Fit by 40, The Recap
It’s over! The sixteen weeks of the Fit by 40 challenge have gone by so quickly! I have learned so much throughout this process. Originally, I thought I would make some minor changes to my routine and I would have the body of my 20s in just a few months time. How hard could it be right? (I can hear you chuckling…)
The reality is that I haven’t reached my goals yet and, even more important, I am OK with that. Had you told me at the beginning of this journey that I would be fine with still working toward my goals at the end, I would have been a bit skeptical. I have a tendency to work hard to meet goals and have been known to focus on them even more as deadlines approach. In fact, my original plan was to really buckle down toward the end if it became necessary, eating lots of salads and increasing my workouts, to ensure that I met my goal.
That plan started to fade shortly after I began reflecting on my progress each week. In really examining what went well and what needed work with such regularity, something surprising happened. While the focus of the challenge was becoming fit by 40, I began to truly understand that physical fitness was only one aspect of overall health and wellness. Emotional and spiritual wellbeing also play important parts.
The big change that occurred was that I realized having a more balanced life was a crucial aspect to my overall health and wellness. I knew that taking a balanced approach to eating and exercise would ensure lasting results, and quickly learned that balance was critical in other areas as well. Without balance, all of the changes I was making would be unsustainable. This included becoming more emotionally balanced as well as more spiritually balanced.
Within a few weeks, I realized the impact of the Fit by 40 challenge on my family. My husband Nick and I began having conversations about health and wellness with our children. We began exercising as a family two to three times a week and had conversations about food choices. The emotional support I received from my family helped me realize that I wasn’t doing this alone. We were doing it together and choosing a healthier lifestyle as a family. This even carried over to our vacation time. While on vacation, we enjoyed some delicious treats. Keeping our overall goals in mind, we decided to forgo our traditional fudge this year. Now that is support!
On the spiritual side of things, I began putting forth an effort to meditate on a daily basis. In the past, I considered praying and going to church enough to maintain my spiritual health. It was when I started looking at prayer as an opportunity for me to talk to God and meditation as on opportunity for me to listen to God that I started taking meditation more seriously. I have found it to be very calming and enjoyable. Now, I like to start and end my day with it!
You may remember that my goal in the Fit by 40 introduction was to lose 20 pounds and be exercising regularly be the conclusion of this challenge. So how did I do?
Goal #1: Lose 20 Pounds
The reality of the situation is that I have only lost six and a half pounds. I have to admit, I was pretty surprised by that. I stopped my weekly weigh ins after Week 7. Maybe keeping up with them would have been motivation, maybe it would have been discouraging. I was pretty excited to step on the scale though, because I have been feeling great!
This time, the higher number than I expected was much easier to accept. I know how much better I feel physically. My clothes fit better and I have been receiving compliments. I am even running again for the first time in over a decade and my lung capacity has increased so much.
Goal 1 ½ : Reduce Measurements
(This was not an official goal. It was mentioned in Week 1, so I figured I would follow up.)
Remember those measurements I took in Week 1? I recorded them and that was it. Their existence has been in the back of my mind throughout the challenge, though I never did anything else with them. I just assumed that I would lose inches in all areas by the time sixteen weeks were up.
Thankfully, that is exactly what happened. I lost half an inch in my chest, two and a half inches in my waist and an inch and a half in my hips. Even though I only lost six and a half pounds, I am guessing that some fat was replaced by muscle. I am so excited to see these measurements continue to drop as I keep exercising and losing weight.
Goal #2: Exercise Regularly
I am very happy to share that I am indeed exercising on a regular basis. Sometimes it is for 15 minutes, others for an hour or more. The intensity varies, the workouts change. Variety is the flavor of life! There are days I exercise with my family and days I exercise alone. The biggest difference between now and the beginning of this challenge is that my body craves the exercise. I had forgotten that feeling!
In looking back at the Fit by 40 Weekly recaps, I realized that there were always areas I could improve and that those areas fluctuated. This is wonderful news! With reflection, I became aware of what needed to be done to get back on track. Because the reflections were weekly, I was able to remedy situations pretty quickly. I am happy to report that I continue to do so much better in every area, especially eating sweets, since the challenge started.
This new lifestyle is a constant decision making process. Falling short in one area for a week or so is easily corrected. That is when it is time to forgive yourself and continue moving forward. This is a lesson I am still working on learning in some areas of life!
Perhaps I could have made more progress toward my original fitness goal. With a single minded focus, I may have even met it. However, my life would be far less balanced than it is now. Though I am still striving toward the same physical fitness goals, my overall wellness is already greater than I expected. That is a huge win in my book!
I know I will achieve my fitness goals too. It may happen a little later than my fortieth birthday and that is okay. What I have gained through this Fit by 40 challenge is a more balanced life with better overall health and wellness. And that is a better outcome than I could have hoped for sixteen weeks ago.
What have you learned about yourself through the Fit by 40 challenge?