By Karen M.
Guest blogger and Surround Fitness client
There’s something about anniversaries and other dates such as birthdays and where-were-you-when dates that start you remembering, and sometimes wishing.
For me, I’m coming up on the 1-year anniversary that I began getting into shape. This anniversary date was preceded by several anniversary dates when I quit smoking, lost a hundred pounds, and stopped slowly killing myself with one bad choice after another.
My body and I had been in a running battle for years. I was a 2-pack-a-day smoker, diabetic, diagnosed with COPD. It’s a wonder I’m not dead. In the beginning of this journey to better health, my greatest motivator was fear. (Hey, don’t judge! Fear is a great motivator!) I was prepared to do anything that could get me to change and keep me on a good path.
What I have learned after all my years of being unhealthy is that one decision or a series of decisions, good or bad, determined where I would find myself a year later. You see, all the bad stuff on my “path to destruction” I brought on myself—the weight, the diabetes, and my damaged lungs—all of it was my doing. So it would be logical that I was the one that could get me out of it.
So the answer was simple. I just had to make good choices! Right–if it were that easy there would be a lot more healthy and gorgeous people in the world.
Turning around my life and making good choices instead of bad was kind of like turning around an 18-wheeler on a two lane highway – not easy! I needed to concentrate. This would take some intestinal fortitude, yes, “guts”. I needed to develop an iron will so I could concentrate on my goal and not let anything get in my way. I also needed a thick skin that could fend off the internal negative commentary and the easy-to-rationalize suggestions to have that extra helping of ice cream “just this once.”
I really wanted to change. In some ways, for me to change would impact my entire life including my routine, lifestyle, and even friends. I’m not saying this was easy. In fact it wasn’t easy at all, especially in the beginning. There were lots of times when that 18-wheeler (aka my life) crashed or just ran out of gas. It would have been VERY easy to give up right then and there. That’s when it was really good to learn to be selfish!
Of course, there was one major factor that helped. MY BODY WANTED TO BE HEALTHY! It responded to all the new healthy things I started doing. My body and I started getting along with each other. It was slow at first. Probably because my body wasn’t sure I really meant to get healthy. Or it could be that I just thought it was slow because once I decided I wanted to change, I wanted everything to happen FAST. Then I figured out that it had taken me years to get unhealthy, and so it would take a while to get healthy. Whenever I got really frustrated because good things weren’t happening fast enough, or became stalled in my progress, or when I crashed the 18-wheeler (again), I would say over and over, “Just get through this day. Just make good choices today, and it will make a difference a year from now.” And that’s exactly what happened! Step by step, I arrived, here.
It is now a year later and the anniversary of my first year with my personal trainer. When I started, my goal was to be able to get off the floor without holding onto a chair for support. I also wanted to run a 5K. My wonderful trainer, Jen, keeps great records. She gave me her initial evaluation of my physical shape that said:“Karen has little range of motion and although she does have some core strength, her upper body is weak. Need to build up core and ability to get down and up from floor.”
When I read that I cried. I had forgotten where I’d started or how far I had come.
A year later I know that “core” means more than the inside of an apple. I can do 20 pushups, bicep and tricep curls, and get up and down from the floor with no problem! I also have completed 2 5K’s. The biggest payoff is that I’m not a type 2 diabetic anymore and my lungs are clear (so much for COPD). Just think of how much money I’m saving on medications! Here is a recent note from my trainer:“Congrats on reaching a wonderful fitness/health milestone, which is NO INHALER. You are doing it! You did a cardio workout on 10 of the last 14 days! That is great. On top of that, your steps averaged 10,800 a day! And on 4 of those days, your steps exceeded 12,000! Woo-hoo!!”
Oh, by the way, I just turned 73. My body and I are getting along just fine, and I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. Entering an Ironman competition may be a little over the top but I do have a bunch of other healthy options to explore. You know that old saying “you’re not getting older, you’re getting better” – It’s true!