120120 The Thrill of experiencing life in abundance
By Lucy Van Pelt
August has always been the most significant month of the year. It is the month of my birth, and the month in which I experienced the most traumatic experience of my life. It is also the month when I signed up with my local strength coach in what is clearly one of the best decisions I have ever made. I decided that fitness and health was definitely a priority worth pursuing immediately and so I began to dream my dreams and set my goals. Carrying 200 pounds on a 5’2 frame was definitely not a healthy pastime, and my heart attack and subsequent bi-pass surgery demanded some dramatic action. I set my goal- a 60 pound weight loss. That was what I wanted and I was prepared to do absolutely anything reasonably healthy to get there; including weight training, –an exercise activity that has always peeked my interest. PERSISTENCE at age 40! That is an accurate description of me. Strength at age 40, now wouldn’t that be amazing!
The journey began with small halting steps. I decided that 5 pounds per month was a healthy goal. Strange as it may seem, Sept, Oct, Nov, and Dec. 2004 yielded absolutely no results on the scale. My intake of food was carefully documented and scrutinized by my strength coach and he encouraged me to be PERSISTENT. I was assured that things would eventually happen. But things were definitely happening in other important ways. My energy levels and my emotional health were improving, I was sleeping more soundly and experiencing less anxiety associated with my medical condition. The doctors were pleased with the activity levels and the strength of my cardiovascular system not to mention the shape my body was taking. (They have their ways of measuring) They encouraged me to keep up my exercise. More importantly I was building a wonderful relationship with a coach and mentor. My strength and balance was improving dramatically and I was gaining more confidence in my ability to tackle life’s challenges and responsibilities.
In April 2005 the scale showed 178. Euphorically I calculated that 22 pounds had been shed. PERSISTENCE had paid off! By May 31’05 I weighed 163. By the end of June 159 and by the end of October 2005 I weighed 144. My biggest surprise during this time was probably the shifting of my focus to weightlifting and doing everything within my power to sustain my level of energy to meet the requirements of my new found passion
My nutritional habits were directed to supporting those activities rather than losing the weight just for the sake of the scale. I was eating regularly and often in small quantities. During this time I grew to appreciate the suggestions and encouragements offered by my strength coach who did not place such emphasis on the numbers. In fact, he didn’t even own a scale. A new perspective for me, indeed! I enjoyed setting new goals during this time including a 10 km jog which I completed successfully 2 times during the summer of 2005. I also pursued motorbike riding and successfully completed a course offered at a local college. Fabulous new quests!! When approaching my coach for feedback concerning my newest and latest goal, his favourite line was always the same, “Why not?” A new philosophy was taking root.
Nutritionally, I have enjoyed following the Weight Watchers program with its point value for food choices. I focus primarily on unrefined foods such as oatmeal, brown rice, vegetables in great quantity and a variety of colours, fruits, organic foods, healthy fats, and high quality proteins. I refrain from salt, sugar and processed flour and I try to drink good quality water. I occasionally indulge in some of life’s ultimate treats but for the most part my body now dictates my intake according to the level of activity. I now eat to live instead of living to eat!
For the past 6 months I have been stable at 144. My goal of 60 pounds is still a passionate ideal, but I have now expanded my goals to include new weightlifting personal bests, running goals, and motorbike riding. It seems my journey of success has stimulated many secondary goals along the way. Yes, while on a journey there is time to “smell the roses”.
It is the March Break. I have purchased a book on Yoga, in the hopes that it will stimulate some balance in my body as I try to lift heavier weights in a happier fashion. I have also treated myself to a book describing in great detail each and every muscle that is involved in a particular weight training movement. I continue to enjoy reading material that is positive and stimulating and will help me accomplish the current goals I aspire to as well as some new pinnacles that I might strive towards. I do have so much to learn! That is absolutely the best part of this entire journey!
So here is an invitation to enjoy life one step at a time. Set goals and be confidently motivated to see them through to their completion. As my strength coach often says, “How badly do you want it?” I dedicate and recommit this new chapter in the history of my journey to him!
Cheers to all our journeys! May they end happily ever after!