Taking the time to revamp my life - in 9 days!
Contributor
Hi fellow Shewriters, I have taken a week off of my corporate job to spend the week viewing my life under a microscope to ensure I'm on track. I've been chronicling my progress in my blog at www.fashionista2passionista.com (soon to be a book). Here's a sample from yesterday's post: So you've taken a little time out and given some thought to your bucket list. You've determined there are a few things you'd like to experience while you still have the balance to kick at the can without falling on yours. Good for you! Here was my recent, illuminating experience with that process. I determined that my biggest bucket list item was to swim with whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium. Delighted with my new goal, I began to reverse-engineer this dream: Swim with sharks. Obtain scuba certification. Be able to swim 200 meters/yards. Try on one-piece bathing suit that's been in my drawer for years. Get bikini wax. Try on one-piece bathing suit that's been in my drawer for years. Despite much whining and moaning from my inner workaholic who has no time for such frivolities as joy, off I went to the pool. At 50, this is not as simple as it was when I was 30, which is probably the last time I was in a pool. I used to take the kids for family swim time, however, what I was doing couldn't be called swimming. I was just there to make sure the kids didn't drown. As a child I could swim like a fish, but that was a distant memory. So, standing firm in my desire to actually DO SOMETHING other than work, off I went. What fun I had. I did a short workout first to warm myself up. I wore my bathing suit and a pair of sweat pants because I am nothing if not efficient. I figured after my workout, I could just remove the sweat pants, and voila! I'd be ready for the pool. However, I wear a panty liner when I work out (no need to go into detail, but any woman with children or over 40 knows why), and I forgot to remove it when I stowed my sweats in my locker. I tucked my hair under my swim cap, donned a pair of goggles, and entered the pool area. I should point out here that I am near-sighted. I thought it a good idea to wear my contact lenses and then my goggles so I would be able to see the end of the pool before I crashed headlong into it. The pool was empty save a lone woman doing laps at the far end. I climbed down the ladder, and pushed off from the shallow end in a surprisingly fluid front crawl (it seems it's like riding a bike). Very quickly the following things happened. 1. I realized I'd forgotten to remove the pantyliner from my suit when it suddenly felt as though there was a wet sponge between my legs (and not in a good way), and 2. I hadn't affixed my goggles properly. They promptly half filled up with water which in turn slid the contacts off my eyeballs so I could see nothing but mini aquariums with pale blue discs floating around in them in front of me. I also ran out of air and energy before I made it the length of the pool, which was 25 ft long. Super. It is a sobering moment when you experience an ephiphany - I want to do THIS! - and you realize you are nowhere near qualified/able/capable to do so. Talk about a smack in the face with a hard dose of reality. I may have the money to go to Georgia, but I don't have the ability to get my certification. A hard fact had to be accepted: I am in terrible physical shape. I had the fitness level to work an office job and manage a home, which is all I'd really done in the past two decades. I realized the fittest I'd been was when both kids were small and I could haul them and their equipment around without blinking an eye. But no more. It was time to take my physical self seriously. Damn it. A dear friend of mine says that whenever the urge to exercise strikes, she sits down until it goes away. While this is appealing to me on many levels, it's not going to get me a space beside a whale shark. And so I began to focus on wellness, both with regards to diet and exercise. Again, it boils down to choices and options. I am annoyed at myself for closing doors that I now have to make a real effort to pry open. A naturally thin person, I never had to exercise to maintain my figure. Unfortunately, while my outsides fit nicely into my clothes, my insides have taken a shit-kicking. I have very little strength, stamina, or flexibility. I have high blood pressure (workaholic anyone?) and osteopenia (that sounds vaguely sexual but it means the stage before osteoporosis - I've broken my wrist twice in the last 7 years). This done not bode well for some of the activities I want to include on my bucket list. Sure Bob, I'll happily participate in this ziplining thing you've got going. Just let me surround myself in ten layers of bubble wrap and I'm good to go!. I travel a few times a year for business and sometimes I'm hauling