In the beginning of my get healthy dream …
It was January 1, 2011 and I was at an all time high. On the scale, that is.
As we move closer to the new year, I want to say that I don’t believe there is just one catalyzing event or moment that makes you take action to change something major about your life.
You can call it whatever cliche you like: the last straw, officially fed up, enough-is-enough, but when it happens, you can feel the difference welling up from deep inside your soul. There is a determination there that was missing before.
For me that “moment” was stepping on the scale and being 1 pound away from hitting 200 pounds.
199 pounds on my just-shy-of 5’4″ frame is a lot of extra weight to be carrying around. The pound-creep was something that had come on slowly over about an 8 year period of working, commuting and raising my son. It was slow enough that the need to buy a larger size in clothes didn’t come up often enough for me to pay attention. Besides, I was always spending that discretionary income on new skater shoes and skateboards for my son.
The weight gain was so slow, in fact, that I wrote it off as getting older.
It was also slow enough that I allowed it to keep piling on to my small frame.
I have one of those husbands who loves me no matter what I do, so I was lucky that I didn’t have someone I love trying to guilt me or fat-shame me into taking action on my weight. I think this is a personal journey that has to be initiated on your own. No amount of shaming is going to motivate you into loving yourself in a new way.
I wasn’t one of those people who had battled the scale since childhood, but my weight did fluctuate over the years, especially after having my son and becoming a mom. I had periods where I was crazy into fitness, followed with long stretches of sedentary living. I’d work out and cut calories and I’d lose 10-15 pounds and keep it for a few years, then I’d stop working out or caring what I ate then I’d put back on the 10-15 pounds.
I am a female, and I’m over 40-years-old, so for the most part, all the same stuff you struggle with (excepting debilitating illnesses) I had going on too. Please keep this in mind as I share how I’ve shed this weight and what has worked for me so you won’t be judgmental on yourself where you are on this journey too.
Oh dear God, the getting started part.
When I saw 199 on the scale, I knew right then at that very moment I had to do something. I thought, “Well if I’m just under 200 now, whats 220 going to look like?” And then I froze.
I became determined to do better–anyway I could. I had a treadmill in the house, so I decided to remove the clothes hanging from it and begin walking on a treadmill in the morning, 3 days a week. I have to admit I am lucky to have had times of personal fitness-mania in my life so I had the equipment that I could dust off and use if I could keep myself motivated enough to start.
I have an ancient Keys treadmill that I bought used over 13 years ago.
It is consistent, easy to use and even though I rarely use the benefit of the fact it folds up to almost nothing, that feature makes it super easy to move around when needed. I have no immediate plans to upgrade, but that hasn’t stopped me from Internet shopping.
I was consistently walking on the treadmill 3 days a week.
When I say walking, I mean walking.
At a slow pace.
I stayed on it for 20 minutes, occasionally walking a bit faster to push myself, but really I was just counting the minutes. A couple weeks into this pattern, I used my old heart rate monitor that amazingly still worked to see if I was even working in a place that would burn fat.
Yep! But just barely. This fitness tool has always been in my arsenal and I can highly recommend Polar.
I’ve had an older chest strap with a wrist receiver for over 12 years and with a battery change, it’s still working great. Of course, this is the Polar heart rate monitor that is in my own wish list now.
How long did it take me to walk a mile on my treadmill back when I started?
Today I’m down to 7 minutes.
It was the commitment to walking on the treadmill NO MATTER WHAT that started my journey. I began with three days a week for the first month and then increased it a day a week until I was at 7 days a week and I never let myself off the hook. Once I became addicted to this practice I began to look at the changes I needed to make to my diet. I am the queen of carbohydrates and I love to bake and I needed to make the conscious decision to work out instead of feeding my stress with carbohydrates.
But I understood the importance of making one healthy habit stick before diving into another.
The most important part was starting something that I could do and sticking with it. I also began to watch how I was eating. Not in a judgmental-I-am-a-bad-person way, but as a loving parent. We eat unconsciously so much of the time that I just wanted to check in with myself every time I ate for my reasons for eating and how I was eating my food.
Was I eating too fast? Was I paying attention to my eating? Was I even tasting my food? Could I just be more present while eating? How did I feel after I ate a particular food?
I started small and built on my successes. I didn’t gain the weight overnight so I allowed myself to trust that it would all happen over time if I just stayed with it.
I got to know myself in the process and I was determined to be mentally kind and supportive to myself. I forgave myself for being human. Being overweight does not make me a serial killer. I am a kind and loving person and I could extend that loving kindness to myself while I embarked on this journey.
Many of you know that I eventually became a triathlete, but today I just wanted to remind you where I started, in the hopes that it will help you start too. A new year is coming …
Keep moving with your dream –
Give us your thoughts!
Heather Montgomery is a fitness writer, triathlete, and blogger who is devoted to sharing what she has learned about becoming a triathlete after age 40. She uses her Metabolic Training Certification to help other women struggling to get fit in mid-life. She lives and trains in Santa Rosa, California, the new home of the Ironman triathlon. You can find her biking the Sonoma County wine trails.