These days it seems like everyone is embracing some sort of fitness craze. I’ve seen the phrase, “fitness is the new mid-life crisis” floating around the internet quite a bit and it really seems to be true. I think I’m ready for a mid-life crisis.
For me, there’s something about my 40th birthday, which is looming around the corner that creates a sense of urgency when I think about my health and overall fitness. It feels like if I don’t have my shit together by then, it may never happen. My window might be closed, forever.
I’ve always wanted to be more active and fit. What I’ve lacked was the drive. I’m not athletic, and I don’t enjoy physical activities that cause pain. I try to avoid pain whenever possible, and a workout including lunges and squats will have me limping for days afterward. And I’ve always found the atmosphere at gyms to be very intimidating. It feels like I’m surrounded by health freaks who are judging me with their tight fitting workout clothes and bulging muscles. There’s nothing like working out next to a woman wearing tight panty shorts and a sports bra to make you feel like Martha Dump Truck in my baggy sweats and t-shirt. No thank you.
I’ve had a life-long, love-hate relationship with dieting and exercise. You name a diet or exercise gimmick, and I’ve probably tried it. I used to love watching infomercials on the weekends because I was convinced that the next great thing would really work for me this time. The Thigh-Master? Been there. The Great North American Slimdown? Done that! The Cabbage Soup Diet? I don’t recommend it. Tae-Bo? I can still demonstrate an impressive high kick with a side-punch! Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem…and the list goes on.
One of the most important things I’ve learned in my life is that you have to love yourself and be happy with who you are. And I do. I would just like to be a physically stronger version of myself. A less tired version. A mom who can play tennis with her daughter, chase my son on his scooter at the park, and still have enough energy to come home and make dinner without passing out in the salad. Part of ‘embracing my Wanda’ is about pushing through my barriers, and my weight gain, and fitness abilities (or lack thereof) has been a significant physical and emotional obstacle for me for many years.
So a couple months ago, I began “Operation Hot by 40.” I realize that only giving myself a couple months to get hot before my 40th birthday was a bit optimistic, but a girl’s gotta start somewhere. And when I say ‘get hot,’ I’m really just talking about losing the extra baby weight I’ve been carting around for the past four years, and toning everything up a bit, because we all know gravity turns into an asshole after 40.
So a few months ago I started working out regularly, about three times a week. This is a big deal for me. I hate working out and my usual routine involves working out once, and then feeling like I did my due diligence for the whole month. I also purchased one of the fitness trackers that are so popular now.
My first day wearing the tracker was enlightening. That is to say, I was enlightened to what a lazy ass I really am. I was shocked to see the level of activity it really takes to lose a pound a week. The first day I was constantly checking the display device on the tracker to see where I was with my steps and calorie burn. I did a 40 minute moderately intense workout, my usual 30 trips up and down the stairs, and running around the house doing stuff for the kids. Then while making dinner, I found myself doing squats while standing in front of the stove. My daughter walked up behind me and was like, “Ummmm, what are you doing? You better not be sweating in my dinner!” While talking on the phone to my brother, I was going up and down my steps in the hallway. Up and down, up and down, just trying to boost my numbers so I could meet my goal for the day. It was exhausting!
Is this what it really takes to lose weight and be healthy? This continuous squeezing and flexing of my muscles, all day long? And the crazy truth seems to be, yes, this is what it takes. And that just blows, because I was never good at this!
But…I’m not sure what’s changed…but…wait for it…wait…for…it…
I’ve now progressed to working out every day. Did you hear that? I’ve been working out every day! And I am super-fucking proud of myself!!!! It’s only been a few months since I started working out, and just a few weeks since I increased the frequency of my workouts, but I already feel myself getting stronger.
I’m finding my attitude is slowly changing about my workouts, as well. I’m starting to look forward to them. I’m not trying to avoid them anymore, but actually plan my day around when I can do it. I never, in a million years, thought I would become that person. The person who likes to workout. I’ve always envied those people, because isn’t having the desire to workout half the battle?
Today, while I was jogging on the treadmill, I realized two things. One, I liked the sound of my feet hitting the belt, because that’s the sound of my ass getting smaller, and two, every step feels like a journey I’ve been trying to take for 20 years. And for me, that’s pretty amazing.