Category Archives: Fitness

Bit the Bullet

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I finally gave in. I had been trying to get fit by 40 without spending copious amounts of money. This was partly due to the fact that I didn’t want to feed the “diet industry,” and partly due to the fact that I don’t have a lot of money to spend. But, about a week and a half ago, I finally joined a gym.

My decision was spurned by a Facebook friend. She posted something about joining a local gym and getting a discount because she’s a school board employee. It sounded like a pretty good deal – $15 month, and you can workout at any of their locations. Throw into the mix that my best friend works for this company and can train me at any location, and I was sold. I joined on January 31.

Upon joining, they require you to do a fitness evaluation. I kind of dreaded this, as it meant stepping on the scale. As suspected, I had gained more weight than I care to mention. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but I’m a lot closer to my heaviest weight than I’d like to be.

I must admit: I’m not convinced I can stick with this. I’m not sure I can do it. I don’t think it’s going to work. I’m feeling fat and don’t have the time or energy to fully embrace this. But if I don’t do this, I’m just going to gain more weight and my health will deteriorate even more. This is something I need to do, even if it’s not something I want to do.

So I’ve done it. I’ve joined a gym. And I’ve worked out three times in the last 6 days. I am trying to be gentle on myself, and not push myself so hard that I end up feeling sore and discouraged. Today, I did 35 minutes on the treadmill, and really worked up a sweat. It wasn’t much, but it’s a start. I did my best without pushing myself toward defeat. I was hoping to do 40 minutes, but my back was starting to bother me, and I decided that, today, 35 minutes was my best.

I am trying hard to focus on this concept of “my best.” My best is different than your best, and it’s different than that skinny 20-something I see running effortlessly (not just walking like I do) on the treadmill. It’s difficult for me to not compare myself for others. I am such a competitive perfectionist: I need to be the best. But I cannot be successful with this endeavor if I’m comparing myself to other women. I need to compare myself to me.

I am looking forward to getting together with my best friend later this week. She is putting together a workout for me and is going to help me reach my goals. I love her dearly, and am going to try to do my best with whatever she puts together for me.

Wake Up Call

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Last week, my 12 year old son and I went swimming. We are blessed to have an indoor pool in our complex that has a life guard 5 days/week. My son and I had a ton of fun – having races and a treading water contest (after 12 minutes, we called it a draw!). The next day, I was feeling a bit sore, which was to be expected because I haven’t been swimming in a while.

But the pain persisted a bit. Two days later, my hip was still a bit sore. And it wasn’t getting better. This morning, it was my whole leg.

Crap. Sciatica is back.

This time, it’s on my right side. In the summer of 2009, I had a very similar pain on my left side. A pain that I ignored. It got worse and worse. Turns out it was caused by a herniated disc which needed surgery. But, the neurosurgeon refused to do the surgery if I didn’t lose weight first. So, I lost weight, and the problem got better.

However, I’ve since put a bit of that weight back on. And now the pain is returning.

Last time, I ignored it for far too long. I am not going to make that mistake again. I remember the pain like it was yesterday. To say it was excruciating would be an understatement. I couldn’t drive a car for more than 5 minutes without being in tears. I couldn’t sit down for long. Standing up hurt too. Getting out of bed was near impossible. I was taking upwards of 15 prescription painkillers a day, and it still didn’t dull the pain. It was bad.

I refuse to experience that again.

I have been far too lax on my goals this summer. Ok, ok. I’ve been downright lazy. Part of me excuses myself, saying that I’ve been relaxing. Which I have been – and it’s really the first time in a very, very long time that I have been able to truly relax – not worry about a job or money – in many years. My soul has needed that. And, I think I’ve done a lot of personal, spiritual growth in the last two months.

But, it’s time to get of my lazy behind and get moving. Every time I do exercise, I feel great. I really do. I’m beginning to notice the amazing endorphin rush that comes from exercising. And I like it.  This brush with pain has made me realize that I need to take this more seriously. I do not want the rest of my life to be riddled with health problems.

