May 14, 2019

Posted by in Life & Musings, Weight Loss Journey | 0 Comments

Health & Wellness: Restarting a Fitness Routine

Buckle your seat belts, this one is going to be a trip down memory lane to put into perspective just how easily things can get out of control, and then the nitty-gritty of the here and now. 🙂

10 Years Ago…

I would say it was about a decade ago now that I was at my peak physical condition. I was extremely active, and seemingly extremely healthy–at least physically. There were a lot of nuances with mental health and emotional health, none of which really play a part here so we’re not going to open that Pandora’s Box.

At this point in my life I would go from being friends with to dating a person who was really into fitness. Looking back I would say it was actually an obsession of his, and not a healthy one. However, I was 19 and I (of course) knew everything and this seemed fine at the time. Thankfully no harm, no foul.

Anyways, this person had his own dojo because martial arts was his biggest passion in life, and he had several classes. I started out rekindling our friendship by taking karate from him, and things would progress from there. Our relationship isn’t really a focus for this though, so again, not going to dive into too many details. Karate for me was one hour, once or twice a week. I paid for private lessons because I was so completely and utterly uncoordinated and I needed the one-on-one just to really wrap my brain around what was going on. I already knew this too because I had tried karate in a group setting, and it was frustrating and heart breaking when I literally couldn’t keep up with the beginners and I couldn’t get the help I needed. Private lessons were a game changer for me.

In addition to karate, this is also when I started belly dancing with my sister (and where I would discover my soon-to-be best friend who I would meet through my soon-to-be boyfriend also danced; life). So I had belly dance once a week, and karate once or twice a week.

This would escalate not long after to belly dance twice a week, and karate/jiu-jitsu five times a week. So I went from three hours of exercise a week to sixteen hours in a pretty short amount of time.

Before long, after I started dating the friend with the dojo, I would be there constantly. I had gone from full-time employment to part-time, and when I wasn’t working I was at the dojo. I had gotten decent enough I could help teach beginners, and hey, bonus to dating the owner is you don’t pay for classes. So I was doing all the offered classes: karate, jiu-jitsu, MMA, cardio-kickboxing, a bastardized form of swordsmanship with bokken, and self defense. Plus, I was still dancing. I was doing about 5-6 hours a day just at the dojo alone almost six days a week at this point.

You better believe I was in amazing condition. I actually put on weight (finally) thanks to muscle mass. Looking back at photos of myself at that time, I was really toned (but without visible abs, thank goodness, because I don’t like the look of them on myself). I had great strength, my flexibility was increasing, my stamina was out of this world, and I really felt like I could do anything. That kind of progress is really motivating.

Two things would happen though that changed everything.

The End of my Fitness

The first major, catastrophic thing was losing the dojo. It was unfortunately in an area where there was a lot of competition, and thought both my then-boyfriend and I were trying like crazy to market and promote it, it just didn’t work out. He had a mortgage to worry about, and I was 19 years old and had no real life knowledge to do much more than I already was. So after maybe six or eight months (maybe a year, my timeline is fuzzy on this) of going there, it closed. There was still space at his house to use as a mini workout area, but it wasn’t the same. There weren’t all the classes, and it was just kind of us trying to stay motivated. He was, but I am not so good at that, especially because of the second major thing…

The Swine Flu. H1N1. I got the horrible virus that year as it was running rampant, and it floored me. Absolutely wrecked my whole system. If this hadn’t actually happened to me, I’d be skeptical of how a disease of a week or two could brutally destroy a system, but boy can it. Again, my timeline is fuzzy here (when you have a soaring fever that happens), but I was down-and-out for a good long while. The fever was so bad at one point that I thought my body was going to melt and all I wanted to desperately do was cool off my feet. Ice water sort of did the trick. It was terrible, do not recommend. To this day I cannot stand when my feet get too warm.

It took a couple weeks to get through the virus, and it would be another week after that to start getting back to a normal routine. What I would come to discover though was my flexibility I had worked so hard for was ruined. I had dropped almost 10lbs during this, most of it muscle mass. My endurance was way down. It was essentially a little over a year of hard work gone in a matter of weeks. I was devastated. The only thing I hadn’t really lost was muscle memory, so self defense and belly dance were still easily doable. Everything else was a struggle because I didn’t have the endurance to do what I wanted.

