My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Life at my new gym

Well, it finally happened. I’m finally back in the gym. After far, far too long.

Planet Fitness opened up a location in my town last month. After hearing rumours about it for about 2 years. I was so excited when it was confirmed.

I’ve known for a long time that I need to get back to working out regularly again. There are a lot of things I can do that don’t require me being in a gym, but I’ve found that I work out better when I’m around other people. I don’t need to be working out with them. I don’t even need to know them. But for whatever reason, I just get in a better workout around others. Plus I needed somewhere I could do cardio when I couldn’t be outside.

So when Planet Fitness started accepting sign ups, I was ready. More than ready, actually.

They opened on a Friday night, but I was away that weekend on family business.  The first chance I had to go was on Tuesday.

To be honest, I was a little nervous. It had been a couple years since I had been to a gym on a regular basis. I worried I wouldn’t remember how to do things. Planet Fitness is famous for being a non-judgemental gym, but I still worried people might judge me. I wondered if I would like it, if I would be comfortable there, if the people would be friendly.

But I didn’t need to worry about any of that.

As soon as I walked in, I knew I would be happy there. The staff greeted me with smiles. The place is bright and cheerful. I was given a quick tour so I knew where things were. Oh my gosh, so much equipment! Treadmills, ellipticals, arc trainers, bikes, stair climbers. Weight machines, cable machines, smith machines, free weights! Plus, a special 30-minute circuit area and an area for stretching. And they have a trainer on staff as well. I was very impressed.

The first couple of times, I pretty much stuck to myself. But the more I go, the more comfortable I am, and the more I interact with other members. So far, everyone has been really friendly. I know I made the right decision to join.

After going a few times, I decided to meet with the trainer, Cody. The sessions are small group sessions, no more than 5 people. They offer sessions that are specific muscle group workouts — chest, back, arms, legs, abs, and shoulders. They also have a design your own program session, and a 30-minute circuit session.

I started with the design your own program session. It was good, a lot of information, but no actual workout.

So then I decided to try the specific muscle group sessions. I’d never done workouts like that before. When I worked with Tyler, I just did whatever he told me to do. And when he left, he gave me groups of exercises to do. I’ve seen people work just specific muscle groups, so I was anxious to give it a try. The sessions are 30 minutes, but you can easily get a workout in during that time. I did back-to-back sessions, thinking I would get a better workout in, and boy, did I! Since then, I have done several sessions with Cody. He really knows his stuff.  He is very personable and easy to work with. I’m glad I decided to give his sessions a try. I plan on signing up for his sessions as often as I can.

Since it’s been a while since I was at the gym on a regular basis, I know that I have to get my body used to it again. Right now, I’m going about 3 times a week. I’ve been there 10 times in the last 3 1/2 weeks. I think that’s a pretty good start. And I’m hoping to increase that shortly.  Some days I will just do cardio; other days I will do cardio and strength training.

To keep myself accountable, I check-in on Facebook and often post something after my workout. I’ve had a few people tell me that my posts have inspired them to join the gym as well. And I’ve had a few people at the gym tell me that I inspire them as well. That makes me feel pretty good. I don’t set out to inspire others, but hearing things like that, inspires me to keep going.

Having a place to work out like Planet Fitness makes this journey a little easier. I’m really glad I joined. Life at my new gym is good. And I’m really happy to be there.

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Sometimes I feel like a duck

You know how it’s said that a duck looks calm on the surface, just gliding along the water, but underneath they are paddling like crazy? There are days I feel like that.

I do my best to stay positive, have a positive attitude, keep a smile on my face, but some days it’s effing hard!

I struggle. A lot. More than I want to readily admit.

I struggle with feeling like I belong.

I struggle with body image.

I struggle with feeling alone.

I struggle with feeling left out.

I struggle with not feeling like I’m good enough.

There are days that it takes everything I’ve got to get through the day. I’m smiling on the outside, but I’m paddling like crazy to stay afloat.

I’ve been overweight almost my entire life, so it should be no surprise that I have body image issues.  I’ve been judged and criticized and made fun of much of my life, which makes me feel very self-conscience around people, especially people I don’t know. I’ve gotten better about it in the last several years, but it still happens. Those feelings are still there.

