Do Better, Feel Better

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that my focus here was going to shift slightly when I got back from all of my trips. I didn’t mean to hype that up at all, because the shift isn’t as exciting as it may have sounded. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and I know that now is the right time to start taking action on some of those thoughts.

First, let’s backtrack a bit. Two years ago, I said I was done making excuses. After years of carrying more extra weight than I cared to admit (although I did reveal the magic number back then), I finally felt so uncomfortable in my own skin that I had to make a change. Out of nowhere, I went from being a complete couch potato to someone who was up at 5:30 a.m., out the door and at the gym by 6 a.m.

I was doing that 4-5 days/week for a good 4 months (and lost 24 lbs. in the process), before I finished school and decided to spend my first few months of freedom getting blackout drunk instead. I still snuck in a few workouts and hikes here and there, but my focus was lost in a haze of hangovers. By the end of that summer, I was so unhappy with my life in Victoria that I knew I was ready for a big change; that change came in the form of a job offer from across the country. I quit my job, packed up my life and moved just 19 days later.

I made every excuse in the book not to workout in Toronto. It was too cold, there were no cheap community rec centres, the gym was too expensive and there was no time. (With my commute, I was out of the house for at least 12 hours/day, so that one was true.) But the full truth is that I just didn’t want to make the effort. I’d lost a few more pounds and, even though I hadn’t reached my goal weight, I felt “good enough”.

Fast forward to the spring. While hibernating that winter, I’d gained a few pounds back; it wasn’t much, but I still didn’t feel good about it. So, when I moved to Vancouver (and took my job with me), I decided to take advantage of the warmer climate and get serious about running again. I registered for what would’ve been my first half marathon and started running 2-3 days/week. (That first run around Queen’s Park in New West hurt so much!) I also started exploring trails all over the Lower Mainland, and even hiked the Chief.

I was just starting to get into a routine, when I was in a car accident last July. And even though I knew I was injured right away, I never imagined it would affect my life as much as it did, or that I’d still be in pain today.

It was 5 months before I set foot in a gym again, where the pain from my eagerness to run on a treadmill quickly showed me that I couldn’t (and still can’t). Based on my injuries, I’m forced to do other activities I don’t enjoy as much (swimming and cycling versus running and hiking). And no matter what I do, it all hurts – not as much as before, but enough to slow me down. As a result, I’ve gained a few more pounds, and now I’m back in that place where I don’t feel comfortable in my skin again.

It’s not about the numbers. In fact, I can’t tell you the last time I stepped on a scale. It’s the way my jeans feel when I sit down; the extra tug at my shirt to cover my stomach; the way my favourite jacket fits. I’m over it.

My mantra for 2014 was to “do good, feel good”, and part of that was to simply “be good to my body” – but I think it’s time to do better. After 8.5 months, I’m finally at a place in my recovery where I can afford to push myself a little harder. I want my early morning workouts back – even if I can only manage to squeeze in 30-45 minutes before work. My physiotherapist also suggested I do 1-2 sessions with a personal trainer, so they can give me a routine that will work around my injury and help me strengthen a few areas. Now that I’m home and have no major travel plans on the horizon, it seems like the perfect time to get started.

Over the past few days, I’ve been trying to decide how I can adjust my routine to incorporate more workouts. The first thing I need to do is start waking up at 6 a.m. every day Monday through Friday. Even if I don’t plan on working out some mornings, my alarm needs to go off at the same time every day, or I’ll stay in the habit of hiding under the warm covers and skipping the gym. Next week, I’m also starting a new course of treatment in my recovery: I’ll be getting cold laser therapy on my hip twice/week for a minimum of 3 weeks (longer if it’s helping). Knowing that, I think my workout routine will look something like this:

Monday: Early morning workout / Cold laser therapy in the afternoon
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Early morning workout / Cold laser therapy in the afternoon
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday/Sunday: Walk, swim or workout

Nothing crazy there. I just need to build it back into my routine, and find a balance between pushing myself but not too hard. The other change I’m making is to my diet – but we can talk about that next week.

If you only had 30 minutes to workout, what would you do in that time?

  • Hi Cait!

