I’ve been hesitant to write this post, since I’m still in worse shape than most of you, and heavier than most of you, but every time I talk to someone about what I’ve been doing, they tell me I inspired them and they started exercising and/or eating better, so I better document this!

Since mid-February, I’ve lost 30 pounds! And I have no intention of stopping. Although I know I probably will. I’m human. But then I’ll restart! I probably should lose another 60 pounds? Maybe more? Who knows, doesn’t matter. I’m just working on feeling better. Feeling fit. Strong. Capable.

It took me a long time to get to this point.

My Exercise Thought Process

Why I can’t exercise and be fit:

  • I’m too old
  • I have way too far to go
  • I’ve had cancer!
  • I have arthritis in my hips
  • My abdominal surgeries left me with no ab muscles
  • My achilles are always swollen
  • I’m good at other things instead

The real truth:

Everything on the left is absolute bullshit. I can do hard things. You can do hard things. Nothing was holding me back but me and my excuses. Sound familiar? Go for a walk.

So what am I doing… Well, I’ve learned I can’t just do diet related fixes. And on the flip side, I also can’t just exercise and eat whatever. I have to do it all at the same time or I lose motivation because it doesn’t work.

I’m counting every calorie I consume, every calorie I burn (to the best of my ability), and I exercise at least 6 times a week, but usually more like twice a day if you count our evening dog walk too.

One of the podcasts I listened to last fall, when I was solo camping, hit me in all the right places. It was Joe De Sena, cofounder of the Spartan Races, on Joe Rogan. Listen here. He was talking about all things that were passionate to me when I was younger, but which got lost along the way. I picked up one of his books, and his idea of finding your North Star really resonated with me. Where do I want to be? Well that’s like my North Star. Every time I’m going to decide if I really want to do this, or eat that, I look to the idea of my North Star. Does this decision help me travel there? Or is it a detour? I don’t need a detour. Carry on then.

My Fitness Toolbox:

💪Lose It! – This is an app on my phone. I pay annually for the app. Every meal, I enter what I ate, and aim to eat at a deficit with a goal of losing two pounds a week. I plan ahead meals I suspect will be larger, like when I know we’re going out for dinner, so I can plan my calorie budget around it. I weigh food, measure food, and use the app’s database to search for foods or scan the barcode of a prepared food. I’ve been tracking 123 days in a row. I eat some meals that are mostly leaves (spinach and arugula) but most of the time I’m eating fairly normally, just all in moderation. The only things I’ve cut out are french fries, chips, and candy.

💪Apple Watch – I wear my Apple Watch all day and track my exercise, so I can monitor heart rate, calories burned (accurate? Who knows, but it is what I have).

💪Renpho – I bought this smart scale because I love data. I weigh myself every single morning and it logs all the data to my phone via Bluetooth. This helps me think about yesterday and how it reflected on my progress today. Some days are up, some are down, but having data in front of me every single day helps me carry on. It shows me my bone mass, water content, BMI, body fat, etc. Yep, I’m still obese. In fact it tells me every day my metabolic age is 52. I’m only 45. My goal is to improve this number. It hasn’t budged yet, but I’m determined to make it decline!

💪BeachBody – I started exercising last fall using the Nike Training app, and for awhile I loved that the exercises really had no personality attached to them, but once I finished the beginner ones, the intermediate ones were just too far out of my reach. My wrists were sore because I was heavy and not getting lighter. What I needed was a plan defined for me. Tell me what to do, when to do it, how to do it. If I have to decide what exercise I want to do everyday, and look for free YouTube videos, I’m not going to succeed. I remembered trying P90X from Beachbody years ago, and I liked how it took the thinking out of the it, so I went to Beachbody, only to learn they’ve gone to a new on demand, online setup, rather than DVDs. Nice! A year long on demand membership was about $10 a month I think?

Beachbody is filling this guidance role nicely for me. I pick a program and it tells me what to do every day. There are even printable calendars so you can see what is next! The programs are videos that you stream. I prefer the “real time” programs, so every day is new, rather than repeating the same videos every week. There is usually a fitness instructor with a “cast” and they are going through the program with you. There is always at least one modifier person, who is taking out the jumping and easing back on of the extreme moves. I feel like I’m in the privacy of my home, but I also like feeling like I’m one of the group and I talk back to my screen pretty often. “Hold on just a sec Autumn!” “Are you kidding me?” “You want me to put my leg where?”

