Part 6 in my series about my health and fitness journey
I could come up with a thousand excuses as to why I “let myself go” – but quite honestly, I am working on putting it all in the past. Part of my journey to a healthier and fitter life is also about coming to terms with the “here and now” and not dwelling on what has been. Oh it is hard!
The person in the 14th Sept. 2021 picture no longer exists, in the sense of who I am today. But it took a while for me to shake that person from my consciousness. I was so ashamed of that picture for so many months. Now, it is less about shame and more about looking at how far I have come – both physically and mentally.
If you have been following my health and fitness journey, you will know that I chose Peloton for my activity / workouts and I chose Noom for my weight loss / health guidance and learning.
This road is not an easy one to navigate. I use the present tense, as I am still very much on my journey. I am not yet a year into the commitment I made to myself. The frustrations are fewer, but they still crop up from time to time. The scale doesn’t move that much, and boy does it get to me some days!
But this journey is not just about a scale. It is about making life changing decisions.
31st July 2019 was the first step – I chose a plant based lifestyle. I didn’t commit to it as a forever choice, instead I gave myself 4 months to see if it would help my health issues. It did, and so in November 2019, I made a commitment to living a plant based life.
Living a plant based life on its own doesn’t mean you will become skinny and healthy. It helps, but you have to really work at being careful how your fuel your body.
In March of 2019, I had hit an all time high weight. I knew it was time to turn things around, but I did nothing – I languished in a menopausal depression. Some days I wouldn’t get out of bed, but to feed the cats. I didn’t do laundry for MONTHS! Instead I would buy new bedding, just so I wouldn’t be lying in a dirty bed. My mental health was taking a bashing. My doctor prescribed me a low dosage of Celexa. Within about 4 weeks I did start to “feel better”, to the point that I cleaned my apartment, I did my laundry, and I stopped the constant food delivery of Outback steaks, Chinese, pizza, fried this, fried that.
I even started a form of exercise – walking. Not far, just around the neighborhood. Then taking the cats for walks, again not far, but I was moving.
At the end of 2019, I lost my job. It would be almost a year before I found a new job. Now I had to concentrate my efforts on finding a job, so the exercise was the first to go – my mindset was not yet convinced that exercise / movement needed to be a part of my life.
Then the pandemic hit us. My mental health took a real hit. On the outside I pretended all was ok. But I was absolutely fraught with fear. How would I ever get a job in this situation? 6 months into the pandemic, my house burned down, I lost everything. Exercise was furthest from my mind. I was at an all time low, and if it wasn’t for the amazing people in my life, I truly do not know where I would be today.
By April of 2021, I knew I really, REALLY needed to do something. Working on food intake alone was not going to help me (well not to lose the amount of weight I needed to lose, around 100lb (in English terms, about 7 stone / about 45kg). I couldn’t get my head around it. That is when I decided to do something – and I bought my Peloton – that was the start of my transformation!
Well – so I thought that was the start of my transformation. But no, I still wasn’t 100% committed. It took until September 2021 and a dear friend sharing her story with me to actually make a life changing decision. Movement has to become a habit and part of my life.
And so I started my transformation in earnest. I was already about 30lbs down from my heaviest weight, but still had about 70lbs to lose.
to say I loved working out would be a bit of an overstatement. It felt more like a chore. I also had no structure, hadn’t really made any goals, I was just aimlessly riding on my peloton bike, and messing about with a bit of yoga.
Then one day I was introduced to power zones on the bike. This is a structured program of training that measures your fitness level, and helps you improve from where you started, with the help of the Peloton FTP (Functional Threshold Power) Test, which locks in your current fitness level. The idea being, that you continue to work out, and ride the power zone rides in a structured way and retake the test every 6 weeks or so.
Then there was more – Peloton presents you with the option of joining community challenges and presenting badges as you progress. Not only did this help motivate me, but I became a bit badge obsessed! But this was in a positive way. I suddenly had an amazing way to set goals – number of minutes I work out, number of miles I ride, number of days / weeks / how many types of exercises I do….the list goes on
Below is a sample of the milestones I have achieved, and badges awarded. It may not motivate everyone, but this is something that has helped me with making movement part of my life. Do I still need the badges to keep me motivated? Not so much. But now I use them as part of my health goals. It is like I have graduated from exercise is a chore, to exercise is ok, but I need structure to exercise AND a little reward badge goals a long way to help keep me going. The badges help me set my daily / weekly / monthly and annual goals.
For example – each month I join the “Cycle Challenge”. The first 50 miles you attain bronze, 100 miles, silver and 150 miles gold badges. These are a great way to set goals on how far I want to ride each day / week.
The best thing for me is having all this in 1 application! And when Peloton added the “just…walk, ride, run” options into the application, this made me so happy. I can now use the app to track my outdoor biking – the minutes count towards my annual minutes, and the miles towards my monthly miles ridden. Now I can set goals both on the Peloton Bike, my outdoor bike combined.
This all may seem silly, irrelevant and nonsensical to some folks. Especially those that have always had movement in their life. I was an active child, but a much less active adult. Now I am changing that.
I now set goals around my health first. I have found a new love in riding a bicycle!
The transformation is not over. And although I am putting my health and fitness as a priority in my life, I still have a lot to learn and do.
I am still 30-35lbs away from my healthy weight goal, and to be brutally honest the last few months have be very frustrating. My weight loss has been excruciatingly slow. I work out consistently. I have changed up my routine. I now incorporate strength training with weights and resistance bands, I do more core work and I ride at least 150 miles per month. My caloric intake is measured and I keep a check on my protein / fat / carb intake, according to my effort of exercise for someone that wants to lose weight. Yet I have been bouncing around the same number (+/- 5lbs) since January. Of course I am not giving up – I have come too far! I keep going, this plateau will not beat me! But I do need help to fathom this out.
Yes, the body has changed, even with the lack of weight loss – and of course the scale does not rule my life. However it is still something I need to focus on. I have made appointments with my primary care doctor and my gynecologist. I have a feeling my menopause may be trying to sabotage my weight loss. Hormones do play a part in our overall health balance, especially as we age. So far this year, I am averaging 76 minutes per day of exercise – some days I ride 20+ miles, other days it is a combination of weights / yoga. Every day I meditate for at least 30 minutes.
Meditation is extremely important to me (as is yoga). It helps keep me focused, balanced and helps me deal with stress. I cannot eliminate all the stresses of daily life, but I can do something to help me deal with them, and still get a good nights restorative sleep!
The journey continues. I am hoping the doctors can help me with my current plateau dilemma – it is easy for folks to say “don’t concentrate on the scale” or “the scale doesn’t define you” or “concentrate on your health not your weight” and so many more cliches. However these comments for someone on a journey like I am, are not really the positive reinforcement that you think they might be. Why? Because I know all of that – I know my health is important. However I am still overweight! I need to lose weight. Yes, I have come a long way. Yes! I am proud of how far I have come. And absolutely YES! I feel so much better, and I am happier.
The belly still hits the thighs when I ride, I still need to modify some yoga poses, and that is ok. I am not looking for a quick fix – I got myself into this state, and now I am working hard to turn my life around. The journey continues, and I know I am doing all the right things that will get me to my weight loss goal.
So while I may be frustrated with the scale – I do look in the mirror and see a different person – not just physically stronger, but also mentally stronger.
As for goals – I am re-evaluating my health goals, once I get my latest lab results next week from my doctor. With his help, I am hoping I can get some insight into what I can do to get the weight to budge again. But until then, I will continue with my Peloton workouts and strive to become fitter and stronger.
Thank you for reading my blog – I look forward to sharing more updates soon