it gets better than this

Leaving the house this morning, I was determined. Determined to have a good day. Determined to eat well. Determined to push myself with an hour work out that would leave me sweaty, stinky, and red-faced.

It started off well with hot green tea and a breakfast sandwich of a fried egg, canadian bacon, and cheese on an english muffin. But it went downhill quickly with an upset stomach and a sudden hit of exhaustion. I hadn't planned well for lunch - meaning I didn't have anything for lunch - which was a by product of being sick for a week and living off of Panera Bread or macaroni and cheese rather than cooking and eating homemade food.

There was a period of time when I strongly considered staying at the office for lunch rather than slipping into capris and a tank top and then heading to the gym. 12:00pm came and went which left me without a class to go to. The minutes ticked by, and at 12:45pm, I made the decision to leave the comfort of my office and head to the gym.

My hope had been that Tuesday would bring two work outs, but I listened to my body and slept in. For a moment, I thought my body was telling me to take Tuesday off entirely, but I realized that it wasn't my body - it was my mind.

A week away from the gym is mentally taxing. It takes approximately twenty-one days to set a habit and a routine, but it only takes a few days, at least for me, to break a habit and routine. Even though the week away from the gym was for my health, it still broke the habit and is making it difficult to get back into the routine.

But I did it. Sweat dripped down my face and soaked the back of my shirt. Three miles on the elliptical in 40 minutes, then 15 minutes spent on the stationary rower, and four minutes of stretching. I huffed and puffed on the elliptical. I focused on the lyrics to the songs on my playlist. I watched the clock on the elliptical and pushed myself to do sprints and intervals. I kept going on the stationary rower even though I was bored after five minutes.

I reminded myself of how far I have come so far. And I reminded myself of just how far I have left to go. It's overwhelming to realize that even though I have lost over 30 pounds I still have roughly 70 pounds left to lose.

Every work out I complete brings me closer to that goal. Every interval I do on the elliptical brings me closer to the goal of being a runner. Every time I push myself I become healthier and more fit.

I do wonder, though, when it will become too easy. When I will become complacent in my work outs. Because it has happened before. And I know it will happen again.

It's one of the reasons I enjoy watching The Biggest Loser. The episodes sometime go on for too long. There's often more product placement than I would like. And I fast forward through parts of it. But the work outs and the transformations continue to inspire me.

I often say "I can't do this" and "I can't do that." I blame the things I can't do on my knees and on my ankles. And I do have to be careful because of those things. But I also have to be careful because it's just me pushing myself on the elliptical and just me selecting which strength training moves to do.

I see where contestants are on The Biggest Loser, and I'm jealous. Jealous of the training and the one-on-one attention. Jealous of the facilities. I have two gym memberships. I have access to different classes, but there's so much I don't have that I wish I did.

So I have a choice. I can be frustrated that I don't have a trainer to count my intervals and increase the speed on the treadmill when they want me to run faster. I can sit on the couch and wish I had made the choice to get healthy earlier and subsequently try out for The Biggest Loser.

Or I can take the amenities available to me and figure out how to push myself.

I choose the latter. Even though figuring out how to push myself terrifies me. Because what happens if I get hurt? What would I do then?

When I finished my work out, my lovely heart rate monitor reminded me of something. I was already pushing myself.

I thought I wasn't. Leaving spin class after 30 minutes on Monday felt like a failure. Lifting weights Monday was hard and made me feel like I had lost all of my strength. But today I realized that the time off from working out made me stronger and healthier - even if it broke the habit and routine.

Do I have to be careful? Yes. Do I have to work out at my own pace and cater things to my knees and ankles? Yes. Does that mean I can't push myself? No.

I don't have the knowledge that a lot of people might. I am not at a place financially where I can spend money on one-on-one training - though I would love that. And I'm not a contestant on The Biggest Loser with a nutritionist and a team of medical professionals to watch all of my injuries.

But I have determination. I have drive. I have a goal. And I have the reminder that this journey matters in my life and in the lives of others.

There is strength in numbers. Getting emails from people asking me questions about heart rate monitors excites me. Seeing replies on twitter or getting new followers makes me throw up my fist in the air out of excitement. Documenting my work outs on Go The Distance and seeing other people's progress reminds me that we can all do this.

I'm still scared. But I'm focusing on the strength I have instead of on the fear I feel. Because focusing on the strength will help me move forward while focusing on fear will keep me in the same place or push me backwards.

And I won't go back. I won't let me habit turn back into a sedentary lifestyle. I'm going to take every setback, including being sick, and use it to propel me forward.

(title from "fearless" by taylor swift)

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