Sunday marked the beginning of Week 4 of my new journey to wellness, and I’m pumped! Here are some steps that are helping to keep me engaged with my evolving fitness routine:

Introduce change gradually. I’ve mentioned before that I find change difficult. Sure, I try a new thing here and there; but I have a really hard time letting go of the familiar, even when the familiar hurts me. And knowing how to intentionally weave change into my life is a big part of the challenge; I have lots of dreams and good intentions, but the process of goal-setting (from inception to follow-through) is a tough one for me; I usually overshoot, and end up discouraged. Since kickstarting my journey to wellness a few weeks ago, I’ve made a point of introducing small changes very gradually. Instead of deciding to tackle a whole bunch of new gym equipment at once, for example, I’ve intentionally made it a point to try out one new piece of cardio equipment each week. And trying something new doesn’t mean I’ve committed to doing it every time I go to the gym; I just want to gradually get comfortable with new ways of being fit. My hope is that I’ll try and enjoy more than if I’d set myself up for a one-day-try-everything-asap fitness extravaganza.

Visualize emotional outcomes. This is a pretty new approach for me. For years, I’ve read tons about visualizing future events: me 50 pounds lighter, and in a bikini, for instance (To which my inner voice would inevitably reply, “Pfft! Yeah, right!”). I’ve read about visualizing how everyone I know will admire me if I’m slim (To which my inner self responds, “That’s not what’s important to me.”). I know that type of visualization was supposed to motivate me; but for me – someone who’s always self-identified as overweight – adopting these kinds of visualizations felt like a kind of self-rejection; these kinds of thoughts really didn’t make me feel good. Recently, I read about using visualization to imagine how it would feel to achieve a desired change; rather than focus on a concrete outcome, like an image, they recommend imagining a feeling. So now, when I picture myself two months or a year from now, I try to imagine how I’ll *feel* as I continue down the road to health and wellness: how light and free I’ll feel, knowing I trust myself to make healthy decisions; how proud I’ll feel, knowing I’ve exercised for the longest stretch ever. “And what if you don’t make it?” that little, fear-filled ego voice inside my head asks me. I imagine being gentle with myself; telling my heart that I’m proud of it for trying, and that it took a lot of courage to put myself out here. I’ll tell my heart that it can never be a failure, and I’ll always stand by it, no matter what; and what relief and safety I’ll feel, just hearing those things from myself. This is new thinking for me; the kind of thinking that will leave me feeling safe, relaxed, and optimistic. I think I’ll take those feelings over the image of an unrecognizable, bikini-clad self any day.

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A few days ago, I blogged about unsweetening my morning coffee routine; I had decided that, for a time, I would eliminate any form of sweetener from my morning coffee. In doing so, I had anticipated feeling “free, proud, and lighter.” Well, I’m here to tell you that I feel bound, frustrated, and desperate. DANG!…

This seemingly small change – eliminating sugar and sweetener from my morning coffee – has actually been the hardest health and fitness change I’ve undertaken since I started this journey to fitness and wellness [a couple of weeks ago]. Every morning, I hover in front of the sugar, wondering if I could just add a *little bit* to my coffee: “I mean, it’s not like the heaping tablespoons I used to add. A little teaspoon won’t hurt. I’ll feel sooo much better if I add just a wee bit. Come on.” And every morning, I resist: “Think of how good you’ll feel – how proud and free – if you know you can make it through without having to depend on sugar to kickstart your day. This is a really healthy change for you. You can go through your day, knowing you started it off with a really health choice. You can do it. Move away from the sugar. Good, you can do it.” If someone was filming from the outside, they’d wonder if I was having a stroke or some kind of seizure: frozen in time and space, turning from side to side.

I feel good about myself for being able to keep my eye on the wellness, but I do miss the sugar… a lot. It brought me a sense of comfort I wasn’t fully aware of until it was gone. The mornings just don’t feel right without it. I’m hoping that will change. In the meantime, I wonder how I can replace that experience with something that’s healthy for me.

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This past week – Week 3 of my journey to fitness – I worked out five times. In addition to my much-loved treadmill routine, I learned how to do the weights at my gym, and I tried a new cardio machine (THE bike). After only three weeks of exercise, I find myself feeling more relaxed, more confident and more optimistic. I’ve noticed that I’m a bit slimmer in the sides, too. This rocks.

