January 26th, 2010
03:46 PM ET
By Meredith D. Clark
Two weeks after meeting my fellow Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge participants, I can safely say that my runner’s high (fitness high?) has worn off.
After I returned home from our first appearance on CNN, the reality of what it will take to get a healthier - and hopefully less hefty - me across the finish line in July really set in. I guess some small part of me expected the enthusiasm of working out with our head trainer, Laura Cozik, to miraculously melt my fat cells and firm me up a bit.
One step on the scale and two long looks in the mirror quickly helped me snap back to reality.
Since being selected in December, I’ve wondered what thing - an attitude? a feasible plan? - I’ll have to develop in order to complete this challenge. I submitted my video because a) I’m tired of losing and gaining the same 10 to 20 pounds, b) I want to break the cycle of obesity-related disease in my family and c) I want to help people like me see that we really can be the fit people that we want to be, despite busy schedules, complicated family histories and all. The finish line in New York will be the starting point of a lifestyle committed to my own fitness and well-being so that I can be better than I have been for the first 30 years of my life.
That takes learning how to live all over again. What brought me to this point - having regained 20 of 30 pounds I lost two years ago, embarrassed about my backslide (and my backside, ha ha) and determined not to let it happen again - are a jumble of behaviors and habits I’ve practiced in an ongoing battle to lose weight and keep it off.
This time, I’m out to get fit forever.
When diet programs place an asterisk next to a standout weight-loss winner’s shed poundage, the “results not typical” disclaimer is a reminder that there’s a reason big, permanent weight loss and improvement in wellness don’t come via quick fix. The evolution of going from couch potato or even moderately active to truly fit takes un-learning all of your bad habits, and retraining mind, body and spirit to embrace new ones.
When I realized this two weeks ago, I freaked. Bringing the kind of change I see in my mind’s eye will mean turning to exercise instead of chocolate, margaritas or my favorite meal when I seek comfort at the end of a long day. It will mean learning how to say ‘no’ to more activities in order to provide myself with ample time for rest, recovery and reflection. It means separating the haters from the celebrators as I work to be better than I have been before.
And in a generally un-American fashion, it will mean that all of these changes will have to occur s-l-o-w-l-y.
So instead of relying on the strategies that have worked with an expiration date, I’m using this time to re-learn the way I live. Whereas I’d normally start my workout regimen with a commitment to sweat for 45 minutes to an hour a day, seven days a week, my training for the tri begins with a 15-minute run two days this week, a 40-minute bike ride on two other days, a 30-minute session in the pool, and two days to do nothing.
Instead of cutting sugar cold-turkey (a practice that has helped me lose pounds and friends as I become increasingly irritable), my nutrition plan allows me to include just a little here and there. Eventually, I’ll wean myself off that white horse, but I don’t have to torture myself (or others) to do it.
Going slowly will probably be the hardest part of my triathlon training, but I have six months to find my groove, and a lifetime to sustain it. I hope you’ll join me.
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