Saturday, October 15, 2011

Choosing the Good Part

When I lost D, I designed a unique eating plan. It was called the "Put Whatever Tastes Good in Your Mouth" diet. It was wildly successful and caused me to gain 20 solid pounds. (Truth be told, it was a variation of a program I'd already been on for 7 years called "Eat Your Way Through Cancer Stress" diet, when my best friends on many long and lonely nights were sweet and salty.)

About 9 months ago, I had a wake up call when I lost a friend who was my age...which is far too young. I determined that I was going to watch every bite that went into my mouth, because it was time to get serious about a healthy lifestyle. Then, when I began my new job almost 5 months ago, I decided I was going to go to the gym before work every day from 5:00 to 6:00 am. (Please do not misconstrue that as a huge sacrifice: I am a morning person, and that is usually peak time for my energy level.)

The results have been a huge surprise to me. Because I am not very tall, I never really played sports. I didn't know the results of vigorous exercise could be more..well: vigor. Seems totally upside down to me, but all I know is I feel strong, awake and full of energy all day long when I exercise. Guess those endorphins really do kick in.

I've lost those 20 pounds, but realize the number on the scale is no longer the Big Deal. It is more about feeling strong and wanting to feel stronger by kicking it up a notch each day. (Which did result in a pulled back muscle when I "kicked up" too much weight on a machine. Note to self: you will never be a professional body builder. Dial it waaaay back.)

I realize how cushy going to a gym really is. The machines make the workout easier to track with all their bells-and-whistle displays, they all have ports for earbuds to listen to three televisions during a workout, and they shield you from the real world of pounding the hot asphalt during an outside run. (Outside in Texas is very hot most of the time.) But I show up every day, and that is really the victory.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't think I should just skip my workout and go to work early to get more work done. Reality check: the work will never all be done. I am a Type A, slightly OCD, organization freak. The biggest adjustment for me in this new job is realizing IT WILL NEVER GET DONE. Deal with it. And go to the gym every day.

My favorite day to work out is on Saturdays. For some reason, unknown to me, one TV is always set to HGTV on this day. I have found I can stay on the elliptical machine for two shows without feeling like it is too long. (Again: the gym is very good to me.) I looked down at the machine's screen after my hour today and realized I had racked up more "distance" (even though I had not moved) than a 5K. Almost 4 miles, and I was feeling pretty good. Googling local 5Ks today to see what it would be like on the not-so-hot autumn asphalt.

I would love to say that my eating is healthy every day, too. I do eat less, concentrate on fruits and vegetables and avoid the sweets. One major downfall is we have a wonderful lady who cooks hot lunches from scratch at school and HELLO: homemade chicken pot pie! But I do try hard to make wise choices in food selection. Enough so, that when friends hear me say I stopped for fried chicken, they know that my stress level is too high. Thankfully, Popeye's and KFC only see me about once a month.

I am learning that success is not a number on a scale; it is feeling physically strong and disciplined. A lesson learned...five decades in the making.


Lynn said...

5:00a.m. will NEVER find me at the gym!! lol I am not a morning person and my favorite day of the week is Saturday because it's the one day of the week I don't need to be out the door in the morning!! I do agree with exercise making you feel better, mine just won't ever be at 5a.m.:-) I'm so happy for you!

Anne Smith said...

you've inspired me to leave the candy corn behind.