Winning Streak

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Ok, my friends who know me well are probably thinking “What the heck?! Why does she have a picture of the Canucks on her blog? She is the farthest thing from a hockey fan I know!!”  But, hear me out… there’s a reason I have a picture of the hometown favourites on my blog.

Anyone who follows the Canucks (and let me tell you: Canucks fans are pretty loyal!) will tell you how excited people get when the Canucks get on a winning streak. The last few years have been an emotional roller coaster with this team. Leading up to the play-offs, every new winning streak brings on more hopes for the elusive prize: the Stanley Cup. And, lately, the ‘Nucks have royally failed to bring it home. Yet the fans keep coming back for more.

Personally, I haven’t really understood the emotional roller coaster of being a hockey fan. Yay! They’re winning! Boo! The Canucks suck. OOOOhhhhhh, we’re totally going to win the cup this year. Man, this bites! We lost in game 7.  And people pay a lot of money for this?

But they keep coming back, time and time again. Even though their beloved team has let them down once again and caused city-wide riots, come the start of a new season, Rogers Arena is filled to capacity with cheering fans.

I never really understood that until today. No, I haven’t had a change of heart and become the world’s biggest hockey fan. But, I am having a winning streak.

And it feels good.

For the past three days, I have made a concerted effort to get out and exercise. As I alluded to recently, I fell off the wagon big time over the past two weeks. I haven’t stepped on the scale out of fear. I was feeling defeated.

I’m not sure what made me get out and go for a walk on Sunday night, but I did. And then again last night (mind you, that time, my friend Jenn texted me and gently nagged me, which I think helped a bit). Tonight, I spent over 90 minutes exercising, and it felt fantastic!! I even made an effort to smile at the cute guys I met along with way. Some of them even smiled back.

So, that’s a three day winning streak. Pretty cool.  I just checked a hockey stat (oh my, what is the world coming to?!?!) The longest winning streak the Canucks have ever been on was 10 games, back in 2002. Ten. That’s not a very big number.  And that was over a three week period. That’s one game every two days.

I wonder if I could beat that record? Exercise at least 10 times in a three week period?  When I started to think about this whole idea of a winning streak, I got really excited… “I wonder how many days in a row I can exercise, without missing a day?” But really, how realistic is that for a girl who is just beginning her road to fitness.

Here’s the plan: work out at least 10 times in 21 days. If I can do that, my winning streak is just as good as the Canucks. Maybe I’ll beat that record!

If you count the last three days (which I am totally doing), I basically have to work out seven more times before the end of the month.  Oh yeah, I am totally going to beat the Canucks.

And, if I lose? That’s ok. The Canucks lose all the time. Their longest winless streak was in 1973. In the span of one month, they had 10 losses and three ties. But, they came back. And they keep coming back, time and time again. Even after the loss is a colossal one, like losing to Boston in the 7th game of the Stanley Cup finals (see, I do pay attention – I didn’t even have to google that one!). Even though they sometimes lose, their fans keep cheering them on.

And you know what?

That’s what this blog is like for me. Facing my failures (hard for a perfectionist with an anxiety disorder!), owning up to them, and picking myself back up. But the best part? The cheering section! You know who you are…. the friends I’ve known for years, the new friends I’ve met only recently, and the virtual friends I’m making through this blog: you all cheer me on. And that means a lot.

Maybe that’s what keeps the Canucks going – showing up for their fans. Sure, they lose a game every now and then (and you know what? They’re really good at losing!), but they keep coming back time and time again to an arena full of fans proudly cheering them on.

I can do this. I can win this fight. I will be successful. The great thing is, my success isn’t measured by winning a big fancy trophy. And, now that I think about it, it’s not even measured by reaching my goal weight. It’s measured in days: having days in which I make healthy choices and make positive changes towards improved fitness. The “Stanley Cup” for me – reaching my goal weight – is just the icing on the cake. Oooohhhh. I wonder if I’ll get to my goal weight before the Canucks win the cup. Chances are I will, seeing as how the Canucks are pretty good at dropping the ball.

Well, I’ll be… I done gone and motivated myself!

I did it!