I joined a new gym recently. I’m excited about it too. I have missed not being in one for the last couple of years. It will take me a while to get used to working out again, and I’m okay with that. So far, everyone there has been really nice and super friendly. But I still feel self-conscience about being there. Sometimes I feel like I just don’t belong or that people are secretly judging me, either for how I look or for how I’m working out. It’s crazy, I know. And I try not to feel like that, but I still do.  The other day I was on the treadmill with no one on either side of me. Then a lady got on next to me. I’m slow, and I fully own that. But with this lady next to me, I suddenly felt like I didn’t belong there, like maybe she was judging me for going so slow. I’m sure she wasn’t paying any attention to me, but in that moment, that’s how I felt.

I can’t do a lot of things other people at the gym can do. And I’m sure I could use some help with my form sometimes. But I do what I can.   When I was working with Tyler, he taught me a lot. And that’s where I’m starting now, with the things he taught me. I’m not at the level I was a couple of years ago, but I know with time, I’ll get back there. I sometimes wonder what people think when they see me there. Maybe they don’t notice me. Maybe they don’t care. Maybe they think I’m ridiculous. Maybe they are secretly cheering for me. These are things that sometimes go through my head.

I spend a lot of time alone. Probably too much. Sometimes I need to be alone to recharge. But other times I desperately want to be around people I know, people I care about. The problem is many of those people don’t live anywhere close. My family is in Missouri, Delaware, Florida, and Ohio; my best friend is in Arizona; other friends are scattered around the US and Canada.  I do have a few friends that live near me, but they are busy with their own lives and we rarely get to see each other.

These are some of the things I struggle with.

Some days I do just fine. I’m just gliding along the water.

Other days, I’m like that duck, paddling like mad just below the surface.

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Belonging

I’ve been thinking a lot about belonging lately.

When I was a kid, I struggled with belonging. I never felt like I really fit in anywhere. I was very shy and overweight, and I didn’t have many friends. I usually felt like the odd one out or a third wheel, no matter what size the group was that I was with.

In my teens, it was even worse.

Things started to get a little better in my early 20s. I began to open up more and it was a little easier to make friends, but I still didn’t have that many. And I still struggled with fitting in and belonging.

I got married in my late 20s and moved to Canada. Almost immediately, I noticed was I finally starting to feel like I belonged.  I was welcomed with open arms by husband’s family, friends, and co-workers.  That was HUGE, especially for someone who’d felt like an outsider most of her life.

As my life in Canada progressed, I found places where I fit in and people to connect with. It was wonderful. There were still occasions where I didn’t feel like I belonged, but they were fewer and fewer.

When I received my cancer diagnosis in 2009, I once again struggled. I struggled with defining myself as a cancer survivor. I was lucky and it was caught very early. I had surgery to remove it and did not require chemo or radiation. I didn’t feel like I belonged in that group of people who weren’t as lucky. It took me a long time to release I was wrong.

When I began running a few years ago, I struggled with defining myself as a runner. I didn’t feel like I was a “real” runner because I was so much slower than everyone else. But here’s the thing I quickly discovered: It didn’t matter if I was fast or slow. A runner is a runner.

And I also realized that running helped me feel like I belonged.  Just like when I first moved to Canada, I was welcomed into the running community with open arms. The running community is awesome! When I’m struggling with my running, I can always count on other runners for encouragement. And I think that’s the biggest reason I’ve kept at it.

A year ago today, my favourite coffee shop closed down. It was a very sad day. Not because they had great coffee, which they did, but because of the people. From the first day I walked into the place, I felt welcome. Someone was always there to offer a smile and a kind word. One of the things I noticed early on was everyone was welcome there.  It felt like home. I quickly became friends with the owner, Juliet. She is truly one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Once I overcame my initial shyness, I started sitting with the regulars. We’d push tables together to make one large table. And everyone was welcome. And oh the conversations we had at the big table! We talked about everything. We did crossword puzzles and sudoku puzzles, we’d discuss world events, we share the good and the bad about our lives. We became friends at that table.  Once again, I felt like I belonged. It’s been a year since the place closed, and I still miss it.

