Why I Decided To Get Fit And Healthy

You may have heard that it takes ten years of work to become an overnight success.

I hope it doesn’t take that long for me to get fit,  even though it’s taken me three years to get where I’m today. At the moment, I’m quite optimistic I will make it in five.  🙂

I realized I haven’t really told the story of why I decided to get fit and what keeps me motivated to keep going. It hasn’t been a fast and straight-forward process,  which I assume is true about most getting fit stories.

But let’s start at the beginning.

At Forty, I Couldn’t See Myself Working At Fifty

Over three years ago I lived in misery. I had musculoskeletal pains all over my body: in my low back, in my shoulders and in my neck. Worst were the chronic tension headaches that could literally last weeks on end.

I woke up in the morning tired and miserable, and I went to bed feeling tired and miserable.

This had been going on for years. I was a faithful customer to massage therapists and must have spent thousands of dollars for various treatments over years.  I tried other things too: I had  physical therapy provided by my employer on several occasions, I tried yoga, osteopathic treatments (they actually helped some), pain killers and muscle relaxants. But still I kept getting worse.

Then I reached a point where going to massage therapists didn’t work anymore, nor did I get anything but short-term relief from physical therapy. (I even dutifully followed the exercise programs they gave me, which means I was really desperate). I also couldn’t stretch properly, because my muscles simply didn’t stretch. My muscles were constantly tensed, inflamed and painful.

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There are a couple of things I remember from that time.

My physical therapist kindly told me that I was busy developing a dowager’s hump in my neck and one of my massage therapists never forgot to remind me that there’s so much fibrotic scar tissue in my shoulders.

I remember thinking “Wow!  I’m not only miserable all the time, I’m also destined to be an ugly old hag.”

I finally reached rock bottom when my physician wrote me my first prescription for codeine. They sure relieved my pain, but I couldn’t avoid seeing see where I was headed. That’s when I decided to call it quits.

Setting My Goals

I reckoned there must be something I can do to make things better. I made a decision not to expect other people to be responsible for my physical well-being.

What I desired most was is to have a healthy, pain-free body I could enjoy. I wanted to become a strong,  energetic and happy woman who’d be able to salsa all night when she turns 50. Yes, and I wanted to lose the extra 25 pounds and enjoy myself when I go shopping for clothes, not to choose my them based on how well they hide some (perceived) imperfection in my figure.

(BTW, this is why my blog is named “BodyCapable”, not “losing 30 pounds in 4 weeks by starving and doing burpees and crunches 100 x a day” )  🙂

I Got Rid Of My Chronic Tension Headaches First

When I reached my rock-bottom, it wasn’t clear to me how I was going to get rid of my pains and aches and achieve my fitness goals. My first move was to do more of what I had done before; more massage, more attempts at yoga, osteopathic treatments etc.

I found a solution to my chronic pain by accident.

I was open for experimenting with new things, so when I saw that Feldenkrais Method classes were offered at my university, I jumped in. I took some classes, watched Youtube videos and read books about Feldenkrais Method. I also ordered some dvds and did lots of lessons on my own.

Year after I decided to get rid of my chronic musculoskeletal pains, I was (and am) mostly pain free. My pains just melted away and I learned how to move more gracefully.

Obstacles On My Way To Fitness

Not being in constant pain definitely improved my quality of life, but I was still in a physically poor shape and at least 25 pounds overweight. I was ready and eager to start exercising, but had to deal with a another problem first: I had developed a runner’s knee that refused to heal.

Not being able to exercise made me dispirited, and I promptly put on even more weight.

Again, I started searching for solutions. I read about runner’s knee on the Internet, tried some stretches and exercises I found, got custom orthotics (which didn’t help), learned to go up and down stairs without aggravating my knees. I had little success, until I found an exercise program online that helped rehabilitate my runner’s knee to the point I was able to exercise normally again.

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Other good things happened too. I bought a pedometer in October 2010 and soon fell in love with pedometer walking. I gradually increased my physical activity until in March/April 2011 I reached the 10,000 step a day milestone. Since then, I’ve consistently logged in (on average) 10,000 steps a day.  After I started making improvements in my diet in March,  my weight finally started going down.

On The Roll

Today, I’m on the roll and I’ve secret plans for getting super fit.  🙂  But I’m also happy with what I have now:

  1. I can climb the stairs to my sixth floor apartment pretty much without batting an eye.
  2. I consider my runner’s knee 90 percent healed. My left knee rarely bothers me and it doesn’t prevent me from exercising anymore.
  3. I occasionally have tension headaches and other pains and aches in if I forget my Feldenkrais lessons, but now I know how to get rid of them myself. I haven’t visited massage therapists or other treatments for 21 months.
  4. I don’t need to motivate myself to exercise, I just go and exercise.
  5. My moods have improved a lot and I’m very energetic most of the time.

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I still have plenty of work to do.

I want to have a fit and strong body and be able to do those 20 push ups in row. I’m pretty confident that somewhere down the road I’ll shed the extra fat. Perhaps I even find the philosopher’s stone to permanent weight loss and never again need to lose weight. 🙂

Whatever happens, I plan on having fun and enjoying myself on the way.

Best Wishes,

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P.S. Now it’s your turn to spill the beans! Why did you decide / consider getting fit? How long have you been at it? What kinds of setbacks and obstacles have you had on the way?

Comments

  1. Hi Satu! I too was scared about going toward 50. Was I going to turn into a human amoeba?–Not if I could help it!!

    I think it’s funny how you and I are so alike in our thoughts! You and I are like each other but on different continents!

    I also really don’t believe that a person can go from out of shape to fit in less than a year. And after one year, I just kept on refining my fitness. This has been 4 and 1/2 years for me and I *still* have had some breakthroughs, though not as many as the earlier years.

    Like you, I’m really in it for my health. I feel so good and much younger than I felt 10 years ago. Also, I just like feeling capable. I love to learn to do new yoga poses. I enjoy feeling powerful when weightlifting. I would exercise even if it did not make me lose any weight because of feeling capable and powerful.

    Also, I just love listening to my favorite songs during my workouts. What a good way to start the morning.

    By the way, I love your strategy and your fitness goals.

    🙂 Marion

    • Satu says:

      You’re a good fitness role model to me, Marion! 🙂

      It’s cool to hear you’re able to do many things I ultimately want to be able to do, like *real* push ups.

      Gaining a lot of (upper body) strength would be a real breakthrough to me, because that is something I’ve never had.

  2. You’re definitely on a roll!

    My initial reason to get fit was for our vow renewal on the beach in Jamaica 5 years ago. But the biggest part was wanting to get healthy and live a more active life. I have been at it since 2005 and there have been a lot of set backs in regards to gaining weight back (darn food issues). This is a long process for me but I’m not giving up. Just need to focus and get back on the wagon.

    If I can walk a half marathon, I can do anything ha ha

  3. Serena says:

    I know the feeling of being over 40 and worried that by 50 I’ll be practically dead due to poor physical condition. So I’m working on changing that as well.

    Since beginning in earnest almost 2 months ago to eat right and exercise almost every day, I have had ONE migraine – ONE! And I was having them at least a couple times a week.

    I have a long way to go but I’m starting to feel confident that I may actually be able to enjoy my 40’s! 🙂

    • Satu says:

      Thanks for commenting, Serena!

      It’s great to hear you’ve *lost* your migraines when you started exercising. My favorite benefit is that I don’t get upset as easily as before.

      I think the key to success is accepting that getting fit is a long-term process – you don’t get there in a few months. That way it’s perhaps easier to access all the ups and downs during the process.

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