Seven years ago, age 50, when I simultaneously became a vegan and started running at least four times a week, I lost 35 pounds and just knewwww that I was fit!! My size small scrub pants still had room for me to move; my new diet plan nixed all the foods that I felt were keeping me heavy; and I lost all the belly bulge that had been driving me insane. I thought thin was enough so I gave no thought whatsoever to the muscle I’d lost along with the fat. It’s a mentality that dates back to my 16-year-old self struggling with body-image issues and trying to lose weight on a starvation diet.
WHAT FITNESS LOOKED LIKE TO ME THEN
A starvation diet. Every time I think about doing that now, I cringe. For a couple of days I ate nothing, drank only water and daydreamed about Big Macs and Double Cheeseburgers until a dizzy spell (or three) made me cave. Leaving McDonald’s with my Doublecheeseburger, large fry and strawberry milkshake, I recall feeling guilty, but definitely not enough to try that starving foolishness again. So now what?
In my 20’s it was Dexatrim – a little pill that offered enough caffeine to rev up my system and stave off hunger. I loved it! Eating has never held any great pleasure for me so taking something that kept me from even thinking about food was great! Then toward the end of my 20’s, I decided to give up meat. I wasn’t focused on losing weight, nor did I know anything about being a vegetarian, eating enough protein and balancing my carbohydrates. I just didn’t like how heavy meat made me feel so I didn’t want it in my body anymore. I could definitely have lost a few pounds, but it didn’t happen ’cause I doubled up on cheese, spaghetti, sandwiches, and pancakes to replace the meat thinking that I had to be healthier because I wasn’t eating meat. (Not my smartest move) So with all the new weight, I put myself on an exercise plan, looked for the next diet pill, and kept starting and stopping diet pills until I turned 50.
FITNESS NOW NEAR 60
Now, at age 57 and focused on improving my fitness with a balance of good nutrition, sustained weight loss, weightlifting, body-weight training, and cardio, I feel like I’m learning the true meaning of fitness for the first time. I’m facing my challenges instead of hiding from them:
- Learning that I was hiding behind the vegan label – not eating enough food because I thought less is better.
- Learning that food is energy instead of hiding my appetite behind a diet pill and that on my current plant-based/dairy and meat-free eating plan, I need to be proactive in getting enough protein. Eating more is actually healthier than eating less as long as the more is healthy too.
- Hiring a weight trainer – I always hated lifting weights or doing any body weight training but I don’t want to lose muscle this time.
- Forming new habits to control my cravings, and maintain a steady exercise regimen.
Of course these challenges are harder now when sitting seems a lot more enticing than doing another squat; or when I’d rather sleep in than wake up early to go to the gym.
But I’m thankful for this opportunity to improve my fitness at this age – ’cause running with my grandchildren is a whole lot more fun than being a rocking chair Nana if I don’t have to be.
Here’s to your health! 🙂