Walk Back to Fitness
It’s been a wild sort of fitness year for me – I went from being uber-disciplined on nutrition and a six-day a week P90X fitness regimen to, well, NO nutrition and NO exercise. How does this happen? I dunno ~ too many life changes, too much work, too much fun going out with friends ~ doesn’t matter, it just does.
The trouble is, you can kind of let things slide for a few weeks and not really notice the difference. At this point, your clothes probably still fit okay, and you can get back to healthy eating and a good workout routine without too much suffering. Let it go on much longer, though, and it gets harder and harder to get back on track. Pretty soon the pounds start creeping up, you feel sluggish and you start to ignore your previous goals. It happens to all of us.
This time, I let it slide for a good six months. My exercise routine got relegated to second place behind my work. I couldn’t take time to exercise, I’d reason, I had too much writing to do with too many tight deadlines. Also, we were in the process of moving across the country. Our things were in storage and we were living in VRBO houses with sparse kitchens ~ too hard, I’d tell myself, to try to stick to a healthier meal plan.
Within a few months my clothes either felt too tight or were too smalll. I felt horrible about myself. I didn’t want to look in the mirror but I didn’t want to diet or work out either. The worst part was being angry with myself for letting it happen. I was in a vicious cycle of self-condemnation and pouting.
Ah, but there is a happy ending to this.
I’ve been here before and have found my way back with one simple life change ~ I start walking. It’s the kindest, most rewarding exercise I can think. It neutralizes the negative self-talk and and gently moves you back to fitness in a very gentle way.
This time, I started by committing to a 30-minute walk every day on my lunch hour. Rain or shine. It didn’t take long before I was actually looking forward to getting away from my desk. I found I’d usually come back to my writing more refreshed, energized and ready to work. I walked in the rain; I walk in high winds, I walked in heavy fog, I walked in the snow. If I missed the lunch time slot, I’d walk at the end of the day. I’d split the walk in two if I had to in order to get it in.
Almost unconsciously I started stretching the walks into an hour or even 90 minutes. After a while, I began to have the urge to jog a little, so I switched to a run/walk routine a couple of days a week. I found I wasn’t in nearly as bad a shape as I’d built up in my own mind.
Pretty soon I swapped out some of my neighborhood walks for hikes in the nearby mountains, on rugged trails that got my heart rate up and gave my legs a different kind of work out.
Then I got a Fitbit Zip Activity Tracker for Christmas and that pushed me over the top. This little step counting device is so cool and easy to use that I use it to keep track of a new goal I set for myself ~ 12,000 steps a day.
All of this has taken a few months, but I feel like a new person. My clothes are fitting again which has boosted my self-image. I notice I am ditching the baggy t-shirts. I’m even lifting weights again and going on long bike rides. I am happier.
And that “I can’t work out, I have too much work,” routine? I still get stuck in that mode but when I do, I ask myself what is more important, my work or my health? Health wins.
I’ve had to adjust my schedule, but the work gets done. I haven’t missed a single deadline. I think I’m probably more productive in the hours I spent in my office partly because I don’t resent being there so much.
I recommend that everyone try it whether for weight loss or just for trying something new. Start walking, even 10 minutes a day. It’ll change your perspective. I guarantee it.