Saturday, April 13, 2019

Getting a Move On

It's been a long, cold, dark, and dreary winter and much of it, I'll be honest, I didn't want to move a whole lot. I did really well walking through the late fall and then transitioning to working out at the Y, primarily using the bike for a cardio workout and walking the track, through all of January, but then in February, I started to slowly but surely find reasons to not go to the Y for this reason or that. My work schedule was legitimately difficult in February and March, my "free" time, well, let's just say the phrase "free time" was a bit of an oxymoron. My husband became unemployed and our routine was seriously rocked. And, as I mentioned, it was dark and cold and I just didn't want to leave the house when I got home from work. And so I didn't. True confession time. However, I did some things differently than I had done in the past when the winter doldrums had set in. This last winter's strategy was entirely different from that of winter's past and I believe it is a testament to my new lifestyle and my new way of thinking.

First, I continued to eat a wonderfully vibrant and healthful whole food plant-based diet 100 percent of the time without fail. That's just not negotiable. It's my food now. It never even occurred to me eat anything differently. No drive thrus. No pizza runs. No processed junk from the store. Just the fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes that have served me so well over the last 11 months.

Second, while I wasn't consistently going to the Y to have a proper workout (I did go occasionally and once in a while I caught a yoga class), I kept moving each and every day. A wise doctor once told me that the longest lived people in the world, those that live in the Blue Zones (check out Dan Buettner's book of the same title) don't spend copious, or maybe even any, hours at the gym, they just move and move a lot. They walk or ride a bike to their destination, they work the land, they garden, do physical labor. In other words, they don't sit on their rears looking at TV or their devices, they get out and enjoy the fresh air and do it while moving "about the cabin." So, I remembered that nugget of wisdom and I got a move on each and every day. I used my Fitbit to track my steps and I held myself accountable. I parked farther from the store door not closer. I made the effort to get up from my desk more often than not. I did tasks like going downstairs to do the laundry or vacuuming maybe a little less efficiently so that it required me to take more steps. And it felt good. Last winter I sat in my recliner and was stiff and tired when I got out of it to walk to another room. That's no longer the case. The pain that I had from just sitting is a thing of the past. Movement, it turns out, is one of the anecdotes for pain. That and a whole food plant-based diet that nourishes every part of being and reduces inflammation.

Third, I didn't beat myself up about it. I recognized that I was struggling to go to the gym for a few different reasons: the weather was gross, my schedule was awful,  and I had recently changed my workout routine at just the wrong time and I did not adjust to it well. Beating myself up wouldn't have served any productive purpose. I recognized I was struggling and focused on other positive aspects of my life. I was eating really, really well (my weight continued to drop, albeit more slowly). I was journaling, which was one of my goals for 2019. I was working on sharing the message about WFPB living, another goal. I was accomplishing a lot of really great things and I knew that in due time I would get back to movement. For everything there is a season.

Finally, I made a plan for how I would get myself out of this workout slump. Because while moving like the Blue Zone folks was great, it wasn't going to get me to the finish line of my weight loss goal. I knew that my next fitness goal included cycling. Walking had ceased to be a true fitness challenge for me and I still need to build core strength before I can give running a real go. In order to build that core strength, I need to drop the final 30 or 40 pounds and I think cycling is going to help me do that. So I started shopping for my bike, making decisions from what kind of bike I wanted (did I want to ride on the road, on trails, or both?) to what color I wanted. Tangerine, please. Budgeting commenced and finally I was able to order the bike and purchase all of the accoutrements that I decided I "needed."

I've had my beautiful bike for a couple of weeks now and the rain has conspired to keep me off it for the most part but I'm getting to know her just the same. My first foray was a quick spin around the block, which is when I realized I really don't know how to work the gears. So after a few videos, I’m a little better off but that's still a definite work in progress. I have a plan for that, too. My next ride was just a quick two miles in town, the length of the ride thwarted by a hill I didn't know how to negotiate because I don't understand the gears. That's okay. It was still fun to get out for a bit.

But today the promised rain never came so I knew it was my chance to go for a longer ride. Still not knowing how to use the gears to my advantage to get up hills, I decided to try the Katy Trail. I'm so fortunate to live nearby. I told my husband I was going to get on the trail at Dutzow, not knowing which direction I would go or for how far I would ride. Remember, just 11 months ago I was doing my food prep sitting at the kitchen table because it hurt to stand so riding a bike for any length of time less than a year later seems a bit unbelievable to me. Once I got to the trail and looked at the distance markers between Dutzow and Marthasville, I set my sights on the 7.4 mile round trip ride. It's flat, or at least I figured it would be, and it wouldn't require me to use my gears. It's cool out today and really a perfect day for a beginner to take a ride. And so I did. I saw lots of scenery that I never saw from my recliner and I felt pretty darn proud of myself for getting back at it, for moving and pushing myself to do things just a little outside of my comfort zone. And to that end I have a goal to pursue with my tangerine bike so I need to stay persistent, which is why I set goals. I've learned that about myself over the last months. Identify the need, set the goal, go for it.

I'll keep riding the Katy Trail to just work on my stamina but I'm also getting some help with those gears so I can begin trying some road riding and working on learning how to get up those hills. There's a bit of a learning curve with this cycling hobby and that's okay. Learning is good. Challenge is good. Pushing boundaries is good. Feeling well enough to do all of these things is very, very good. Until next time. Be Bold. Eat Plants.

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