Getting yourself in shape – building strength, endurance and achieving a healthy weight – is hard enough to do once, but I’m about to do it for the second time around. This time, I’m taking you on the journey with me.
That’s right…you’re my accountability partners. I’m using all of you to keep myself accountable and on track, and hey, maybe I’ll motivate you to make a few changes while I’m at it.
2019: My Best Self at 50
2019 was a rough year for me. It started out great – I was in my best shape ever, putting in the time and effort to train for a marathon challenge. It was a 50th birthday present to myself – set a fitness goal, get in my best shape, take a solo vacation, and run a challenge. I committed to it 100%. My family learned to fend for themselves so I could train, and my boss gave me encouragement and the time and flexibility at work to train and eat properly. All the pieces were in place. I dropped weight, built-up new muscle, toned everything, increased my endurance, and had never been happier with myself, mentally or physically.
I was just 30 days away from putting in the most miles I’d run to date, ready to take on the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend Challenge at Walt Disney World, when I had a horrible accident. I suffered a nasty fall and broke my right wrist, smashed my elbow and damaged one of the nerves in my arm, and banged up the entire right side of my body pretty badly. End of training. Trip cancelled. Instead, a cast and then months and months of physio.
I Let It Go
Long story short, I spent the remainder of 2019 either on my butt or in physio. I lost my job as a chef (one needs their dominant arm to be a chef), I lost my solo vacation, I couldn’t run or do most of what I was used to doing for fitness (and subsequently my mental health), and I was in a lot of pain most of the time.
I slowly and gradually put on 15 lbs and watched my muscle disappear (quite literally in the case of my damaged right arm – it’s horrible what time in a cast will do to your body!).
My focus was on rehabilitation and trying to get full use of my hand and arm back. After all, my career was on the line. Workouts and running were the least of my concerns for a long time.
I did reschedule my vacation but this time agreeing to take the rest of the family with me to Disney World, and I registered successfully for the Wine & Dine Marathon Weekend (this time just the 10k – not the challenge given I was still in accident recovery mode).
Sadly, none of that happened either. A family medical emergency saw that vacation cancelled as well.
Enter 2020: My Best Self at 51?
Well, we all know how 2020 is unfolding (key the booing and hissing).
Sure, I’ve rescheduled my solo Walt Disney World vacation and registered for another runDisney event (trying a second time for the 10k on the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend – let’s hear it for the Disney Villains!!) but all of that is hanging in the air now thanks to the global pandemic.
But …I refuse to do nothing and sit here getting bigger, sadder, and angrier. I know for me that I need a big goal to train for in order to get my butt out the door for a walk or run, or just to do exercise of some kind and start the hard journey to get myself back in shape.
So, I’ve chosen to look forward and assume this vacation will happen. I will run. I will exercise. I will train. I will eat a proper diet (ok, 80/20). I will cross the finish line, and I’m holding myself accountable to all of you as a way to help me get there.
Getting Back in Shape & Fitness Success
When the time came that I was back in the right head space and I could admit I was finished with my slump and I was ready to restore my best self, I sat down to outline the steps that worked for me last time and drafted a new plan.
I’ll share my plan with you. I started this journey about three weeks ago, so I’ve progressed through some of these steps already.
My Steps to Fitness Success
- Define my goals and make the commitment. Done.
- Just move. Get back to basics. Plan to make a conscious and purposeful decision every day to get up, move and burn extra calories. The idea here is to reestablish the habit: to find the time of day that works best for me. The last time I made this lifestyle commitment, I had a job and had to work around it. This time I’m running the house, helping kids with homework, meal planning in advance, planning online grocery orders, etc. I need to find what works with this new schedule. Done.
- Start changing my diet. Again, focusing on small steps at first is key. No extra snacking; making smarter choices when I do snack; paying close attention to portion sizes; increasing my (lean) protein, decreasing bad fats, adding good fats, …those basics we all know but are happier to ignore (especially during these stressful times). Done (or is ongoing).
- Write it down. I’m a Happy Planner girl and I’m using both a fitness and wellness planner to help me stay on track. I use the wellness planner to track my moods and goals, and I use my fitness planner to track my diet, calories in/calories burned, water intake, and workouts. Ongoing.
- Track everything. I’ve decided to use FitDay, an online tool, to also help track my food and fitness. I’ve used the app in the past and have gone back to it. I love that it allows me to see the information in a chart/graph format, and I can see the nutritional breakdown of my meal choices right in front of me. It makes it easier to see where I need to make adjustments and tweak what I’m doing. Ongoing.
- Make myself accountable. I’m doing that – with family, through journaling, and now with you.
Now, if this were my first time, I’d have other things on this list such as purchasing equipment, proper clothing, hiring a trainer…but I’ve either got what I need, or I’ve done the training in the past so don’t feel I need it now (or at least not at this point).
Alright, so here’s my progress report for my journey thus far:
- I’ve cut about 500-800 calories from my daily diet (I was snacking a lot during the first few weeks of this pandemic). During the pandemic, I switched from shopping at a big grocery chain down the street from our house, to online ordering through a local farm. This is helping immensely to keep me on a healthier diet (if I can’t see it, I can’t buy it, and if I don’t buy it, I can’t eat it).
- I’m up to working out 5 days per week in some sort of fashion: walking outdoors 3-4 times each week, strength training and cardio workouts at home once or twice per week to date. My walks started at a short 20 minutes but have progressed up to 40 minutes in duration and include hills and running stairs on one of the local trails. I found my love of walking/running outdoors came back pretty fast, so while at first it was all fast walking, it has now become walking with some brief periods of running as of this week. Sadly, my cardio is not what it used to be so regaining endurance may take more time than I’d like.
- I’m logging everything in my journal and online. Sure, some days I skip it and enter it a day or two late, but I am recording it and seeing where I’m doing well and where to make changes (breakfast needs more protein).
- Water. Yeah, I wish I could say I’m doing well here, but I’m not. If by “drink more water” they mean coffee, then I’m doing great. As it stands, I’ve reduced my coffee to two cups per day (one early am and one mid-afternoon), but I’m struggling to also add water. I’m pretty consistent at four glasses each day but know I need to up this, especially now that the heat and humidity have arrived.
- Weigh-in: I’m down 2 lbs so far. Slow and steady wins the race, right?
So there you have it.
My journey has begun. Again.
If you have any fitness or diet tips (I hate that word – diet – let’s say nutritional tips), please let me hear them. Have you taken this journey on yourself at some point? Kudos to you! I’d love to hear your story.
Stay tuned for regular progress reports and thanks for being there for me on my journey. Until then, keep moving and keep smiling!