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Digital Running Club » Columns, Downsizing » Keeping things in perspective

Keeping things in perspective

“Sometimes we are our own worst critics.”

As I continue along my journey into better health, there are times that I get so frustrated with myself. It’s during those times that I really need to keep things in perspective and not fall back into old habits.

CONSISTENCY…
Let’s take walking for example. One night recently I went to bed late because I came home late from a meeting. When my alarm went off at 5:00 AM, I quickly reset it for 6:00 AM. I still was tired when the alarm went off again so I decided not to do my 2 mile walk. After all, I had the entire day to fit it in. As the day progressed and work was hectic, however, I began to realize that I wasn’t going to be able to “fit in” a two mile walk after all. In fact, I was barely able to fit in a quick dinner before having to attend another evening meeting.

My initial thought was, “I blew it! Coach Brian is going to be furious with my lack of commitment and ONCE AGAIN, I’m not able to finish what I so desperately want and need to do”. I sent an email to Coach Brian explaining the situation. While typing the email, I began to gain perspective and came up with a “Plan B” and a “Plan C”. I was still determined to get my total mileage in for the week. Coach Brian didn’t kick or scream, nor did he sugar coat the situation. Instead, he restated his expectations and told me which plan he thought I should go with.

THE BIG WALKS…
Little by little, I’m transitioning from needing others to help me have the right perspective, to obtaining it on my own. My “big” walks (longer distances) are on Saturdays. Coach Brian had me walking two miles for a few weeks, then three miles for a few weeks…and now I’m at five miles. For whatever reason, whenever he increases the distance, I’m a bit apprehensive. I begin to wonder if I can really do the extra walking. The first time I walk the increased amount, I fight with myself about not obsessing over “how much longer”. I’m doing much better. I’m able to give myself a pep talk, and anytime I begin to wonder how much more I need to go, I quickly dismiss the thought.

The first couple of times I walked an increased amount, I felt wiped out for the rest of the day. I’m learning to be okay with that and I don’t schedule any major activities on those days. Just a few months ago, a mile wore me out. So I have to be okay with feeling tired after a 5 mile walk. I also know that after the third or fourth time of doing my big walks, I actually look forward to the challenge of the walk! I know that I’ll be feeling fine afterwards.

BLOOD PRESSURE…
As with the case of missing a walk, I sometimes need people to help me gain the right perspective on things. My blood pressure has been averaging 120/78. The last time it was taken, it was 124/78. I looked at Dr. G. with despair and began to say, “I had a really good week. I’ve been walking, my eating has been going well, I just don’t…” and he cut me off. Dr. G. shook his head and calmly replied, “It’s still a good number. So it’s up a little. Remember how far you’ve come.” He was right. There was no need to get upset with a decent blood pressure reading.

REALITY TV…
I get very inspired by weight loss shows such as “The Biggest Loser” and “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition”. However, once again, I need to keep the right perspective. When I watched the first episode of the latter show, I felt depressed for a day or two.  Rachel, a 21 year old, weighed about the same as my starting weight. In one year, Chris Powell helped Rachel lose 161 pounds.  That’s amazing and that’s exciting!!!  What depressed me though was knowing that Rachel was working out 3 to 5 hours a day and that her skin never shrunk with her body. At her age, I would think her skin should’ve been able to reduce. Being more than twice her age, I feel as though there’s very little hope that my skin will shrink.

In Rachel’s case, the TV show paid for her to have skin removal surgery after she reached 250 pounds.  Her excess skin was making working out difficult and they felt it would improve her self-esteem. It’s my understanding that the surgery is considered “cosmetic”, and thus not covered by most health insurance companies. As I continue to lose weight, the excess skin is frustrating. When I’m doing donkey kicks and I feel and hear my loose skin slapping against my body, it’s not fun. I disagree that it’s a cosmetic issue. Like most obese people who are seriously losing weight, I can’t afford to pay for surgery out-of-pocket.

However, in a recent conversation with my healthcare coach, Joe, he reminded me that the benefits of losing weight are much greater than keeping the weight on. I may never be thrilled with how my body looks with hanging skin, but I need to stay focused on knowing that I’m getting healthier with each mile that I walk.

EATING…
From the start of this journey, I have been really good about following the rules that Coach Brian gave me regarding food (i.e. no high fructose corn syrup). Yet, I’m disappointed that I’ve only lost ten pounds during the past two months. For a flickering moment, my old self questioned if all of this is worth it. Thankfully, reality kicked in and I knew that I had to be happy with a weight loss, regardless of the amount. It also spurred me on to take a closer look at my eating habits. I just started working with a nutritionist and I’m excited about the advice that she is giving me!

