Friday, July 6, 2012

You CAN do it. I promise.

**Disclaimer - this post has been on my mind for awhile and have held off because I most certainly do not want it to come across as a "Look at me toot my own horn".  My motives are pure.**

At work I am so inspired by others who come in, ready for a good pair of shoes, a goal in mind and the drive to get in to shape.  They recognize the need for a healthy lifestyle and the benefits of being physically fit.

Sometimes though, as motivated as one might feel one day, we all know that sometimes those good intentions go right out the window.  We've all been there, we've all done it.

The purpose of this post?  To remind you to NEVER GIVE UP!

So you have a bad day.  You don't exercise.  You eat more than you should.  Your food selection is poor.  So what?  It's a DAY.  Pull yourself up by the bootstraps, put your big girl panties back on and tackle tomorrow.

I was a little "thick" in high school. I liked running so that was my exercise of choice.  Not on the track team, but just on my own here and there as a way to try and keep up with society's message of how I should look.

After I got married, those newlywed pounds crept on for the first several months but then, my best friend got married and I was a bridesmaid that had to fit in a dress.  I dieted.  Really cut back on what I ate, and went to a gym.  I soon found myself at a steady, healthy weight.  Feeling good.

I stayed there right up through my babies (with minor fluctuations) until right after my third.  I found it harder to get back to where I felt good.  So, I went back to some aerobic classes, even started teaching on my own and basically was able to eat what I wanted since I was working out so much, often two or three times a day depending on how many classes I taught.

And then my kids hit their teenage years.  Ever raised a teenager?  Then you know exactly what I mean. Instead of focusing on feeling healthy and good, I self-soothed with food. By no means, did I actually realize what I was doing, it's only now in hindsight.  Those years were stressful, full of worry about my kids and about my parenting skills.  Food made everything better.  Clearly subconsciously, but it is what it is.

Then I saw this picture
(yes, that is me in the gray sweater)

Taken at Jill's baby shower about 5.5 years ago.  I looked at that and didn't even recognize myself.  What the heck?  I got fat and NO ONE TOLD ME!

Sure, I was buying bigger pants and tops, but somehow that didn't register with me.  My blood pressure was getting high and my cholesterol was over the top, and the chest pains?  Well, they were stress.  I didn't recognize ONE of these symptoms as unhealthy.  And for crying out loud, I WORKED IN THE HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY!  I should have known better, but I think I did what a lot of us do and that is go into denial.  If I don't acknowledge it, then it's not happening right?  I didn't even let my brain wrap around the fact that I was unhealthy.

After that pic and the reality hitting me, I decided I couldn't live like that anymore.  Not just for vanity's sake but for my health's sake.  Splenda Daddy and I joined the local gym and started going on a regular basis.  I hid myself behind baggy sweats and oversized t-shirts.  I pulled from my memory all the things I use to teach in classes, and incorporated them into my self training.  I was too intimated to even set foot in a class yet, so I kept to myself working out in the fitness room pretending to be a part of the wall.  It was a little scary in the gym.  Luckily we go to one that isn't full of young, tan and fit kids, but rather the rec center that is mostly people our age, just trying to keep in shape.  Still, I was intimidated.

Thankfully, we kept at it, and little by little I saw some of the weight come off.  I had to do the unthinkable and weigh myself which really hurt and made me even more determined to do SOMETHING.  But now, I had a number to start with and a goal to get back to where I was when I felt the best.

Unfortunately, I hit the plateau that is so common.  Lose some and then you get stuck.  Okay, so I had been exercising but not really paying attention to the food that I ate.  I started to look at labels and count calories.  Wow, were my eyes opened!  Thinking I had been good with just eating some graham crackers, once I looked at the calories, I realized that I was in fact undermining my exercise efforts by still taking in more calories than I was burning.

