Thursday, 29 November 2012

"Challenges" Revisited

Being leader of my TOPS group is an interesting yet challenging position to hold.  The thing I love about TOPS is that group leaders do not have to be members who have reached their goal (called KOPS … Keep Off Pounds Sensibly).  Everyone is on the same journey and able to help each other.  The challenge is coming up with a meeting topic every week.  This is my second year as leader and sometimes I feel like I am just repeating what everyone already knows.  I try to keep an eye out for interesting topics on line or in magazines or anywhere else I find current weight loss news.  I cut and paste links for future reference, I tear out magazine articles and yummy looking low fat/low calorie recipes (I’ll have to look for some of those to share on here too), I scan other Blogs and I print things off the computer.  There is an overload of weight loss information out there and boy, sometimes you have to take things with a grain of salt and really consider the source.  Hmmm … there we have another future idea … ridiculous diet ideas.

I like to print off a monthly calendar with my meeting plans so the group knows what to expect each Monday night.  Since the holidays are so close I want to try to keep things fun and light BUT still informational.  I was going through some of the articles I have filed away when I came across something I had written just after I rejoined TOPS for the second time.  It seemed like something that I should haul out, dust off and post on this blog.  Don’t be fooled, my reasons are entirely selfish … I desperately need to get back into a regular exercise routine.  Teaser ... more on that next week.

I enjoy playing with words and when I finished writing this I thought it was pretty good, so decided to submit it to the TOPS NEWS magazine.  I was tickled when they considered it good enough to include in one of their issues.

So, here it is as one of my “mid week sneak-ins” …


There is a building located not too far from my home. It is a modern looking structure of concrete blocks and large panes of glass in the front, much like other buildings located around it. The parking lot of this particular building is quite large and no matter what time of day you drive by, its usually quite populated, indicating a significant number of people frequent this establishment.

I happen to know that to enter this building you need to "belong".

I "belong".  And my goodness, what a special feeling that is!

I have to admit it is a rather strange establishment. It draws in people for any number of reasons, each one personal. People walk in with a sense of duty, or dread, or trepidation and, I have been told but find it difficult to trust, in a few cases actual anticipation. People congregate here for periods of time and yet rarely speak to each other. Oh, there are familiar faces indicating regular attendance. People make eye contact and occasionally smile. There may be the type of terse chit-chat that occurs among people who happen to be in the same place for the same reason. I am sure that at some point relationships may have formed, but I am not privy to any such information.

Upon entering I am always greeted by a smiling, energetic young person. Once I verify that I do indeed "belong" to this particular establishment I get a cheerful hello. I know what happens to those who cannot prove their right to be there. I shudder to even think of it. I remember the initiation process. I remember the vows made. I am still burdened with the debt of the dues this organization extracts. But I "belong", so I am told that "they" hope I enjoy my visit. I know this is a ploy. I know what awaits me. They want to try to convince me that I should "enjoy" my visit.


I walk in, trying to squelch down the urge I feel to turn around and leave. But I push forward, changing into the uniform required. Oh yes, there is a strict dress code. I carry with me my bottle of water, the only sustenance allowed during my visit here.

I walk down the ramp and into the MAIN room. There are other rooms. Each one designated for a special purpose. At various times I have attempted to partake in the activities in these rooms, but have found myself totally lacking in the enthusiasm and admittedly, the unique talent, it requires to do so. So I contain my activities to the MAIN room.

No one turns to watch me enter.

I pause for a split second to take in what is waiting for me. What lies before me is a sight that, could he have even imagined such a place, would make the Grand Inquisitor tremble in anticipation and rub his hands together with sadistic glee.

My time has come again ...

Oh God help me ...

(SOB) ...

I have to start my workout!

Alright – I got that out of my system. For those of you still with me here, there really is a point to this. Today I reached a personal goal. This article is nothing but a blatant, no excuses, pat on my own back.

First though, a couple of disclaimers.
     1. To those of you who run marathons, let me say without a trace of sarcasm and with the utmost sincerity, I have nothing but respect.
     2. I have absolutely no aspirations to ever do so. My brain and my imagination say "oh yeah, that would be so cool". At which point my body chimes in with a resounding "NO WAY!!".
     3. To those of you who do run this is going to seem like mighty small potatoes. I don't care. Because to me – today – this is the whole damn buffet.

I used to go to the gym regularly.  Every other day, and I really enjoyed it. Even, dare I say, missed it when I could not go. However, real life took over (I was working two jobs, my father took ill and went into care, and I just plain got lazy and stopped looking after myself) and I found myself going only sporadically over the last three years. Again, life hands you things, and there are a few important events coming up over the next year and I decided with a resounding THWACK to the forehead that I had better get my act together and start looking after myself again.

At the beginning of March this year, I swallowed my pride, tucked my tail between my legs and sheepishly walked through those daunting doors once again. I am a die-hard cross trainer fan and started off doing that as my cardio workout. My daughter, who happens to be my biggest rooter in this endeavour, likes the treadmill. In thanks for her support, I decided that a little mother/daughter time walking side by side on the treadmills would be nice. Only one flaw in that plan ... I walk ... she runs. My first day on the treadmill I managed to do one mile in a little over 19 minutes. I had one mile down to about 13 minutes a few years ago ... this was not good! When I got off I was wondering, "was it possible that the floor was really moving or were my legs just made of jelly?” That day I decided on a little personal challenge. I was older ... I needed to get started on this reasonably slowly ... so my goal was a 14 minute mile. It would involve little spurts of my own personal version of running ... the "wog". Well – I soon found out that it took more than a few spurts.

To cut a long story short, by the middle of April I had the 14 minute mile down. I like to spend about a half hour on cardio, so I tested myself to see if I could do two ...NOPE! Tiredness won out and the second mile took longer.

To cut that story even shorter, today I did three consecutive 14 minute miles. Yup – 42 minutes to do three miles. 3.03 to be exact. Never win me any medals but ... Oh yeah ... feeling proud ... back to the cross trainer I go. Until Nicole said, "Gee mom, you should try to get that down to 13 minutes each." DAMN, the nerve of her, a challenge!

So, on I go to the next challenge ... 
Right now it seems like it is going to be getting myself out of bed tomorrow morning.

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