I’ve written about my struggle with obesity eighteen years ago, and how I ultimately turned to a low carb lifestyle and lost 50 pounds, but what we didn’t talk about was the fact that I was severely out of shape back then too. I had been quite fit until I hit 40, when I became a new mom for the first time. Shortly after my daughter’s birth, I gained 50 pounds. Six weeks after her birth I achieved my post pregnancy weight but nine months later, people thought I was pregnant again.
In general, I have few regrets in life, but the one regret I have concerning my pregnancy was that I didn’t find some form of exercise to do every day. I had been an aerobics instructor and gym rat, but when I got pregnant, I just didn’t feel good enough to do those activities anymore. I had all I could do to get out the door in the morning, only to spend the day looking forward to going to bed each night. I wished I had spent a little time, at least 20 minutes each day walking, but I didn’t. Instead, I worked my desk job like crazy person, trying to keep all the balls in the air and act like I was still on top of everything as I slowly lost interest and was dead tired all of the time.
Soon after Brooke was born, I took her out in her stroller each day, and I lost my pregnancy weight. The walks felt really good. But when I returned to work after a six month maternity leave, the walking came to a screeching halt. I was exhausted. The more I worked the old corporate gig, the more I missed Brooke and the more depressed I became. My immune system crashed, I got mono like symptoms, but I didn’t have mono. I attracted all sorts of bizarre viruses and was literally sick all the time. During that time I gained 50 pounds which made me feel even more terrible about myself. (I wrote more about this here)
From that rock bottom place, I realized that in addition to a diet plan, I needed to add physical activity back into my life. As a new mom and business woman, I had little time for for the gym and also absolutely no desire for heavy workouts anymore either. I missed walking and figured it would be the easiest ever thing to work into my schedule. Slowly I began to baby step my way back to a more fit lifestyle.
First Step: Commit to something you like, and is easy to work into each day.
I started by committing to 20 minutes of walking each day—some how, some way. Before getting started, I made sure I had a pair of decent walking shoes, shorts and a t-shirt at the ready each morning so I could get right to it. Mostly I walked in our neighborhood, but on rainy days I’d go to the mall. Ultimately we got a used treadmill for $100 which I kept in the garage for days I couldn’t get out for some reason. I found music I liked listening to while I was on the treadmill or in the mall, but when I was outside, I made a point of really enjoying nature and being outdoors. I began to look forward to my walks—that little bit of “me” time—which was often all I had to myself in the day. While I didn’t loose lots of weight from walking, I was firming up, and was definitely feeling better.
Second Step: Assess your lifestyle, find what works for you and stick with it.
Going to the gym was not an attractive option for me at the time, so I began to look at exercise videos I could do at home. Yoga, and soft balance ball workouts fit the bill. I chose videos that fit my fitness level, which was no longer advanced, but beginner. Rodney Yee’s A.M. Yoga for beginners was a huge favorite for flexibility and centering—and Suzanne Deason’s balance ball workouts were favorites for rebuilding my strength.
While I had never heard of the Prancersize lady, when I was ready to up my cardio, I “pranced” while doing chores. Goofy I know, but it actually worked, and nobody saw me except Brooke. It was an easy free way to up my cardio game without having to go anywhere or use any special equipment.
The gym might be the perfect one and done for you. I’m now back at the gym a few times a week, the key is finding exactly what works and do that.
Third Step: Up your game in small increments.
I upped my game still more by adding weights and getting a set of water weights to use in our swimming pool. Every afternoon during the warm part of the year, Brooke and I would play in the pool. While we were there, I’d run through a little water weight work out. If it rained, I used a few light weights while we watched TV.
Fourth Step: Find a Sport you Love
When Brooke took up ice skating, a light turned on for me. I realized wanted to learn to ice skate too. So I rented a pair of skates to see if I liked it. Fast forward 11 years, and I am still in love with ice skating. Finding a sport I loved was the final step back into fitness for me. Skating inspired me to get stronger and healthier still. I wanted to be fit for my sport so I made my way back to the gym and took dancing lessons to improve my skating. I think finding a sport you love is the secret sauce—you do it because you love it, not because you to specifically lose weight or look better, and voila, the next thing you know, you have lost weight, and are feeling better.
If you are considering upping your fitness game, start slow and keep steady. Pick something you can realistically fit into your life. I’d love to hear what you do to keep fit, or about your fitness/wellness journey. Let me know what you are up to in the comments below.
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The first Wednesday is when we share a healthy recipe, so