So here it is, a few days before the beginning of the year 2018, and the deadline I set myself a few months ago to restart my health and fitness routine. I knew then, when I threw my hands up, cried “uncle” and let it all go, that this moment would be a difficult reckoning.
Taking stock, overall I feel pretty crappy.
Sitting here today, it’s the third day of a really bad cricked neck. The first two days were so bad I couldn’t turn my head to either side, and nearly every movement hurt.
My pant size is 20, and for shirts it’s Large or Extra Large.
I don’t remember the last time I played basketball or made it to the gym, although my old standby of “crazy dancing” has been the one thing I’ve clung to as a way to move my body around on a regular basis.
It’s a few days past Christmas, and I have indigestion and heartburn. It’s been a few days since I overdid it with baked goodies and such, but the feeling of being overfull lingers. I feel bloated and a little wheezy.
That’s physically. Mentally I feel better than I have in past years. I don’t beat myself up as much as I used to, although the impulse is still there. I knew I was taking a break from the pressure of writing a column and doing all of the things. Now that it’s time to get moving, I can’t say I feel super ready, but I do feel determined.
Starting over at the turn of the new year is such a cliché, but it’s also a natural time to think about beginnings and endings, goals and planning—all the things needed to get from here to there. What has worked in the past, and what hasn’t worked? How do I create a plan that will breed success for me? How do I adapt as things change without going off the rails? If I go off the rails, what’s my plan for getting back on track? How do I make it stick? And maybe most importantly, why am I making this effort?
Goals: In 2018 I will run in at least one 5k race; I will work to make exercise habitual so I can quit thinking about it so much; I will use exercise to diffuse stress, instead of slacking on exercise, which stresses me out; I will look for ways to make healthy living easy for myself; and lastly, I will create measurable goals for weight loss: as in smaller clothing or the aforementioned 5k.
I’ve had the most success over the years when I have a plan in place. For instance, I eat much better when I spend Sunday afternoon prepping meals for my work week. When I neglect this, I find myself scouring the grocery store while hungry and rushed, or worse, I head for fast food. My goal is to minimize that behavior by planning ahead. I’ve learned from experience this also saves a lot of money.
What hasn’t worked is treating myself harshly and unkindly. Forget that! Self-care is rooted in self-love. I want to feel better, physically, mentally and spiritually, and I have the tools and understanding to nurture myself this way. Both this column and my efforts will have a more holistic approach this year.
A huge challenge for me is how to adapt to changing circumstances without losing momentum and motivation. This has probably been my single greatest obstacle to continuous forward progress.
How do I make it stick?
That’s the 64,000 question, isn’t it?
Exercise and eating good food won’t guarantee me a long and healthy life, as tomorrow is never promised to any one of us. But the biggest thing that keeps me motivated is thinking about my children and grandchildren. My grandsons are now ages 6 and 11, and my kids are in their 20s and 30s. In a few weeks I turn 52. I’m single and an empty nester.
To me, that sounds like the prime of my life. My career is demanding and satisfying, and I have the great privilege to spend lots of time with my grandkids. In this modern age where kids and adults alike are tethered to our electronics like they were life support systems, I like to spend active time with the kids. When they look back at their childhood, I want them to think of playing basketball, going swimming and hiking, preparing meals together, or just running around the yard or field with me. I want to be that cool grandma that takes them on adventures like rock climbing or exploring a cave. I want to help them love the physicality of their bodies so they don’t think of exercise as a chore they have to tick off a list. I want to help me learn that, too.
I want to play with them, arm wrestle with them, pick them up and carry them: I want to be strong.
So out I’ll go this week, along with many of you, taking advantage of the new year as a natural reboot. The challenge for us all will be to take that initial momentum and build it into habits to last a lifetime.
Have you been able to turn exercise into a non-negotiable part of your routine? I’d love to feature you in this column. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-286-1212, or find my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!”