While I sometimes still struggle with feeling like I don’t belong in some places, I’ve learned that you don’t just belong in one place. You belong with those who support you, who love you, who make you feel welcome and appreciated. It could be the family you were born into or the family you chose for yourself. It could be your friends, those you socialize with, or those you work with.  And if you ever feel like you don’t belong, just stop and look around you. Find those you connect with and you’ll find where you belong.

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Hoping to find that groove again

When I began my journey to be a healthier me in 2009, I knew it would not be an easy road. I knew I had to take it one step at a time. I had to retrain my brain to look at pretty much everything differently.

The first couple of years were a struggle. Not only was I learning to do things in a new way, I was also learning to live a life after cancer AND dealing with personal tragedies. Eventually, I felt like I had found a groove. It still wasn’t easy and I was still learning a lot, but I was getting better.

There were a few bumps in the road, like when I had to switch gyms and when Tyler decided to give up doing personal training. But I managed to get through them. Then there was the decision to change gyms again, followed by the car accident. While I eventually recovered from the accident, I never did join another gym. I think that was a contributing factor to the struggles I’ve been dealing with since.

As nervous as I was to join my first gym, I’ve realized since then that I seem to work out well around other people, even if we aren’t working out together or even know each other. Maybe I feed off their energy or something. Whatever it is, I just seem to do better with others around.

I’ve tried doing workouts at home, but it’s not quite the same. And I don’t know why. I know a lot of ways to workout with little to no equipment, but I find it hard sometimes to get a good workout in by myself.

I don’t know if it’s lack of motivation or lack of trust in myself or something else. I just feel like something is missing. And because of that, I’ve gained back some of the weight I lost. I know I only have myself to blame. And I know that I’m the only one who can fix it. I need to start making better choices again.

I’ve been talking a lot about joining a gym again. And in truth, I’ve been talking about it for quite a long time. I know it’s something I need. Living in a small town, there are not a lot of choices. And maybe that’s part of why I haven’t done it yet. But we are getting a new gym in town and I’ve already made a commitment to join. I’m really looking forward to it.

But we are getting a new gym in town and I’ve already made a commitment to join. I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully, I can find that groove again. The gym is scheduled to open in about a month. I’m feeling good about it. I’m anxious to see how much I remember.

I know it will take time to get back to where I was and beyond, and I’m okay with that. I’m already working on my mindset. And that’s the first step, and one of the most important.

 

 

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Apologies

It’s been a while since I posted anything.

Too long.

I’m sorry about that.

I don’t really have a good excuse for not posting anything lately. I just didn’t feel like I had much to say. And when I tried to write, nothing came together.

I just didn’t feel like I had much to say. And when I tried to write, nothing came together.

And when I tried to write, nothing came together. That happens sometimes. I really want to write something, but it just doesn’t happen. I can’t seem to get the thoughts out of my head.

But I’m feeling better mentally these days, so hopefully, I’ll be able to post things more often. I already have a few ideas kicking around in my head. I think that’s a good sign.

Hopefully you’ll see some more posts soon. And on a more regular basis too.

It’s good to be back.

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2017: A year for rebuilding

I don’t make resolutions, haven’t for many years. I prefer to make goals.  “Resolutions” doesn’t have the same commitment to it as “goals” does.  At least in my opinion.  I didn’t make any real goals last year.  I started the year feeling very burned out and just couldn’t wrap my head around what to do next. But that’s in the past. Nothing I can do about it, except learn from it.

I didn’t make any real goals last year.  I started the year feeling very burned out and just couldn’t wrap my head around what to do next. But that’s in the past. Nothing I can do about it, except learn from it.

So now it’s 2017. I had already been thinking about goals for the year long before the new year rolled around. I already had it in my mind a few things I want to do this year. As the year progresses, new goals will be added. That’s one thing I’ve learned, you can always add to your list. You don’t need a new year, a new month, a new week. Just add to your list as you go along. Sure, I have a list of big goals, big dreams. I’m sure most people do. But I’ve learned over the last few years that it’s important to make smaller goals along the way to the big ones.

