My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Realizations …

My mind was wondering a bit last night and I stumbled upon a few realizations. I’ve been on my journey to a healthier me for a couple of years now, since my cancer diagnosis and surgery. In that time, I’ve done things, been able to do things, that I wasn’t able to do before or hadn’t done in a long time. For instance, until recently, I hadn’t been in a gym since the early 90’s. And I’m not sure I could have ever been on a treadmill for an hour! And I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have walked the mile to the gym like I did a little over a week ago. And of course, I’m sure that my adventure in Ottawa yesterday wouldn’t have happened either.

For those of you who don’t know, Dan had a meeting in Ottawa and I went with him. Normally I would hang out with a good friend who lives there, but she was busy this time. So I was on my own. I thought about using the workout room at the hotel but that seemed a little boring. There is a nice mall near the hotel so I decided to walk there, it’s about 4 blocks. The mall has 3 floors — I walked all around the top level and part of the other 2 levels. As I was walking, I saw a bookstore across the street, so I went over there. I walked around the bookstore for about an hour. After I made my purchase, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. I decided to walk back to the hotel and have lunch there. I figured it would much easier for Dan if I met him there after his meeting than for him to try to find parking at/near the mall. So I headed back to the hotel. I decided to take the long way, instead of cutting back through the mall. What I didn’t realize was that going the way I did would require me to walk up 3 steep flights of stairs! In addition to the stairs, I added about another block to the distance I had to walk. But I didn’t and felt pretty good about it too. And like I said before, I’m sure that adventure wouldn’t have happened before I started my journey.

My food choices have definitely changed too. And they keep changing. After my cancer diagnosis, we cut out processed foods almost entirely, I cut back on soda (I’ve since stopped drinking it altogether), I started eating more fruits and veggies, and we cut back on eating out. For those who don’t know, Dan is a vegetarian, but I am not. But I eat mostly vegetarian now. I generally only eat meat or fish when we go out. I don’t cook those things at home. I do keep cans of tuna in the house for added protein, which I sometimes have after I’ve been to the gym. I like to refer to myself as a flexitarian which is someone who eats mostly vegetarian but still occasionally eats meat and fish. I eat things like couscous and quinoa, neither of which I’d even heard of growing up. And tofu has become one of my favourite things to cook. I read labels to make sure the things we buy aren’t loaded with salt and other bad stuff. I’ve learned to make my own salad dressings. All of this (and more) may not seem that big of a deal, but considering I used to eat a lot of fast food and tv dinners and other processed foods, I think it’s a huge deal.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that fast food doesn’t really appeal to me anymore. I watch a fair bit of tv, and of course there are always commercials for fast food. But none of things I see look good to me. While I still occasionally want a cheeseburger, I don’t want one from say McDonald’s or Burger King or places like that. And the thought of some of the stuff offered at those places actually makes my stomach a little queasy. When Dan and I go out, I want good quality food because I look at it as more of treating myself. I’m loving reading cookbooks and searching for new recipes to try. I always loved to cook, but I’m loving it even more now.

A lot of the changes I’ve made, I credit my loving husband with helping me make and keep. Without his love and support, I’m not sure I could have made them or kept with them. I also credit my sister-in-law Trish. She is a fabulous cook. Just about every time we go to their house, she’s made something wonderful. She is always writing new recipes. I’ve even had the privilege of helping her. She’s taught me that good food is easy to make and sometimes it’s worth trying something new or something you previously didn’t like. Thanks to her, asparagus has become my favourite vegetable and I have a new love for peppers (except for green ones … I still hate those LOL). And of course, I have to give credit to my closest friends for supporting me and encouraging me every step of the way. So thank you Jeff, Stacey & Steven, and Sharlene & Paul. You mean a lot to me and your support is priceless. And last but not least, my family. Their love and support is immeasurable.

So my final realization (at least for now) is that it may have taken me quite awhile, but I’m finally on the right path to becoming a healthy person. And I’m looking forward to discovering even more about myself.

(okay I know this posting is rather wordy so thank you for listening to me rattle on and on)

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So I’ve been thinking a lot about goals lately. We all make goals for various things throughout out lives. Some are big; some are small. Sometimes we make a bunch of small goals that will eventually get us to our big goals. No one has the exact same goals as someone else. Our goals are as individual as we are. When I began thinking about where I want this journey to take me, I knew that I couldn’t just have my ultimate goal; I would need to break it down into smaller goals first. What I decided to do was come up with a pyramid of sorts. I would have small goals on the bottom that would lead to medium goals that would lead to large goals that would lead to my ultimate goal. Actually, now that I’m writing this, a pyramid isn’t quite right. It’s more like a tree because all the goals are intertwined. The tree itself represents my ultimate goal which is to be healthier; the branches represent each of the goals that will get me there. The size of the branch reflects the size of the goal, whether that be small, medium or large. And they all come together to form the tree of the ultimate goal. I like the sound of that. And I can see the tree in my mind. (this is such a great idea). Maybe I need to actually make a cutout of a tree and put my goals on little cards … Interesting … I’ll have to give that some more thought …

Anyway, back to goals … My main source of workout right now is the treadmill. When I first started, that’s all I did. But now I’m incorporating a few other things, like hand weights and weight machines. So my goals with the treadmill are based on time, incline and speed. I’ve made a list of different goals for each one of those. And as I do them, I mark them off the list. It shows me that I’m getting somewhere. The problem I’ve come across is that in my gusto to mark things off the list, I think I might be pushing myself a little too far too fast. I think I need to slow down and let my body get used to working out. I don’t want to get burned out and start hating it, or worse, get hurt. I think I need to think of working out more like a marathon rather than a sprint.

And I think I need to write down other goals as well. Like using the hand weights, taking a walk around the neighbourhood, and other such things. Every little goal I make and meet will get me to my ultimate goal. So wish me luck …

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I did it!

So I’ve been going to the gym for a couple of weeks. I’m trying to go 3 times a week, but I don’t want to push myself too hard. I’m still just using the treadmill. I started by making little goals for myself, seeing how much I could do. I used 3 categories — time, incline, and speed. I started with 30 minutes, then 40, then 50, then 60. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get to 60 minutes, but I was determined to get there. So then I looked at incline. The first day I went o the gym with Sharlene, I did an incline of 2.0, so I thought that would be a good place to start. The incline goes up by .5 each time, so I set my goals for 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, and 3.5. I decided to work in groups of 4 goals. Again, I don’t want to push myself too hard. I don’t want to get discouraged or worse, get hurt. So now I had to look at speed. That first day, I did a speed of 1.3. Not bad for my first try, but I knew I could do better. So I set my goals for 1.3, 1.5, 1.8, and 2.0. So today was my 9th trip to the gym, and I completed all my goals!! The last and most difficult was the 60 minutes. I am so proud of myself! I’m not sure I’ll be able to do that every time I go, but I’m happy I did it. Now to increase my incline and speed again. I think if I do between 40 and 60 minutes, and increase incline and speed every few times, I’ll get a really good workout. Or at least I hope so.

Next up: trying other machines and the pool 🙂