A few days ago, a woman commented on a blog I wrote and said that she was hopelessly unfit. I'm here to tell you that just isn't true. I deeply believe that none of us are hopelessly unfit. In the words of Bill Bowerman, "If you have a body, you are an athlete."
Yup, this is one of those motivational posts.
The year is 2015. I have a plethora of medical issues in addition to being labeled obese. Let me be super transparent. It was uncomfortable and challenging to simply walk around my neighborhood. Like the woman above, I felt pretty freaking unfit — but not hopeless. At 49, I genuinely wanted (and needed) to make changes to my lifestyle that could be sustainable for long term health and wellness. I had simple expectations: lose some weight, get my health back to a positive place with less medications, and have more energy. I've battled my weight, and lack of motivation and fitness most of my adult life. It truly has been a roller coaster of weight gain/loss, having some fitness and then no fitness. My closet contained a range of sizes to meet the varying sizes of me. I deeply wanted this cycle to end. It was physically and mentally exhausting.
There were two lenses to look through when I began. 1: This is overwhelming, I don't know where to begin, so why bother starting. Or 2: I'm going to start with manageable workouts and nutritional changes. I chose the second lens. The first few months were difficult and gratifying. Thirty minute workouts left me feeling unfit — and hopeful. My nutritional goal was to figure out how much food I needed (correct portion sizes) to fuel myself and feel satiated. I learned pretty quickly that for much of my adult life I had been eating portions that were just too big for my petite body and I neglected several food groups. I never really found fruit and vegetables all that appealing and so a mind shift was needed. I found that eating smaller portions wasn't as difficult an adjustment I had anticipated it might be. However, adding in fruits and veggies — that was a challenge. I experimented with different fruits and veggies until I found which ones I enjoyed. There are foods that I have carried over into this new lifestyle, like dark chocolate, as if I restrict foods that I enjoy, that can leave me feeling unsatisfied. There are foods I've eliminated for a variety of reasons, like cheese, bread, pizza, beer, and pasta. I also limit my alcohol to 12 oz. of white wine/week and enjoy each and every ounce. Dialing in your nutrition is critical as you can workout for hours and hours — and if you eat portions that are too large and/or eat unhealthy foods, you're undoing much of the progress you're accomplishing with your fitness and health.
By early 2016, I had lost a bit of weight and was feeling proud of the progress I had made. That spring, I rewarded myself for the fitness and lifestyle changes I had created and bought myself a new road bike to replace a 10 year old bike that had been sadly under utilized. What better way to get fit, then biking? Getting back on the bike after a long hiatus was exciting and slow. I definitely felt unfit on the bike. When I began I was pulling a 14.2 mph average. By the end of that first season of biking I was averaging around 17mph and feeling hopeful about my fitness. In October of 2017, I did my first century ride at a 19.2 mph average. Gonna say it again... we are not hopelessly unfit.
In addition to adding in cycling, I also started back to running and saw small, incremental improvements throughout the 2016 season. It wasn't until the fall of 2017 when I began to experience significant changes in my running splits and found myself running 8+ min. miles. This was very exciting to me, as I had always run in the 9-10+ min. mile range. Just yesterday, I ran my fastest 10k! At 51, I'm running the fastest pace of my short running career. I want to shout it out to everyone that we're all capable of increasing our fitness.
In late 2016, I added in swimming. As a former competitive swimmer, I was hopeful that my fitness would return even though I had not swum in many years. Like the cycling and running, the progress was slow and steady. At my first triathlon in 12 years, I came out of the swim 4th/150 swimmers in my wave. I was simply elated with that result.
There is rarely a day that goes by that I don't reflect back to where I was in November of 2015, when a 30 minute workout left me exhausted and at times frustrated with my lack of fitness. I'm incredibly grateful to move my body every day, feel comfortable in my body, and continue to challenge myself with new fitness goals.
Achieving the fitness I have has been a combination of several puzzle pieces that fit beautifully together:
• strength/core training
• thoughtful and sustainable nutritional choices
• swimming, biking, running
• cognitively changing my mindset about what I'm capable of accomplishing
• one rest day/week with lots of self care for injury prevention
I challenge you to: change your mindset, find your inner cheerleader, and uncover what your body is truly capable of.
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going." - Jim Ryun
Check out the new move of the week video: Stability Ball Pike