As the year progresses, new goals will be added. That’s one thing I’ve learned, you can always add to your list. You don’t need a new year, a new month, a new week. Just add to your list as you go along. Sure, I have a list of big goals, big dreams. I’m sure most people do. But I’ve learned over the last few years that it’s important to make smaller goals along the way to the big ones. I will often take a big goal and break it down into smaller ones to make it more manageable and less intimidating. I’ve noticed I accomplish more doing it that way.

So what do I have on the horizon for 2017?

Rebuilding.

That’s my main goal of the year.  I spent much of 2016 injured and feeling burned out. Consequently, I lost much of what I gained in previous years.  So I’m dedicating 2017 to rebuilding.

I decided I needed a plan. I did well in 2015 because I was following a training plan to prepare for my first half marathon. I also decided that I basically needed to start from the beginning and work my way back up. I knew I couldn’t start where I left off. I had to ease my way back in, to prevent burnout and injury. I also decided that I would work on one month at a time.

With that in mind, in December, I started to map out a plan for January.

I took the training plan I used in 2015 and stripped it down to the basics. I scheduled in run/walks, strength training, cross training, stretching, food prep, and rest. That might seem like a lot, but it’s not really.

I decided I would not worry about time or distance with my run/walks.  Some days I might be able to do more than others. Some days I might struggle a lot.  I lost much of the base I had, so I need to rebuild it.  Almost from scratch. The point is to get out there and do what I can.  After Christmas, I bought new running shoes, which I needed, as well as grips to help if it’s icy. I also have relatively easy access to the indoor track, so I really don’t have much of an excuse not to do it.

So that’s the first part of rebuilding. Run as much as I can. Walk when I need to. Just get out there and do it.

The strength training and cross training is similar. Do what I can. I don’t have a gym membership, but I don’t necessarily need one either. I know many exercises that don’t require being in a gym, and most require little to no equipment. I have a few things at home that I can use. And if there are days that I feel like I need more equipment, I can always pay the day rate at a local gym. Again, the point is to do what I can. And also not to overdo it. Every little bit counts.

Food prep has been a constant. It’s something I enjoy doing every week. I need to keep doing it, making sure I have plenty of healthy meals and snacks ready.

Rest and recovery are vital elements to any fitness plan. Something I need to remember.

The same goes for stretching. I need to incorporate that more. Add more moves to what I already know. There is always room for improvement.

It might seem like a lot, but it really isn’t. And I made the plan flexible enough that I can move things around when necessary. A few days in and things are going well. Towards the end of the month, I will map out the plan for February.

Much of this year will be devoted to rebuilding. My main focus is to get back into running and working out on a regular basis. This is something I really neglected last year. As the year goes on, I look forward to seeing the progress I will be making. I’m looking forward to doing great things.

Other things I am working on this year are reading more books, more meditation, more journaling, more writing, more positive thinking, more learning.  All of these things are part of rebuilding my commitment to being a healthier person.

I’m looking forward to a great year.

 

 

 

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2016 In Review

Well, what to say about 2016.

It was a challenging year for me. Much more challenging that I would have liked.

I started the year feeling rather burned out from a very busy 2015 and with an injury that I was in complete denial about.

It actually took me a few months to realize what I was feeling was burn out.  I had accomplished 2 very big goals in 2015, and suddenly I didn’t know what to do. I had put so much time and energy into those goals that when it was time to think about new goals, I just couldn’t. I felt a little lost and unsure of myself. I didn’t know what to do. Okay, I know that sounds strange. And maybe I’m not explaining it just right. But that’s really the only way I know how to describe it.

And the injury. Well, that’s another story. Looking back, I think the injury actually occurred at the end of my half marathon. My left foot was a little sore, but I expected to be sore after the race. It didn’t really bother me that much. Except when I ran. And to be honest, I didn’t do a lot of running over the winter. I chalked it up to needing to get new shoes. And then I knew I needed to get a new pair of custom orthotics. When I did my first race in April 2016, I had some soreness, but attributed it to not doing much running for the last few months. Same when I did a race in May. There wasn’t a lot of pain, just enough to bother me. And I only noticed it when I was running. I was still feeling very burned out, so I didn’t run much. I walked a lot, though.

Then came the Canada Day 5k on July 1st.

