The Beginning Of My Fitness Journey…

I’ll be honest with you here.. I didn’t anticipate that I would be the person submitting content for this section of the blog, but I knew that it was something that I wanted to include in our content. I have been reaching out to fitness buffs within my network in hopes of finding someone who would be willing to lend their expertise about fitness strategies, but as of yet, I have been unsuccessful (ladies?? anyone??)

In the meantime, while the search the continues, I thought that I could step forward and contribute some stories around my own fitness journey.

Let me start with a little background. I was one of those kids who actually spent her childhood outside. We had an in-ground swimming pool, a huge sandbox in a big backyard, and our house backed onto a gigantic park that had a craft cart that came by once a week and we would make crap out of macaroni to give to our parents to stick on the fridge. I lived in a tree, who I named ‘Mable the Maple‘ and spent hours driving around our crescent on my big wheel with my pet praying mantis, who I named ‘lovie‘, hanging onto my shoulder for dear life.

I don’t know why my mantis never just flew away?? Do insects feel love? Mine did, as far as I was concerned.

As our family got a little older, we started to go to Algonquin Park in Central Ontario and would enjoy tent camping for one – two months at a time. I reflect back on all of the summers that I spent in Algonquin as the best times of my life. We canoed, kayaked, mastered the art of fly fishing (bait fishermen are the lowest rung of fishermen.. haha) ventured on all of Algonquin’s many trails along the parkway corridor dozens of times, each.

I would give anything to go back to those summers before the weight of the world came to rest on my shoulders.

Unfortunately, once I entered into my teenage years, the days back home eventually were less and less about going outside and hanging upside down in my ‘Mable the Maple‘ and more about how many times I could watch the same episode of the Simpsons without getting bored.

(I have yet to discover the answer to that question)

For a brief stint, I became extremely into road cycling. I got up super early everyday and then cycle about 13 km to the Allanburg Bridge near Niagara Falls, where I was even able to go up on the bridge a few times when they let boats through the locks. Then I would travel another 13ish km to Port Dalhousie Pier and enjoy things by the water and have a small meal. Then I would bike the 30ish km home, non-stop on the back country roads, which skirted the escarpment and brought me through vineyards and lots of small towns and villages with plenty to offer.

I really don’t why I stopped biking because the only thing that I can remember about it is how much I loved it. What I do remember, however, is that it would probably be around this time that I started smoking cigarettes and pot, hanging out with the wrong crowd, and drinking excessively (which eventually stopped about 5 years ago). Coincidence?? Man, I hope so.. but let’s be honest.

I have to come to turns that my life took a turn for the worse and I was the one who made the bad decisions that brought me there.

Many, many years later, I got my dogs, Penny, Beau, Ben, and Polly (deceased) and I began taking two 45 min walks/day. Beau & Ben are both Chihuahuas and so they sort of just tore around the front yard. Polly was 2 million and 2 years old and so she barely walked anywhere, but Penny is my HuskyX girl who has always been bursting with energy and was a great walking companion.

As it turned out, I had acquired all of my dogs (plus 2 cats) due to what turned out to be one of my first manic episodes of an eventual bipolar 1 disorder diagnosis. You can read a little more about all of that here.

My pets are the best mistake I ever made. I am happy that my mistakes were covered in fur and not human in nature. Boy o Boy!!

In time, I would begin a very significant regimen of medication that saps any ounce of energy out of me that the illness doesn’t and would enter into a depression that I continue to deal with to this day.

Walks with Penny became fewer and fewer. When I moved to Toronto, nearly 8yrs ago, we would take daily trips to the dog park, but after an unfortunate biting incident where Penny was culprit, even that stopped.

My partner, John, has a Labrador, Edie, who is a spry 9yr old girl and would very much appreciate some time spent outside, just as much as my girl Penny would, I’m sure.

Thanks to Johnny, they get basic walks everyday (10 – 15 mins) and plenty of pee breaks, but not the breaks that they deserve. When John is working, they are limited to pee breaks. Not like the walks that I used to enjoy with Penny when we lived in Winnipeg.