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I’ve been thinking a lot about two things today: exercise as an enjoyable activity done for its own benefit, and the attitude ladder.

I knew I needed to exercise. I haven’t gone for a good long walk since late last week, and here it is, Wednesday already. The only other activity I’ve done this week was tennis with the boys yesterday (and really, it wasn’t really tennis… it was more like standing around trying to hit a ball… but it was fun, and I did work up a sweat).

Now I can see why I procrastinate with exercise. If I see it as punishment, why the heck would I want to do it? So, today, I tried to view exercise as a positive. I knew I would be busy in the morning, and I didn’t want to go for a walk this afternoon in the midday heat, so I made plans to go this evening after dinner. Throughout the day, I had this mental struggle going between wanting to go for a walk just for the sake of exercising (and those resulting ‘feel good’ endorphins), and feeling guilty for the White Chocolate Macadamia cookie from Starbucks that I had (did you know one of those cookies packs a walloping 470 calories?!?! Who wouldn’t feel guilty after eating one of those).

With my wishy-washy motivation in place, I drove down to Rocky Point, turned on my music (and my “Map My Run” app), and started off. It was an absolutely glorious evening. The tide was coming in, it wasn’t too hot, and the sun was beginning to set casting a golden glow on everything.  I started off slowly, being conscious of the times I’ve pushed myself too hard and ended up really sore the next day.

As I walked, I made sure I took in the beautiful scenery around me. About a quarter of the way into my walk (right at the end of the inlet, for those of you who know the park), it hit me: This walk was good for my soul. The beauty of nature around me boosted my spirits immensely. As I was nearing the end of the trail, where I turn around and head back, I was starting to feel tired… I thought, “Oh no, I’ve pushed myself too hard. I should’ve kept that slow steady pace I started with. Will I make it back?”

With about a kilometre to go (of the nearly 6 km walk), I got a second wind! I picked up the pace, walked tall and proud, and had a fantastic time. At one point, I realized that when I started this blog, at most I would walk about 3 km – half way around the park and back. Today was my third or fourth time walking all the way around.

But wait: it gets better!

Today I took 5 minutes off of my time!

Last week, I walked the entire 5.7 km in 1 hour 18 minutes. Today I did it in 1 hour 13 minutes. Last month, I couldn’t even walk half way around before I had to turn back, exhausted and in pain.

You know what?

I feel amazing!

I’m pretty sure that some of this amazing feeling comes from beating my time. And perhaps, just perhaps, the other part of it comes from those endorphins kicking in… how else could you explain that sudden burst of energy and the big smile I had on my face as I walked the last kilometre? Whatever it is, it does feel pretty good. I feel strong, healthy, energized, and in control.

In fact, that’s something I’ve been feeling more of lately: in control. I am not mindlessly eating or noshing on something loaded with carbs just because I’m feeling down. This in control feeling is making me feel a lot more hopeful about actually being able to achieve this goal.

Yay me!

Pain, punishment or pleasure?

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My good friend, Jenn, posted this picture on Facebook today. Honestly, I had never thought about exercise in this way before. In fact, I’ve pretty much hated exercise all my life. If I liked it, I’d do it, and I wouldn’t need to write this blog!

This picture really made me think about why I don’t like to exercise… it’s because I do see it as punishment. For that blizzard I ate on Friday. For the extra weight I’m carrying. As a means to an end. Something I have to do.

But, what if I started seeing it as a positive? I’m pretty sure that’s what healthy, fit people do…. right? They actually like exercise, or so I assume. I will, rather sheepishly admit, that I do kinda like the way I feel after I’ve exercised. Unless, of course, I’ve pushed myself too hard, and then my whole body screams in protest. (I’m not quite at the “no pain, no gain” place yet!)

How can I make exercise a more positive part of my day? I’m not quite sure yet. Like I keep saying, the mental aspect of this journey is perhaps the toughest part. I can see the importance of shifting my mindset when it comes to exercise – seeing it as a reward rather than a punishment.

