The verdict is in. I am a middle age woman guilty of over 25 years of eating poorly, yo-yo dieting, not exercising, and not treating the ONE body I have the way it deserved to be treated. The way I felt all those years was definitely “all my fault” and I will be the first one to admit it. I had a mile long list of excuses for the choices that kept me overweight, sluggish, stressed out, on the couch…... and just feeling overall yucky. Physically I was out of shape, and that transferred into how I felt mentally and emotionally at times…. because one can affect the other.
Entering your 40’s makes you re-evaluate your life. You never know how much time you really have left, but now at age 45, I am kind of hoping I get another 40 years! When I was younger, I thought I would always be healthy, able to move around, and do anything I wanted for the rest of my life with no problems. It’s hard to imagine being old…… when you are young. It seems like one day you look in the mirror and 25 years have gone by and you’re not sure what happened!
I would love to say I woke up one day and had an “epiphany” to jump on the fitness bandwagon, but I stood on the curb and watched it drive by me several times. Oh, I made “attempts” in the past to lead a healthy lifestyle, but it was short-lived, and I always had a specific reason like losing weight for summer or a special event. Once that was over, I’d get lazy again; go back to being overweight, and always complaining and whining about how I looked and felt. It was only about the number on the scale, not the actual long-term benefits of living healthy. I never truly “committed” to changing. I wanted someone or something else to do it for me. My mindset was clearly the issue…… but I just didn’t realize it.
A few years ago, I was given an unforeseen “opportunity” to think about my mindset and lifestyle. I was injured unexpectedly, in a lot of pain, couldn’t work, sleep, or do normal daily activities. This scared the daylights out of me because I wasn’t sure if I would get better or how long it would take. For two months, I had time to really think and ask myself “So how is what I’m doing working for me”? I always had the “choice” of sitting and not moving, or getting up and being active. The injury took away that choice for a while, and forced me to ponder life without the option to choose. That situation prompted me to become “future-oriented” very quickly.
During my recovery, I went to physical therapy and learned quite a bit about how my body is supposed to work. In addition, I was able to catch a glimpse of what life could be like if I didn’t change my ways. I saw other patients at the PT clinic who were struggling to recover from injuries or illnesses, a lot of times mostly due to the fact that they were so out of shape and unhealthy to begin with. Some of them were not that much older than I was. I did not want that to be me in a few years, and so it was time to get off my butt!
My physical therapist had helped me recover and played a key role in my decision to pursue fitness as part of my lifestyle. I was worried about injuring myself again and concerned about my inexperience, but he reassured me that these would not stop me from reaching my goals.
At this point, I felt like I was given a “get out of jail free card” and I wasn’t about to blow that opportunity doing my own thing. Low and behold…. this PT was also certified in strength and conditioning, and so I enlisted him to help me get started. It was perfect, because he knew the in’s and out’s of my injury, ability, and goals. I really wanted to do this at home, as I did have some exercise equipment. He said it was doable and recommended I also purchase a 20# and 30# kettlebell, and I’d be all set. I thought to myself “Um… he’s crazy if he thinks I will ever be able to lift that”. (I had only ever lifted up to 8#). He seemed pretty confident, but I assumed he was trying to kill me! I purchased those kettlebells that I KNEW I would NEVER use……but kept the receipt for the time being.
Strength training was a big part of the program he designed for me, and for good reason. I met with him numerous times for instruction, and remember joking about how easy some of the strength training exercises seemed. However, I wasn’t laughing so much a few weeks later when trying to walk up and down the stairs after a few days of squats! I kept at it, changed my eating habits, and also began training for a 5k, which gave me a good goal to reach three months down the road. Weight lifting was making me stronger both physically and mentally. Running was a great stress reliever, endurance builder, and really kept me feeling motivated. I now looked at food more as fuel for my body instead of just a pleasure activity.
Fast forward six months later……I had lost 50 pounds, had significantly increased strength and energy, and felt amazing. I was running 3 miles at a stretch and was now lifting those 20# and 30# kettlebells…….and I had to suck it up and tell the PT he was right! I was able to do more now than even in my 20’s. My goal was much less about the number on the scale, and more about changing my behaviors, mindset, and attitude for the long-term. The benefits of this lifestyle change were starting to sink in…..
The question now was “Could I really keep this up for good”? I certainly didn’t trust myself yet. I was feeling great and had developed a lot of confidence, but was still very nervous about going back to my old habits. It’s really easy to keep doing something when you don’t have any roadblocks, but what about when you are presented with challenges or triggers? That’s when the real work starts, when you have to toughen up that mindset even when the chips are down, and push on through regardless of the circumstances.
Stay tuned for Part 2!