I was feeling some soreness almost from the start of the race. I had a cramp in my right calf, as well as the soreness in my left foot. I attributed the cramping to not stretching or warming up much before the race.  As the race went on, the pain became almost unbearable. Even walking was not helping. About the middle of the race, my friend Karen met up with me (after she had long finished). I told her about the cramp in my leg. She had me stop and then she took a water bottle and rubbed it up and down on my leg. It helped tremendously! I was able to continue on. But the pain in my left foot just got worse. But I refused to give up. I had never not finished a race and I was not about to start that day! Karen had to leave me, but my friend Lani and her kids took over. They walked with me the rest of the way. It took a lot of effort to cross that finish line. That’s when I stopped denying I had a problem.

I booked a doctor’s appointment as soon as I could. The doctor said my foot was swollen, but she didn’t think there was anything seriously wrong. She couldn’t feel anything broken. She advised me to that I needed to take it easy for a while. No running, not even much walking. She also told me I should replace my orthotics right away.  I was happy to hear that she didn’t think it was too serious, but bummed about not being able to run. When I asked her for how long, she said probably a couple of months. I had wanted to do more races, but knew that my foot really needed the rest. So I did as my doctor said. It wasn’t easy at first, but eventually got used to it. I was used to doing a lot of walking but knew that I needed to take it easy on that too.

To be honest, I was mentally glad for the break. I had been pushing myself so much that I think this was the universe’s way of saying to slow down and take it easy.  It gave me a chance to recharge myself. Without feeling the pressure of having to run, I felt freer. I realized that I had lost the love of running. I needed the break more than I realized.

After about 3 months, my foot was finally starting to feel better. I had replaced my orthotics, which really helped. I wasn’t quite ready to run again yet, but I did start walking more. It was almost 4 months before I went for my first run. My friend Meggan and I did a walk/run together.  A little slower and a little more walking than I would have liked, but I did it and it felt good.

I was finally feeling like I could love running again.

I also knew that it would take time to get back to where I had been. I basically needed to start back at the beginning and rebuild. I would need to take it easy at the start so I didn’t get injured again.

I even did another race in early December. It felt good to be out there again, even if it was rather cold that day.

I had planned on doing another one in December, but they had to cancel it because of the weather.

2016 was also a challenge mentally.  I felt drained and exhausted much of the year. Which is why I didn’t do much blogging. Every time I tried to write something, I just couldn’t. I was blocked. Nothing made sense when I did manage to write. I’m finally feeling good about writing again too.  Hopefully that will continue throughout 2017.

I’m glad 2016 is over. And I’m looking forward to a great 2017!

 

 

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Mindset

I’m participating in a webinar this summer called Summer of Success, hosted by Mark Black.  I’ve often thought about doing one of these, but never really had the chance to for one reason or another.  When the opportunity came up for this one, I just couldn’t pass it up.  It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling a lot lately.  I’m hopeful that this webinar will help me move forward.

This week’s topic was on Positive Mindset.

One of things I learned early on in my journey to be a healthier person is that mindset is everything.  If you don’t have the right mindset, you won’t have true success.  I know that’s why I failed over and over again in the attempts I made in my teens and 20s.  Once I changed my mindset, I found the success I desired.

Mindset is how you view everything.

Do you see things in a positive light? Or a negative one?

When something bad happens, do you look for what good might come of it? Or do you dwell on the bad?

Simply put, do you see the glass half-full or half-empty?

I’ll admit I don’t always have a positive mindset.  I try my best, but sometimes I find myself thinking negatively.  I know I need to change how I’m looking at the situation, but it’s not always easy.  Sometimes I can do so relatively quickly; other times, it takes me a long time to turn my thinking around.

When I first received my cancer diagnosis, I was devastated.  I remember thinking my life was over.  I couldn’t see anything positive about it.  Even as the doctors told me it was caught early and that the prognosis was good, I couldn’t see past the disease itself.  I never feared cancer growing up.  It didn’t run in my family so I never thought to fear it.  I feared heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol because those did run in my family.  But there I was sitting in that doctor’s office hearing the words no one ever should have to hear.  As I slowly told family and friends, did my own research and saw more doctors, I realized it was not as bad as the word implies.  I was lucky.  The cancer was found early, and it’s location meant that it was the type that it did not spread quickly.