Now can you see why I was so reluctant to be the one to contribute to the fitness section?

I am happy to say that as of very recently, many of things have been changing for me and I have reason to believe that those changes could become permanent if I am proactive. I feel like this has the potential to be one of those stories where, if I can do it, anyone can.

I have blogged about one of these developments, pertaining to brain stimulation therapy, in my mental health blog over at Tickety Blog  and will continue to include related posts in the mental health section here on She Zine.

In addition, I have connected with the F.R.E.S.H. Program via the Gerstein Centre, which offers many options for getting active as part of a group or one-on-one. I have already joined a ladies aqua fit group that meets for healthy drinks and then goes to the YMCA for an hour or so.

Seeing as I don’t presently have a bathing suit and don’t currently have the confidence to pull one off, I will be splintering from the group once we get into the Y and heading over to the machines. A F.R.E.S.H. facilitator is going to make himself available to me to help me familiarize myself with the machines, so I don’t feel totally out of the place by the equipment on my own.

Maybe after losing 10lbs or so I will consider putting myself into a bathing suit. I’ve already been shopping extensively and found this little number on ModCloth. I like how they picture almost all of their suits on different body types, so you can get a realistic idea of what the item may look like on your curvy bod.

I am also on a waitlist with the F.R.E.S.H. Program for someone to come to visit me at home and help me to get out of the house with my dogs. My goal is to take 20 – 45 min walks with Edie and Penny. We live in a great neighbourhood for nice long strolls, with lots of different options to turn left/turn right and have a completely different experience each and everyday.

We are also extremely close to High Park, which is covered in paths and home to a few off leash areas. Due to Penny’s biting incident some years ago I probably wouldn’t risk letting her off leash again, but if she is under control, she is okay to be around other dogs. I think it would be good for her.

**I hope she’s a good girl**

I know that it may sound a little silly that I am connecting with literal hand holders to get me started on a fitter and healthier lifestyle, but to truly understand why that is, you would really have to understand what my life has looked like for the past decade.. and that has been a life spent mostly in bed.

My bipolar depression has turned into a rut years ago and I haven’t been able to get out of it. Like I said, I will be beginning new treatments as part of my care plan and I have been very lucky to connect to services with people who will hopefully give me the push I need to change my life.

If I can get out of my rut, I may be able to develop new habits.. and with any luck.. they’ll stick.

How long does it take for a new habit to stick??? I think they say 21 days.

That’s my goal. #21days!!

I will be checking in every Wednesday, either before or after my meeting with the aqua fit ladies, to fill you all in with my adventures at the Y. Once I have been connected with my F.R.E.S.H. volunteer, I will also be able to share photos from our dog walks together. You all will get to see the beautiful neighbourhood I live in!

I am looking forward to sharing this journey with you all and hope that you will lend your support from time to time in the comments. I’m sure I’ll need it!

If you feel that you have experiences that you would like to share with us in the fitness section, like healthy eating practices, exercise regimens, weight loss tactics… anything… please!! blog.

Get in touch with us!

We’d love to incorporate your writing into the blog!!

PS :: I started my diet over the weekend have already lost 6.3lbs, bringing my down from 188.7lbs to 182.4lb. I will note that I am on a variety of medication that has very negative effects on my metabolism, which may play a roll in quickly or slowly I lose weight. I will include more detailed information about my selected diet, my meal plan, and my intended exercise regimen during my next fitness post.

Stay tuned!

Editor’s Note: These are ‘journal styled’ posts following my own journey to lose weight put on by leading a sedentary lifestyle through an improved way of eating and the introduction of healthy exercise. I am not advocating a diet here and do not want these posts to be mistaken as the promotion of ‘diet culture’ or fat shaming. It takes a great deal of confidence and body positivity for you to decide to lead a better life and do so in a healthy way. Love your body, regardless of what the scale says, and the lead your best life. 

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