Thursday, March 4, 2010

How I Went From “If I Get Around To It” to “Just Do It!!!!”

I was born and raised a couch potato.  Growing up, while my family enjoyed the outdoors and nature, it was all from a spectator point of view, never an active one. 

And really that is quite understandable!  With a congenital muscle weakness which targets the arms and legs running rampant throughout most branches of my family tree, making it difficult to walk stairs and even hills, going out for touch football or a game of frisbee was never going to be my family’s recreational activity of choice. 

Now that I am in my 40s, I clearly understand why my grandfather moved his family from the hilly, stair-filled, icy and sometimes treacherous (for us) north to the much easier to navigate warm flatlands of South Florida!

But I am striving to push forward and get through some of those challenges! 

In the last seven months I have made health changes to my life that I never imagined, the biggest one being becoming a vegetarian!  I still am shocked that I was able to do that…somehow a simple mind shift stuck with me and I have no desire for meat or junk food anymore. 

Part of this mind shift I know is due to the cocoon of healthy living I have been able to surround myself in.   Between the blogs I hang out on, the real-life people I am associating with, the organic produce I order, and the changes I have made in our household, it has become so much a part of my every day life that many times I forget everybody doesn’t have this healthy lifestyle…until I go out in to the real world that is!

A few weeks ago I had a blogger meetup with four other healthy living bloggers who live here in South Florida.  Out of the five of us there, I was the oldest, heaviest, and clearly the most out of shape.  I have made incredible changes in my diet, but sitting with these girls it sure didn’t look like it!imageWhile everybody there made healthy eating a priority, two of the girls, Amanda and Melissa, are avid runners and they had some running tales to share with us.   Honestly, listening to them I really WANTED to be a runner too!  But there I was…not doing anything at all!

When I got home I went to explore some of their blogs a bit…I had never been to Amanda’s blog before, and for some reason, reading her story about how she got started running really motivated me and something clicked inside my head…albeit something really small, but at least it was a something, right? 

I wanted to love moving my body as much as she enjoyed moving hers!

During the same week I followed my usual internet routine of reading the health blogs to keep my motivated, and as usual I went to one of my favorite’s Oh She Glows, along with Amanda’s blog, Run To The Finish. 

While reading about Angela’s day at OSG, she spoke about what a busy day she was having…12 or so hours of baking, paperwork, and more…AND all of a sudden I saw how even in the midst of all that she had to do, SHE STILL MADE SURE SHE MADE TIME FOR A SERIOUS WORKOUT!

I couldn’t believe it…for me being busy was a sure excuse to not have to work out!  And here she was still making sure she got to it with an absolutely full day of being on her feet either ahead of her or behind her!

And as I thought about it I realized that all of the healthy bloggers out there who really were fit and thin did the same thing.

And the big ole’ lightbulb in my head turn to a brilliant, glaring, shine in your eyes so bright that you can’t ignore it kind of on. 


And all of a sudden I got it!  To somebody like me and most people I know, exercise is something you fit in if you have the time.  IF YOU HAVE THE TIME.  And guess what…most of the time with going here, going there, doing this and that…you (I) DON’T HAVE THE TIME…so it just gets dropped of the list.

But it became so beautifully clear to me at that moment that all of these gorgeous, young, healthy ladies I have been motivated by view physical activity as one of those things in your day that falls into the “MUST DO” category with those things you have to do during that that are not optional!

You know, you MUST shower, MUST get dressed, MUST eat, MUST get the kids to school on time, MUST get your work done, MUST pick the kids up from school, MUST breathe…and you MUST give your body some physical activity…..get the picture?

I sure did!  You may think I am a big dummy…but really, I had never looked at physical activity in that light before. 

And the other lightbulb that came on was how even these ladies had their moments when the did not want to get up and run or workout…but they still did, because it is important to their overall wellbeing!  It was a MUST Do! 

So since that giant lightbulb started glaring at me I have been making sure I am making it a priority, and for me, with my muscle condition, really it is a priority…one of quality of life in my future as a matter of fact.

I have set my goals and for the first time in I don’t know how many years I have been following through and ENJOYING it too!  ME!  Enjoying exercise!

My goals had to start with what I am able to do…I will never be a marathon runner, I am not sure it is possible, but I can walk (and I am grateful for that), and I do know I can strengthen my legs somewhat, hopefully slowing down the progression and severity of the disease.

So for the past few weeks I make sure I walk 4-5/7 days.  I am walking a minimum of 2 miles each day with an overall goal to walk 300 miles this year.   I have also set a goal to at least be able to jog a mile.  YES!  A whole mile!!  Of course as it stands at this moment, that one mile for me might as well be 26.2! 

On April 29 I will be walking the Mercedes Benz Corporate 5K!  Maybe not a big deal for you marathoners…but it is for me and I am really excited about that!  One day I hope I can run one…but for now I am thrilled that I can walk one…and keep it in an hour too!

I have already seen progress in my speed and endurance.   In two weeks I have gone from a 22 minute mile and shaky legs after the first mile (hoping I won’t fall down out there in the park!) to a 19 minute mile today…and I pushed through to 3.5 miles.  AND…for the first time on my walk today (hee hee) I wasn’t the slowest one out there!  Yep..there was one lady I could keep ahead of!  HEY…that is progress for somebody that has always been a turtle!!!!

Already I see that I will need to be adding some kind of stretching routine and strength training routine to the walking, not that easy when most routines have floor exercises and as of yet I am still not able to get up from the floor by myself.

But I am learning about that…how to proceed and I know I will succeed in there too!

I am not sure of all the how’s, what’s, and why’s of all of the changes, understandings, and motivations I have been lucky enough to experience lately…but as a thank you to Angela, Amanda, Melissa, Karilynn, and some of the other bloggers who, even they have no clue, have played a major role in motivating me, I hope over the next year to be able to pay it forward by showing what I can do and motivating some other couch potatoes to get off of the couch and move!

Really…if I can do it, anybody can!!!


Jessie (Vegan-minded) said...

Congrats on your new found walking routine! I am sure you will get faster and faster as time goes on. I am also envious of runners, and have never been able to run more than a few miles without experiencing horrible shin pain. I truly believe that everyone is good at something, so if running isn't your thing, there is probably something else for you. In addition to walking, you could try biking, swimming, pilates, or yoga. These are all great for building muscle tone, yet they are much lower impact than running. Either way, keep up the great work!

Meredith (Pursuing Balance) said...

Great goals! I love walking . . . as a matter of fact, I think I'm going to go for a walk right now! :)

Kate said...

I love this, Jewel! Thank you so much for posting it.

Oh She Glows said...

I love this post. Congrats to you! I totally agree that I have to MAKE time for workouts or they will not get done. I have to pencil it in like any other commitment. I always feel better too. Now mind you many planned workout days Istill do miss a workout here and there if I am too busy. It is all about balance!

Amanda said...

Thanks for sharing!

jewel@fit-and-fabulous-jewel said...

Well thanks for the support ladies! I know I will be adding other things to the walking...cycling, strength training, and stretching are definitely on the list!

In one of life's really funny coincidences I happened to pick up a copy of Fitness magazine yesterday while visiting my stepdaughter who is in the hospital.

I found an article about women who become addicted to exercise...and surprise!!!! A very familiar name popped out at me from the article.....

Lanette said...

What a great post. Aren't those moments of clarity great. If you are having a good time walking then it will be easy to keep walking and to walk even longer.