One of the things I’ve learned on my fitness journey is: you can’t change everything all at once and hope to be successful. You can try, but usually all the changes are so overwhelming that you’re left with frustration and disappointment when you can’t meet all your goals. And when that happens you just give up. Instead, deciding to change one thing or committing to add one thing at a time to your routine until it is a habit yields far better and lasting results. Struggle with making poor food choices? Take it a meal at a time. Want to exercise more? Add one thing at a time with small goals that increase over time. Never worked out before? Just start moving more and then try a lot of different things until you find what you like to do.
Personally, I love looking back at where I’ve been and where I am now and seeing a huge difference. My own journey was more of an evolution than a radical change in my daily activities. Remember three years ago when I decided I liked running and then I had run a half marathon and three Ragnar relays within the span of two years? It all started with getting off the couch and walking until I could run and then systematically increasing how much running I did until I was capable of whatever I wanted. The same has been true of yoga. A year ago I “liked” yoga but didn’t practice more than once or twice a year. Sure I loved it when I did it but it wasn’t a weekly or even monthly habit. Now I practice four times a week – sometimes more – and am capable of so many things that I thought I would never be able to do like back bends, splits, arm balances and (almost) a headstand.
As much as I have loved my journey, until now I have not had the best of both worlds. I started my weekly yoga practice only a few months before I had to completely give up running because of my health issues. Yoga kept me sane and grounded (and active) while I couldn’t run and in the process I realized I loved yoga more than I ever had loved running. Or so I thought. Now my health is pretty much back to normal and I have been talking about adding running back in purely for the cardiovascular benefits. After a year of not running, I’ve completely gotten out of the habit; not to mention lost all my cardio capacity I had developed. Plus I have two kids with dance schedules now so juggling WHEN to run has gotten harder. I let that hard part stop me for a few weeks and finally decided that I just needed to do it. After all, the longer I waited the harder it was going to be to get back to where I was before I had to quit.
Yesterday, I went for a 3-mile walk/run (which was way more walking than anything) like I used to do every Sunday. I took my trusty running companion with me – my beloved elkhound – and picked a familiar route I used to run regularly. It starts with a challenging uphill and finishes with a rewarding downhill. It was amazing to be outside in the sunshine in my favorite running temperature (between 36-40 degrees). But what I didn’t expect was the emotional response when I rounded the bend to start the downhill. The vista of the Salt Lake valley and the Rocky Mountains rising in the distance hit me – almost physically. I have trained with that view of my mountains for every long-distance race I’ve ever run. I was home again whether I was running or walking. Most surprisingly, I hadn’t realized just how much I missed it until I was back. Not going to lie, I cried most of the way down the hill – almost a mile – but they were truly tears of joy.
Whether I can fit more than a Sunday run into my fitness routine right now doesn’t matter. Sundays are again run days. And once that has become a habit, I’ll tackle finding another established time for an additional run. Will it be the gym, at work, during the evenings or early mornings? I don’t know yet. I just know that small steps will eventually get me to my goal like every other time before. Maybe someday soon my personal label of “Writer, Runner, Overachiever” will be completely true once again.