The more I learned, the more my thinking shifted. 

The more my thinking shifted, the more I realized I had been given the opportunity to change my life. 

I could continue to be the couch potato and junk-food junkie I had been most of my life, or I could look at this as my chance to make my life better.

I could learn to make healthier choices. I could learn to be a more positive person. I could learn to enjoy exercise (for perhaps the first time ever).

As weird as it sounds, I began to look at my cancer as a gift.  I was being given the chance to become a better person – both mentally and physically.

So that’s what I did.

It’s not been an easy road.  I had a lot of struggles at the beginning.  A lot of things were thrown in my path: nearly losing my dad, the death of my stepmom, the deaths of 2 of my beloved cats, and the death of my mom — all in just over a year.  None of them were easy.  Any of them could have broken me.  But I refused to let them.  I was building a new life for myself.  I stumbled and fell a lot, but I always got up.  I refused to give up.  And with each thing I overcame, I became a better person.  I began to see everything in a different light.  And let me tell you, it really does make a difference.

Friends began to tell me how much of a difference they could see.  Not just in my physical appearance.  I seemed happier.  I smiled more.  I laughed more.  I was more open.  The more I looked for the good, the more I found.  Funny how it happens that way.

Two years ago, my husband and I were in a car accident.  Yes, I was upset about it.  But I surprised myself but almost immediately looking at the good side of it.  It was a single car accident and we both walked away with only minor injuries.  It could have been so much worse.  And I could have dwelled on that fact, but I chose not to.  I chose to see just how lucky we both were.  I think that made a huge difference in the healing.

My journey to be a healthier person has not been easy.  And right now I’m going through a lot of struggles.  I’ve been dwelling a lot on the past.  This week I was reminded just how important it is to have a positive mindset.  It’s always been there, in the back of my mind. And right now the negative thoughts are trying to squash it.  But it’s starting to fight back, fighting to get back to the top where it belongs.  And I’m going to do whatever I can to get it back up there.

I know it’s not an easy road, but I’m determined to get where I want to go.  And I’ll get there.  I’m positive.

 

 

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My friend Juliet

There are a few people in my life that inspire me and make me want to be a better person. They inspire me to be kinder, more open, gentler … just be a better person.

Juliet is one of those people.

I wouldn’t be surprised if she is that kind of person to many others.

Juliet is a beautiful person, inside and out. Her smile lights up the room, and her laughter is magical.

She’s kind and understanding. 

She’s full of life and love. 

She shows compassion and kindness to everyone. 

She’s smart and funny. 

She’s incredibly creative. 

She makes everyone feel important and worthy of love. 

She’s one of the hardest-working people I know. 

She has a huge heart.

She’s just an amazing person.

Talking to her, no matter the subject, always makes me feel better. I feel lighter somehow, even if we are just talking about events of the day. I just love being around her.

I admit that when I first met her, it took me awhile to open up and allow our friendship to grow. I don’t make friends easily, but she made it easy. 

I feel like I’ve grown since I met her. I’d like to think that being friends with her has helped me be a better person — kinder and gentler to myself and others, and more open to the world in general.

She’s the kind of person that just makes the world a better place just by being here.

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Break over

It’s been a quiet few months around here. I was having a really hard time writing. There were things I felt like I needed or wanted to write about, but I just couldn’t get the words out. I’d try and try, but nothing sounded right. So I decided I needed a break. I knew that eventually the ideas and words would flow again. And I finally feel like I’m at a point that they are.

I’ve been struggling a lot the last several months. And not just with writing. It just seemed like everything was harder. I couldn’t even figure out why at first.

It took a long time for me to realize I was burned out. I completed two big goals last year and it took a lot out of me. Not just physically, but also mentally. The mental part was the hardest. I think that’s what made everything seem so hard. My brain desperately needed a break. So I gave it one.

And I’m feeling much better these days. I’m feeling calmer, happier, lighter. And I’m getting back to things I love, like running. Yes, I even took a break from that. But things are looking up. I’m running again and I’m writing again, so the world is feeling brighter. Let’s hope the trend continues.

 

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