A New Year’s review: All reports are A-Okay!

I have celebrated my one-year anniversary of returning to the Wellness Center and, here at year’s end, I’ve taken stock.  Here are the stats:

1) Blood pressure: It’s now perfectly normal.  It was never bad in the clinical sense, but for me it had been creeping up. It’s crept downwards now and is stabilized in the totally healthy range.

2) Weight: The official record is that I’ve lost 8 pounds.  Unofficially, I can tell you I saw a much higher number on that scale than ever became public and so, in my mind’s eye, I’ve actually lost 14.  Either way, this may seem like an incredibly slow rate of loss to most people. I don’t care. I lost it and I lost it in a healthy manner. I now weigh what I weighed 5 years ago.  And I now have the physical stamina and skills to keep it up! I am still officially classified as overweight by the BMI scale (see National Institute of Health definition), but that’s downward from being just over the “obese” line—a very good thing.  I expect continued improvement throughout the new year.

3) Aches and pains: In short, they’ve disappeared.  None. Nada. Zip.  I realized this only recently—that they’re ALL gone.  One by one they disappeared but, frankly, I had gotten so used to a nagging pain in my hip that I just assumed it would be with me forever.  Then, mid-way through a vicious Holiday Season flu, I realized I was miserable, flu-wise, but nothing in my hips hurt. Hurrah!  This alone would have been worth the price of admission to the Wellness Center.  In addition to the hips, I had random pains in my legs, a shoulder that was creaky and the occasional overall stiffness. Gone now. All of it.

4)  Energy level: Excellent! For me, this is nothing short of miraculous.  Oh, I still love my afternoon naps, but I get up out of bed with cheer (and no pain) now, and I seem to accomplish a lot more during any given day—including making my way over to The Wellness Center.

5)  Milestones: I can do jumping jacks. I still vividly remember attempting to do them in Cardio Dance class (8:30 a.m. Thursdays) with Meredith. First, my breath didn’t hold out. Also, my ankles simply wouldn’t allow that movement.  Slowly I saw improvement. Today I am happy to say that, every now and then, I actually look forward to doing a bunch of jumping jacks in the middle of our routines. Thank you, Meredith.

6) Milestones: The Plank.The plank move comes into play in both Yoga and Pilates.  With a bad shoulder and simply no upper body strength to speak of, this was virtually impossible for me to do a year ago. Not any more. While I haven’t tested myself outside of class, I can usually hold the plank position for as long as any instructor wants me to.  I love this.

7)  Clothes: The loss of those 8 pounds and the general rearranging of muscles, tissue and flab (or what Wellness Center yoga instructor Peggy Cappy likes to refer to as “extra tissue) has resulted in a loss of about ½ a pant size. This means that everything’s fitting better and some things I simply couldn’t wear a year ago have returned to my wardrobe rotation.

There are many more milestones, big and small, and plenty of changes I’ve made in my life outside of the Wellness Center. For example, one of the things that got me into this mess in the first place was my tendency—because of my job—to sit at my computer for hours on end. Over the summer I entirely revamped my home office to create a workspace in which I could actually stand up to work on the computer, so I can alternate between sitting and standing.  I can also walk around in my office now, and try to do that when I talk on the telephone. I even cleared enough space to add a yoga mat where I can do some mid-morning stretches if I feel like it.  Furthermore, I usually set a timer that MAKES me stand up and move around every half hour or so.  (See what the New York Times as to say about sitting too much.)

Meanwhile, I have paid such close attention to my eating habits that I’ve learned quite a bit about when and how I get hungry and what I can do to avoid over-eating—in theory. That doesn’t mean I always employ those skills, but I’ve definitely gotten better at listening to my body’s signals and planning ahead to avoid food crises! A session with nutritionist Donna Poe was helpful in this regard as well.

I am currently reaping the benefits of re-dedicating myself to some strength training using the weight machines out on the fitness floor.  I’ll report in soon as to my progress in that area. I have to admit that this part is hard for me—I find the machines boring  (“1, 2, 3,…repeat.”) and therefore it’s hard to motivate myself. Yet, I find that trying to be very analytic about it, and keeping detailed records of what I have and haven’t done with the machines is helping to sustain my interest. That and, well, I can feel muscles returning—another good thing!

[For the beginning of this fitness journey,  see A metal cube of junk? That’s me. ]

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