Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My ongoing fitness journey

In October of 2002 I married the love of my life, it was dreamy. I didn't mind too much that my wedding dress was a size 20. My guy loves me whatever my size and I didn't feel unattractive. But I did feel uncomfortable; my back hurt, my knees hurt, it was hard to get a deep breath when I sat down, and I was always tired.

On January 1, 2003 I decided to try Atkins and lost about 60 pounds over the course of that year! I know a low-carb lifestyle is not for everyone, but it turns out to be the right one for me. I was able to quit eating sugar, white potatoes, rice, corn and wheat. I felt instantly better. My life-long food and candy cravings went away and so did a lot of my Asthma symptoms!

Me at the start of 2003:

And just by eating what I was cooking, my husband lost 40 pounds we didn't even realize he was carrying!

I had plans to lose all the weight, I had a modest five year plan. But I took my eye off the ball, I got distracted by ordinary life events and between 2004 and 2010 I quietly gained back about 20 of those pounds. By July of 2010 I was totally sedentary and unhappy and uncomfortable again. I thought about Yoga, but I realized I don't enjoy group exercise. I thought about exercise tapes, but I have done those in the past and found they quickly got boring. I decided to start using my trusty Nordic Track skier again. I bought it back in 1993 and have enjoyed using it on and off, lugging it from old home to new home. It was time to climb back on.

To psyche myself up for the long haul and to avoid feeling discouraged if weight didn't come off right away, I told myself I was only exercising for FITNESS and if the weight came off that would be a nice side bonus.

I started really, really slowly. I exercised 10 minutes a day, three days a week. In that ten minutes I would alternate walking for one minute then lightly jogging for one minute. I was making a lifetime change and I wanted morning exercise to become a habit. I decided that going at my own pace was the most important goal so I only increased my exercise to 20 minutes a day when it felt right. It probably took a month, but that was the only way I was going to get it to stick.

Every morning I would get up and put on my exercise clothes, I wouldn't leave the house until I'd done my minutes. Every day was a mental struggle. I would sit there in my exercise outfit, willing myself to just start. It was SO HARD!! I'm lucky that I work for myself, don't have kids, and have a schedule flexible enough to allow for this struggle to play itself out. I will tell you, it took well over a year and a half of persistent effort for the exercise to become a habit. I did not think it would take that long for me to feel like my day hasn't started until I get off the Nordic Track.

I was up to 30 minutes a day, five days a week in April of 2011 and guess what? My weight was EXACTLY THE SAME as when I began. I couldn't help it, I was discouraged.

I tried to tell myself I'd probably lost some fat and gained some muscle, probably true. That my body was more toned, it was. I tried to remember that I was in this for fitness above all else. But, come on. Then I decided to stop eating all the non-gluten grains I had added back into my diet over the years, and increase my workouts to 45 minutes.

I was eating meats, dairy, veggies (except corn and potatoes), beans, and nuts. I was totally satisfied and didn't miss the grains at all! I had really thought I would. It turns out the way I was able to quit sugar 9 years ago and feel like NOT eating the treat was the treat I was giving to myself, that's how I felt about not eating grains.

And a little bit of weight came off! Hurray! Then I read that you need to exercise 5-6 hours a week for consistent weight loss. Oy. So I decided to increase my exercise to an hour. And that, combined with ditching grains, is what finally tripped the trigger.

In 2011 I ended up losing 30 pounds! I feel fantastic. I will admit it was a bit of a shock to realize I was 75 pounds lighter than I was at my wedding. And that I am still 35 pounds overweight. But it's much easier to start fresh at this point. This year, twenty twelve, I'm increasing my 5 days a week exercise to 72 minutes per day. I'm determined to lose the last 35 pounds, however long it takes. Because I am in this for the long run. And this time, I'm paying attention.

Me and my husband in December of 2011: