For the last forty days, I have spent the Lenten season fasting from laziness. Rather than give into the comfort of lounging on my sofa at the end of my day and watching my daughter play, I decided to get up and become more active As I had mentioned in my previous article on the topic, I had convinced myself that there was never enough time to exercise, but there was time, and it had always been there. For Lent, I gave up making excuses. I was holding myself back from achieving the body I wanted, so my journey began. Here are a few lessons I learned along the way.
Engage in physical activities that I can commit to. I love to walk, especially in our neighborhood. It’s soothing and calming, and packs a punch when combined with our hilly, San Francisco terrain. It’s also an activity everyone at any age or physical strength can do. For the last forty days, I committed to walking at least 20 minutes a day, every day, barring inclement weather. I walked either during my lunch hour or after dinner with my family. A few times, I walked home from work (1.5 miles). When it rained or stormed, I did calisthenics. Often, my daughter, Ilse, would try to do them with me.
Logging my activity kept me on track. Whenever I start something new, I write about it to keep it top of mind. Since the hardest days of trying anything new are at the beginning, I logged my physical activity daily on a Word document that I kept in my email. I know there are all kinds of exercise applications for Android and Apple phones that would have also worked, but pen and paper worked best for me. Seeing the days of activity encouraged me to keep going. After three weeks, I couldn’t wait to get outside for a walk.
Small snacks are good. I love to eat. When I was nursing full-time, I ate all the time to maintain my milk supply. I ate three full meals and a full dessert (usually a glass of milk and something sweet) before bed. It was a schedule I had adhered to out of habit until the beginning of Lent. With my increased physical activity, I’ve felt the need to nibble on small snacks during the day. I keep clementines or whole wheat crackers handy at work to keep my energy up, so I am not ravenous for dinner when I come home from work. I also keep bite-sized chocolates at my desk when I need something sweet.
Overall, it’s been a great experience, albeit a tough and rough one. I took a “before” and “after” photo in the same tank top. While the physical results were not dramatic, my face looks a little more defined. There have been times when I wanted to give up, when I would look at my naked body in the mirror and lament about how “cute I used to look.” Then, I see my healthy, happy Ilse, and I am reminded that it’s not about achieving the body I used to have, but achieving a healthier version of the body I have now. So the road to a healthier me continues. At least the hard part of getting started is over.