Two Steps Forward…

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Two steps forward, one step back, is still a net gain.

I have been reciting this truism quite a lot lately. It seems that my 52 year old body likes to raise a ruckus with my heart, brain, and internal drive to push myself to higher levels of fitness.

Thus, for every two steps I advance, I end up taking a step back more frequently than I care for.

I have to remind myself that my general progress has been forward, not reverse. It is a small consolation when those nagging injuries prevent you from really achieving your goals, but it is an important point to make. I put this out there so others can see, it is not the day-to-day we should necessarily obsess over, it is the direction we are moving in. If I focused only on what I didn’t do today, I would be in a constant state of frustration and disappointment. But when I do look back at where I’ve come from, this is what I see: A place where 2 years ago I was someone puffing to walk up a single flight of stairs, and struggling to pick up some of my heavy pans. A place of lethargy, and yes, apathy. A place where I had resigned myself to feeling far older than my years on the biological ‘clock’. A place where I sat on the sidelines and watched my family…from the sidelines. Today, I am able to bicycle 8 miles to my trainers, lift weights for an hour, and bicycle home with ease. I have regained my joy of traveling and exploration, because I can walk, climb stairs all day long and still have energy to spare for evening. I enjoy vacations with my family. I don’t shy away from fun physical activities: Riding a Zipline, racing my daughter on a paddle board, hiking up a trail to some far off falls or cliff providing a gorgeous view. The difference is profound. All this, in just two years.

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back = 1 Step Forward. Net Gain.

I can apply this concept to all aspects of my life: fitness, education, cooking, relationships, my faith walk, and so on. It is important, when you are thrown the proverbial ‘curve ball’ to take a breath, step back, and check your direction. Are you looking back? Because the body and spirit will follow the head. Be sure to keep your eyes focused ahead, on your goal. There will be times you might have to slow your pace, stop and take a breather, or yes, even take a step back. But you don’t have to turn around to take a step back. Just like we glance in our cars rearview mirror before changing lanes, merging or pulling out into traffic, allow yourself to glance back. It shows you if you have a clear path, and reminds you of how far you have come. Then, if circumstances require it, still looking forward, allow that step back knowing that your goal for the next step is forward.

Example: Last fall, I achieved one of my fitness goals: To DeadLift 200 pounds. When I achieved this goal, my next goal was 2 plates on the bar, which is 235 lbs. In-between then and now I had a shoulder injury, neck muscle strain, my hips went out, my knee (which has had surgery twice) decided to go on strike, and my asthma decided to make an appearance after 2 years of having it under control. I confess, there were more than a few times I complained to my trainer that I was regressing, not progressing. (Confession: I complain to my trainer Ron. A LOT. And he is gracious, good natured and a good sounding board, but he will NOT let me wallow in self pity nor frustration!)

In the midst of my bummer mental attitude, he shared this little gem of truth: 2 Steps Forward, 1 Backward is still progressing Forward. Since then I have concentrated on the journey back, and on to my next goal. I know I can do it, I have done it once already. We are just going to take it a little slower this time, to hopefully minimize those back-steps. And I won’t allow myself to get discouraged again. Because I know…

2 Step->, 1 Step <- = Net Gain.


Fitness Buddies

In the past when the flurries began, I would hole up in my little homestead to wallow in depression, eat, getting fat while waiting for the stimulating and motivating warmth to return. As part of the mental reboot achieved at camp this summer, my desire to never return to the the larger clothes size and feeling older than I look, outweighs my loathing of the cold. So, as one of my trainers would say ‘Suck it up Buttercup’! I donned walking mittens and a hat, warm wooley socks and dressed in layers. I leashed up my ‘kids’ and off we went, trying to enjoy the season as best as possible. 

Walking Little Mister always starts off a little rocky, it’s more like trying to herd cats than it is actually walking a dog. Small distractions, like sticks, only feed a puppy’s natural ADD. 

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Finally, we settle down, and actually walk, albeit the amount of ground he covers, criss crossing back and forth, vastly outmatches my distance. 

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I change the routes occasionally, this time heading towards the soccer fields nearby, which borders on a closed sandpit the City has made a nature area. As a reward for walking on the leash nicely, I let them off leash to explore and run. (Puppies need to RUN) 

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I think that face says all…Happy, Happy, Happy. 

 

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After a few ungraceful tackles on Big Girl, it was time to leash up and finish walking. 

Who knew fitness could be fun? Well, it can be…when you have fitness ‘buddies’. 


BLR- A Wrap-Up

Well, I’m home. 

After a week away from my family, and my ‘at the hip’ companion Miss Mia (my loyal canine), it feels good to be home. Strange how the week flew by. To be honest, while at camp I was so busy, and so tired at the end of the day there was little time to be lonely and miss my family. I love my family, I just didn’t have time to miss them! 

There are so many great things I learned in that week, but here are a few that stand out to me and I think might be worth sharing.

