Tuesday, April 10, 2012
I am celebrating the small victories today.
After months of limited exercise, I received a pleasant surprise yesterday on the elliptical trainer. I did ten minutes of hard climbing and falling at level 2-10 on intervals, and I didnít completely die. My legs felt comfortable, a bit sore, but good.
The elliptical was my go-to cardio in the days of personal training. Five minutes of grueling, agonizing charging up and down hills at level 13-17 got my heart rate up and made me pure jelly. Squats and weighted presses over my head were certain to follow. I called it torture. My body apparently thought it was successful.
Getting back to a point where I can tolerate one circuit, let alone three, of such arduous efforts will take a while. Notice my use of a precise measurement like SparkPeople recommends. I thought my return to fitness form might take months, maybe weeks. Maybe not 16 weeks as I thought, but closer to 8 to get back to comfortably managing strength training.
I have focused on cardio before strength training to simply get fitter. My endurance has been good and escalating as I struggle through another set of jackknifes on the ball or shoulder presses in front of the mirror. Small victories will hopefully lead up to big victories, a large victory of exceeding my personal bests or losing inches off my measurements or doing harder workouts better.
Pushing myself is a tiny victory. There are so many ways to go a little bit harder:
When I tell myself not to do another 5 reps, but 10.
When Iím on the elliptical, I power through the five minute cooldown hard instead.
Upping the resistance, raising the difficulty, trying a sprint.
Digging into the pedals for 1 minute, then 2.
Small steps on a long, bright path are leading me where I want to be. Iím proud to say I have tried hard the last two visits, and today, I will challenge myself at the CrossFit class. Itís my first and I will try to set aside my concern for what other people might think when my form is awkward and I am slow to adjust to the teacherís instructions, but just being there is a win.
Have a successful day today!
Friday, April 06, 2012
Choices: life is full of them.
Each day begins the cycle afresh, pressing the reset button for all that came before. What you ate for dinner yesterday, how much you worked out last week, the weight you gained or lost or kept the same is all history as soon as the sun rises.
Maybe it's cliche, but I find the notion of a fresh beginning incredibly empowering. All the decisions I made in the previous day are untouchable. Gone, just like that! Something I needn't worry about, unlike the dishes in the sink or the bill due by Thursday.
I can choose what I want to do, and which direction I want to take. I am very good at motivating others and offering advice or encouragement to lead a healthy lifestyle. Taking my own good medicine for the past few months was another thing entirely. I chose not to drink as much water and I decided sitting at home in front of the computer made better use of my time than going straight to the gym.
Today is a fresh start. Today is a new today.
If I didn't eat a healthy dinner yesterday, I can select good ingredients and a scrumptious recipe today.
If I indulged in a rather sinful oat and chocolate bar instead of the gym, I can go to the YMCA after work.
If I drank 6 ounces of water yesterday, I can drink 8 or more by supper.
If I didn't make 30 minutes of cardio by bedtime, I can run down the stairs (20 flights!) at 5:00 PM today.
If I felt unmotivated before bedtime, I can get in a walk with the beau.
I made unhealthy choices for a while that started with excusing myself out of being healthy, living well. Then, I committed myself half-heartedly to improving the situation while taking the easy way out. Unfortunately there _is_ no substitute for living well, just like there isn't for posture. Either you stand up straight and breathe from your navel or you hunch your shoulders, roll your spine, and earn the wrath of every governess from here to Edinburgh. I have to make that commitment.
Yesterday, I didn't lose any weight and I didn't get as active as I could be. But that's okay and I can embrace the choices I made. They motivate me today to do better. The path leads me home via the gym.
Today, I will go to the YMCA and get in my 45 minutes of cardio. I decided to inform myself on the best way to do it -- with intervals that push me -- and I choose to get all hot, sweaty, and satisfied from a good session. All without the benefits of music because my music player is probably out of battery and my smartphone is notoriously bad when it comes to streaming reliably.
After that, I look forward to a 30 minute walk down to the library with my beau and the puppers. They both want the exercise and a beautiful spring afternoon begs to be appreciated.
Healthy living is really healthy decision-making, and removing the obstacles and barriers that allow an easy path. I want to close off the exits to Easy Street and stay on the wide, winding route that takes me to my weight goals, my desired energy levels, and the ability to be a better person.
Off to the gym!
Thursday, April 05, 2012
The last half of 2011 brought serious changes to my life. In a way, I leaped up the stairs of experience two at a time towards a healthier, happier lifestyle as far as psychological and spiritual well-being were concerned. I reached higher peaks after making some very positive changes in the aftermath of unexpected upheavals I could not have anticipated in 2010.
Those same positive changes derailed the gains brought by a personal trainer, healthy eating, and improved activity. I can name a hundred plausible excuses -- too busy, too stressed, too time-sapped -- for why I excused myself from a regular fitness routine and getting into the YMCA. I dragged my heels coming in the one day a week I met with Leah, my trainer, and I no longer felt the same sparkle after an arduous workout. Truth be told, I mentally checked out and the instant that happens, I gave myself permission to stop.
A move put me in an area with closer amenities: walking downtown, to the small parks, to the library. My new surroundings inspired me to get active, though not to the levels I needed to really build up a sweat. Being honest with myself, I excused myself from getting on the bike, walking books back to the library or eating as well as I had before. After all I had been through, wasn't I entitled to go out once in a while? Walking around substituted for the gym, right?
I knew I was falling short of the healthy milestones I learned over the year, and the decline back to where I started occurred sometime back around last May. One month turned into six, then eight, then... At some point or another, many of us may notice that our clothes start to fit tighter, we haven't got the energy we had, and it's been forever and a day since we pulled on the workout clothes.
I got a shock awakening by stepping on the scale to realize _all_ the hardwork, and twenty pounds I fought off, were back. Back with a vengeance. I carry it well, people tell me. You might not guess my weight. I knew, though. The size 6 skirts I slipped into were clinging in all the wrong places. My favourite little black dress was not flatteringly sleek, and I nearly ducked out of a party with my beau out of shame, fear, anger, self-loathing... you name it.
So easy to give in to the despair of months upon months of TRYING gone down the drain because I got lazy, undisciplined, unmotivated. These are pretty horrible things to say to yourself, words I would never use against another person, but turned against myself. It look me many years after sudden weight gain in university to accept who I was physically, and that war left plenty of scars. The empowerment of accepting myself as who I am, taking control of looking and feeling better, and embracing myself and life boosted me over the old battlefield of I am versus I was.
That demon stalked me for most of my twenties and undermined me at every turn. I sure as hell know better now thanks to my experience, SparkPeople's strong support network I tap infrequently, and a body of literature and knowledge making so much clear. I may not be Buffy and I probably don't come equipped with holy water and a crucifix, but I intend to slay the self-doubt and put the loathing where it belongs: in the past, if not out of my existence altogether.
I gained the weight. I can lose it again.
I grew inactive. That doesn't make me bad, it means I get up off the couch and start moving.
I am not the number on the scale or the hourglass in the mirror.
Hard lessons to accept are the motivation I need to get into the gym, which is really my failing grace along with grazing for snacks in the evening. So here we go again.
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