Do Better, Feel Better


A few weeks ago, I mentioned that my focus here was going to shift slightly when I got back from all of my trips. I didn’t mean to hype that up at all, because the shift isn’t as exciting as it may have sounded… it’s just something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and I know that now is the right time to start taking action on some of those thoughts.

First, let’s backtrack a bit. Two years ago, I said I was done making excuses. After years of carrying more extra weight than I cared to admit (although I did reveal the magic number back then), I finally felt so uncomfortable in my own skin that I had to make a change. Out of nowhere, I went from being a complete couch potato to someone who was up at 5:30 a.m., out the door and at the gym by 6 a.m.

I was doing that 4-5 days/week for a good 4 months (and lost 24 lbs. in the process), before I finished school and decided to spend my first few months of freedom getting blackout drunk instead. I still snuck in a few workouts and hikes here and there, but my focus was lost in a haze of hangovers. By the end of that summer, I was so unhappy with my life in Victoria that I knew I was ready for a big change; that change came in the form of a job offer from across the country. I quit my job, packed up my life and moved just 19 days later.

I made every excuse in the book not to workout in Toronto. It was too cold, there were no cheap community rec centres, the gym was too expensive… and there was no time. (With my commute, I was out of the house for at least 12 hours/day, so that one was true.) But the full truth is that I just didn’t want to make the effort. I’d lost a few more pounds and, even though I hadn’t reached my goal weight, I felt “good enough”.

Fast forward to the spring. While hibernating that winter, I’d gained a few pounds back; it wasn’t much, but I still didn’t feel good about it. So, when I moved to Vancouver (and took my job with me), I decided to take advantage of the warmer climate and get serious about running again. I registered for what would’ve been my first half marathon and started running 2-3 days/week. (That first run around Queen’s Park in New West hurt so much!) I also started exploring trails all over the Lower Mainland, and even hiked the Chief.

I was just starting to get into a routine, when I was in a car accident last July. And even though I knew I was injured right away, I never imagined it would affect my life as much as it did, or that I’d still be in pain today.

It was 5 months before I set foot in a gym again, where the pain from my eagerness to run on a treadmill quickly showed me that I couldn’t (and still can’t). Based on my injuries, I’m forced to do other activities I don’t enjoy as much (swimming and cycling versus running and hiking). And no matter what I do, it all hurts – not as much as before, but enough to slow me down. As a result, I’ve gained a few more pounds, and now I’m back in that place where I don’t feel comfortable in my skin again.

It’s not about the numbers. In fact, I can’t tell you the last time I stepped on a scale. It’s the way my jeans feel when I sit down; the extra tug at my shirt to cover my stomach; the way my favourite jacket fits. I’m over it.

My mantra for 2014 was to “do good, feel good”, and part of that was to simply “be good to my body” – but I think it’s time to do better. After 8.5 months, I’m finally at a place in my recovery where I can afford to push myself a little harder. I want my early morning workouts back – even if I can only manage to squeeze in 30-45 minutes before work. My physiotherapist also suggested I do 1-2 sessions with a personal trainer, so they can give me a routine that will work around my injury and help me strengthen a few areas. Now that I’m home and have no major travel plans on the horizon, it seems like the perfect time to get started.

Over the past few days, I’ve been trying to decide how I can adjust my routine to incorporate more workouts. The first thing I need to do is start waking up at 6 a.m. every day Monday through Friday. Even if I don’t plan on working out some mornings, my alarm needs to go off at the same time every day, or I’ll stay in the habit of hiding under the warm covers and skipping the gym. Next week, I’m also starting a new course of treatment in my recovery: I’ll be getting cold laser therapy on my hip twice/week for a minimum of 3 weeks (longer if it’s helping). Knowing that, I think my workout routine will look something like this:

Monday: Early morning workout / Cold laser therapy in the afternoon
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Early morning workout / Cold laser therapy in the afternoon
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday/Sunday: Walk, swim or workout

Nothing crazy there… I just need to build it back into my routine, and find a balance between pushing myself but not too hard. The other change I’m making is to my diet – but we can talk about that next week.

If you only had 30 minutes to workout, what would you do in that time?

Flickr: airmanmagazine