Work Out

4 Months In

Much to my ever growing dismay, I knew deep down that my physical shape was not where I wanted it to be. It had gotten worse after we moved to the island. With not living in town I wasn’t walking daily, my step count on some days was as low as 2,000 – where in 2017 it was 10,000 and up daily. Even though farming gives a good workout, it isn’t a steady workout. I was gaining weight, and I noticed I was getting saggy. And getting a lot more achey. And to be blunt, hurting was the worst part.

I had a few things that occurred last year that were wake up calls to get moving again. One, my old lower back injury was hurting daily. I was having days where I was wondering when I would need a cane. I didn’t like that. My joints were getting bad as well, and I was having leg cramps daily. I was winded on my hikes, and even walking uphill to our house. Pain was a common theme. Hike, and I hurt the next day. My varicose veins were back, and they were shouting in pain. This past summer we were hiking in the mountains and I felt unsure of myself coming down a trail. I had forgotten my trekking poles. I honestly felt like I might fall. Last year I fell down our stairs due to my balance/achey ankles and did a number on my wrist and ankle (I probably fractured my wrist but never had it looked at, after I started working out with free weights my wrist went down in size, and thankfully seems to have no damage). I started feeling that I was getting to the “1 bad slip/fall from a hip fracture”. That is not where I envisioned myself at 46 years old. That is how you get old: One injury leads to another, then another.

Then my middle son told me his class was going to do a walking field trip in November. My pride was hurting so bad. I knew I was a liability. I didn’t want to embarrass him by being the Mom who would end up in an Uber ride. I was painfully embarrassed – that 10 years before I was hiking 20+ mile days, and here I was in really bad shape.

As I read the email from his teacher I knew I had to change. I had to shut down the excuses. No more. That day I started working out. I dusted off the Precor Crossramp I had loved long ago. Before the boys were born I worked out often at a gym, the commercial version of this was my favorite cardio. I had one and didn’t use it.

It was October 11th. That first month I worked out 5 days a week. At the end of month 1 I went to 6 days a week. I worked my time up to 45 minutes. My intensity wasn’t high, but I knew I didn’t want to get injured. Get into a schedule, and get used to it. Building up foot strength was hard, but my ankles got stronger.

I cut my sugar consumption back by about 3/4. This was huge for my hurting body. Inflammation and sugar are just not good for us.

Within a few weeks my ankle cramps went away. No more waking up in pain at night. Just one morning I realized it had been days since I had had one.

When I went on the field trip I felt so good. I walked all 7 miles, and while I wasn’t the fastest, I wasn’t in the back. I was tired that night, but I felt so good that I had a son who was proud of me.

I was at a junction though. Would I continue on or peter out? Because that is what happens. Then….his teacher announced another walking field trip to Seattle in December. I had a goal again. As December started I went to 7 days a week working out. If I took a day off my legs would ache during this period. I take a med for water, and exercise negates the side effects. Pretty simple.

I was in the front of the group for the trip. I felt great. And I noticed the daypack I was wearing a month before I had to tighten the hipbelt. The previous trip it been a (lot) wider.

In January I took up the time I was on it, and started aiming for an hour. The intensity also started going up. I noticed my knees were getting smaller, my lower legs were showing definition. I added in free weights, at a low weight at first.

In late January Kirk got me a treadmill to add to our gym. I use it as a bonus workout, and am incorporating it later in the day, to work on getting my body ready for altitude hiking this summer.

For me 7 days a week is what works. I don’t feel burnt out either, which I got in the gym. I wake up at 5:30 am on weekdays and work out in the quiet, doing at least 50 minutes cardio, and free weights (about half the time, but is becoming more daily now). It is my time. I used to be anxious over working out, but I have found if I do it early in the day I have less anxiety. It is done, and anything else I do that day is a bonus workout. And not having to drive/attempt to fit it in my day is a huge part.

I don’t diet. Christmas was hard, I am not going to lie. I was glad all the holidays got over, as I would eat too much sugar. I have developed anger over sugar I have noticed. It is in everything. The boys have reduced their sugar consumption, noticing me.

Low sugar, a lot of vegetables (a lot compared to most), lots of fiber, a lot of water and a steak here and there. I have no “miracle” diet to peddle. I just exercise a lot and eat a lot less processed foods. Many of our meals are vegan/high fiber. I signed up for Imperfect Foods produce boxes to boost the amount of produce we eat (fresh food isn’t cheap on an island in winter).

But 4 months out my pants are over 2 sizes smaller. I bought a new wardrobe with holiday money that while I can fit a few items now, most need another months workout to get into. Goals. They are everything.

Kirk is building us a weightlifting area now. Our gym grows.

Back pain? I have been pain free most days since I started working out. I did re-injure my back in January moving something too heavy, but I worked through it, instead of going to bed. I healed in half the time. No longer do I wonder if I need a cane when my nerves are inflamed in my leg/hip. My balance has done a 180 and I feel safe hiking on hills again.

Trust me…many days I don’t want to get up at 5:30 am. But then this week my son announced we have another walking field trip coming up.

And this trip I want to be doing circles for my son. In maybe a size smaller jeans.

To that – and to alpine trails this summer.

~Sarah

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