I started with a beginner program, just to get moving. I picked Country Heat, which is all movement while standing on your feet. No burpies or push-ups, no sit ups or dumbbells in that one. Basically a bit of line dancing, to country music (although I don’t like country and this was fun music!) – just exercise to music, moving around. It was 4 weeks long. Then I did 21 Day Fix, followed by a couple weeks of Focus T25. That one was a bit too intense and serious for me, so I switch to Morning Meltdown for a bit, then did the early release of Let’s Get Up, and now I’m on to 80 Day Obsession! It’s an 80 day intense program, and some days are 60 minutes longs! But I love it. So far!

Sure I have to modify some things, I mean sheesh, the instructor on this program is super fit 108 pounds, but I’m really noticeably stronger every single week and I’m making significant improvements in my strength and flexibility. When I started, I couldn’t do a single crunch or sit-up. My abdominal muscles just didn’t engage after two surgeries. But now I can do sit ups! I can also do some push ups up on my toes, but usually I’m still on my knees. I was once so fit I remember demo’ing the perfect push-ups to a grade 9 male gym class because they saw me working out for basketball practice. I’m so humbled being so far from that! I can’t do side planks with only one hand and a foot on the floor, so I modify and keep my hip down. Every day I still try. Every day I get stronger. Heck, when I started out, I had trouble just getting down on the floor and back up again, and why did so many exercises purposely make you get down and then get back up!? Oh, right.

💪Shakeology – Made by Beachbody, I drink a shake every afternoon. It’s a protein shake with all sorts of minerals and vitamins and so called super-foods, even chaga is in it! It helps me not snack and helps me power through my workouts after my work day. It’s basically like ice cream or a milk shake, but without a ton of calories. I just budget for it every day, and it has replaced my vitamins and supplements. It’s powder based so I pop it in the blender with berries and milk (real milk, or oat, or almond), sometimes peanut butter and a banana.

💪Exercise equipment – Each exercise program needs a bit of equipment. Jeff helped me mount a bunch of them behind my office door. I’ve got a foam roller to work out the sore muscles, and a variety of yoga mats, gym mats, and a thicker mat. Also elastic loops and sliders, and a selection of dumbbells. I bought a pair of cross training shoes that are made for these type of home exercises (these ones). And clothes – well you can wear anything to exercise! Leggings, shorts, bike shorts, t-shirt, tank top – they all work!

💪Dumbells – I started with just 5lb weights. Each time I’ve been in Whitehorse, I keep my eyes open for more. Now I have 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 lb dumbbells. I used the 20 lbs for the first time on leg day last week! If you are in Canada, Sportchek shipped me the 15 lb ones for a really reasonable price.

💪SheFit – SheFit makes the best sports bras. I mean, they are practically harnesses at my size, but they let me do jumping jacks! They have velcro straps, and velcro backs. You can cross the straps, or not. They are so incredibly adjustable. Enough said. Get one if you need to harness the bounce 😀

💪Hot tub – It sure is nice to soak in hot water every night before bed.

💪Social Media – I can do without most of social media these days, but I love following the Beachbody groups on Facebook, looking at pictures of fit people, people working on themselves, everyone with a sweaty glow. So inspiring and helps drive my change. Beachbody also sets you up with a coach who leads a small shared group which is a bonus place for motivation and inspiration.

💪Sweaty Selfies – I take a selfie picture of my face every couple of weeks after exercising and I tuck them away in a photo gallery so I can see my progress. The one up in the top header of this post was from April 11.

💪 A supportive spouse – Jeff gives me all the space and support I need, even if that means I’m not making dinner, or need to lock myself in my office for an hour to exercise.

I aim for losing two pounds a week, but it has been much slower than that. Maybe due to building muscle, retaining fluid for healing sore muscles, or just the way it works when you are 45? But I’ll take it. I think I’m already lighter than I have been since we got married in 2007? Hard to say, I didn’t weigh myself for years. I think if I wasn’t exercising, the weight loss would be faster, but I’m really aiming for fitness over thinness. I love feeling strong and capable! Who wants to be skinny and weak? Nah!

Here is me today after a haircut. I’m starting to see the change in my face and I like it! I’m also starting to fit in smaller clothes, which feels awesome!

Want to try a sample workout? Let’s Get Up is a really fun, motivational one to try. It is a beginner level one, but is as challenging as you want to make it. The sample needs no equipment. The program is a month long, 6 days a week. Here is a sample of what one of the dance days are like. It’s so body positive and motivational. Give it a try!

We’re going camping soon. I’m a bit worried it will throw me off my routine, and I’m tempted to bring it all with me, but I think I can be active enough while camping, hiking maybe? and just pick it all back up when I get home. I may download a few exercises that require no equipment maybe, like that one above, and take my iPad with me. Food though – no regular camping binges for me! I’m even off drinking – too many calories!