A major component of the Amy Reinvention and Reconstruction Project of 2012 is getting myself healthy. Well, healthier, anyway. Prior to embarking on the ARRP, I smoked a pack a day and ate all kinds of fried food, sugar, salt and general crap. I sat on my behind at every opportunity and ran only when chased. Only by the grace of God and good genetics was I not an overweight sloth with high blood pressure and hypertension.
In June, after the dust had settled from the breakup of my marriage (more on that later), and with my 40th birthday looming (July 31, to be exact), I looked in the mirror and thought, “Girl, you have really got to get your shit together.” I had lost a lot of weight because of the stress of that long and painful breakup, and I had zero energy. I looked scrawny, pasty and pitiful.
And frankly, it pissed me off.
So on July 1, for no other reason than vanity, I quit smoking. I briefly relapsed, but it finally “took” on Aug. 7. It’s been two months since I put nicotine of any kind in my body. I can’t promise that I will never smoke again, but I'm going to try really, really hard not to. I like myself much better as a nonsmoker.
Anyhoo, once I decided to quit, I knew that, in order to put down the cigs successfully, I had to come up with a diversion. I chose exercise.
I have never been a huge fan of working out. It hurts, for one thing. And being a smoker, it always required a lot more lung power than I could muster. Me huffing and puffing on the elliptical machine was not a pretty sight. My stamina was nonexistent, which made it easy for me to say, “Screw it,” and go outside for a smoke.
I worked out sporadically over the years, but never really got anywhere with it, and I didn’t want to fall back into old patterns. This time I had goals – to build muscle, stamina and maintain a healthy weight, despite my metabolism taking a nosedive with the nicotine out of my body.
This go around, I did some research and made a realistic plan that had a shot in hell of long-term success. I chose activities I actually like. I decided to work out in the evenings, because I am not a morning person -- I won’t get up at 4 a.m. unless the damn house is on fire. I found the perfect little fitness studio, New Leaf Fit, just blocks from my house that offers Zumba classes and a pilates/yoga mix. I love the class content, the instructors and my classmates.
I am using hand weights in my basement and the fitness center at Lakeside Swim Club, where I am already a member. No need to get sucked into an expensive gym membership I will never use, like I’ve done in the past. And I’ve recently started to run short distances in my neighborhood. On purpose. With no one chasing me.
Lo and behold, after three months of consistently working out at least 5 days a week, I look forward to exercising. In fact, if I don’t do it for a couple days, I miss it… it’s the damndest thing. The best part is, I have some muscle definition in my arms and abs, as well as increased stamina. I do not huff and puff any worse than a nonsmoker. It’s amazing!
In tandem with exercise, I have also – kind of accidentally – adopted a healthier diet. Exercise makes me crave fruit and granola, baked fish and spinach salad. (No, really.) Too much butter or fried food makes me nauseous these days. As a third-generation Southern cook, I’m conflicted about that, but I digress.
The headline on this post is a status update I jokingly put on on my Facebook and Twitter profiles. I don’t work out just so I can gorge myself on bacon, although that is one food I will never entirely give up. (Hello?? It’s bacon, after all.) I work out because I have created a realistic fitness plan that is easy to maintain. I like how it makes me feel, and I love the results it brings, on so many levels.
That’s kind of how I am approaching this new business venture…. I have created a realistic business development plan that is simple to follow. I love to write, so the idea of doing it for a living on my own terms feels great. And so far, I like the results free-lance writing brings, both for my clients and my own pocketbook.
Hmm, sounds like a healthy approach all the way around, now doesn’t it?
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After nine years, she's still just saying.