So, I started keeping track of my calories.  Every day.
I got the courage to start going to classes, and even though I hid in the back, soon Tiburon befriended me and before I knew it, I had a network of friends to look forward to being with at the gym.  Classes became easier to attend, I started a couple of personal training sessions and began in earnest the journey of losing the baggy sweatpants and oversize t-shirts to actual work out clothes : )

It took about a year, but I lost the weight.  I got back to where I am in the size of clothes that is reasonable for me, but more importantly, better health.  My blood pressure is amazing as is my resting heart rate.  Cholesterol levels good (even with terrible genes), and chest pain?  Sometimes, but still stress related.  I guess being a type A personality does that to you.

I got invited to run my first 5k with some girls from the gym.  It sounded intriguing so I tagged along.  Well, wouldn't you know it?  The adrenaline of a race, running, and being surrounded by others was intoxicating.  The topper was that I ran fast enough to place in my age group.  I won a prize!

That was it.  I was hooked.  Running fit every element of what I enjoyed in exercise, and racing satisfied my competitive side.

The rest is, as they say, history.  6 marathons under my belt, too many half's, 10k's and 5k's to count, and several triathlons.  Add in the cycling that I was also introduced to and use as cross training, and I can say that I have been plenty busy.  A lifestyle has developed.  One that includes being active.  Doing things.  Going places. Competing.  All things that now define me.  I run.  I cycle.  I swim.  I compete with myself.

Back to the purpose of this post?  Simply to show that you can do it.  I have told my story as a way of explanation, but I really hope that even if it inspires one person to make a change for the better in their lifestyle, then it will have been worth it.  Not that everyone needs to be little and weigh a "certain" number of lbs, but that we are healthy, fit and active.  And I also realize that running isn't for everyone.  Find what you LOVE and then do it.  Do it alot!  I promise it's worth the effort. It's worth dragging yourself to the gym or the tack or the pool at sometimes ungodly hours.  It's worth turning down an extra brownie.  It's worth the soreness in your muscles.  The pay off is so much more than any sacrifice made to get there.  Start small, and go from there.  It's worth it.

And if you ever need some inspiration, come back - look at the photo's and remind yourself YOU CAN DO IT.

**Please don't start an exercise program without consulting your doctor first**

**And please, if you choose to leave a comment, tell me how you're working on getting fit and what your goals are so I can cheer you on!**


tammy said...

I can't even believe that is you. I knew you'd said you'd been heavy before, but I didn't really believe it looking at you now.

I have so much in common with this post....the weight gain after marriage & babies, the high blood pressure, the seeing a picture of myself and freaking out. You kind of have blinders on when you're looking in the mirror, and to see a picture of yourself caught unaware - wow. And I used to be an aerobics instructor too! I used to counsel people on how to be fit.

My family teases me now, because I am obsessed with not gaining the weight back. Everything is "I can't eat that, that's not on my diet". It does help that the LP is so health conscious now. He made us our own little workout room and wants to eat healthy too, so no complaints when I'm cooking healthy.

I don't think this post is bragging at all. You are an inspiration!

karen said...

I have sort of a specific problem: rheumatoid arthritis. I was diagnosed in 2004. I did well for awhile, even managing to wear the most teeteringly high heels I could find, but the last 2-3 years have been harder. The ankle I've sprained time and time again (not from the shoes!) has finally given up and is chronically swollen, and my knees are shot. Bad right shoulder. That said - if you sit on the couch feeling sad about it, it will only get worse, so I have to do something. My husband and I used to run, then it was just walking for miles, but now I can't even do that. Last year we tried cycling and it's a heaven sent solution for me. Even when I'm my achiest, I know that within a few minutes of riding my bike I will feel better. It never fails, so we try to do something every day. I'm convinced that good circulation is key to relieving a lot of ailments. Anyway, I incorporate yoga and cycling, and it really helps. I have a job where I sit all day at a computer, so it's very hard for me to burn enough calories to offset that, but at least I'm maintaining my weight (although I need to lose about 30 pounds!) and I can feel my muscles getting stronger with all the exercise. We've worked our cycling up to 17.6 miles! This was from last year when 5 miles about killed me.
I could go on and on about roadblocks to losing weight - we should have a private conversation. Maybe you can help me with some new perspective. But whatever shape you're in, it will only get worse if you do nothing. The more you move, the more you're able to move, and the better you feel!