I came across a great article called The Attitude Ladder on the My Fitness Pal website. The Attitude Ladder looks like this:

– I did it!
– I will do it
– I can do it
– I probably can do it
– I might try to do it
– I’ll think about trying to do it
– I do want to do it
– I wish I could, but I’m not sure I can do it
– I don’t know how to do it
– I can’t do it
– I won’t try because I know I can’t do it

Before I started this blog, I would say that my attitude about exercise was pretty low, probably somewhere between “I can’t do it” and “I wish I could.” I am definitely moving up that ladder. I think I may be somewhere around “I do want to do it” and “I might try to do it.”

I want to get to the “I did it!” level. I want to feel healthy and fit. I want exercise to be a daily and enjoyable part of my day.

Wow. Listen to me. I am clearly at the “I do want to do it” level when it comes to fitness, aren’t I? Last week, with my food tracking challenge, I started out at the “I can do it” and today I definitely feel like I’m at the top of the ladder… and it feels amazing!

So, what do I need to do to move up the attitude ladder with fitness and exercise? How can I find pleasure and enjoyment when it comes to fitness? Like everything else on this journey, it starts with a mindset and words.

The Power of Words

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Words are incredibly powerful

This morning, I received a private message on Facebook from someone with whom I went to high school. She said she finds my posts motivational and they make her think twice while eating a bowl of ice cream. Her 40th is close to mine, and she wants to get in shape, too.

The funny thing is that this was one of the girls of whom I was so jealous of in high school! She was (and still is!) very pretty, and I remember wishing I looked more like her and her friends back then. (She probably has no idea I felt this way! lol)

When I was in high school, I was 5’9″ and weighed 160-170 lbs – by no means unhealthy. But so many of the girls around me were waif-like beauties. I had curves, and I hated them. I so wanted to look like the skinny girls at school. Having been called “fat,” “COW-en” and “jabba the **ut” in elementary school, I took those words to heart, and believed it to be true. Those words became my mindset. When I got to high school and I saw all the skinny girls getting boyfriends, my sense of self worth plummeted. (Turns out two boys I really, really liked were gay. They didn’t ignore me because I was fat. The ignored me because I wasn’t a boy!) I associated my lack of friends with my physical appearance. I was lonely, and I ate to fill the void.

To this day, I struggle with words. I am trying to overcome this. I am learning not to take things personally. I am learning to stop listening to the voices from my past.

But it’s not other people’s voices that are the problem. It’s my voice. It’s the words I tell myself. And, sadly, at times, I can be very hard on myself. Those voices we hear, “Oh, what’s one bowl of ice cream? I can exercise tomorrow,” “I’m too tired/busy/hot/cold/(enter excuse here) to exercise today” – we believe them. The more we say it, the more we believe it. The good news? We can change the messages we tell ourselves!

I know I tell myself a lot of negative things; even though, to the rest of the world, I seem like an upbeat, positive person, to myself, I am very pessimistic. In fact, I can be down right mean to myself. I struggle to treat myself with kind words.

I’ve written about Don Miguel Ruiz’s book “The Four Agreements” before. His first agreement is “Be Impeccable with your Words.” I am finding it easier to be impeccable with my exterior words – it’s actually quite easy to say nice things to others. It’s a lot harder to say nice things to ourselves.

I have found one solution that seems to be working, and it involves my trusty little iPhone. At times, I think this blog should be called “How to Lose Weight Using Just an iPhone” because I’m finding lots of great ways to use technology in this journey.

So, here’s what you do to use your iPhone to help you change the messages you tell yourself:

1. Go to the Calendar app, and hit the little “+” button in the top right hand corner.

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2. The “Add Event” Screen will appear. Under “title” write a positive affirmation. Remember to keep it short – if it’s too long, when the reminder pops up, you won’t see the whole thing.

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3. Set a time for the event – preferably some time when you’ll see it.

 

4. Click on repeat, and select “Every Day”

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5. Click on alert and select “At time of event”

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6. Add a note if you’d like.

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Now, every day at the same time, you’ll get a reminder filled with positive affirmations. I have one that pops up every day at 3:30, reminding me that I deserve to be healthy. This pops up on my way home from work, and is a great reminder to exercise when I get home.