    I wish you well in your new routine. I’m looking to get active myself. Just as I started to make a plan I developed a soft tissue back injury (my physiotherapist calls it a creeper injury). So I’m working with her right now to help heal my back and then to ease back in to hopefully some weights and cardio. I have a bad history with working out. I’ve ended up in physio due to a personal trainer’s inexperience and the injury I sustained back then (about 5 years ago) still haunts me to this day. Be sure to research any personal trainer you use. My advice would be to find someone who has made this their life/passion, not just a job.

    I’m really looking forward to just getting out and walking. The rest will follow. The temperatures have just climbed over zero this week, at least in the day time. We have a few days of rain and fog now so that should take care of the snow. Then I can start small and hopefully start feeling better.

    Eventually, I have 100lbs I’d like to drop. It’s going to take a lot of work and a fair bit of support from my friends and family. I know I have to do it for myself and not anyone else. I’ve made a few attempts in the past but believe it or not, my debt helped to hold me back. I was so weighed down mentally that it was hard to work on my physical self. I don’t know if any one else on here has felt that way about their debt and their health.

    • I definitely felt that way, Trista. I didn’t start taking care of my health / trying to lose weight until I was nearly at the halfway mark of my debt repayment journey. Once I saw that I could tackle one thing, I felt like I could start tackling another. Maybe there will be a point where it doesn’t seem like such a burden… for me, it was like a lightbulb suddenly switched on. I know you’ll be able to do it, when you’re ready.

  • I’m a runner. Not a great, fast runner by any stretch of the imagination, but it gets me out, and makes me feel great, and like I’ve accomplished something. My biggest problem is I lost my two running buddies when I moved, and so I lost a huge support system. I require a bit of motivation to push myself a little farther and a little faster. So, I need new running friends. I have a running group on my radar. It is a learn to run program, even though I currently run. But since I run (jog?) a bit slower than what the C25K trains you for (6 min km) I think it will be a great sense of community, and also hopefully decrease my time.

    That all being said… I have some extra pounds that I’d really like to get rid of. I’m tall, and I carry my weight fairly well, but I’m ashamed to admit how much of a tummy I’ve gotten over the last few years. So I definitely need to work on that!

    • Losing your partner(s) in crime is the worst! My workout buddy is in Victoria. I have one friend I go for walks/hikes with here, but no one who is going to wake me up and force me to get out of bed in the morning. Looks like it’s up to us ;)

  • Good luck, Cait, with your planned cold laser therapy. Like gradually getting out of debt, getting back to health often is a long process that can’t be rushed (taking baby steps) but must be kept up with discipline and determination until it too becomes habit forming. In fact, after you are 100% healthy again, I daresay that you will have developed daily exercise / diet routines that you will continue for the rest of your life. I did a fast Google check on cold laser therapy (like you probably did too) and it indicates that several treatments are often required, depending on the severity of the condition. As the cost of this probably is not covered by medicare (although partially perhaps by your employer’s health coverage), this will become another expense item to factor into your budget going forward. That all said, good health is so important (especially as one ages – trust me, I know) that it is an expense that is well worth the money.

    To answer your question: over the years I’ve never used a gym (nor paid any membership fees), preferring instead to exercise at home – daily, the year round – to taped exercises and accompanying music (the old Jane Fonda / Richard Simmons workouts – now I’m dating myself! lol). Each to his/her own I say :-)

    • To date, I’ve kept all accident costs out of the budgets I post here… I’m saving that for a post, when it’s all said and done. But yes, it’s definitely something I’ll need to pay for out of pocket, until I get reimbursed later.

  • Hey Cait, Happy Wednesday!

    I had typed out a really long comment but lost it since I hit submit without filling in my name! duh!!

    So I’ll retype my response to your 30 min question before I get back to work…

    If I had 30 mins per day I would probably alternate cardio and strength every other day. My workouts are usually an hour per day/6 days per week — a high intensity cardio class (body combat), a weight class (body pump), a yoga class, a run outside, or a self-directed combo type workout in which I usually use free weights, do abs, and then run on the treadmill for 30 mins. I love days when I can squeeze in two workouts, which doesn’t happen very often… for example this past Sunday I went for a run in the morning and hot yoga in the evening :)

    Looking forward to your food/clean eating posts and chatting more about these topics!


