I’ve hit some invisible milestone in my life’s journey. Tripped over it is more like it.
Maybe it’s better to say I came to a crossroads. Perhaps it’s because this year marks ten years since I graduated from college. Inwardly, my eyes widen at the thought. Has it really been ten freaking years? Followed by: holy crap, a lot has happened in a decade.
As I began my college journey at twenty-one, I was twenty-five when I graduated, so ten years since that point in time goes from exactly mid-twenties to exactly mid-thirties. The differences between twenty-five, thirty, and thirty-five are so remarkably different, it takes my breath away. And sometimes makes me laugh, since I’m the same-but-also-different person from who I was at 25.
By now, lots of people my age are parents; I am not one at this point. Still, it is not a little awing to watch almost everyone you know become a parent. I’m going to borrow the imagery that the metamorphosis is akin to watching a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis–they’re the same beings, but markedly different. My basic point is that even not being a parent, hitting thirty-five is a particular time in life where I’m re-prioritizing my priorities. What’s next? What do I want go glean from life? (And also, oh God, I only have five more years before I’m 40!)
Case in point: I’ve napped far too long on the subject of my health. After I dealt with some health issues between 2011 and 2012, I thought it would be easier to get all disciplined about taking better care of myself. Unfortunately, in the wake of chronic stress from work, then suddenly finding myself engaged and doing All the Wedding Planning, those events did the opposite of motivating me to get more exercise and change my nutritional intake and habits.
I know most women love using a wedding as a reason to go all kinds of crazy about slimming down to fit into a dress, but that just wasn’t and isn’t my style. I felt I couldn’t handle the pressure to look a certain way on top of managing all the other zillion details going on in that eighteen-month planning period. And ultimately, I am relieved for multiple reasons that I did not give in to that notion.
Fast forward to early July of 2015, where I had been ruminating for what feels like an eternity on my health and habits, and I had my moment where I made the decision I was going to do something differently when I decided to just step on the scale and face what I’d been avoiding.
The number that stared back at me jolted me.
I decided, in a flash and with zero hesitation, that I was changing some things. This could no longer stand.
Normally, the infantile part of myself that is scared to make changes, particularly when it comes to self-care and exercise, would rear her ugly head and paralyze me. Somehow, the in-charge adult upstairs managed to lock her in a closet so I could do what I needed to do without over-analyzing everything to death, as is my proclivity in life.
I knew that if I was going to do something 180 from my current lifestyle, and if I wanted to effect long-lasting habits, I was going to have to try something I hadn’t before.
With a deep breath, I began researching fitness monitors and, with the recommendation of a coworker, went with a FitBit HR charge. It comes in two colors: dude/unisex and more feminine/plum. Normally, I would have gone for the plum but the plum stands out more, in my opinion, and I wear a lot of black, so I figured the black one would “blend in” as much as one can.
I usually avoid wearing anything on my wrists, including bracelets, but this wasn’t about what I wanted to be doing, something I’m still reminding myself of, and wearing a fitness device certainly isn’t a fashion statement, no matter what the companies purport.
Another reason I chose the fitness monitor that I did is the FitBit app ranks quite highly, if not at the top of the pile, and now that I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks, I can see why.
It is simple-pimple to use, for starters. All of the metrics it tracks are cool and convenient, especially if you’re a metrics/stats nerd, as I am. I’ve used it to track my sleep but as time has gone on, I find that being such a light sleeper makes me much more aware that I have the FitBit on, so I usually take it off at night. Still, for an occasional nap or just for experimentation’s sake, it really is eye-opening to see how restless one is during sleep hours.
A trend I noticed right off is that I went from pretty highly restless, as high as 33 times a night, to far far far less restless, maybe 1-7 times a night, especially as I increased my workouts during the week. There would be long stretches of “radio silence” showing on the app, which means deep sleep, and I began noticing I was generally more refreshed in the mornings, even for work and waking at 6am.
FitBit will send weekly progress reports, award arbitrary “badges” along the way, and I gotta admit it’s cute when the FitBit does it’s little happy dance when I reach my step goal for the day. (And for anyone interested, Zumba classes give you lots and lots of steps to help knock down that goal.) I’ve made friends with a wrist unit and for the time being, we’re on good terms.
The bottom line here is that for the first time in a really long time (and in some aspects of this, first time ever), I’m utilizing the tools at my disposal, e.g. a gym membership and a fitness monitor, to help me actively work toward long-standing goals that have been sitting on a shelf in my brain collecting dust for a long time. I also fully admit that having a supportive spouse who is along for the ride is half the battle. We are both eating healthier, making activity a priority, and enjoying not feeling completely wiped out every single night from a day at work. Exercise seems to be breathing life into the precious few hours we have in a given day for personal time, much as I hate to admit it, or even as much as I hate to get sweaty and gross to attain it.
The hardest part of all of this, honestly, is going to be remaining patient and focusing on the journey, while at the same time keeping my eyes on the end goal. It’s so easy to give up. And boring, frankly. People get all excited when they first hear that you’re making lifestyle changes and then after a week or so, forget about it until one day, they’re like, “Are you still doing that?” Yes, yes I am.
To be perfectly Stuart Smalley about it, it’s all about “progress, not perfection.” So here goes nothing.