On and Off the Fitness Wagon? How I’ve managed to start and stick with it

Three useful tips to consider before diving into your mid-life fitness regimen.

BY DEBRA K | POSTED MAY 23, 2013 on SpryLiving.com
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Image from Foter

One year and 10 months ago, I found myself in the mid part of my life’s journey and facing some significant life changes. In the six months prior to this time I said goodbye to my son as he left to join the Navy, watched as my youngest graduated high school, sold our family home, transitioned my career to focus on my dream, left all my friends and family by moving to another state, and found myself questioning my relationship.  Everything that had previously defined me had morphed into something different.  I woke up one morning in my new home state and realized nothing would ever be the same and while transitioning through these life altering phases my body had paid a significant price.  I was heavier than ever having gained about 25 pounds.  I won’t even pretend it was an accident. I was eating donuts, cheese dip, drinking beer and gnawing on chicken wings like a 20-year-old football player.  The difference being that as an inactive middle-aged, hormonally challenged, nutritionally deficient woman, these calories were going straight to my mid-section. The emotional pain was significant, and I experienced a deep sense of hopelessness, a familiar companion in this body image dilemma.  As I once again mentally prepared myself for another effort to address my body size, I realized it might be even tougher this time because I wasn’t in my 20s any longer. Hell, I wasn’t even in my 30s.

Where would I start?

Fortunately Florida offers something incredible … great weather.  So while I contemplated how to lose the weight and start feeling better, I simply started walking.  It was sporadic at first, one week on a couple weeks off — same story, different state.  But, as a routine of walking formed it did become more of a habit, and when missing a day, I would look forward to walking again soon … a new and welcome feeling.  Right now I average about 15 miles per week.

My advice:  Before jumping full steam ahead into a workout commitment, start with something simple and manageable and do it regularly.  Once your confidence is higher you might be inspired to do something more.

About a year into my walking routine I noticed something I hadn’t seen before … a muscle.  Yes, that was actually a developed muscle on the back of my leg.  It had formed without me even realizing it, and for some reason it was incredibly inspiring.  I remember thinking that if a muscle can grow without me realizing it that maybe with some effort, muscles could develop in other places.  After my walks and sporadically during the day I started adding in abdominal work and push-ups.  During the filming of the pilot for the Journey into Wellbeing, I could barely do one modified push up.  (You can watch it here.) Now I can do 10 regular and 20 modified push-ups. (Watch Here)

My advice:  Once you feel you have mastered a simple basic routine begin to add in small amounts of strength training.  There are numerous short videos on youtube to practice with.

Another life altering moment came when I finally faced reality and got all the facts about my overall health condition.  Last year I dedicated time and the expense to run a variety of health tests recommended by my integrative doctor.  It was important that before jumping into a diet and exercise routine to know exactly what conditions were presenting for me.  This knowledge helped me become clear on what needed my attention.  The most startling revelation was the number of foods I was testing sensitive to.  The level of inflammation in my body, compounded with the hormone imbalances and high cholesterol would almost make it impossible to achieve a high fitness level.  One of the best things I have done for my physical body this year was to embark on a 5-week food detox in an attempt to bring balance to my internal body so I can experience better health in my external body.  Within one month of my detox I felt 10 years younger and found I actually looked forward to exercising more because my energy levels were higher.

My advice:  Get a clear understanding of where you are in your body by working with health, medical and fitness professionals.  It is always better to start where you are at so you can set realistic goals.

I’ll keep you updated on my fitness journey!  In fact, I just bought a groupon for Bikram yoga so I’ll let you know how that goes.  

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