Life is always easier if you're in the right gear.

Progress Isn’t Always Visible

Have you ever had one of those weeks or seasons in your fitness journey when you fail to see the results you expected? You did everything right. You followed the program, watched what you ate, worked out, drank water, rested, and yet, no change on any of the markers you are watching. It can be discouraging and demoralizing.  In the past, it’s been enough of an excuse for me to throw in the towel or to not even begin making the very necessary changes in my life.

I had one such week this last week.  I worked out every day, except for one where I was so sick I couldn’t move without getting dizzy or starting a coughing spell. I’ve been sick the whole week, and still I’ve managed to push play on the video and complete the workouts. I’ve also been sticking to my food plan. But today, when I weighed in…and with the exception of the half inch off my hips and biceps, no change in measurements.  I can’t even really explain it.  I also can’t really be horribly disappointed either.  After all, I’m only ending my second week of this journey and in spite of what the scale says, there’s a lot of positive stuff going on with me due to my efforts.  Progress isn’t always visible…at first.

For my own motivation and reflection, which is such a big factor in the success of any fitness endeavor, I’m recording the progress I’ve made in the last 13 days, even though it’s not showing up on the scale as quickly as I’d like.

First, alcohol consumption was a big deal for me.  I’m not an alcoholic, but I could put away the brew.  I was having several cocktails a night. Never enough to put me out of it…totally…but definitely over a thousand calories if you’re counting that kind of thing, which I wasn’t. I looked forward to events where I could sample the shots of different Lithuanian brews.  Drinking has always been a bit of a celebratory experience for me, so I knew quitting it would be a difficult endeavor. I didn’t want to stop and I wasn’t sure I’d be determined enough to stick with it.  But…something had to give.  I wasn’t sleeping well. I was gaining weight.  I just didn’t feel good. My body doesn’t fare well at this weight. Over the holidays, I began to taper back.  When I got back to Vilnius, where we are currently residing, I waited for two social events that I knew would involve drinking and the Monday after the last one, I started the Beachbody 21-Day Fix program. I’m now on Day #13.  I don’t drink every night any more and (here’s the hidden progress), I don’t desire to either.  I don’t have that itch to pour myself a drink.  I have my handy dandy 1.5 liter bottle full of water and at the ready all the time.  This is HUGE progress for me, because for most of last year, I dreaded starting seriously on any fitness regimen because I knew that if I was to be serious, the working out was only a small piece of the larger puzzle.  If I was going to be serious, the drink had to go.  It feels good.  This element alone was the thing I was most fearful of failing at…and so far I’m not failing at it.  I’m much stronger in this regard.  I’m also sleeping better and I feel more focused and energetic…even though this week I’ve been plagued with a respiratory virus of some sort.

My second weakness is my love of food.  I can eat anything and I usually do.  When I first opened the 21-Day Fix package and took a look at the teeny tiny containers that I’m supposed to measure my food portions with I just laughed.  I knew without even measuring that my current eating portions were several times what the 21-Day Fix plan specifies.  So, that was going to be a challenge.  To be honest, I have not been measuring my food out in the exact portions. I mean, I have to look at this not as a 21-Day or 60-Day or six month plan that I’ll do until I lose the weight and get in shape, but as a lifestyle change  I’m not going to measure my food like that.  I’m not going to count my calories that strictly. It’s too tedious and time consuming.  But I’m close. I do use the portion containers, but if I go over on veggies I don’t care. I really try to keep the good fats,and the nuts/dressings in line with program, because I know that’s where I can go off the boards. I don’t ever eat enough of the fruits, which I figure is okay. In keeping with the tight watch on portion control and eating clean, I have really slashed the amount of food I eat and changed what I eat. I need to eat more green veggies and I cannot give up creamer in my coffee. Still, this is progress that will eventually show up on the scale and in how my jeans fit, even if that wasn’t the case this week.

The last hurdle was my resistance to exercise.  It’s always that way.  Starting out is always far more difficult than just sticking with something.  Making a lifestyle change to include more activity is difficult to start.  It’s easier just to keep it going.  I hated going to the gym.  It wasn’t convenient and I always felt worse afterward.  I felt defeated.  But, the home video plan was a great option for me for several reasons.  I don’t have to think about planning a workout.  Just follow the calendar and push play.  The first week I found myself arguing with myself and trying to make excuses for delaying or not working out.  I’m not at that place any more.  Working out is a given for me now.  Even on rest days when I do some yoga or stretching or floor exercises for abs. In fact, I’ve learned that mornings don’t work for me as well as afternoons when I’m more alert and energetic and able to push myself. This is an internal change for me.  Exercise is now a part of my daily routine.  I’m past the hurdle of the “I don’t want to and this is going to be painful” stage.  I just do it.

Tauro Kalnas stepsWhile the scale didn’t reveal the progress I’d hoped (I was hoping for another 1-2 pounds down), it is encouraging to see that my size is still shrinking and that the big hurdles mentioned above have been addressed and conquered, at least, mentally and emotionally. I haven’t said much about it, but my flexibility has improved significantly and my ability to complete the videos without modifications is much improved as well. My body is responding far better than I would have anticipated in such a short time.  I’m not nearly as sore and I’m recovering much more quickly. In fact, earlier this week, I was out walking in the snow and at a very quick pace. During part of the walk I had to conquer this long flight of steps up the hill to my house.  This challenged me all summer long and I often had to stop for a few seconds about halfway up and catch my breath.  The other night I walked all the way up them in the snow and ice and, though I was breathing harder than usual, I was also dealing with this repiratory thing I have going on.  In spite of that, I wasn’t breathing that hard and my recovery was quick. That’s great progress! So, I’m encouraged.

All I have to do is continue to remind myself that big results come from small decisions made daily over time. I just have to keep at it and make the same choices every single day, sometimes every single hour. I am getting stronger every single day, and that feels really, really good.  I cannot wait to experience how it is all going to translate on the bike next summer.


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Hi, I'm Cat A.Olson, @According2Cat on Twitter, or @TheDigitalCat on Instagram, and I write about my cycling adventures. In 2010, after 25 years off the bike, I decided to get a bike and start riding again. In 2012, I was diagnosed with DCIS, an early and completely curable form of breast cancer. I had five weeks of radiation treatment and I rode my bike to nearly every treatment. In 2013, I decided to get a faster bike. I'm finally getting serious about losing weight, and riding really fast with the cool kids.

I ride every chance I get, as fast as I can, for as long as my body will allow. I'm learning how to embrace challenges like helmet hair, padded pants, clipless shoes, flat tires, bugs in my teeth, and...ugh...hills. I'm learning that both cycling and life are easier and a lot more fun when you're in the right gear.

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