In March of 2011, I was 43 years old, and I had no pants to wear. My no-fly, lycra, wide waistband pants, my “go to” pants, were giving me a muffin top. I had two kids, a husband, a challenging full time job, and no pants. Why I ended up in that place could fill a book, but needless to say, The Time Had Come. And so, I did nothing.
A couple weeks later an email came through work that Weight Watchers meetings were starting up, once a week at lunch. That was the sign, and I followed it. I went to the first meeting and was horrified to learn – although not entirely surprised – that I weighed the same as I did when I was 9 months pregnant with my younger daughter. She was eight years old at the time, so it wasn’t “baby weight” any more. As I lost weight and the weather improved, I started going for walks, and more weight came off.
Then in June, another sign appeared. The trainer at our work fitness centre was holding a lunch time seminar about “Couch to 5K” apps. I downloaded an app and picked a week in July when I was off work so that I didn’t have the excuse of being too busy. My very first session, I puffed along, mostly walking but sometimes running, while a woman named Laura with a lovely English accent encouraged me on regular intervals. When I got home, no one had noticed that I’d been gone. It was that moment when I realized that the only person who needed to give me permission to take care of myself was me. Despite the experiences I had had as a child, I needed to take responsibility for who I was as an adult. I needed to grow up.
Although I was running a lot, I could not outrun the food I was eating. My weight was creeping up. I had also been reading about the benefits of strength training for aging adults. Fifty was on the horizon and I knew that the law of entropy applied to me every bit as much as it did everyone else. A friend in my running group did Crossfit. Many conversations later, mostly of her saying, “Just do it, you’ll be fine”, I followed that sign too.
Crossfit has been a humbling journey to say the least. I’m proud that I’ve stuck with it. In early 2018 I decided to follow another sign – this one (of all things) on a Lorna Jane bag “Why not see what happens if you try?” I decided to try to deal with my mindset around food, exercise and my body. As much as I had accomplished since 2011, I didn’t trust my body, and the little voice in my head had some pretty mean things to say.
When I started to work with Shannon, I could articulate the mindset goals, but I couldn’t really express clear performance or esthetic goals. In hindsight, I know I was hedging by saying I didn’t care about those goals. I wouldn’t commit because I didn’t believe I could do it. I had failed so many times before.
With Shannon’s guidance, I’ve learned that food is something I can relax and enjoy. I don’t have to starve myself as punishment for not exercising. Food is meant to nourish, and movement is meant to make you strong and fit, and to feel good. I’ve experienced ups and downs in my weight that have nothing to do with how much I ate or how little I exercised. My body deals with a lot, and I need it for the long haul. I need to take care of it, not fight with it. That little voice hasn’t vanished. It pipes up pretty consistently still, but now I can recognize if for what it is: a pattern of thinking that’s been instilled since childhood. It won’t go away overnight, but I don’t need to let it set up shop in my mind anymore.
I’m a big believer in “pay now or pay later”. Planning meals ahead, shopping and prepping definitely require effort. However, what those save me in time during the week, in money by not buying lunch at work, and most importantly, in the peace of mind knowing I can relax and just eat without worrying about whether I’m winning or losing the food war, are all well worth the short term “price” of time and energy.
I’m 50 now, and feel better in my own skin than I have in a very long time. While the changes haven’t been dramatic, Shannon reminds me to enjoy the little things that count, like being able to tuck in a shirt comfortably, trying on clothes without it being an ordeal, and running up a couple flights of stairs at work without arriving breathless. More significant benefits are still to come, in the future that I hope is strong and healthy for decades to come.