After taking the time last week to really think about the progress I've made in the last few months, I encountered a barrier. I've had problems with my back for several years now, with things getting particularly intense after I did a half marathon on my 40th birthday. Since then, I've had painful interludes that disrupt my fitness efforts.
Week before last I started seeing a chiropractor. I'd hoped to trade services with him (I write quite a bit of marketing copy, blog posts, and explainer type articles for chiropractors and other medical professionals), but was willing to pay for his services if necessary. I wasn't in pain right then, but had felt some twinges and wanted to get ahead of it before it became debilitating.
The chiropractor talked with me about my goals (to run a full marathon sometime around my 50th birthday in 5 years), and suggested we start working toward that goal with 12 visits over 2 weeks. Halfway through, something bad happened and it was full-blown, can't do much of anything pain. (this was more than likely my fault. I rode between two seats in an ATV over some rough ground).
I spent last week recovering. All of my workouts were walks, and I tried to remember that's okay. I did some super gentle stretching and made a point of tracking my food (I do most of the time anyway, but without the more intense workouts I'd been doing it seemed more important than usual). I'm happy to report that my weight stayed steady, and that I didn't mentally berate myself or spend too much brain power on wishing I could lift weights or run or whatever.
This has all led me to think about what is different now, versus all the other times I've been dedicated to losing weight and getting fitter. There are some pretty enormous changes.
1. Money. This is (so far) a good year for my business. I'm not making a killing, but I am working enough to pay our bills, save for taxes, and have just a little left each month. I know that money isn’t everything and blah blah blah, but I can tell you from all too personal experience, having enough of it to cover the basics matters. If you’re struggling with getting fit and eating right AND poverty, give yourself some extra grace because that is a hard situation.
2. Permission. Having enough money for a gym membership, running shoes, and chiropractor visits is one thing, giving myself full permission to spend it on those things is an entirely different thing. Until quite recently, I’ve struggled mightily with the idea of spending money on things for myself that weren’t essential or didn’t fit neatly into some kind of “earned reward” category.
3. Time. My children are grown. My schedule is 100% flexible. My partner works short hours (we both do, really) and has few needs that require my attention. Even when it doesn’t seem like it, I have time for browsing recipes, making weekly menus, shopping -- even if that means going to two or three different stores -- going to the gym, going to the chiropractor, and whatever else I need to do in order to take care of myself.
Those are the three main things that are different. They are big things, and should any one of them change -- like if my work dwindled, or my daughter needed me to watch Eliza more often -- I wouldn’t be able to do the few things I’ve been able to do.
Changing the way you eat is tough. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t. Forming new habits takes time and enormous effort. Changing the rhythm of your day to include new things is difficult. And, there’s the not-inconsequential fact that if you’re doing something like going to the gym, it means you’re not doing something else. If that something else is watching TV or playing computer games, that’s not too big a deal, but if that something else is spending time with your kids or doing laundry or taking care of a sick parent or whatever, that can make for a hard choice.
Be kind to yourself. You deserve it.
Photos are from my garden. Now that spring has arrived, it’s lovely.