Okay, so it’s not a very catchy title and isn’t likely to be on the front of Self or Shape or any other women’s fitness magazine anytime soon but it really is what it took. After fifteen years of running and worrying about my weight I felt jipped. How could I possibly still have that last ten pounds to lose? The truth is that the last ten had turned into the last fifteen pounds to lose. I had become a bit desperate. I read every article on diet and nutrition I could find and I felt like I was doing everything right. I was exercising at least four days a week and had been for fifteen years. I was eating healthy food with the occasional treat. And I felt like somewhere somebody was lying. Then about six months ago a scary thing happened. I looked at the calendar and realized that at the end of this year I turn forty. Seriously. So, it was decision time. I could keep doing the same things and gain another five pounds in the next decade or I could do something drastic. The truth is it was a last resort. I told myself that I would either lose the last bit and get in shape or I would resign myself to weighing exactly what I did. I knew I was fit I just wanted to look it. Thus began my quest.
I had read about www.fitday.com online and had even used it some in the past to keep track of what I was eating and how much I was exercising. Several of the articles I had read discussed the benefits of keeping a food journal and Fitday was the tool I decided to use. There was no real first thing I did. It was not nutrition and then exercise or vice versa. I made a decision that they would go hand in hand.
After using the weight goal tool and seeing my daily calorie allowance I would be able to eat if I wanted to lose fifteen pounds in six months I almost gave up right there. And once I realized that that calorie allowance was a thousand calories lower than the amount I had been eating daily for the past month I just crawled right back in bed and did give up…for about an hour. But then that picture of me gaining five to ten pounds a decade from here on out and never looking like the athlete I knew I was got me motivated. I got out of bed, threw away all of the cookies and chips in the house (sorry sweetie) and got started.
As much as it sounds like it, I didn’t starve myself to death. I just changed the way that I ate. I snacked on healthy snacks and ate several times throughout the day to keep from feeling as though I was starving. After all the diet books and magazines I had read over the years I realized I had become a bit of an expert. I knew the five things you are never supposed to eat because of Dr. Oz. I knew that protein helps you feel full because of Dr. Atkins. And I knew that doughnuts and cookies were not health foods because I do have a little common sense.
The exercise part of the new routine turned out to be fun. Running is wonderful. I love to run and will not give it up. But the same old running routine was not working for me. I needed something more. Something exciting so I decided to add some intensity to the running and some extras outside of running. The first thing I added was weights on a much more serious basis than just a few dumbbells here and there. I started lifting for an hour four days a week and copying all of the “hot moms” and young muscle buffs in the gym to add to my routine. But I had tried weights alone a couple of years back and knew that was not going to do what I had in mind either. So I did something that has never come easy for me. I thought outside the box. I got creative and decided I didn’t care what the other people at the gym thought about this crazy sweaty lady running throughout the gym. I started a jump roping routine. I wanted something that wouldn’t bore me stiff so once a week I started alternating fifteen minutes of jumping rope and two sets of weights. I would do this for two and a half hours or until the pool of sweat surrounding my feet was so deep I could no longer do it without falling or drowning.
I did a similar thing on the treadmill. I would run for five minutes as fast as I could and then alternate it with weights. This had a benefit I hadn’t considered. I ran faster than I ever knew I could because it was only five minutes at a time. As a result I became a faster runner. In my past two races I broke out of a ten year rut and have gotten personal bests in both by over five minutes.
And finally, I tried a new routine that a trainer at the gym created. It was adapted from a workout that he had seen in another magazine. Every exercise I would do that day I had to repeat fifty times. It alternated between strength exercises like pull ups (I used the machine that gives you assistance since I can’t do one pull up much less fifty) and cardio exercises like jumping jacks. After two weeks of doing my jump roping routine and the speedy treadmill workout I had increased my fitness more than I expected so I was able to take his routine that was about an hour and add exercises to stretch it another thirty minutes.
I am working out six days a week now but no two days are alike. I have discovered that pushing myself in this way has not only helped me lose that last fifteen pounds and get more fit than I have ever been but it has also been a bit of a boredom buster. For fifteen years I felt like if I didn’t get my run in when I was supposed to I was cheating myself. Now if I just don’t feel like doing that run I know there is something else I can do. I have added hill runs, tempo runs and even a kickboxing class to my class to my routine to get me over a boredom hump and I am having a blast almost every step of the way.
The funny thing about all of this is I thought I was alone. I thought I was the only person out there running the marathons and the triathlons and still not being asked at race expos if I was there to pick up my husband’s packet but I have been on several weight loss forums and discovered that isn’t so. There are a lot of other people who work hard and aren’t losing the weight or looking any better. After six months of this I feel pretty good about how I look now. But I still feel a bit jipped. I would love to be one of those lucky people who say to me. “All I have to do is get on my bike and I lose the weight.” But then again, if I was one of those people maybe I would have never figured out just how far I could push myself and just how much fun it could be doing it.