Resolution to be the healthiest I can be in middle age

I was a fat kid. At one point in early adulthood, I hit the obesity mark. My heaviest was when I was 20 years old. I weighed 179 pounds. On my 5’4″ frame, that put me in the obese category with body mass index at 30.7.

The first time I dropped a lot of weight, it was ridiculously easy. By the age of 21, I was 115 pounds. Ah, the gifts of youth. For years after that, my weight fluctuated.

At 45 years old, I recently gained weight, and the gain was ridiculously easy. I went from around 130 pounds up to 146 in just twelve weeks beginning mid-summer 2016. Uh-oh, I think I’ve hit middle age. (By the way, 146 is the first pound in the obese category for my height, according to the CDC.)

Slowing down

Look, I know that scales readings are just numbers and sizes are just numbers. I’ve done this yo-yo thing my whole life. For many years I stayed in the 125 to 135 range. Generally speaking, I’m in better shape today than ten years ago when I drank sick amounts of alcohol every day and smoked a pack of cigarettes daily. I know I’m a beautiful woman. Still, want to be the best I can possibly be as I age. I’m now in middle age, and starting to deal with the metabolic slow down that accompanies it. I’ve got to accept this.

I blame my poor diet and lack of exercise for the recent weight gain. But I think my weight gain was faster this time around because of that slower metabolic rate and something called perimenopause – something most women on planet Earth have experienced since the dawn of time. Something I never thought would happen to me. My denial of fading youth.

Recently I’ve been reading about how to alleviate symptoms. I have many symptoms, and they’ve become a bit more intense over the last year. Weight gain in the stomach area is one – and apparently it’s pretty common. I’m not special. I’m looking down at my gut, and yes, my waistline has actually been expanding over the last year, even before my most recent weight gain.

I know I can’t eat cookies every night, but that’s what I’ve done. I know I have to exercise every day – every damn day – or my body starts to feel like butta.

An old nutritionist who taught me about bringing the body into an alkaline state. I have tried it, and it’s true – I crave junk food, like my cookies, far less when my diet is mostly alkaline foods. I actually start to crave alkaline foods, which have fewer calories and more nutrition. I know I need to reset there and I’m currently working on that (aside from the cookies night before last, and the ice cream the night before that).

Speeding up

That leaves my other issue – exercising. Every time I start, it eventually feels so good and I am more cognizant of what I eat. So why do I make excuses to avoid serious sweating?

Excuse #1: When we hit the road again in October, we both came down with horrible colds. So, I put off exercise.

Excuse #2 (well, this is pretty legit): In November, I started jogging while we were in Ajijic, when when I had a minor crash on a bicycle that left with me with a few bruised ribs and trouble breathing deep. So again I put off exercise.

Excuse #3: The first weeks of December, we did a fair amount of walking in Puerto Vallarta during Our Lady of Guadeloupe celebrations, but that’s all I did, and in truth, that’s simple living, not serious exercise. I admit – I was pretty lazy.

Excuse #4: The last third of December we were in Yelapa, where I got an ant bite on the bottom of my toe, which turned into a blister because it was aggravated by a cheap flip-flop as I walked around town. I couldn’t walk, let alone jog. And Yelapa’s beach is small pebbles, so it’s not easy to get in and out of the ocean with an open sore on your foot, so I crossed swimming off the list of possible activity. (I could have done leg lifts, situps, push ups, etc. But of course, I didn’t.)

Now, in January, no more excuses.

Slow, but steady

I can finally say I’ve made progress. I’ve been back to jogging and walking. I’ve done some other exercises with machines at a wonderful municipal park with a track half a mile away in the neighborhood, which is called ‘5 de Diciembre.’ Plus, the hills in this neighborhood give me the added benefit of energy exertion. No excuses when you have to walk up a hill to a home, to see a vista, to visit a friend.

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My spouse took this picture of me jogging in early 2016.

Routine works for me. Living this lifestyle of continuous travel, it’s difficult for me to stick to a routine. It seems like with every new place, I find a new life rhythm. When I lived in Tulum for five months at the end of 2015, I had the system down pat and I was pretty lean and tight, if I do say so myself. Then we bounced around with some travel in early 2016, and I fell out of my routine while in Guatemala, Belize, Long Island and Campeche, Mexico. I fell out of my routine, but I didn’t put on more than a couple of pounds.

I returned to great shape while living in Mahahual for three months. I swam and jogged nearly every day, and rode my bike. I was really active. I looked great. I felt great.

Then, over the summer and back stateside, I ate a lot of high-calorie foods, like real peanut butter, Mitchell’s Ice Cream (it’s a Cleveland thing), and other goodies. I got zero exercise after July. And from that point onward, until we left for more travel in October, I put at least 16 pounds. That’s 16 pounds in less than 12 weeks. Good grief.

Now that we are here in Puerta Vallarta for a month and I have no injuries, I committed myself to a routine. About two weeks ago, I began a new routine nearly each morning. I walk to the track where I jog a few miles and use the machines. On the walk back home I grab a green juice from a cute little shop with a Vitamix. My plan is to continue this dawn excursion on most mornings until we leave, two weeks from today. We will have a two-week stay in Huatulco next, and then a six-week stay in Puerto Escondido, and gosh darn it – I am going to keep steady with this exercise commitment.

Takeaways

Aside from tummy weight gain, crazy menstrual cycles, and hot flashes, middle age has brought me some wisdom. By now I have learned that action feels better – on every level – than making excuses, and I know that progress is more important – and realistic – than perfection. No to remember that on a daily basis, and keep at it. No excuses.

One last thought. For some reason, my feet always get blisters with a lot of walking and jogging. Blisters have been a problem for me since way before my obese days, when I was on the varsity field hockey team in high school. I’ve learned to wear a half-size larger in sneakers, use runners loops, wear injinji socks to try to keep my feet dry, give self-pedicures – especially when I ramp up the miles. If anyone has any suggestions on preventing blisters – please feel free to share your wisdom!

(And – wouldn’t it figure. My toe poked through my sneaker just this morning on the track, so now maybe it’s time for a full size larger. These were $100 Asics, too! I’m so disappointed. I’ve used this brand for years, and that’s never happened before. Time to go shopping. No excuses.)

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