Clothing
As I continue my journey towards improving my health, I’m amused by my clothes at times. As pants and shirts become loser, I’m constantly hiking up my pants or pulling back on my shirt. With the warmer weather, wearing baggy knit or cotton clothes just isn’t cutting it.

Recently I asked my Facebook friends (from the Downsizing page) for ideas to stay cool as I go on my longer walks. As always, they had great ideas – wear light clothing, use a spray bottle, walk early in the morning and much more. One friend specifically mentioned Champion clothing. Although I was familiar with Champion, I didn’t realize that they make plus size clothing. I ordered a couple pairs of shorts and two tops. WOW!!! I never knew that workout clothing could feel so great! First of all, the clothes fit me, and second of all, they are so lightweight! Thanks Champion for keeping us bigger gals in mind!

Let’s Get Real
How are you doing with your fitness/health goals? Are you maintaining the right perspective, or are you allowing excuses, fears, lack of motivation, etc. interfere? Are you setting short-term goals so that you can experience accomplishments?

It’s not an easy journey, BUT it is an obtainable one! Each day, each one of us is given a choice. We can choose to make our health a priority or we can choose a thousand and one excuses not to. In the past I would let almost any excuse derail me, but I refuse to go down that road again! I’m not in this for the short run, I’m in this for the rest of my life. For once, in spite of any obstacle that may come my way, I’m fighting back. I am determined to obtain a healthy lifestyle with the anticipation of accomplishing things that I’ve felt I would never get the chance to do.

How about you? What is your fitness dream? Is it running a marathon? Eating healthful foods? Or perhaps walking that first mile? Dig deep within, find the motivation, and do it!

Written by

Barb Bergerson lives in Western New York. She has a passion for helping people and getting to know their life stories. She teaches part-time in a jail, is a church administrative assistant, and enjoys freelance writing. Barb loves spending time with her nieces, playing games and relaxing by her pond. She’s excited about focusing on her health and getting back into the game of life. Get updates on Barb's progress on Facebook.

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11 Responses to "Keeping things in perspective"

  1. Cheryl Lewis says:

    Great article Barb. I know how hard it can be to get motivated to exercise. I’d love to do something before work but I’m up at 4:40 just to go to work. Most nights we aren’t able to eat dinner until 7-8, that sure doesn’t leave much time. We still try to walk the neighborhood most evenings. I know I need to do more, that’s my goal.

  2. Debbie says:

    Barb- you are doing a great job! Just remember you’re not dieting..you’re just changing your choices and because of that it is making you feel Wonderful!! I know so many people are inspired at what you have accomplished so far, and because of that they are making lifestyle changes too

  3. Thea says:

    I’m so very proud of your progress and for your writing. I don’t know how you have connected with these two men who have been mentoring you but keep up the great work! You look great! I am one who has done nothing towards exercising. I can tell you I have great reasons why I haven’t but they are the same reasons why I should! I do wonder if I would feel better. I agree with you when you write about your apprehension in starting to walk that first mile and increasing your distance. That is so me!! Promise me you won’t stop?

  4. Barb says:

    Thanks Thea. I got connected with Joe through my health insurance and we talk by phone every 6 weeks. Coach Brian and I connected through a writing project. He’s coaching me via email. Although there are days that I still experience pain, I have many more pain-free days than painful ones. I’m in this for the long run.

    When you’re ready to try out the track, let me know.

    • Thea says:

      My mind is ready…it’s my body (more like my lungs) that is holding me back. I have another check up on Tuesday so will keep you posted. Thank you for your support.

  5. Emily Gray says:

    You are such an inspiration and I can see some of the evidence of your weight loss every Sunday I see you. It is beginning to show.

  6. Lisa Arnone says:

    Barb, you are doing such an amazing job at your weight loss. I am looking forward to walking with you again soon when I get home over the summer. I’m not sure if you do this, but something that really passes the time while walking alone that I love is downloading my favorite music on an Ipod or MP3 player. I mix up the music so I am walking fast paced through fast songs and a little slower to not so fast songs. I find myself walking longer than planned just to hear that next song on my playlist. It really makes the time fly and helps to keep your speed up. Keep up the great job!! I’ll get in touch with you when I come home next.

    • Barb says:

      Hi Lisa. It would be great to walk together again! My niece keeps telling me I need to get a MP3 player. A lot of the time I enjoy listening to the birds and such, but there are times that I think music would help.

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