August 3, 2008

Take the Road to Fitness, and Stay the Course

Heather Johnson is a success story of exercising for fitness and enjoyment. She tells her story.

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I took the fitness route a little late in life; although I did play basketball and just about every other sport all through school and college, it was more on a casual basis and not in an effort to increase my stamina or get healthy. The last thing on your mind as a teenager is the drive to play a sport as a form of exercise or to get fit. It’s when you reach your late 20s and begin to see the gradual changes around your hips and thighs, when friends teasingly comment on how round and chubby your face looks these days, when you see a stranger looking at you from the mirror, when the button on your jeans refuses to shake hands with the fastener on the other side, and when the bathroom scales groan even as you walk past them, that you realize you must do something drastic to regain the figure you carried all those years ago.

And so I looked around for the best ways to lose weight; I tried dieting, but that didn’t seem to last long – it’s extremely hard to gulp down bread and soup when those around you are gorging on delicious food with nary a care in the world. For a while you tell yourself that it’s ok if you’re a little plump, and forget your resolution to lose weight. But when you huff and puff to climb the stairs to bed every night, the nightmares of looking like an elephant wake you up at 5 am and you hit the roads for a jog. Things were on track for a day or two, after which the toll of waking up before it’s daylight and the aches and pains in your legs lull you to shut off the alarm and turn over to go back into the land of slumber.

I realized I needed a plan, one that would enable me to stick to my resolution to lose weight, come hell or high water. I looked around for a sport I could play and found a squash club on my way to work. Not satisfied with my daily hour of the game, I cajoled a friend into joining me during my morning jog. The power of two was definitely greater than one, as each of us motivated the other and had bets going on who was going to register the first 5 lbs loss. I also invested in an exercise bike and combined my TV times with at least 10 miles of cycling.

The biggest motivator of course was the reading on the scales – when I saw that I had lost a couple of pounds more than my target, I cut down on my calorie intake in an effort to expedite the reduction process. I started eating just fruits and salads for dinner. I did reap the rewards of my labor a year later when I found that I lost around 40 lbs. Changes in my life did not allow me the freedom of devoting more than an hour to exercise every day, but the new me balked at going back to the pudgy person I had been a year ago. I had to decide which of my activities I wanted to keep and which I had to sacrifice. It was a tough choice, but I went with squash and gave up the rest.

When someone asks me how I stayed motivated all year long, I have only this to say:
- Choose something you love – I enjoyed squash the most, which is why I chose to retain it as a part of my life.

- Vary your routine so that it does not get monotonous – I had more than one activity going simultaneously, so if I got bored with one, I would just spend more time at the other.

- Don’t give up until you start to see a change in the way you look and feel – once you reach this stage, you’ll never look back.

- Get someone to exercise with you – it’s harder to stop when you know someone else is dependent on you.
Go ahead then and exercise; it’s never too late to start, and always too soon to quit before you’ve seen results.

By-line:

This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who writes on the subject of EKG Technician. She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.

2 comments:

Sherri said...

I love those quotes! great read

robison52 said...

I don't know much about Squash, except it's a vegetable...well, I might have exaggerated a little. Would be nice to find a runner partner to keep myself motivated, sadly my work hours are long and unusual to find anyone willing to workout in the late mornings during the fall months.