    • Oh no! Sorry you lost your comment, Dayle. But thanks for writing another one. :)

      I like the idea of doing cardio one day, strength the next. If I’m ever limited to only 30 minutes, I think I’ll do just that.

  • Whenever I say “do better, feel better” aloud I feel inspired and happy. I love it! Simple and to the point. I am sorry your physical health has been pushed aside because of the accident. Car accidents are no fun, especially when people are hurt. My only exercise really is biking to and from work, which gives me about 50 minutes on the bike per day. I’m trying to do more of the things I love and stop making excuses for myself too. For me, it’s actually working less and taking care of myself more.

    I look forward to hearing about your journey to do better, feel better! Have a great day!

    • It’s awesome that you bike to work, Melanie! I can’t imagine doing that on the roads here… but if you sit at a desk all day, it’s obviously a great way to get a little exercise before/after work. :)

  • I’m with you, friend. I just joined a gym, and am going to do a strength training program that allegedly only takes 30 minutes, four times a week. I’ve been taking the baby dog out on one-mile runs in the middle of the day, too.

  • I wish you the best in establishing your new routine! I totally hear you on waking up early regardless, as I fall into the “warm covers” trap often. Walking is currently my favorite way of getting some sort of exercise. Sometimes I like to turn on music and dance around, too. I’ve been lifting my little weights and kettlebell as well.

    • The warm covers always get me! Especially if it’s still dark out… thankfully, the sun is shining a little earlier each day. :)

  • Getting back into an exercise routine can be such a challenge, so I wish you the best of luck in finding that again. I only have time (or rather, this is all the time I make right now, ha!) for 30 minute workouts in the mornings before work, so I’ve been trying to do lots of cardio. Luckily, my apartment has a gym so I go there and try to do the stationary bike, elliptical, or do a run/walk! Other times, workout DVDs are my saving grace (anything by Jillian Michaels is top notch).

    • Cardio definitely helps w/ weight loss, but I have to work on strengthening my lower back too, so I’ll need to mix things up a bit. Haven’t thought much about DVDs, so thanks for that reco!

  • It’s so hard when you’re derailed from a fitness routine for one reason or another. Seems you have quite a few of those. :( Glad to see you’re going to be getting back into a routine. If I had 30 minutes my preferred activity would be running on the beach.

  • I was a big runner for years. I did half marathons and races almost every weekend. But then I finished my last, goal race and totally crapped out on working out all together. I ended up gaining almost 50lbs. Now I’m trying to slowly work it off. It’s such a long and painful process, but starting slow is the only way to do it!

    • You did half marathons!? Girl, you are my hero. I’m pretty sure I need to give up on that dream.

      Slow and steady is the healthy way to do it. Wanna cheer each other on a little? :)

  • I fight the “too tired to work out” battle every single day – even though I know how much better I feel (and how much less stressed I feel) when I workout. And yet, every night, it’s the same emotional tug of war with myself. I know I should/I’m too tired/I really should work out/I’ll do it tomorrow.

    I think it’s great that you’re finding ways to getting back to working out and relieving your pain at the same time. I’m going to remember your daily work and motivation when I give these excuses to myself each night. You can do it!!

    • How is it that even though we KNOW something makes us feel good, we still find ways (and excuses) to stop ourselves from doing it?

      If you ever want someone to text you and tell you to wake up at a certain time, I’m your girl.

  • I also need to start waking up earlier and working out. Problem being that my kid is 99% of the time an early riser (earlier than mommy would like) but come 730-8pm (when kid is in bed) I have SO much to accomplish- cleaning from dinner (assuming hubby and I have even eaten yet), prep lunchx3, all things blog, husband time, etc etc plus get to be at a reasonable time. Needless to say working out often gets pushed off. In the summer I love going for evening walks/jobs either by myself or with friends though. Good luck:)

    • Man, and I thought I was busy… I can’t even imagine how crazy my schedule would be, if I had a kid on top of it all. You moms are my heroes, Catherine. Seriously. Hope the weather warms up soon, so you can go for those walks :)

  • You should devote 10 seconds of your time to #pfworkout. it misses you. Maybe I should tag you in all my #pfworkout tweets. :) If I had 30 minutes to work out, I’d probably start with just cardio – bike, or walking, or hiking – and then increase intensity from there. Strength training is very important, but until you’re able to allocate more time, I’d stick with activities you really love just so you associate your exercise with something fun and enjoyable.