3maams 2guys said...

wow! you are my hero! that's incredible. what an amazing transformation. looking at you i had always just assumed you were always tiny! good for you. i'm next:)

" Hit It......." said...

You are such an inspiration. I thought you were naturally thin. You give me hope.

I also think that you have found your calling; being a cheerleader. I saw that picture of you on fb with that cute child. Lady you were meant to do that. You so inspire me!


Natalie said...

Way to go to do the hard work it takes to stay fit!!! It's really inspiring to see all that you do. I admire you for so many reasons already!!!! This just adds to the list! :)

lilyrose said...

You are an inspiration. I (sort of) went through a lot of similar life issues...although I was never a runner...that's my hubby's department. Saw a photo of myself about a year ago-and it hit me like a slap in the face. I knew I was overweight and avoided the scale...but SEEING it in living color was a whole 'nother thing! I began in earnest to eat healthy and move more. My biggest issue is I am needing knee replacements. I tore the meniscus in my right knee and then discovered that I also have osteoarthritis. My ortho dr says no running (yay) and no jump roping. (ha) So my daily barn chores and hopefully, soon a stationary bike are my best alternatives for exercise.
The good news is that even though my ability to exercise aerobically is a bit compromised-I have managed to lose 30lbs in the past year. I really need to keep going-so reading your story helped me a lot. You look fantastic! Thank you for sharing your journey.

wendy said...

Holy crap girlfriend...I would have never recognized you in that first picture. It is amazing how when we loose weight, it even looses off your face.
I have lost 14 lbs since last Christmas. That is not NEAR what I need to do. But I am slowly trying to do MORE...and eat LESS.
I know it sounds like a big excuse, but it is hard to go outside and walk here as the wind is either howling or you freeze your nipples off.
I need my nipples. (don't know why, not breat feeding anyone ...tee,hee)
so I got exercise DVD's and although I did it vigourously since Jan, I HATE THEM. They become so tedious so fast.
But summer keeps me busy up here doing "chores" outside.
I'll be back to the dreaded DVD's come fall.
Besides I live 30 miles from a gym, and convenience is a big factor for me as far as going to the gym is concerned.

yeah I KNOW....whaaa whaaa whaaa, excuses.
IT'S HARD TO BE ME (tee,hee)
And you can be sure, after remarring for the 3rd freaking time, moving away, loosing a son and all my guilt issues.....FOOD was a dear friend.

Pedaling said...

not gloating...but inspiring--that's what you are!!

for me it was skinny... then with age...chubby! I do my best, feel pretty healthy, but am often shocked when I see pics of myself---

pretty much after 40, I could no longer eat...haha

not really- I'm a carb addict-- I think.

Anyway, you look great, are an inspiration--I'm not ever going to give up....isn't it amazing how much younger you and EVERYONE looks without the extra weight!

It's the anti-aging miracle, everyone seems to be looking for!
and it comes with effort...that's for sure!

Awesome post!

Pedaling said...

not gloating...but inspiring--that's what you are!!

for me it was skinny... then with age...chubby! I do my best, feel pretty healthy, but am often shocked when I see pics of myself---

pretty much after 40, I could no longer eat...haha

not really- I'm a carb addict-- I think.

Anyway, you look great, are an inspiration--I'm not ever going to give up....isn't it amazing how much younger you and EVERYONE looks without the extra weight!

It's the anti-aging miracle, everyone seems to be looking for!
and it comes with effort...that's for sure!

Awesome post!

Lara said...

You are inspiring. I feel like I tell you that a lot.

I've been going to the gym every day for the last few months, and while I've lost a bit of weight, I'm at a stand still while I deal with this achilles tendinitis, which is AWFUL! I need to find something I can do without using my feet for a while, I guess, because even biking hurts. Still, I am determined to push through this little setback and keep at it!

Thanks for sharing your story!