912 days ago my life changed in ways that I never could have imagined or anticipated. At 49, I was unhealthy, overweight, and in need of some substantial lifestyle changes. I could picture myself being healthier, moving my body more, and perhaps most importantly being comfortable in my own skin. With labels of obese and pre-diabetic, as well as taking medications for other health issues, getting started could have been overwhelming and even dashed my hopes of being a healthier and fitter version of myself.
I kept an image of my future self in the forefront of my mind as I began this journey, as it helped me to navigate the changes I was embarking on. I wasn't exactly sure what my body would be capable of or willing to adapt too — but the idea of being healthier, having more energy and losing some weight offset the uncertainty that I may have felt as I began.
Due to lingering health issues and my weight, I started my journey with 30 minute workouts as that was what I could manage and felt comfortable with. I certainly had goals to eventually move beyond those 30 minute workouts when my body felt stronger. In addition to the 30 minute workouts, 6 days/week I also made a few other changes, including:
• logging in all the food I consumed
• using portion containers to learn correct portion control
• meal prepping lunch for the week
At 49, this wasn't my first attempt at trying to lose weight and get my health under control. Over my adult life, I have been on a bit of a roller coaster with my weight, health, and having a positive body image. This time was different though, as I felt a sense of urgency to get my health and wellness to a more sustainable place before I hit my 50s. I went into this journey committing to it with every fiber of my being, which meant making cognizant changes to my habits — many, many years of habits and behaviors that I was accustomed to, but not necessarily comfortable with.
The behavioral changes I made in the beginning were intended to be life changing — and sustainable for the long haul. As the months progressed, I tweaked and changed things to accommodate both plateaus and progress. For instance, from 11/2015-3/2016 I used a food journal to track my food. By March, I felt like I had gained insights into the amount of food (and types of food) my body needed to function and thrive — and thus removed the journal from the equation. It was enlightening to maintain a journal for several months, as it highlighted how much overeating and under eating I was prone to doing in certain food groups. This was really the first time in my life that I consumed fruits and vegetables every day with just about every meal — and that had an impact on my energy levels, as well as the scale. By spring of 2016, I added in running and cycling, in addition to increasing the amount of time I worked out I each day. I even bought myself a new bike to replace an older bike and reward myself for the progress I had made. 912 days later, I still work out 6 days/week and depending on where I am in a training cycle for triathlon, that is usually 2-3 hours/day, including strength/core work. I began building these habits back in 2015 and now they have become my routine, a template for my life.
As my health and energy levels increased, and my weight and dress size decreased, my feelings about my body also changed. I caught myself looking in mirrors more and realized that I wasn't concealing myself under loose fitting clothing. While my primary goal when I started this journey was to get my health under control, the weight and inches that disappeared were certainly a welcomed value.
Lots of times I hear people say, "If I can do it, anyone can do it." Before I began my own journey, I thought that statement was kind of (for lack of a better word) stupid. I would look at other people's transformations and success and think, I want to be healthier, fitter, and leaner — but you obviously have better genes then me or more time then me or more discipline then me or better health then me. In the past I could find a plethora of excuses to self-sabotage myself before I even got started. Back in 2015 when I decided to make lifestyle changes, I knew I had to remove the self-doubt from the equation and believe that if that person could change their life, why can't I? The only thing that had stood in my way in past attempts was ME.
Running, cycling, and swimming certainly weren't aren't my radar when I began with the 30 min/day workouts. But as I found myself modifying less workouts, gaining fitness and confidence, I realized that perhaps one day I could get back to triathlon. By the end of 2016, I was training in all three disciplines, alongside strength/core work — and registered for my first sprint triathlon which would take place in June of 2017 — after a 12-year hiatus from the sport.
What small change can you make today? Tomorrow? Determine what changes you need to make, and jump in with 100% determination. Then, develop a plan on how you will hold yourself accountable to these changes. That might be an accountability partner, personal trainer, or online program. For me, accountability was in the form of journaling and online apps like STRAVA. I find that programs like STRAVA motivate me deeply, as I like to watch my progress in the three disciplines develop season to season. There are also great tools available for nutrition. I've been using Plan to Eat for several years, which helps me plan a well balanced menu for the week. You can give Plan to Eat a try for free for 30 days.
As you make progress on the changes you have put in place and achieve victories (big & small), celebrate them! If you find that the changes you have established don't seem to be working as well, make modifications. I have made some adjustments over the last 2.5 years to meet the ever-changing needs of my body.
So, what are you waiting for? Find your motivation, commit to making a change today, and jump in with every fiber of your being.
Check out the new move of the week: TRX Push Up/Pike on BOSU Ball