buy a keurig coffee maker with the intention of replacing my nightly post-boys-bedtime sweet treat (aka reward for making it through the day without killing the children) with a cup of decaffeinated coffee. i allowed myself a soothing cup of decaf but no more sweet treats in the evenings. there have been a few exceptions to the rule, as there should be i think, but it has become the rule now as opposed to automatically indulging every single night.

in april i started taking a pilates class two mornings a week, something i had loved in the past but stopped doing during the winter because of scheduling conflicts. this spring the only available openings were in the tuesday and thursday 6am class. listen to me carefully - i did not want to go to the 6 am class. not even a little bit. but it turned out to be the exact thing i needed to inspire serious change in my fitness habits.

i was surprised when i walked in to that first class. my previous classes, which met at 9:30am, were full of stay at home moms. that's not who filled the 6am class. it wasn't full of die-hard, spandex-wearing gym rats either. nope. it was full of senior citizens. it was me and five white-haired seniors kicking butt in the 6am pilates class...actually they were kicking butt...they were kicking my butt...they were kicking my butt so far off the field it was both hilarious and humiliating.

nothing motivates like the realization that a bunch of senior citizens are in better shape that you. 

and so it's really only been about one month now that i've been concentrating on both exercise and diet. i do pilates two mornings a week. i try to get to the gym three-four mornings a week. these days i can do 45 minutes of fairly intense cardio. the minutes pass quickly and i don't feel like vomiting, which is a lovely improvement. i've been keeping track of the food i eat using the myfitnesspal app, once again eliminating the foods that make my body feel yucky. at the suggestion of my doctor, i reintroduced vitamins (b, d, calcium & magnesium) and fish oil back into my daily regimen.

so far i've lost nine pounds.

but that's not the important part. what's so much more valuable to me is that i feel so much better. i have a follow up doctor appointment this week and i can't wait to share how good i feel. yesterday i spent one hour at the gym and then came home to go on a bike ride with my family. i have energy to play with my boys again. i am starting to feel better in my body, better in my clothes. i can carry laundry up and down our two flights of stairs without becoming winded. i have slept better this past month than i did all winter long, which just might be the biggest blessing of all.

since the beginning of counseling, my therapist has told me i need better self-care. he suggested i get plenty of sunshine (vitamin d), plenty of exercise, plenty of girl-time (quality friendships), and plenty of time doing the things that fill me up (reading, writing) so that i find satisfaction within myself instead of looking for jeremy to meet all those needs. this past month has proved to me that he is right, that self-care does make me feel better, that it does lead to an all-around healthier, happier life.

next week is our last pilates class and it's time to sign up for the summer session. i flirted with the idea of going back to the 9:30am because who wants to get up at 5:15am (to get to a 6am class) during the summer?! but i still have a long way to go to catch up with my senior citizen friends and they offer me too much in terms of non-judgmental acceptance, encouragement and motivation to turn my back on them.

enough of the old unsuccessful stopping and starting routine i've tried in the past.

it's time to continuing doing the things that are good for me.

if i can't turn my back on my pilates pals, i shouldn't be willing to turn my back on myself either.

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