It’s unlikely that I will ever be the person who leaps out of bed in the morning anxious to do her workout. Or the person who feels off all day because they missed a workout. I may never love exercising because I still don’t like it today. And yet I exercise six days a week. That’s right — six days a week. The person who succumbed to daily phantom big toe pains, which left her unable to exercise for years, works out six times a week. Mic. Drop.
I did not wake up one morning with sudden urge to start an exercise program. But I did take a good, hard look in the mirror at the beginning of 2017 and found someone staring back at me that I hated.
- She was fat.
- She was miserable.
- She was unhappy.
- She was confused.
- She was stuck.
This me wasn’t a new me. She had been my reality for a long time. Too long. And I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of her. And I also knew time was coming for me. As in these old, creaky bones of mine aren’t getting younger. While I’ve been blessed with good health overall, youth likely played a factor in me not developing more serious problems beyond being overweight. But youth is also fleeting.
Time is Both Friend and Foe to Good Health
Now I’ve got a lot of years left in those 42 year old bones of mine, but I also know the older you get, the more likely chronic health problems become your reality too. Getting healthy was becoming less of something I ought to do, but more of a necessity for longevity. And lower health care premium and costs, especially since The Dotard of Covfefe likes to play Russian Roulette with my coverage (Ha! Russian.).
I could no longer put off the obvious: I needed to lose weight. And I had done it before. Many times. And I always regained the weight I lost and added a few extra pounds every single time. It was time to break the cycle. Here are the three big steps I took:
#1: Learn from Past Mistakes to Avoid Repeating Them
The secret to losing weight is not really a secret. Pretty much every overweight person knows they need to burn more calories than they consume. Sadly, knowing what to do doesn’t make it any easier to actually do it. Many, like me, have lost weight and regained it back. This time, instead of leaping into some plan built upon enthusiasm rather than sound structure, I thought back to the things that worked and didn’t work. I stopped beating myself up over my mistakes and instead learned from them. I remembered little tricks that helped me stay motivated and what events triggered my overeating. In other words, I paid attention.
#2: Be Ruthless and Do You, Not Someone Else
Before I started my exercise program in June, I spent a lot of time gearing up for it. I gathered advice from both experts and novices; I pinned healthy recipes and workouts. Ultimately, I collected lots of pieces to my get healthy puzzle, then I got ruthless. In other words, I discarded lots of good advice that didn’t fit my goals. My personality. My strengths and weaknesses. Me.
Remember not every piece of advice or tip or recommendation is right for you or necessarily even good. It is important to seek out guidance and increase your knowledge, but remember — what others say is not the holy gospel. You are the holy gospel of you.
For example, I set a weekly exercise goal with the expectation that next week I would do more until I reached my final goal. Sometimes it went perfectly. Other times I didn’t feel ready to move to the next step, so I didn’t. This works for me because meeting my goal is what keeps me motivated, even a repeat goal. However, if I fail to reach a goal, it actually lowers my motivation. I don’t rise to the challenge but wither away. Others may respond the opposite way. Know how you respond and you do you.
Tip: This is true for me when it comes to exercise and food. I am the opposite with work. So pay attention and look back at your history specific to what area you’re working on.
#3: Acknowledge Hang-Ups and Find Solutions
When I moved to LA, I looked forward to walking on the beach and it became my primary form of exercise. It is not part of my exercise routine today. Why? Because my terrible and yet true excuse for not working out regularly is that it takes too long to get to the beach. While I actually live quite close to the ocean, it does take anywhere from 10-20 minutes to make it to the beach, depending on traffic. Now I know what most of you are saying, it takes me that long to get to the gym too. You are not wrong.
The Solution in Action
Here’s what I did: First, I acknowledged it as a legitimate complaint. My phantom toe pains are not, but time is a real factor. Now that I wasn’t beating myself up over for being lame and pathetic, I asked myself to solve this riddle: It takes too long get the beach to walk AND how can you fix the problem of time?
Now I thought back to step #1 and realized that every time I managed to successfully workout in the past, it was because I could do it immediately. Change clothes and hike on the trail near my home. Put on my swimsuit and swim in my apartment’s pool. Throw in a Tae Bo DVD (yes, I’m old) and start kicking and punching.
Where I failed terribly was when I joined the YMCA. I went maybe twice because I could always, always talk myself out of getting in my car and driving there. Armed with that knowledge, I put my swimsuit back on and now swim 40 laps three days a week. I lace up my tennis shoes and run up and down the stairs with power laps around my apartment building three days a week. My walking days are also my strength training days. And now I’m working out regularly with minimal fuss on my part.
Exercise Equals Loose Pants
Of course, the real test of any exercise routine is are you seeing results? Knowing that food played a large role in weight loss, I tried to keep my expectations in check. And admittedly I was a little disappointed at first. My pants were looser but I hoped for (wanted) more. Then I happened to notice my backside. And my shorts were droopy in the ass. Like a lot droopy. Unattractively droopy to virtually everyone but me because it meant that I had a lot less ass! Next I tried on a pair of capris that I could barely squeeze into a couple of months ago and they fit. I put on my I-can’t-believe-I’m-this-fat pants and they fell off me. And I cried. Lots and lots of happy tears because some tears represent rebirth.
I still have a long journey ahead of me and lots of pounds to go but I feel strong and motivated. In the next month or two, I will want to ramp up the intensity of my workouts to increase the number of calories I burn and build more muscle. Right now, though, consistently exercising while I tackle food works for me.