2011 was quite possibly the biggest year of my life as far as fitness and health are concerned. I've written about my journey here, here, here, here, and blogged about my training and running of my first half marathon here. I am absolutely a different woman than I was 12 months ago and I won't be looking back.
For the first time since I was a high school athlete, exercise is a BIG part of my life. I've somehow turned into one of those people who get cranky if they don't get their scheduled workouts in for the week. Exercise has joined work and family at the top of my priority list.
The list of ways I benefit from frequent and vigorous exercise is extensive, but my favorites are:
- The way I feel: my body is stronger than it's ever been as an adult. Even on the days when I am SO sore from a hard workout, I remind myself how good this exercise is for my heart, my muscles, my bones, and every other part of my body.
- The way I look: even though I still have about 10 pounds to lose before getting to my goal weight, my body is more toned than it's ever been as an adult.
- Energy level: The first few months of early morning workouts weren't easy and I was so tired all day at work. But now that I'm used to it, I actually find that I have better energy to get me through my workday.
- Community: I love that after a year of taking the same boot camp class 3 days a week with the same group of women, I feel a stronger sense of community. I love running into these ladies when I'm out and about in my town. Sweating it out at 6 a.m. can really bring people together.
- SLEEP!!!!! Getting up at 5:15 a.m. four or more days a week to workout before I commute to work is not at all easy. I have it down to a science to where I barely have to open my eyes to get myself out the door. I shower and get ready for work at the gym, which isn't ideal. BUT...when I finally sit down at the end of the day after putting Sadie to bed, doing my daily chores, and getting everything ready for the next day, I am EXHAUSTED! I usually make it less than an hour before I'm headed upstairs to bed and it often takes me less than 5 minutes to fall asleep. As a lifelong insomniac, this is by far the very best reason for me to get up and exercise every day. I have never in my life slept so well, so consistently. It's heavenly. And being a well rested person most of the time makes me a better employee, wife, and mother. It all comes back to sleep, really.
So. For 2012. I'm going to continue pushing myself physically. I don't want to lose the momentum I've gained during 2011. I'm currently taking part in a challenge with my boot camp to complete half Iron Man distances during training over the next three weeks (actually the rest of my class is doing full Iron Man distances). In order to continue going to class three days a week, AND get 13.1 miles running, 1.2 miles swimming, and 56 miles of biking in, I'll be working out 6 days a week. I think that's bit excessive for the long term, but for a three week period, I think this will be just what I need to work off the holiday pounds I packed on, to increase my strength and endurance, and to help me FINALLY get to my goal weight.
Not sure what comes after that. I will definitely be doing the Bolder Boulder 10K race again, and will hopefully do some other races over the spring and summer. Not sure if I'll set my sights on another half marathon or maybe a triathalon. To be determined....
I can't finish up this post without talking about the scheduling of exercise in my busy life. I absolutely couldn't be making any of this work without my amazing co-parent. Brian and I have gotten to a place where exercise is important to both of us, so we're constantly trying to figure out how we can support each other in making time for our workouts. I'm thankful that we both see the benefits of exercise and can help each other reach our goals.