Sunday, June 8, 2014

Working Out and Changing My Lifestyle

Right about a year ago, things fell into place for me to start working out and getting back into shape. You see, there were two main reasons I didn’t feel I could prior to that:
1.    I didn’t have the time to work out.
2.    I didn’t have a place to work out.

I’m a morning workout person. I’ve tried other times, and I can manage in the afternoons on occasion but not so much at night. I read an article like 12 years ago in a fitness magazine that was talking about how different bodies have different ideal work out times and how it was difficult to keep up a regular routine if you were forcing your body into a time that wasn’t ideal for it.

It was a eureka moment for me. Ah ha! No wonder I struggle to keep up with work outs unless I do them in the mornings! And no wonder Londo always chooses to work out late at night, when that sounds like misery to me! On the flip side, Londo could not understand how I could wake up really early and jump into a work out. Learning that about myself so long ago has helped me over the years realize what I need to do to get into and stay in shape: Have a work out planned and wake up early to do it.

So I couldn’t just wait until the kids were asleep and work out then, though I’d tried that a few times. It simply wasn’t working. I was at work all day long, and I didn’t want to take extra time to work out near my office because I’d rather get home in time to have dinner with my kids. And I have been on morning duty for the kids since they were born, and they’ve need pretty constant attention in the mornings. Not to mention the sleep issues that have been a part of our evenings and nights since my lovely, but not-good-sleeper daughter was born.

But last spring (Spring 2013), the kids were finally old enough and capable enough to be left alone in the mornings for brief periods of time. They were old enough to remember that if Mommy wasn’t in bed when they woke up, she was downstairs working out. They were old enough to play for a while by themselves or with each other before getting ready for the day. They were old enough to sit by themselves/with each other at breakfast and watch a show without me there. Finally, I could find the time (as long as I woke up early enough) to work out in the mornings!

The other issue was also solved last spring. I’m a yoga and cardio person. I like active/power yoga, aerobics and dance-type work outs. For aerobics and dance, I need room. For yoga, I need a quiet, calm place. The only area in our house that could be quiet in the mornings and have enough space for the workouts I like was the basement. But the basement was set up as a play room. A very rarely used playroom, but full of those large toddler toys that we didn’t have room for anywhere else in the house.

But the kids were no longer toddlers. They didn’t play with the toys, and we were ready to get rid of them. Every spring, my neighborhood has a yard sale. Anyone can participate just by setting their stuff out on the driveway/yard and start selling. And we did! We put out all the toddler toys and even some baby toys we still had. We sold all sorts of random stuff we didn’t need or want anymore. We didn’t bring anything back into the house, even if it meant giving stuff away at the end.
The kids also set up a lemonade stand, which was really cute, even though they have no concept of how to run a business. ;-)

With all the toddler toys out of the basement, I had all sorts of room down there! When I was young, my dad bought me gymnastics mats to practice on at home. We got those mats from my parent’s house, and we spread them out on the floor. Londo hooked up an old DVD player and even an old VHS player so I could work out to different videos. I made a corner for my hand weights and yoga mats. I was finally all set up!

I started with my yoga, and then some aerobic VHS tapes. I quickly realized that the old aerobics workouts were way out of date. These days, the fitness world was doing circuit training and cross-fit training. Just as our understanding of what was the best things to eat and what to avoid eating had changed, so had the way we work out our bodies.

I did a little research and then bought Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred. I did the Shred for the whole 30 days, 10 days at each level. By the end, I could see the difference. I was starting to get definition in my arms and legs. I was feeling good. I was taking the stairs up and down four flights without changing my breathing.

After the Shred, I decided I was ready for more. A lot more. I decided to do the Insanity! It was a two-month long program, extremely intensive, cardio-based workout program. It was HARD! And I LOVED it! I’d heard great things about the P90X workout, but considering my penchant for cardio (aerobics and dance), I knew that the Insanity workout was the right one for me.
In addition, I started running. Running! Me! The person who used to say, “They only way I’m running is if someone is chasing me!” But Londo got me into it by working with me slowly. I am slow. Meanwhile, he is fast. Very fast. So for him to run at such a slow pace just to help me keep going and find some enjoyment in it was really awesome.

But that’s not all. I also got an app for my iPhone (MyFitnessPal) where I could track what I was eating and pay attention to how all the calories add up. It’s amazing to start realizing how quickly they add up—finish a kid’s left over goldfish, get a fancy coffee drink, grab some McDonalds while on the go, eat seconds because the meal was so good, plus dessert and wine. Once I started to actually track each and every thing I ate, especially after setting a goal and trying to stick to it, I stopped eating mindlessly. I stopped eating when I was full. I weighed my decisions on food choices. I calculated how much I could eat for lunch if I wanted to have some wine with dinner. I PAID ATTENTION to what I was eating, and what I was doing.

In fact, I bought myself and Londo (for Father’s Day) the Jawbone UP lifestyle tracking bracelets. I set goals for my sleep and for the amount of steps I’d take each day (steps being the equivalent to activity). And boy, does that bracelet make you pay attention! The bracelet also lets you record actual activities, so I could time my workouts and record the type of activity and the intensity of those workouts. It even integrates with my MyFitnessPal app!

So not only did I find the time and place for my workouts, I also completely changed my lifestyle. Now, I eat mindfully. I track my calories and activities. I make smart choices in what I do, what I eat, when I go to sleep. And it has paid off. Not only did I lose quite a bit of weight (although I was not really overweight to begin with), but I now have strength and definition. Now I am in shape, and healthy and feel really good. Not just because I look good—and I do look good!—but because I feel good. Really good.