I did what any fast-metabolism-heartbroken 20 year old with a history of severe depression and mental illness would do at that point…

I gave up.

Seems severe, but I was not at a point in my life where I had the mental fortitude and drive to start again. All I could see before me was what I had lost, and I couldn’t stop comparing myself to that. It was too painful, so I just stopped.

This was fine for a long time. After all, I still had a good metabolism, and I was still belly dancing regularly enough that I wasn’t having issues.

Hello Mid-Twenties…

Like any human being on this planet, time did not stop for me and I continued to age and my body continued to do what bodies do… including lose its metabolism. Of course in my case I also have Hashimoto’s which further complicates the weight matter (but I was unaware of at this time), but I did notice I was starting to become a bit heavier and carry weight where I once did not.

For a while I figured if I just started dancing regularly again (something that had fallen by the wayside for a 40hr a week career and other life events) I would be fine. If I could just do enough yoga, go hiking, and generally be active, I’d be okay.

I knew the concept, but making it reality was not easy.

For a while I bounced around dance classes trying to find both a teacher I meshed with and a class I could afford to attend and commute to. I sort-of found one, but then the teacher was not able to continue teaching in a commutable area for me so it fell through. I wanted to get back into martial arts but… never did. I wasn’t really trying, to be honest. The weight wasn’t as much of an issue yet.

Then I met my new boyfriend, now fiancee. During this period of “I need to better myself” thinking I ended up leaving the boyfriend I had been with for six years (who had the dojo), and I found someone new. It was a messy breakup, details aren’t necessary for this. Suffice to say though my poor mental health in my previous relationship was part of my issue. Soon as I was out of it, I was much more active again.

For a year I was doing regular yoga as my then-boyfriend-now-fiancee is a certified instructor. So he lead a practice for myself and a couple of friends at his home. We did this a few times a week, on top of which he and I were going places and doing things. Small hikes, walks, motorcycle outings… we were busy. Both of us got back into pretty decent shape.

Then… complacency hit. Complacency and poor mental health surrounding my current employment. I was in an environment that was becoming increasingly stressful, and ultimately I would choose to extract myself from that environment and go back to school in 2016 (after discussing it with my now-fiancee). At the time though the soul-crushing stress was causing me to default to comfort foods (pizza bites anyone?) and vegging out on the couch watching loads of anime. I mean a disgusting amount. I had to catch my now-fiancee up after all, right?

One year of this was all it took to start a very bad downhill slide… for both of us.

At My Heaviest…

While most would still call me “skinny” or just “nicely curved”, I will tell you that I am pushing overweight. I hit my heaviest about two years ago at almost 140lbs, and when you don’t quite make it to 5ft in height, that is not a good weight to be. I knew I needed to start losing weight, it was just a question of how.

Now, I knew how in theory… but figuring out how to make that happen in my life was another story. So my fiancee and I would start something, then stop. Start and stop and start and stop… it was a never-ending cycle. I managed to drop 6lbs, but I’ve been stuck hovering between 130lbs and 134lbs for at least a year now. No progress, which sucks.

The Hashimoto’s does not help, but I know that’s not the only reason I am not losing weight. Part of it is me and my own decisions. So, something has to change, drastically.

To start with, I saw the dietitian. She’s going to hold me accountable for what I’m putting in my body, and help me make a life style chance in that regard. It’s only half of the puzzle though, the other half is fitness. For myself and my fiancee. He’s ahead of me in this though, whereas I’m still holding steady he has dropped at least 50lbs. I’m trying to use him as inspiration and motivation but… alas, my willpower has been weak. Until now.

The Time for Fitness is… Now

I’ve known for a long time I need fitness. Nothing is going to change if I don’t get active. So for the last month to month-and-a-half I have been working on establishing more of a routine. It’s nothing special, just making sure that I do not sit on my laptop all day staring at a screen waiting for things to change. It doesn’t matter what I do so long as I get off this laptop. Ideally, I try to leave the apartment once or twice a week. Since my massage business is growing at a nice pace, leaving is getting easier to do.

