By Brenda Tadych
The conversations in my head went something like this:
“When you were 25, you could exercise for an hour before breaking a sweat!
“But Brenda, that was half a lifetime ago! I was also 80 pounds lighter, and I worked 15 less hours a week!”
I’m hard on myself, but that’s never going to change. I’m probably my biggest critic, but I’m also my biggest cheerleader.
If you remember in my last column, I reported on my 3-phase quest to improve my overall health and wellness. All is well and balanced now with regards to my digestion, hormones and adrenals thanks to my naturopathy pilgrimage - the first phase of my self-improvement odyssey.
On to my next challenge: Exercise. Seriously? I was so depleted at the end of the work day I couldn’t imagine climbing on my NordicTrack or lifting weights. The treadmill I could handle - maybe - but I was clueless about how fast to go or what incline I should be using. I weighed more and was post-menopausal and less active than I used to be so I had no idea what my safe and effective treadmill workout should be.
That’s when I noticed a personal training business I had driven past at least a hundred times. For the record, regular gyms bore the heck out of me. Yet, through the window of this establishment, I could see people doing what, to my eyes anyway, seemed to be unorthodox workouts. It wasn’t crowded. There weren’t high-end, high-tech machines with built-in TVs or WiFi. Instead, there were pulleys, heavy bull ropes and people digging deep to hold their squat position against the wall for a few more seconds. I spied a man swinging his leg back and forth over an orange pylon (surely that had to be harder than it looked!) Nevertheless, I felt a connection to this place.
I got the go-ahead from my doctor and signed up for a month of training, twice a week for an hour each time. I wasn’t sure I could achieve my fitness goal in those eight hours, but it’s what I could afford and it was a start. My thinking was I could learn enough to continue to do those workouts at home when my month’s training was over. I put on my workout pants and began.
The petite personal trainer looked like she could probably participate in an Ironman Challenge and kill it. She may have been empathetic to the bleary-eyed office workers like me who mustered their last ounce of energy to drag their overloaded brains and tired asses into the gym, but sympathetic? NO! She kicked my butt!
I thought I would die when she told me that my warm up - my measly little five minute warm-up - was to be done on the elliptical machine! She had me doing crunches, squats, lunges and kicks. I used barbells to lift, press and pull.
My inner fitness-lover pumped, jumped, lifted and pulled with all that I had - and I found I had more than I thought. Who knew I could curl 30 pounds? I felt it after every session, and there was a constant battle between Wanna-Be-Fit-Me and Forget-About-Being-Fit-Me, but I always left thinking ‘YES! I pushed myself through another one!’
I struggled with my energy level in the beginning, but eventually my self-doubts morphed into positive reinforcement, thinking ‘look at me working out like a boss!’ After every session I left the building red-faced and sweaty with my hair matted to my scalp, yet I completed the month and patted myself on the back for surviving.
At home, I now know how long to stay on the treadmill, what speed to maintain, and what incline to use. Taped to the door of my exercise room I have a list of dozens of moves I learned during my training sessions. Sometimes there’s a long stretch in between workouts, but when I do exercise, I can manage it for up to an hour.
This physical challenge has definitely benefitted me, and I was pleased as can be that the dosage for my blood pressure medication was cut in half after getting back into an exercise routine. I’m almost to the point of managing it on my own with just 5 milligrams of prescription medication needed to stabilize it.
One thing I have yet to find is more hours in my day, but I’m getting back on a moving and grooving path and one final wellness quest remained. My food consumption was going to have to be examined more closely. Stay tuned for Phase 3: “My Sugar Detox.”
I gained employment in a position that called for long hours, sedentary and sitting at a computer.
“I’m tired. I work, I eat, and I sleep. I’m tired when I wake up so no, I’m not going to get up even earlier to work out.”
“How did you let yourself go? Everything would improve if you’d just get moving. Get up earlier if you have to!”