When I see people I haven’t seen in a long time, I am usually met with surprise at the changes I’ve made. After the “You look great!” comments, which of course I love, the questions start. “How’d you do this?” “What motivated you?”
Answering the how is easy: Eating healthier and exercise.
Answering the why is a lot harder. What was my motivation? Why did it work this time when it hadn’t in the past? That’s the $6 million dollar question.
I’ve always told people that I was turning 50 and I didn’t want to feel old. And that’s what I told myself too. But I knew that wasn’t the whole reason. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. After all, the age factor didn’t help when I was turning 30 or even 40.
I’ve thought about this often during the journey. Why, this time, is it easier to control what I eat? What makes me get out of bed at 5:45 and go swim or run or get on a bike? Why am I going to the gym this week to pay them more money so I can start Pilates and Yoga classes? What makes me believe that this is the time these changes will stick?
The answer came to me when I was writing yesterday’s post about swimming in the ocean after a long time away.
I had gotten to a point where I was allowing my weight and my fitness level to impose limits on what I could and couldn’t do.
Of course, we all have limits. I’ll never be an olympic gymnast, for example, and I can’t play golf to save my life. I wouldn’t have aspired to those sports when I was 14 either. But I used to love swimming in the ocean. And I had stopped because I was out of shape and afraid that I couldn’t do that anymore.
At 48, I tore two rotator cuff tendons, a bicep tendon, and developed bursitis and arthritis in my left shoulder. Don’t ask me how. I’m not really sure. But it hurt to move my arm so I didn’t. And my shoulder froze and for four painful months, I couldn’t move my arm. Physical therapy and time helped me get my range of motion back. I didn’t need surgery, thank goodness. But I will never be completely pain-free in that shoulder. Had I been in better physical condition, maybe I wouldn’t have damaged my shoulder. Or even if I had, maybe my recovery would have been easier.
I’m getting older. There is no stopping the clock. And I’m ok with that. As long as I don’t let my age get in the way of the things I want to do in my life. I realized as I approached 50 that it wasn’t my age so much as my fitness level that was limiting me. Getting winded going up stairs, being uncomfortable in a plane seat or walking on a beach, worrying that I was going to break a horse I was riding on vacation when I was only 20 pounds below the weight limit (that’s a whole different story!).
And it was more than that. When I bought my car in 2007, the seat was a little too small to be really comfortable. My knees hurt always and I couldn’t crouch down. Going up and down stairs to do laundry…ugh. I would get so winded. Walking anywhere carrying stuff would hurt my back. Activities I always enjoyed, I avoided.
I could have just continued to contribute my limitations to getting older. I know people who do that. But I also knew that wasn’t really the case. When I started Weight Watchers in July of 2008, I knew I had to do something. Did I think Weight Watchers was the thing? Not really. I figured I’d start and stop the way I always had before. And then something wonderful happened. I lost a few pounds and started walking again. And I felt better. And there was more energy. And I felt younger again and the whole thing just clicked.
I think then, even though I may not have consciously realized it until Saturday, subconsciously, I knew that my age wasn’t setting the limits. My fitness level was. From there, I’ve gone on to lose 60 pounds and participate in triathlons. And I’m planning to run a half marathon next year too. Why? Because I can. Because I’m redefining my limits.
I’m realistic as to how long it may take to reach these goals, but I’m not going to let my weight and fitness level stop me anymore from trying. Enough limits are placed on us from forces we can’t necessarily control. But I’m done limiting myself with unhealthy habits and a body that I’d forgotten had so much strength.
What’s limiting you and what can you do to change it?