I stepped away from creating content for a while, feeling like I didn’t have the time to be creative and express what was on my mind with everything going on in every other part of my life.
A sudden influx of Treasury Board submissions without the right amount of staff to support them. Growing kids who needed us to help them with the struggles going on in their lives. No matter which way I looked, it felt like something was fighting for my attention, and I had no idea how I was going to get out from under it all.
But after coming into 2023, determined to learn from the things that made my 2022 so difficult, I started seeing things changing for the better. My new work attitude helped me get things done, trusting my staff to handle their portfolios instead of getting involved in every little decision. And it didn’t hurt that I finally started using OneNote to keep everything organised, using the sections for each portfolio to not only track updates on the work, but also request more info from the leads whenever I needed them. Taming my full-time job played a big role in dealing with part of my 2022 that I hadn’t beaten yet—the problems with my health.
Who Knew How Much of a Difference Water Could Make???
I got the news a couple of days before Christmas—that with a blood pressure of 136/89, I was getting dangerously close to hypertension and needed to start watching how much sodium I was taking in with my diet. And with my blood glucose starting to veer into the pre-diabetes range, I needed to watch what sugar I was taking in, too.
Funny enough, I’d already been making some strides by this point—in November, I’d made the switch to drinking water from the soft drinks and beer I’d frequently consume before, trying to hit three litres a day to build some healthier habits into my life.
And some of the effects were pretty immediate! I shaved twelve pounds off my peak pandemic weight, and some of my older clothes were starting to fit again. I wouldn’t cramp up after vigorous physical activity, which I’d been attributing to age instead of hydration. Grogginess seemed to be a thing of the past when I woke up and didn’t miss my other drinks after a while. In fact, I tried having a beer the other day in a moment of frustration, and despite it being on the lighter side at 4.8% alcohol, my head started feeling a little light after only a few sips, so it didn’t quite feel like it’s currently the thing for me.
But despite those efforts, that doctor’s visit showed that hydration was just the start of my journey. There was much more I still needed to do!
But Sometimes You’ve Gotta Go Low to Go High.
Like many of us, I spent a good chunk of the pandemic being the worst to my body, doing whatever I needed to survive.
I’d have a beer or two a night after long days of trapping ourselves inside with our kids, getting more jaded at the situation after those first three weeks passed further and further behind us. I’d order little snacks and treats to keep my spirits up—you may remember when I ordered a thousand Chupa Chups lollipops and spent the next 18 months trying to find good ways to get rid of them.
Soon enough, only a fraction of my wardrobe fit anymore—I was so dejected by everything that I didn’t care about what I did to myself. And that’s why while I was surprised when I got this news about my health, I wasn’t in disbelief. We so often spend our first decades convinced that we’re invincible, but this was a good wake-up call to remind me of that. I’d soon be entering my mid-life years, and if I wanted to age gracefully instead of painfully, it was high past time that I started making better changes for myself.
Change Before You Have To.
“It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes”— 2Pac, “Changes”, Greatest Hits (1998)
I wasn’t messing around—I finished my last box of Oatmeal Crisp and switched to Corn Flakes since its sugar content was so much less. (But then I discovered that Corn Flakes actually aren’t good for diabetics, and I’ll now soon finish them off so I can move over to Cheerios.) And as much as I love soft drinks, many of them have been sitting in my basement fridge since Christmastime, opening them only on special occasions or when we have other kids over for meals. I’ve been living a life of fruits, vegetables and water crackers between meals (I know, I know—carbs), not sure what I can eat and what I need to avoid because it’s all so new to me, and I need to find the help to figure out what the right path looks like for me.
But after talking to several people, I’ve started taking better steps forward with a bit of a plan.
What gets measured gets FIXED.
There are several figures that I should know at a glance to understand how healthy I am. Numbers like my:
- blood glucose levels to measure my blood sugars
- blood pressure to see whether I’ve made any progress at lowering from 136/89
- my resting heart rate to understand how healthy my heart is
And while I can put a couple of fingers on my neck and check my pulse to know what the last one is (but let’s not kid ourselves—with my love for data, I’m getting myself a proper fitness tracker to track this as soon as possible), the other two need more specific devices, with blood glucose and blood pressure monitors for the job.
But where to get them?
My mother recently pointed out that you can get blood pressure monitors at Costco, but the blood glucose monitor’s covered under my work’s insurance plan! More than that, we have an employee assistance program that can connect us to health professionals like dietitians.
Essentially, I’ve spent almost sixteen years as a public servant, but I’m finally learning how to take advantage of every tool that’s at my disposal to get the things I need to lead the best life possible—and after what’s been entirely too long a time, that finally includes my health.
A New Me for 2023!
So what does the future have in store?
1) I’m starting to find more time to work out.
Part of using OneNote to get organised has seen more room in my basement office to do things other than sit amidst my wayward piles of paper, and I can squeeze in just enough time in the day to get some thirty-minute sessions in for high-intensity interval training in with the weights that neighbours, family and friends were kind enough to send me.
2) I’m making it a priority to get outside and get FIT.
My mom’s tip was to fit in a vigorous ten-minute walk (at least) right after dinner to help bring my afflictions down, as it would help with digestion and not leave too many unnecessary elements just floating around in my bloodstream.
But more than that, my Facebook post seeking help from friends found me a whole bunch of people willing to take power walks with me, and I also discovered that we get a pretty decent discount on a Goodlife gym membership, so I’ll be heading in on Friday for a personal training consultation to a location that’s a fifteen-minute walk from me, mostly downhill. (Getting home won’t be so fun!)
3) I’ll find ways to enjoy the foods I like without endangering myself.
I’m not so naïve to think that I can return to my old ways of overconsumption, but I need a better understanding of what different foods do to me so I know what I can put on my plate in moderation. Doing this right is something I’m not about to give up on, especially when I’ve already started seeing some initial success. They might not be the most exciting choices I’ve made, but they’re some of the most necessary—hopefully, I’ll have some good progress to share as I continue this fitness journey!
The First Step of a Long Fitness Journey!
To those who’ve made it this far, thanks for reading my story—it’s been one of the biggest changes I’ve had to make to my life to date, but I’m quickly finding my rhythm with it all.
If you’re out there at the beginning steps of a fitness journey, too, and need someone to chat with, let me know. Everyone’s been encouraging, and I hope to pay the positivity forward! But with that said, this is but the first chapter in a very long story.
I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know a little more about what’s going on with me, and that I can come back to you soon with an update!
Thanks as always for reading, and until the next post, I remain,
4 replies on “The Road to Forty: Falling in Love with Fitness All Over Again!”
Good post. Would be great to revisit your ideas in 6 months and let us know how it’s going.
Thanks so much, Barbara! Yes—this is only the beginning of the journey and I look forward to sharing my progress as the days, weeks and months go on 😊 (Everyone might get bored of it by the time years come along! 😂)
I enjoyed this, I’m right there with you on the cusp of 40 and realizing health needs to be a top priority. Great work!
Thanks, Dave! It was a rude awakening, but a much-needed one — I can’t say I was ever much of one for working out before; I’d just play intramural sports with friends and rely on that for my exercise. But now, with so much in my schedule, a basement office workout session is the best I’m gonna get 😂
Hope you’re finding space for it in your life!