2017-03-15 / Editorials

The hardest parts are the workouts

Other Voices
Mitch Clarke

When I first started my new nutrition and exercise routine, I thought changing my diet was going to be the hardest part. Chelsea the trainer had told me 90 percent of what I wanted to accomplish would come through healthy eating.

But could I really change my eating habits? Over the years, I developed a fine-tuned palate that something must be breaded and fried to be enjoyed. I was probably 15 before I realized you could do something to a chicken other than fry it.

Turns out changing my eating habits was the easiest part. I eat differently now. I have cut my daily caloric intake by half. But I’m never hungry. And now, 75 days later, I don’t find myself wanting, either.

Meals are filled with lean fish, pork or chicken and healthy portions of fruits and vegetables. I find myself trying new recipes every week. Snacks no longer consist of cookies or chips, but fresh fruit, cheese or almonds.

In putting together a plan she thought I could follow, Chelsea even allows me to have the occasional bacon cheeseburger — no condiments, no bread and no fries. But it’s a compromise I can live with.

No, what’s been the hardest parts are the workouts. I’ve never really worked out and for the last few years, it was easier to sit on the sofa than it was to be active. Chelsea had her work cut out crafting the first month of workouts — or as I lovingly called them “her instruments of torture.”

My body simply didn’t move like she wanted it to.

“That’s OK,” she said. “Do it the best you can do. But do it.”

So I did. It wasn’t pretty and I was glad I was doing in-home exercises so that no one would watch me, except Milly, the liver and white springer spaniel who lives in my house, and frankly, I’m not completely certain she wasn’t laughing at me.

But as the first month wore on, the exercises got easier. Not that they weren’t challenging. But my body was more ready to do the workouts.

At the beginning of February, Chelsea ramped up the workouts with a new regiment. She did the same thing at the beginning of March. This time, she suggested that in addition to all the walking I’ve been doing and the three- times- a- week workout, I should start swimming laps twice a week.

So I go to an aquatics center in Gainesville. It costs $2 a day to swim laps. I learned to swim as a young boy, and I used to love swimming. But I stopped going to the pool. My dermatologist told me to avoid the sun. And, to be honest, I was embarrassed to take my shirt off. I was afraid someone would think a walrus escaped from SeaWorld.

On my first day of swimming, I learned two things. First, I learned just how out of shape I still am and how far I still have to go. And second, I learned it’s 164 feet from one end to the other of an Olympicsized swimming pool, which isn’t a lot when you’re walking, but it seems like a couple of miles when you’re trying to swim it.

Despite the challenges, it all seems to be working. I’m down more than 33 pounds since Jan. 1. I no longer feel like an escaped walrus. Perhaps a small baby seal.

But that’s OK. April’s workout will be here before you know it.

Mitch Clarke, a native of Blakely, is the editor of AccessWDUN.com in Gainesville. He can be contacted at mitch.clarke@gmail.com. Read previous columns at www.accesswdun.com/blog/mitch.

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