Friday, January 19, 2018

On January and Self-Improvement

So this year I decided to give some of that "New Year, new me" thinking the old college try (instead of just making fun of other people for doing it). Surprisingly, it's actually working out so far. Sometime around Halloween, Seth and I decided we were getting really tired of being so out of shape, so we bought some exercise equipment. Nothing super fancy -- just a stationary bike, a Gazelle Edge, and a set of resistance bands to start with -- things we could realistically picture ourselves using on a regular basis. Then after New Year's, I started working out. Not just "whenever" either. I actually came up with a consistent schedule that I've been sticking to. 

Monday through Friday I've been doing 30 minutes of cardio right when I get up before work or anything else has a chance to demand my ongoing attention. In addition to that, I've been doing some very basic strength training on Tuesdays and Thursdays after my cardio. Although my eating habits have honestly been pretty decent lately, I've been more mindful in that arena as well. Just the usual things -- watching my portions, cutting back on empty calories, and eating as much fresh produce as possible. Most mornings, I've also been taking the time to eat at least a small breakfast -- usually just toast and fruit with coffee, but sometimes an egg or some deli meat and cheese on an English muffin if I'm hungrier. 

The idea wasn't to drop a million pounds as quickly as possible the way it normally is when I think about fitness, but to actually come up with something sustainable I could see sticking with permanently. I don't want to do what I've watched my mother do the entire time I've been alive -- let her health and quality of life slide downhill until she eventually reached a point where she probably couldn't do much about it even if she wanted to. When I'm her age, I want to be healthy, happy, comfortable in my own skin, and living my best life. I guess I realized that if that's going to happen, I need to get the ball rolling toward some positive change and it seems to be working so far.

I didn't expect to notice a difference so quickly, but I have to admit that I do. I have more energy and less of that nagging chronic pain I've just learned to live with 24/7. I'm also already getting stronger and can tell I've lost a couple of pounds. (I'm purposefully not weighing myself yet so as not to become too preoccupied with weight.) Best of all, I've actually been sticking with it and feel like I can do so more or less indefinitely, which is the real goal. On my good days, I even enjoy it and look forward to it!

I also like that this has helped me reclaim my mornings and make them at least partially about me again. I've spent the better part of the past year making breakfast for my mother every day because of her health problems, which means I'm almost always the first and only one in my household up at the start of the day. I'm the sort of person that really resents being stuck with any sort of responsibility, especially if I'm the only one, so my attitude about all of this has honestly been pretty sour and getting worse all the time. I really missed being able to do as I liked in the mornings instead of getting up solely to do something for someone else that they really ought to be doing for themselves.

Taking that time to improve and nourish my body first thing (as well as pray -- something else I need to be doing more of) has done a lot to make me feel like I'm prioritizing myself and taking the time to actually enjoy my mornings the way I deserve to. I also love the optimistic feeling that comes with knowing I'll wake up every day a little bit stronger and healthier than I was the day before. At one point in the past, I was reasonably fit and very well-groomed in general. I felt like what I saw when I looked in the mirror was consistent with the proud, creative, valuable person I know myself to be inside. I'm looking forward to that being the case again one day soon.