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RULE #2: You are going to want to give up. DON’T!

Subtitle: I didn’t lose weight to sell you something!

“I’m going to die! I’m going to throw-up! I’m literally going to throw-up in front of everyone, and then die!” Or so I think. The music is pumping as loud and as sharp as the pain in my feet. My thoughts swing wildly from “I can’t do this” to “I’m doing this … I’m doing this. Did you see me do this?” I’m straining a smile at my friends as sweat is dripping down my forehead, into my eyes, and running down my back. I’m trying not to pee my pants or think about how much time we have left. My friend, Angie, is on the throes of death with me, smiles back through gritted teeth to say “This sucks!” as the rock-hard instructor, Emily, is yelling, “Stay with me, team! Get those knees up! You can do it!” and the music is pumping ironically to Axwell and Ingrosso’s, “I love you … Even though I don’t like you right now.” While I’m thinking about what I’d like to do with my knees and it ain’t kick ‘em higher.

* * * * *

On January 17, 2017, I started Weight Watchers, something I’ve done maybe six, seven, eight times before. A friend was joining at the beginning of the year when they were having a sale.

Something needed to be done. I flew out to Vegas with my mom a half a month prior and needed an extension in the seat belt. An extension!!! It was mortifying. Although I asked discreetly, I could feel everyone’s eyes on me as I asked, especially the three larger men squeezing into the seats behind me – who consequently didn’t need extensions!

As if that weren’t motivation enough, I’d lost my dad three months prior, following his health’s steady decline. My sister-in-law, who is less than a year older than I am, was going through treatment for Image result for Leiomyosarcoma (LMS) (a fancy way to say “really bad cancer”). Both of these motivated me to be physically active. I tell myself, “They’re not physically able to work out. I AM physically able to, and yet I don’t.” It’s kept me motivated to get into shape. Sadly, both have passed on now, and I miss them terribly.

When I first began working out at Just for Ladies, an all-women’s fitness center, a little over two years ago, I had to keep telling myself things like, “I can do anything for a minute, fifteen minutes, an hour.” And, “No matter how bad I look or how poorly I’m performing, I’m still lapping everyone on the couch.” I still say both of these to myself from time to time, (self-talk is pretty important to an over-thinker) but overall, the classes are getting easier, and I always feel better WHEN I’M DONE – and while I’m often skeptical, I always survive!

Exercising has also helped me deal with ENS (A.K.A. “Empty-Nest Syndrome” which Wikipedia says “It is not a clinical condition.” I beg to differ, Wikipedia!  I think I would be depressed with the empty house if I went home right away, so I go work out instead. By hitting the gym before going home, I de-stress from work while overcoming the loneliness of not having kids running around the house 24/7.

Even though I feel and look better from exercising, I don’t always want to do it. Luckily, I am blessed with friends who drag me along to work out, friends who drag me along to Weight Watchers meetings, and friends and co-workers who challenge me with FitBit “Workweek Hustles.”

Not only do they drag me along, but my friends are there to celebrate successes with me, and commiserate when things don’t go as planned – and consequently, I buy and EAT a whole sleeve of Thin Mints.

Moreover, I DEFINITELY could not do all this without the support of my husband, Sam, who actually eats ground, brown turkey in recipes (instead of hamburger) without grumbling (too much), makes me fish on the evening before weigh-in (It is super important to eat on point the night before weigh-in.), and puts up with me when I’m “hangry” (that is hungry and angry – which happens often). He truly has been an amazing partner in this journey.

And that’s what it is: a journey. Right now, I’m somewhere in the middle of mine.

One of my first goals was to lose 50 pounds by the age of 50. I turned 50 in October. While I’ve *only* lost 40 pounds, I tell myself that I still have several months to go before I’m not 50. (Am I right? It still counts!)

Along the way, I’ve learned that we all need friends to help us in our health journeys, and we all need to strive toward our own definition of what a healthy lifestyle is. Your journey could be more like hiking a mountain range, with ups and downs, or it could be like climbing straight up a hill. The main thing is to keep going, keep working at being healthy, and keep doing it for yourself.

Here’s where I’d like to challenge you to set some healthy goals. I know many of you are way healthier than I am (trust me, I see you at the gym every day.), and I am often inspired by your willingness to run marathons, eat healthy, and work out over your lunch hours. I would like to challenge those of you who have never taken a workout class to do so. Trust me, it’s okay if you can’t do everything … just move. Where I go, it’s a nonjudgmental environment. If you feel judged where you go, go somewhere else. Try something different. Focus on adding more produce and protein to your diet. Drink more water. Figure out one (or two, or three!) things you could do to be healthier, whatever “healthier” means for you. But don’t do it for me; do it for yourself.

And trust me; it is easier if you take some friends along for the ride.

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