The words we tell ourselves hold such power. Wars have been started over words. Words become beliefs. If we hear something enough, we believe it. The words I tell myself, my beliefs about who I am are the biggest obstacles in my path to success.

My struggle right now? Exercise. I have been fairly good at cutting back on mindless eating, not eating when I’m not hungry, avoiding emotional eating, and tracking my food. But creating a regular exercise routine? Hasn’t been happening. Perhaps this is because I don’t believe myself to be an athlete. Perhaps I don’t believe that I can actually do it. Those words need to change. I need to put together a regular exercise schedule and routine and stick to it.

And when I think about it – this is the biggest goal I have. This blog isn’t called “Thin by Forty”, it’s called “Fit by Forty.” Maybe I need to stop focusing on the actual weight loss and begin focusing on creating a healthy lifestyle based around fitness. I am going to examine how my beliefs about exercise and fitness are preventing me from achieving my goals.

To all my friends who have given me encouraging words, cheered me on and supported me since starting this blog, thank you. Your words truly are powerful and inspire me to persist towards my goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a hike!

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I love Rocky Point Park. It is, hands down, my favourite place in the entire world. I’ve fallen in love there. I’ve had my heart broken there. I go there to find solace and comfort. It’s where I go when I want to be alone. I take the kids there for ice cream.  In short: Rocky Point rocks.  (groan – bad pun… sorry about that!)

The last few times I’ve visited the park, it was for a power walk. Everyone who I’ve talked to on a professional level about this journey I am has said the same thing: walking is the best exercise. I’ve downloaded a few apps to help me in this endeavour (Map My Run and Walk Tracker). However, I haven’t been able to made a commitment to walk on a regular basis. This is frustrating. I know it will help my process. I know I feel better when I exercise. I know I love myself more when I’m working out.

My attempts at walking, as of late, have not been all that pleasant, which is stupid, because really: walking?! I was walking at a brisk pace (averaging 5 km per hour). It’s not supposed to hurt, is it? But it has. My feet hurt. My back hurts. My knees hurt. Man oh man – I sound like I’m 75 years old complaining about all of my aches and pains. I was walking at a brisk pace (averaging 5 km per hour).

The thing is: if I don’t start taking better care of myself, I will be complaining about all of my aches and pains, but a lot sooner than 75.

Tonight’s walk was meant to be more of a relaxing, enjoyable experience. No power walking for me tonight.  Just a nice leisurely walk through the park, listening to a podcast on my iPod.

You know what?! It worked! I wasn’t playing upbeat music, trying fiercely to keep up with it, working up a huge sweat, huffing and puffing, and worn out by the 30 minute mark. I walked for 75 minutes this evening, enjoyed the beautiful weather and sunset (see the photo above!), and listened to a great podcast.

When I got home, I entered my walk into the My Fitness Pal app. To my surprise, I burned more calories than those short, higher intensity walks.

This? This I could do. I could block a chunk of time off in the evenings and go for a nice long walk while listening to a podcast of some sort. I could be learning while I’m walking! Cool.

I think – no, I know – the reason I haven’t been able to make a commitment to walking is that those power walks were damn painful. Yes, I know: no pain, no gain. But, let’s get their gradually. There’s a difference between the “good” pain that comes from working your muscles to their breaking point, and the “bad” pain that comes from a bad back and sore feet.

So, I need to take baby steps. I need to slow down and give myself permission to not be perfect.

That bears repeating:

I don’t need to be perfect!

Which is hard for me. I like being the best I can be. But right now? I’m not the best me. I’m fat and somewhat lazy, and I feel sorry for myself about it. So what do I do? I try to be perfect and work myself too hard, so hard it hurts (and not in the good way), so I give up. Time to change that. Time to give myself permission to just do my best, and recognize that, today, this long slower walk was my best. Sure, I’m not running a 5K (heck, I’m not even walking 5K yet!), but I got outside and moved. My body thanks me. My spirit thanks me. My heart thanks me. My feet, back and knees aren’t in pain, meaning I’ll be able to move tomorrow.

Anyone have any good suggestions for podcasts to listen to while I’m walking?