As I blogged about previously, I have spent a lot of time this year trying to improve my health and fitness. I started working out in January, and I have also been trying to eat healthier (although I love food too much to be extreme about it).
In July, I saw my doctor for the first time since I started this adventure. He said my test results were all good and I looked better than I had for some time. He was also quite pleased that I had lost 15 pounds. I was shocked when I heard 15 pounds. My home scale had lied to me! I knew that I was adding muscle while cutting fat, but I thought I had lost quite a bit more than that.
It was difficult to step back for a second, take a deep breath and focus on what I had achieved. Since January, I had been working out regularly. I was lifting weights equal to or more than what I lifted in college. I participated in exercises classes -- high-intensity interval training -- at the gym (usually twice a week, depending on our family schedule). I had even started using my bike on a regular basis, introducing it to trips outside the block where I live for the first time.
In July, I also finished the Spartan Race in the Poconos. For me, it should be the Spartan "Race." This event is a 5K mud run with 15 obstacles. It started with going a mile and a quarter straight up the mountain. At that point, we got to pick up a 45-pound sandbag and carry it up a steep incline -- either on slippery grass or loose rock. Ugh. I knew from the start that I would be walking the "race," thanks to the state of my fitness and a lifetime of exercise induced asthma. I had no idea that would mean finishing in a hair under 4 hours. It was a slow go, mostly because the hike up the mountain followed by the sandbag carry exhausted me before I really got into the other obstacles. In the future, I think I will chose events not held in the mountains or at ski resorts.
I had met some goals I set in my lifting routine in the first 6 months. These were basic benchmarks, goals that were in sight that I felt I could do in about 6 to 8 weeks. After I met a few in various exercises, I decided I wanted to be able to pull my weight. "Pulling" is the jargon for deadlifting, where the lifter grabs a loaded barbell from the floor and pulls it up until standing upright with the arms straight down in front. My trip to the doctor threw a wrench into this goal, as I was not quite as close as I thought I was.
Although going heavy for just a couple of repetitions is generally not my focus, I decided to attempt my weight, and I was able to get it twice earlier in August.
All of these things are important for me to keep in mind when I disappoint myself in other ways. There have been a few days within the last week where I fell into bad habits with heavy late-night snacking. I attempted to make it through a HIIT class when I was hungry, sore and lacking a proper night's rest, and it went badly. My inner voice beat me up during that workout and for hours afterwards. I know I could achieve more if I overcame these issues and started forcing myself to eat the right types of meals and got myself on a good schedule of a solid night's cleep. There's only so much your workouts can do without the diet and rest components.
"Aye, there's the rub." Find a way to stay positive while forgiving yourself for your stumbles along the way -- and yet push yourself to improve on that in the future. It's a work in progress.
If any of you are working on self improvement through fitness or anything else, please share your ideas for staying positive in the comments.