The Wheel of Fitness

I know it’s common to witness women caught in a cycle of dieting/food deprivation. I know for a lot of women, weight melts away, plateaus, and returns. My experience with this yo-yo effect occurred due to various health challenges: cerebral palsy, anemia and anxiety, followed by an accident that broke my teeth, and two broken bones in the span of two years.

When I turned 39, I suddenly realized… my once relatively stable body had reached its lifetime heaviest and more than that, my stamina and strength had waned as well.

I vowed to myself I would get in shape before I turned 40.

Problem is, I had never tried to lose weight before. Turns out I was good at it. I started at 142 and dropped to 112 in about the span of a month.

I bought a fitbit to make sure I ate enough. I got my weight to 120. Then 125. Then 130. It didn’t stop there.  Today I’m at least 135.

But now, as I have my 43rd birthday approaching in 8 months, I have great upper body strength but I have gained so much of that weight back. I don’t have the stamina to go out and walk for four miles just as a fun jaunt. I’m afraid to ride my bicycle.

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this. In college I started weight training. Then stopped.

My first job came with a gym membership, my muscles returned. And I stopped.

Then I had a baby.

My first big supervisor job, I went to the gym if the staff started stressing me out. Between that, and the fact that my daughter ate half of all my meals, I got in shape again.

And then I changed jobs.

Now I am back to being out of shape. Strong, sure, but not as strong as a year ago. But I am out of shape.

So I started logging food, exercise, water and sleep habits. Even vitamins. Because what I need are healthy habits and routine. Seeing it on paper helps. And I won’t diet. I need good food to make my body feel hearty and to fuel it for exercise.

To start: do something every day. No excuses. I’m starting small, because I’ve had houseguests, worked a lot of hours, it’s PMS week and my daughter is in marching band. I’m rededicating myself to my home weights, doing ab exercises hopefully every day, and shooting for yoga everyday.

Yoga?

I find that a great place to start. I need to stretch out those muscles and body parts and prep it for whatever to come. Find the parts of my body holding stress. And most importantly, it can be a part of my day where I connect light activity with calm and breathing. A great way to slow down and reward my body, not just push it.

 

I gave up my Fitbit.

About three weeks or a month ago, I was standing in the kitchen at work and my bracelet broke. But, you see, it wasn’t merely a bracelet. It was one of the custom Fitbit bracelets my husband made me.

I slipped it into my pocket where the old Fitbit Flex could at least continue to track my steps and continued my day.

When I got home, I relayed the catastrophe to my husband. The next day, he fixed it. He fixed it while I was at work. My Fitbit broke on Saturday and I went to work Sunday without it.

Sunday is the first day of the week. This whole week would be “under” since I missed a day. I couldn’t “make up” those steps. I’d spend the whole week below my Fitbit friends in the rankings when I knew I had more steps than that.

So I challenged myself to take the week off.

It took until Thursday for someone to email and ask me if my Fitbit died. I’m really surprised that no one emailed or called my husband to see if I had died.

By the weekend, I didn’t miss it.

I’ve been wearing my Fitbit for more than two years. My Fitbit story is NOT the usual Fitbit story. I needed to lose ten pounds. I had some health issues that led to me gaining weight and I needed to lose about ten pounds. I was 39 and thought I had to do it now because the next decade historically is not kind to women in my family.

Well, when you walk a mile every hour at work, and suddenly cut carbohydrates, increase protein, remove junk food from your diet, give up alcohol and fancy coffee drinks… And decide to bike with your daughter, box in the garage and lift weights… Those ten pounds come off easily.

One month later, I had lost thirty pounds.

Oops.

I bought a Fitbit to make sure I ate enough for my increase in activity. And then when I understood how much food and what food my body needed, I kept wearing it because I liked the step goals. I loved seeing the charts and the impact. But then I started to know without looking. So, then my focus turned to my sleep habits. Now that I never mastered. My sleep habits stink. I’m a mom, after all.

I lost my drive for a lot of my activities. I used to roam the neighborhood for miles, do walks in new towns, even tried to run a 5K. I used to lift hard every day. I used to kick box and do yoga. But suddenly, my soul got tired.

Maybe it was stress.

I had regained about 15 pounds of that thirty lost, and it needed to return. It returned as muscle. I went from underweight and bony to muscular enough to toss forty pound boxes around in the freezer at work. I can carry a 35-pound of popcorn kernels on my shoulder across the entire store. I can do push-ups and chin-ups.

I have visible abs.

I don’t have wiggly arms.

So WHY did I stress myself out if I didn’t hit five miles a day? Why did I feel guilt if that number hovered around 10,000 steps? Why did I hate myself if I sat?

Even one “rest day” would drive me insane.

And the only time I watched a movie was if the battery died.

So, I’m glad I gave up my Fitbit.

4th Annual Yuengling Lager Jogger

 It’s a bit of a long story but I will condense as best I can.

I never drank beer. Started about two years ago when we found a pub near our house that served an interesting selection of craft beers (how can you not want to try a chocolate peanut butter beer named Sweet Baby Jesus?).

They had Angry Orchard on tap and for beer sissies like me, hard cider was an exciting way to experience ordering a draft. 

And then the bartender recommended mixing it half-and-half with Yuengling. And then I was soon drinking Yuengling. Like a real grown up.

My friend Gayle mentioned that Yuengling has a 5K walk/run. So we did it. Last year. The third annual event. I finished in right around 50 minutes and if you’ve ever seen Pottsville and the race course, the first mile from the brewery is up hill.

The second mile is flat for a while and then up hill. The third mile is down hill.

The beer tent is at the bottom of the hill.

 
I entered a significant decade on my birthday last year, and I have been working really hard to gain more muscle, strengthen my lower body and attain more general endurance and fitness.

I was doing great. My body fat percentage in the fall was 21.8%. (I am scheduled for a follow up visit on Tuesday.)

Then I broke my ankle. So, when I registered my daughter and I in the 4th Annual Lager Jogger my goal was to run it. Now I have cerebral palsy and I broke my ankle… But I thought this was doable.

It was a rough winter. A non-existent Spring. An incredibly stressful Christmas season at work, where I put in practically full-time hours. Equally stressful at home with a pre-teen daughter who is so close to puberty none of us may survive 2016. I started grad school. My cat of 17 years will be put to sleep on Monday.

Training did not happen. Not in earnest. My daughter flat out refused.

And then child got a cold.

And all my commitments made me a little crazy.

And then the weather forecast said it would be 30 degrees and snowing.

And indeed it was.

But I needed to win something this week, even if it was hope of someday running a 5K. So I started to run up that hill. My cold toes hurt as the hit the ground and both ankles protested. I probably only made it a third of a mile but then I walked hard and fast. 

One resident was passing out orange juice. Others had Yuengling on tap from kegs in their front yard, handing out beer to runners as they went by.

Once we reached the top, I resumed running again and the pace kept me warm as the snow increased. I ran until my lungs couldn’t function in the cold air, walked to rest, and then ran again.

I finished in 44:31. 

I’m still no runner but I’m damn proud.