  • ‘Atta girl! Starting over is never easy (especially in a situation like yours) but you’ll get to where you want to be slow and steady and there’s nothing wrong with that! Proud of you :)

    If I only had 30 minutes… I’d like to sneak in a quick run. That or ball & mat exercises with some weights thrown in. I’ve started doing more of that since I’ve been taking kick boxing and I really enjoy how much stronger it makes me feel!

    • Thanks, hun! If I can just get back into the habit of working out 3-4x/week this month, I’ll be happy.

      Ball and mat exercises are great – and are something my physiotherapist has asked me to do, specifically. How long have you been taking kickboxing classes? That’d be fun :)

  • Good luck with living the mantra! I actually tore up one of my knees in a skiing accident in high school and used it as an excuse to be considerably less active over the following decade. When I finally joined a gym, the free session with the personal trainer really helped me see how far I could still safely push things and how to find things to do that I liked and would actually stick with. I hope it works out well for you too.

    • Thanks, Mel! It’s nice to hear someone had a positive experience with a personal trainer. :)

  • Thanks for sharing this, Cait! You’re doing awesome. Exercising regularly has always been an issue for me and I’m pretty much always carrying around some extra weight. Running was my savior until I injured both my IT bands from running the Bolder Boulder unprepared. Ouch! I’ve struggled to get back into it, so I completely know how you feel. I don’t enjoy the low impact stuff as much. It’s hard for me to stay motivated by swimming and cycling. Your post has really inspired me to stop making excuses and do what I need to do. Keep up the good work!

    • Ouch! That would be awful. And I’m with you re: not loving low impact exercises. I want to break a sweat! Love the endorphins. But “just move daily” is the goal right now… I’ll have to work my way back up to the fun stuff. ;)

  • Good for you Cait! And all of those excuses are the same ones I used this winter haha! I’m starting to get back into working out and for the same reasons as you (my pants just don’t fit like they used to). I’m starting to do workout out videos in my apartment again and might join a yoga class because I’ve been saying I would for ages.

    • Yes, you have! Next time I’m in town, why don’t we go to a class versus go out for pizza and gelato? Maybe when you’re here!

  • Cait,
    Congrats on not making excuses. So weight loss – do weight training. Getting a personal trainer is a great way to get started. You have to trust me that you will not “bulk up” and instead with trim down much faster than you would just running. How do I know this? Because I was in the gym 5 days a week doing cardio and hardly losing…asked the fittest woman in the gym what I was doing wrong and she said “you aren’t doing weights”….started doing weights and the fat fell off.

    Also 75% of weight is what you put in your mouth….going to the gym is one thing but 75% of weight loss is food.

    Also your metabolism slows after 25 so I’m not sure of your age but if you are over 25 it might be a bit harder than the last time you lost weight (I also lived though losing weight while approaching 30 – boy was it tougher).

    So, you have done this before so you know you can do it again. Excuses are only the lies we tell ourselves… one else believes an excuse – only the person saying them does.

    You will do this, you will lose the weight and I so appreciate your blog. I read these all the time and I am hoping to see you divulge into investing and stocks next.


  • Sorry to hear how much your injury has affected your life. I too, have gained some extra weight and am making changes to get it in check. If I only had 30 mins to work out, I would do weight lifting, with cardio in between reps (jump rope, squat jumps, jumping lunges). It get’s your heart rate up AND builds sweet, sweet muscle.

  • Kettle bell workouts are perfect if you only have 30 mins a day! I suggest looking into Neghar Fonooni’s YouTube channel. She shares weekly quick workouts (appropriately titled “Kettlebell Quickies”) that are fun, quick, and challenging. I’ve been following her for a few months and I have definitely noticed a change in my body and even in my self-confidence. (Geez, I sound like a commercial… haha)

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