Throwback Thursday: Where it all began, almost ten months ago

Sometimes, especially when I’ve had, say, a situation or two to solve on the previous day, or week (or worse: when it feels like everything is hitting the fan), I have a hard time remembering how much progress I’ve made in my health. That’s when I play the “One Year Ago” game.

When you're having a hard time remembering all that you've already achieved, play the "One Year Ago" game. Where were you a year ago? Where are you today? What went well? What's next? (Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
When you’re having a hard time remembering all that you’ve already achieved, play the “One Year Ago” game. Where were you a year ago? Where are you today? What went well? What’s next? (Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

It’s pretty simple. Ask yourself one simple question: Where were you a year ago? Take notes. Pay attention. Realize how much you’ve accomplished and grown.  That makes moving forward with today’s challenges much easier, because in your heart, you know you can do it, because you’ve already done it before.

We sometimes forget how much we change and grow, because it all happens so gradually. One time I played the game with a friend who realized that even though she was still in the process of losing a significant amount of weight, she was thirty pounds lighter than she had been one year earlier, and she had forgotten to give herself credit for that amazing achievement.

So in the spirit of looking back, today’s Throwback Thursday post is the one that launched Every48 last year. Things are better today, almost ten months later, even when things go a little haywire. Today’s a day when remembering that is helping me. My wish for you today is that it helps you as well.

Every 48 hours, a workout. For a year.

[Originally published on December 28, 2013.]

I’m here to test a theory and to document the effort. I think exercise is medicine. I’m not the only one – it’s a movement spearheaded by the American College of Sports Medicine (http://exerciseismedicine.org/) to encourage all health professionals to review every patient’s personal exercise program as part of their routine medical care, because we’re seeing more and more evidence every day that regular, vigorous exercise is a game-changer for health as we age. A bunch of scientific literature has led us down this path – summarized nicely in books like Younger Next Year and its spinoff titles (I’m a fan – they’re fun reads). And I’m slightly obsessed with thinking about what comes next, for all of us on this particular journey.

I’m a modest weight-loss success story, as these things go – no extreme before-and-after photos here, just thirty to forty less pounds (depending on, ahem, my activity level) on this body than were there five years ago. And it’s a big thirty to forty pounds – my BMI hovers around 22 now (down from 28, solidly in the “overweight” range) and my clothing sizes look about right for my height. I’m not skin and bones and never will be – but I’m healthy, way healthier than I was when this all started a few years ago.

So, what’s next?

What’s next is that even though my weight has stayed off pretty much this whole time, I’ve been in a mental rut for the past couple of years. Been there, done that, got the marathon PR (personal record) and the half-marathon PR (a speeeeeeedy one for this former turtle) – and then got on the  Rut-Go-Round and somehow lost my mojo to improve as an athlete and really nail my most comfortable year-round weight. Except when I’m at my leanest (I call it “race weight” because that’s when 5K’s fly by), I feel like I’m always slightly “off,” eating just a little more here or there, not being active enough, letting the head get cloudy now and then with sedentary turtle-like behaviors. Like watching TV late at night and being amazed when a munchie suddenly jumps into my mouth. Hmmmm.

Then I remembered: everything in my life in the last five years has gone its best when I was really active. Not “Olympic athlete” active (that level of activity isn’t healthy – the Olympians would be the first to tell you that). Not “PR in every race” active. But, solidly, at least four days a week of cardiovascular activity – the stuff that makes your heart beat fast enough that you can’t say more than a few words at a time – for an hour, give or take.

So, here we are.

It’s December 26, 2013 and it’s time to ring in the New Year with a plan. This is #every48. Every 48 hours for the next year of my life, I will commit to doing at least one hour of vigorous cardio activity. I’ll log it here. And at the end of the year, we’ll see where we are: weight, health, marathons (yes, there’s a big goal still stalking me in that category), all of the important blood tests and other markers of health – and the one nobody can measure except ourselves: true wellness.

I’ll be here to tell the tale. What happens on the days when I’m tired? When I can’t get to the gym and it’s raining? When I don’t “feel like it”? That doesn’t matter. Every 48 hours, minimum, I’ll be moving hard for an hour.

How about you?

[And back to real time: October 16, 2014.]

Yesterday’s Every48 workout: A fabulous RUN on the treadmill, early. I was done by 8:40 a.m., and my goal for the remainder of this year is to get as many workouts in before 8 a.m. as I can, because it makes all the difference in my day.  (Treadmill note: it was raining outside and I needed to do a speed workout. I am not ashamed to admit that I can’t stand running in the rain. Blech.) Anyway, I digress. The workout was 6 repeats of 800 meters at a solid tempo pace for my upcoming December marathon – five miles total distance with warmup, cool down, and 2-minute walking breaks in between each 800-meter repeat. Total time: 50 minutes. What it gave me yesterday: great energy to get through the day.

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