around luggage that weighs more than 50 pounds. Depending on the size of the airport, I can end up winded by the time I get to my gate. This has become entirely unacceptable to me. Here's my definition of fitness: The ability to haul my body weight around, have enough stamina to run somewhere if I need to, and be flexible enough to, say, get into my Mustang without putting out my back. As it turns out, this is also basically the fitness description of the Crossfit plan. My ex-husband mentioned this philosophy to me and it made sense so that is the fitness plan I have decided to follow. (I was making progress a few months back after the swimming debacle but then I bought my 'stang and starting focusing on my writing and, well, the fitness part took a back seat.) My point is, I've given it a try,and it actually works. Regardless of whether you follow the Crossfit Plan or not, my advice to you is to do something. Here is my diet and exercise plan in a nutshell. The Crossfit plan is basically the Zone diet. Every meal consists of 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. Portion control is very important and it's based on portions called "blocks". They have a handy-dandy PDF document I downloaded which is posted on my fridge. There is a sheet that outlines the block portions for all desirable foods, and one for undesirable carbs. (Sadly, red wine is on the undesirable carb list but it's still there - 4 oz is one block!) Based on your body type, you determine your portions (how many blocks you should eat). I can follow this plan easily. I find that by sticking to this menu plan, I have better digestion, assimilation, and elimination. All good things. This may not be for you, but my point is that you need to find what menu plan works best for you. Everyone's body is different, and what works for me may not work for you. The Crossfit philosophy focuses on whole fitness which includes strength, stamina, and flexibility. They have a great article defining fitness and you can download it here. This simply made sense to me. As a result, I have created a workout schedule which includes weight training, aerobic conditioning, and flexibilty training. Here's the downside: It takes a lot of time and effort. Sadly, I won't get fit watching people do what I want to do on Discovery Channel. I actually have to get my ass up and moving. There's no way around it. I could simply give up and say I'll be happy to walk my dog, enjoy the culture of my city, and indulge in cerebral pursuits. But that's just not enough for me. And so, I am going to have to put in some serious effort. And not just for now. For good. It needs to become part of my lifestyle. The good news is - it works! I saw measurable results within a couple of weeks of swimming. Same for weights and interval running. Unfortunately, I lost all the progress I'd made over the last few months while I focused on other things. That's the catch - you gotta keep it up. Always. So, here's my workout schedule. May not work for you, and yes, it takes a lot of time. But be honest, what else would you be doing? Are you engaging in activities which will ensure a longer, healthier, more productive life? Or are you indulging in your guilty pleasures and watching Jersey Shore? (God Almighty, what a train wreck. If I could say anything positive, it would be that "The Situation" has the discipline to adhere to a strict fitness routine - and he has the abs to prove it.) Here goes: Monday: strength training, swimming Tuesday: off Wednesday: Pilates, running Thursday: strength straining, swimming Friday: off Saturday: Pilates; running Sunday: Yoga In addition to this, I do my version of a yoga sun salutation every morning, walk the dog for 30 mins every morning and evening, and do sit ups (not crunches, actual sit ups) and push ups (on the third stair) when I return from the walks. Yes, it's a lot of work. But give it some serious thought. I can't speak for you but I want to be here for a lot longer. I have a lot to do, a lot I've put off, a lot to experience. I need my health, and a decent level of fitness, to manage that. And I can no longer fool myself into thinking that walking the dog twice a day or vigorously folding the laundry is doing the trick. I found that out when I couldn't make it to the other side of a 25 ft pool. Make sure fitness, in whatever form you can manage, but that challenges you, is part of your regular routine. Make sure you are fueling your body with whole foods, and not preservatives and things you can't pronounce. For my 50th birthday in October, I have scheduled a photo shoot to document this milestone. I'll be posting the pics on my site, and you can see the results of my efforts. I was diligent for May and June, and have done nothing the last 6 weeks. Time to get back on track. Why don't you join me?

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