A Journey of Inches Not Pounds
The scale lies, don’t let it discourage you.
On August 17 this year, I began a new journey. At the time it was all about my mental health. The ongoing saga with my mother and daughters has ravaged my mind. I needed peace. The one place I could find that was walking in the forest. So, I started walking. When I was feeling angry, I tied up the laces of my runners and went for a walk. When I was depressed, frustrated, sad, you name it, if there was an emotion I could not control, I hit the forest trails.
The first couple of weeks I sometimes walked multiple times a day. I would mutter and rant to myself, having one-sided conversations with all the people who were hurting me. I would walk and mutter until I could not stand listening to myself. And eventually, as the walks progressed, I found I was able to look up and around and see the trees, hear the river and critters, and breathe deep the fresh air. And my mind would finally settle. It was and remains the best therapy I have ever had.
In the back of mind, I had other goals I wanted to achieve with my walking, they just weren’t the catalyst that got me started. They were/are, however, important. I didn’t want to make weight the focus of my goal. I was walking for my mental and physical health, if I lost weight in the process, bonus. But I had put on too much weight in recent years and this was impacting me in several negative ways. My blood sugar levels were creeping from high-normal to pre-diabetes. I have had high blood pressure for over a decade, and I would like to have that under better control. And I was embarrassed by how winded I got going up a flight of stairs or walking up a hill. At 55 years old, I knew I had to change the direction I was headed, or I would end up spending the last third of my life unhealthy and as such, unhappy.
When I started walking my goal was to walk 10,000 steps a day. I increased this to 90,000 steps a week, typically 14,000 steps on weekdays, and 10,000 on weekends. I have walked just over 1,000 kilometers in four months, approximately the distance from Vancouver to Calgary! Two weeks ago, I introduced some ab workouts to my routine. As of writing, I am up to 25 crunches, 25 leg lifts, and a 25-second plank daily. I increase this number by 2 to 3 reps every day. I plan to do 40 of each on the beach in Hawaii on Christmas day.
So, what have I learned and achieved? Firstly, the forest is my church. I have a couple of favourite spots that I now call my mediation locations. I stop at one of them halfway through every walk. I slow my breathing and my racing brain and inhale the forest. I ground myself with the earth and remind myself that I am part of the greater cycle of life, and my worries are not important in that cycle. The trees are a literal filter. As I exhale the toxicity within me, the trees inhale it. And as they exhale their oxygen, it cleanses me with every inhale. If you are struggling, I highly recommend time in nature.
I wear a Fitbit and, from a fitness perspective, I am not sure I would be able to stick with what I have been doing without it. It helps me track progress beyond the bathroom scale. It tracks my active heart rate, resting heart rate, oxygen saturation, calories burned, steps taken, kilometers traveled, and a whole lot more. This has allowed me to see where I am making progress in areas that may not be physically apparent. And happily, I have made some progress.
About two months ago I decided to brand my journey the “Reverse Aging Project.” I set a new goal that I wanted to be healthier and look better at 55 than I did at 50. And then, if possible, stay on the path of looking and feeling younger. I am not a big of the whole before and after photos thing, but I have all kinds of other before and after evidence that is motivation to keep me on this journey.
In four months, I have lost 7” from my hips, 5.5” inches from my waist, and 3” from my bust. I can now also walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. I can jog for portions of my walk and still carry on a conversation. And I have muscles in places I never have had before. Mentally, I am also in a better place. I still struggle with my family situation, but I have an effective way to manage those struggles now. And perhaps most exciting, I went from having gotten too big to fit into most extra-large size clothes to yesterday buying a dress for New Year's Eve, and it was a size large! I am down a size and a half. And, I think my face looks much thinner (see photos below). Overall, I am pretty pleased with these results.
July 2021 December 2021
But I have also learned that the scale lies. Although from the outset I committed to not making this about weight loss, of course, it is only natural to track my progress this way. So, I have weighed myself weekly and that has been an incredibly discouraging process. In four months, I have only lost 9.5 pounds. I seem to be stuck at the same weight. It is frustrating. If I was only relying on the scale to track my progress, I would have given up by now because I would have liked to have lost closer to 16 pounds, or a pound a week. But, if I didn’t believe it before, after feeling so great in my new sparkly new year’s dress, I know now that the scale lies, so I am not giving it any power over my progress.
So with all that being said, this is my wish for the new year for all my readers… that you too embark on a “Reverse Aging Project.” It can look and feel anyway you want. The idea isn’t to try and falsely recapture some past version of yourself, but rather to create a better version of your younger selves. One that is confident, healthy, strong, mentally clear, and open to fun, adventure, and opportunity. We do not need to lose our youthful spirit, energy, or drive as we age, we just must reinvent what it looks like. And along the way, make sure to ignore the scale!