Curls is in the house! Today she baked a fresh post as she continues her food and fitness set.
The girl's not monkeying around with getting in shape this winter, I'm proud and notice drastic changes when I see her afresh each Friday. She offered to share thoughts on
Inquiring minds want to know. Where is Curls? Hi, I’m baaa-aaack!
If you’re new here, allow me to catch you up. Back on Jan 2nd (not Jan 1st like a normal person), I decided I was tired of being tired and sick of hearing myself make excuses. So, I jump-started a nutrition/exercise regimen to get me back on track and in shape. I’m happy to report that I’ve made some great strides. I’ll be frank, shall I? I’ve lost 26.5-lbs, an aggressive push that has revitalized me.
Even though I will refer to running throughout this snippet, please don’t feel as though running is THE only way to burn calories. It’s simply my exercise of choice. And so it begins…
I was once a runner. I wasn’t great, but I wasn’t too bad either. I qualified for (and ran in) the Boston Marathon back in 2007. It was an experience that I will never forget, not so much because of the race itself, but because I really never believed it would happen for me. How’s that for genuinely surprising yourself? I guess it’s one of those pivotal moments in life where you realize that commitment, discipline and hard work really do matter. I was exhausted, but you couldn’t wipe that smile off my face that day, or the three that followed.
I chose running again because (1) it’s easy to do anywhere and at anytime, (2) it’s a relatively cheap hobby to take up, and (3) it’s a calorie burning machine. There are risks too. I’ve had my fair share of nagging injuries over the years (stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, a nasty sprained ankle) and as I age, I find that the bod’ simply doesn’t recover from these set-backs quite as quickly as I once enjoyed. So I guess you could say that I was optimistically cautious.
I like to joke that I’ve started running again no less than 60 times over the past 3-yrs. Ha! Sadly, there’s some mighty (humbling?) truth sprinkled in there. Getting started was never the problem. Sustaining was. I found that my biggest problem was that I constantly tried to do too much too soon. My mental self was all “go get ‘em”, while my body was screaming. I was tired, in pain and just plain crabby over and over again. Boo! It’s no wonder I gave up.
So, what’s different now?
- I have a plan. Not a literal, prescribed kind of plan. But one that says I am committed to this day after day after day. I am disciplined enough to carve out time to get the exercise in and know precisely when and how long I intend to go. I have run in rain, snow, biting wind chills, and have taken a spill on an icy downhill (and got up and kept going). Not to sound too cliché, but I’m stronger for it. Oh, and I have a fantastic tolerance of cold weather now…go Midwest winters!
- My plan is realistic, but challenges. I started out with 3-mi runs. I would mix in walking on the up-hills. I have a really great route around my house that has a decent mix of hills and flats, so this worked out quite nicely in the beginning. Over time, I adjusted to where I ran the whole thing. Now I’m up to 5-mi runs (no walking!) and they’re coming pretty easily. That’s progress…and it’s beautiful! But the key is continuing to change things up. Don’t settle.
- I make ‘em count. Today when I work out, I give it my best. I’m not putting myself at risk of injury, but I’m not simply going through the motions either. It’s uncomfortable. I sweat, breathe hard and probably stink when I’m done. But that, my friends, are respectable signs. My body is working hard and I feel stronger for it. I exercise with purpose now.
- I’m conditioning for sustainability. It’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind here. I yearned to quickly have the strength and endurance I once had, but I had to be patient as I slowly built it back up. I’m not there yet, but I can see it making a comeback. No quick fixes will hold for long without potential for long-term implications – dare I say, failure. As I’ve said before, the human body is an amazing machine. It is a powerhouse, if you’ll allow it.
- I’ve had setbacks. I knew this would happen. I was just waiting for it. It came at just over 3-wks in. The scale stuck. I was frustrated. Good eating, daily running. No reward. I did the smart thing. My body needed a new challenge. That’s when I bumped my 3-mi runs to 4-mi runs. That did the trick. So, adjust. It’s your body’s way of potentially saying, “I’m bored” or “This wimpy exercise is beneath me/us/you”. You get my point.
- I have energy. I have missed this most of all. It’s not that I didn’t have energy before, but now it’s kinda boundless. For those who either haven’t exercised, or do so half-baked, this may sound counterintuitive. You’d be surprised that when you’re most tired, that might be a good time to get the workout in. I’ve often started with a run feeling “blah”, only to finish feeling like a shiny new penny. Endorphins, for the win! It’s real folks.
- It’s not all physical. I would be amiss to suggest that exercise doesn’t directly benefit the body on a physical level. Yee-haw! However, don’t downplay how impactful exercise is on your mental, emotional and even spiritual health. I have found running to be the single best way (for me) to manage stress. I take it out on the road, think through problems, clear my head and come back a more relaxed, level-headed gal. Never has this failed me.
- Am I an example now? Geesh, pressure. Having lived (still living) it, I find I’m a much better pillar of support and knowledge for others. I’m no expert (disclaimer!) and I surely make mistakes (ever heard of cross-training, Curls?), but I do know a thing or two. I try to tell apprehensive folks that while exercise and nutrition are at the core of fitness, in the beginning it’s all about change management. You’ve got to accept that going in.
- I actually do have fun. It’s no lie (pinky swear). I look forward to going out for my runs. Life gets busy. Don’t miss out. Soak it up.
There’s so much more to share, but I want to give you a chance to toss in your two cents. What’s worked well for you? Any great stories? Lessons learned?
P.S. I also vote that we have a segment called “embarrassing workout stories”. I’m full of ‘em. Like the time one of Beard’s running buddies spit a giant wad of phlegm on a run (why do guys do this?) and it landed on my leg. Or the time when I split my running shorts and didn’t notice till AFTER the workout – sigh. Or the time when I was startled by my own shadow while out for a night run (I thought it was a raccoon) and actually let out an audible scream.