Week 4 of the adventure starts tomorrow (i.e., Sunday). My fitness goals for this week are the following:

 

  • Do run:walk intervals of 5:2, with the running speed of 5.2 miles/hr. (I’m going to follow the advice of one of my readers, and increase pace, at this point, rather than focus on increasing distance. I followed her advice yesterday, and it almost killed me! But it was a good thing; I pushed through faster run intervals, and came out smiling and relaxed.
  • Lift weights 3 times.
  • Schedule in my workouts before the start of Week 4 (i.e., before tomorrow!).

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Something amazing happened when I went to the gym on Wednesday. Something magical, really… When I got to the gym after work, I was really stressed out. I found myself focussed, like a little laser beam, on all of those aspects of my work that bring me down. Now, don’t get my wrong: objectively speaking, I have a pretty incredible job. But lately, I’ve been battling the sense that I’m in the wrong place, and I’ve felt overwhelmed by my out-of-placeness and unsure of what to do to resolve the situation. So, about twenty minutes into my 40-minute stint on the treadmill, I was absolutely astounded when I realized that my whole perspective had shifted; I knew the problems and questions hadn’t been resolved; nevertheless, I had palpable a feeling of security and wellness that told me life was more than okay. I just couldn’t believe this sense of well-being that washed over me. “Is this what happens when people exercise?!” I wondered, incredulous. I mean, I had never experienced such a thing. If this is one of the benefits of working out, I can understand why so many people want to pound the pavement day after day! Now, how can I keep that feeling all day long? I wonder if there’s a kind of runner’s high that lasts all day…

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I’m really surprised at how fast my running is improving. Yesterday, I went to the gym with the intention of doing a 5:3 ratio for my run-walk intervals on the treadmill. I was really surprised to discover that doing a 6:3 ratio was a piece of cake! This week, I’d upped some of my run intervals from 4.6 miles/hr to 5 miles/hr, 5.2 miles/hr, and even 5.5 miles/hr. I’m trying to work on time *and* speed because my first fitness goal – to run 5k in 35 minutes by March – involves both distance and a time limit. When I kept the speed at 4.6 miles/hr, four six-minute running intervals seemed incredibly easy… and even produced some kind of runner’s high! My running goal for this week was to alternate between running and walking at a 5:3 ratio (with the intention of moving to a 5:2 ratio next week). I’m not sure if I should stay with the longer run interval (i.e., 6 minutes at a time at 4.6 miles/hr) or increase the speed of a smaller run interval (i.e., 5 minutes at a time at 5.0, 5.2, or 5.5 miles/hr). Any thoughts or suggestions?

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I love my morning coffee. The anticipation starts the night before, just as I’m getting ready for bed. I love the warmth of a cuppa-cuppa first thing in the morning. I love the richness of the cream. And top on my list, I think, is the sweet, sweet sugar I add to my primary caffeine source.

A few days ago, I decided to start drinking my coffee without sugar or any other form of sweetener. I want to see how I feel when I offer up this ritual. I imagine I’ll feel free, proud, and lighter. I think the sugar thing is a dependency, one I can do without. I know it will be hard to give up, but I’m going to give it a shot. A quiet ode to my body, to my Self, and to my loved ones!

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Okay, so, I’m loving the running routine. This is (mid-)Week 3 of my journey to find fitness. Since I first started working out 2.5 weeks ago, I’ve worked out 9 times. Every day, I feel proud of the fact that I’m doing something good for my little heart. My hope is that blogging my progress will help to keep up my momentum over the long run.

I do run-walk intervals, something I learned about when I first tried running a few years ago. At the start of Week 3, I decided to push myself to try 5-minute run intervals. These would be coupled with my then-standard 2-minute walk intervals. That first day, the 5-minute stretches of running were really hard; breathing was a challenge and my heart felt like it was going to burst. Rather than discourage myself, I decided to increase my walk intervals to 3 minutes each; my hope was that a longer walk interval would give me enough recovery time, between runs, to keep my routine pleasant and safe.

So, what I’ve planned for myself are 3-minute walk intervals for this week and 2-minute walk intervals for next week. The week after that (i.e., Week 5), I’ll introduce 6-minute run intervals. This week, I’ll also be learning about weight lifting at the gym. Once I’ve had the chance to see what that’s like tonight, I’ll start to plan for my second fitness goal, lifting weights 2-3 times per week.

Both this week and next, my plan is to hit the gym at least four times a week. My workout week starts on Sunday. So far this week, I’ve worked out three times – woohooo! :)

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