"I can't [insert affirming life event here] because I'm in the middle of my busy season."
The above is the refrain that has dominated my life from August to December.
My busy season - the time during which my schedule becomes insane with meetings, presentations, daily travel, and numerous mailings. For 4 years I put my entire life on hold during the busy season:
- Time spent with family and friends...nope.
- Going out with my husband and spending time with him...nope.
- Vacation with husband...nope.
- Working ridiculously late hours and weekends....yes.
- Not taking care of myself...yes.
- Not going to the gym....yes.
- Eating loads of restaurant food, fast food and highly processed crap that are no good for me...yes.
- Collapsing every night and weekend in an exhausted heap on the couch to watch TV and do absolutely nothing else...yes.
- And each year during this time gaining 15 pounds...yes.
Until this year.
Until this year when my husband, who had just joined the gym in August and joined me in the South Beach Diet announces that he is going to sign up for our gym's Fall Fitness Challenge in September.
"But...but...but I want to do that, too!" I think to myself and then just as quickly think, "Oh, but I couldn't possibly do that. It's right during my busy season." And then I think, "Yeah...and where has my busy season gotten me?? 60 pounds heavier than when I started this d@#$ job."
60 pounds! That's 240 sticks of butter, People!!
Giving over my life to my job and its attendant busy season has to end. And so I say to my husband, "Would it be OK if I did the Challenge with you?"
"Of course, Sweetie," he says to me.
And so I sign up for the 10 week challenge...wondering how on earth I am going to fit in 6 days a week of exercise including personal training, group training and 2 classes per week. But I also know that if I don't I will pack on another 60 sticks of butter and that is just not acceptable.
And so here I am now at the end of the Challenge reflecting on my experience.
So, what did I learn over the course of the ten weeks?
I'm more physically capable than I give myself credit for. "You're great to train!" says my personal trainer D at our celebration banquet just few nights ago. She continues, "I mean aside from the dirty looks you give me [she says this with a big grin and a laugh] you can DO a lot. So many people come in and can't even DO a single lunge, but you got it right away." Thanks, D.
Running still isn't for me (right now, anyway), but I'm a pretty good fast walker and managed to shave more than a minute off a mile walk. I cross the finish line second to last during our final fit test, but I finish strong. I feel good and decide that it doesn't matter at all that I am only one of two people who walk the mile instead of running it. (D says she is sure that I can run a mile rather than walk it, and somehow I know that if I do the next challenge that she's going to put her theory to the test...)
I can and should try new things. Before the Challenge I would never, ever have tried the Saturday Low-n-Loaded class at my gym. The Challenge made me do it at first. But I kept me going back and will keep going back because I am determined to get through one full class doing every single exercise the instructor throws at us for the entire allotted interval time. I'm close. I know that I can get there.
Food is always going to be something with which I struggle. I'm a lifelong compulsive emotional eater. However, I know now that with planning and determination that I can succeed in responsible, sensible eating.
Reaching out to other people and being a part of something that is not my job works for me. I've always held myself back from activities like the Fall Fitness Challenge. Always thought that I wouldn't do well because I'm uncoordinated, shy, kind of a dork and not terribly coordinated. But I was wrong. I totally enjoyed this experience and loved being with other people who are trying to lose weight and get to a healthier place in their lives. I didn't feel out of place at all.
* * * * *
The other day at work my CEO tells me, "You're my hero" when he finds out that I've shed almost 160 sticks of butter. I don't know that this makes me a hero, but it certainly makes me healthier and happier.
In terms of the Challenge, I landed at the bottom of the pack in regards to weight loss. Most of the other participants shed an impressive 10%, 12% even 14% of their body weight during the 10-week challenge period. My 6% certainly pales a bit in comparison, but I'm perfectly happy with my results. I lost what I normally would have gained at this time of the year and that feels like a huge victory for me.
Being a part of this Challenge reminded me in no uncertain terms that I've only got this one life and that I need to actually live it. And in that I was 100% successful.