Routine was step one to getting back to working out. Step two was a lot harder though… and that’s actually working out.

So I picked something new to do. Belly dance is all well and good, but I wasn’t feeling it. I still enjoy it, and I’m taking a class in a new style, but it doesn’t have the spark of fascination from it being a 100% new venture. And, it’s not the intense physical workout I’m craving.

Then I found Pole Dance. Now, I took one class over the winter and was shocked at how sore I was the day after, all over. Would have continued, but the class was a 90min drive one-way, and it was the holidays. It just didn’t work out. So when they expanded to be half that distance to me, well, I couldn’t pass it up.

My best friend and I are currently taking a four-week intro program for it, and I’ve done two of the four classes at this point and I love it. It’s new, it’s challenging, and it’s the intense workout I’m craving.

I’m sure you may be thinking about the stigma that comes with pole dancing, and honestly, I don’t care. This is a lot of fun, and it’s really intense. So if folks think I’m doing something overly sexual or meant for strippers, whatever. Their loss. I’m here to tell you that it’s fun and amazing and the teacher is wonderful. Don’t knock it before you try it. 😉

Still, pole dance is once a week for an hour, and I am going to need more than that. I need to be active at least three days of the week, if not five.

I know I’m no good at the gym. I hate gyms. They’re smelly and awkward.

Ideally I want to swim, but access to a pool is… difficult. So that’s out.

Then, I saw this video:

Guys this… this is what has triggered me to get my butt into gear. Now, I have no intention of doing something this intense or demanding, but seeing her push through despite not wanting to, seeing the workout bits that required no gym equipment except maybe a weight, which I have… it was like the little push I needed.

I can do this at home. At my leisure. No one has to watch me (I hate that), I won’t feel judged for doing something “wrong” or not knowing how certain equipment works (yay anxiety), and most importantly I can be 100% comfortable in my environment as I work. I won’t even have to drive anywhere so that’s a super bonus. I just have to do it.

We have the space at least for that. The cats will… do what cats do I suppose. Some catnip should make them easier to contend with. hahaha 🙂 So now I’m motivated. I will do this. It will happen. I just have to take the first step, and I’m going to try to do that tomorrow (or today, technically, since this will go up around midnight lol).

It’s time to get back into shape.

My Goals

I’m not looking for anything drastic. I don’t want to be anorexic-thin, and I have no desire to be a weightlifting-model-look-a-like. My goals are honestly modest, and I think very achievable.

First and foremost, I want to drop the extra weight. Ideally I would like to be somewhere between 110lbs and 115lbs. So that’s about 20lbs to lose, which isn’t so bad. It won’t be easy, but it’s not an extreme amount. Bare minimum I want to be no more than 125lbs. I know the Hashimoto’s might complicate this, so I’m trying to remain optimistic but also realistic.

Second, I’m honestly hoping that by losing weight I drop a cup size or two in my breasts. Part of weight gain can be an increase in breast size, and it’s not really comfortable. I know some women would love to have breasts the size of mine, but for me they’re getting a little unruly. Mostly because I have fitted clothing that I struggle to fit into now.

Following that same line of thought with the fitted clothing, I also want to tone down my Buddha Belly, as I so affectionately call the little bit of chub I have at my waistline. To fit back into some expensive, fun clothing I have for my Lolita, Victorian, and Steampunk looks (and just some regular clothing I still love), I need to drop about 3in off my waist, minimum. Again, shouldn’t be an issue as I lose the weight.

I’m also hoping to restore my flexibility as I lose weight, because it was something I loved having and want back.

If possible I’d want a group to do this in, to cheer each other on and celebrate with as we reach goals. However I’m going to forge ahead regardless, because if I go searching for that group I’ll stall starting and then possibly never get started. Or, I’ll find the group, get started, and if it falls apart I’ll falter again… Instead I’m going to get going on my own, and if others choose to join in then we can celebrate together but I’ll otherwise still be self-sufficient to keep going regardless of what any other people do.

So here’s to getting back into shape! And maybe my journey will help inspire someone else, who knows.

Every journey begins with that first step. Mine was definitely pole dance and the dietitian, so now to gain some momentum to achieve my goals. ♥


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