1. We all eat too much. 

I was surprised and astounded at how little food we need (both men and women) to function and perform well on. Maybe I should restate that: How few CALORIES we need to fuel out bodies. We ate very well there, there was plenty of food to fill you up. However, the food was low calorie, high fiber and high quality. Yes some of the meals were bland, some unattractively presented and some which people didn’t care for. But they were nutritionally sound and filling, if you ate it. The salad bar was plentiful and if you were still hungry, you could fill up on that. Every day there was a board giving us the days approximate calories, give or take if you ate it all or had a lot of beans or egg whites with your salad. We averaged about 1,500/day. We worked out every day for a minimum of 4 hours, HARD workouts. And yet, no one collapsed, or passed out for lack of energy or nutrition. Everyone who was there wanted to drop a pound or two, and everyone did. But that was because we were exercising for the vast majority of the day. What shocked me was the calorie consumption of the trainers. It wasn’t much more than ours. The marathon specialist told us she averaged about 1,300-1,500/day. While I’m sure she carb loads for marathons, it’s not her daily intake. Yes, that was an eye opener for me, as well as re-aquatinting myself with valid portion sizes. I am not going to be one to dictate what people can or cannot eat, but people need to be honest with themselves. Most people are overweight (and/or under muscled) because they consume too many (and low quality) calories and they don’t exercise enough. 

2. I am strong and I am tough. I am empowered.

In my younger days, (which honestly seems/feels like yesterday) I did Outward Bound. It is something I am very proud of. For those not aware of what it is, it is an outdoor experience encompassing many mental and physical challenges and ones endurance. It involved backpacking with a group of about a dozen in the mountains of Central Oregon for a month, with only one resupply. We did it all: rock climbing, repelling, glacier walking, sleeping on mountain tops, miles of hiking and more. It was hard, it was grueling, but it was empowering. I felt strong, both internally and externally. Then life happened: marriage, work, children, joy, sorrow, death. Somewhere in all of that, I lost that strong, independent, empowered, optimistic, life loving part of myself. In a strange way, this experience brought that all back. While I was not in the woods, the comparative physical difficulty of what we did, along with the mental change was very similar. I had become rather jaded of my fellow man. I had lost faith in humanity and mankind, to a certain extent. But being with that group of women who all were so supportive, encouraging, and were downright good people, let me see the world through a fresh lens. Driving home, feeling the rush of endorphins through my system, I felt true joy again. It’s been years since I’ve felt that way. Driving along, jamming to tunes, enjoying the blue sky, warm sun, the joy just overwhelmed me so much so that I burst into tears. I cannot remember the last time I felt like that; so full of joy that it brings one to tears. That was the mental achievement. I am empowered.

Then there was the physical achievement. When I arrived, I felt old and creaky. Creaky is the best descriptive word I have. My back and hips hurt so much that I tended to tip forward, like you see in many of the elderly. My knee has been operated on twice, and it always seemed to hurt. I’ve had frozen shoulder recently, and that always barks at me. That first day we did our first 5K, and the best I could do was power-walk it in 52 minutes. Not as slow as some, but pretty pokey in my own mind. Betty, one of our trainers (the marathoner), was running the opposite way checking on all of us as we went. As she passed me by, she asked me if I had a knee issue and I told her yes. She said “try to walk faster, keep your arms up”. I did. Still, it was 52 minutes. That was followed by AMRAPs. (as many rounds as possible, in a designated time) That was the ‘introduction’ to the week. It was all uphill from there. But, I did it. I did it, and I did it better than I thought I could, or would. On Friday, we repeated the 5K. I jogged it in 38 minutes. I shaved 14 minutes off my time just 4 days earlier, AFTER exercising the equivalent of 4 marathons! Better yet, I came in 3rd behind a 17 year old girl and a 6ft+ man who were already in shape. There is my physical achievement. I may have turned 50, but I am strong. 

3. Take each day as it comes. 

This was no ‘diet’ program. This was a lifestyle they were teaching us. Eat well, eat right, watch your portions, listen to your body, be active. Best advice of all, take each day as it comes. If you binge out on pizza one night, don’t beat yourself up over it. Simply get back on track the next day and keep marching forward. Nothing is ‘off-limits’, but everything is in moderation. There is no guilt, no denial. It is entirely about education, awareness, and real life application. This is no one night stand, this lifestyle is a marriage. This is about learning to live in this body we have and treating it with the care it deserves. I’ve heard people say (almost as an excuse) ‘You only have one life’, and that is true. But to live that life, you only have one body, so take care of it. We all know that truth deep in our souls, but many (myself included) don’t want to hear it. We want to be able to have our cake, and eat it too. This was part of the mental re-boot I desired. It was achieved. 

4. Thumbs Up

Going in, I had no concept of what I was going in to. I have never watched ‘The Biggest Loser’ TV show, and so I knew nothing about it. I had a friend who had gone to one of the resorts, and when I asked him about his experience he spoke very highly of the organization. He said it was hard to describe and put in to words the encouragement and support you get while there. I know what he means now. It is. It’s supportive, encouraging, but accountable. They expect the best you are capable of, and will push you to achieve it. And guess what? You can, and you will. 

I went there with two goals: lose weight, mental re-boot. I did lose some weight, a bit, but what I now value the most is the mental re-boot I accomplished. In the end, it is far more important to change your perspective and frame of mind than it is to lose a few pounds. 

I highly recommend this camp to anyone who needs a mental re-boot. Weight loss is a side benefit, but the meat and potatoes of the camp is the feeling of empowerment and motivation to be better than you were. I cook fairly healthy already, but I had lost sight of portions and I didn’t exercise nearly enough. I now have both, and they have given me the tools to use for the rest of my, hopefully, very long life. As women, we have a lot of influence in our households. So while this affects me directly, my family will also benefit also from my new knowledge and action.

Yes, I give this program a ‘Thumbs Up’.