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swimming

Ready, set, go get a life.

One of the reasons I’ve slipped so often in the past on the way to my goal of a healthy lifestyle is that I slowly stop doing what was working. Sounds crazy but it’s so easy to do.

One week I’m running, biking and swimming and the next I’m biking and swimming because there was a meeting I had to get to or it was 95 degrees outside. Sounds reasonable and everyone in that meeting thought they should be the priority. Come on, you can’t do everything, right?

Then it gets easier to shave it back just a little further. I’ll work out on the weekends but in the afternoon so I can finally sleep in a little. Before I knew it I was idle again, had lost all of that muscle I’d put on and was starting to eat from the wrong parts of the grocery store.

Here are the questions I was forgetting to ask myself:

How much time have I gotten back because I’m not so tired or move far more slowly? Do those hours add up to more than the hours I’m working out? How much better do I feel about life in general because I feel better about myself and the way I look? How much easier has it been to keep on taking contrary actions and following my dreams because I feel better? Do I want to take a lot of medications when I’m older or do I want to still be running down the road? Do I want to be biking and chatting with some new friends at 6:30 in the morning, which means going to bed a little earlier or do I want sleep in because I was out at a loud bar the night before where I couldn’t hear anything and then walk around for the first few hours like I’m only half awake?

Fortunately, when the idea of slowing down struck me this summer my new biking friends like Ruth and Piper kept sending me annoying text messages asking me where I was and what did I think I was doing??!! Yes, there were extra question marks and exclamation points. They’re very hard to ignore and so, this Saturday there I was again standing in a parking lot at 6:30 getting ready to set out. Thank goodness. I’ve been told that this will continue in perpetuity. Now those are the kind of friends that can help me to really live. More adventures to follow.

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Biking around Chicago

There was a time when I really wanted to not be in pictures. Please, leave me alone. However, that hasn’t really served me all that well. In its place was this desire to be perfect, or should I say obsession that led to binging and dieting, sometimes to the point of fasting. I became great at gaining and losing weight but was clueless how to be comfortable in my own body.

This summer, I’ve been eating right and working out with a triathlon team and I’ve been surprised at what a good time I’ve been having without worrying about how I look. It’s just been fun with no attachments about how I look or where this is all leading. I’m not signed up for any races, that was never my intention and as they’ve moved into race mode for the last part I’ve been substituting my own runs or swims or bike rides.

It’s weird to be so reasonable about the whole thing but I’m excited to see where it’s all going. One of the unexpected blessings has been that I’m simultaneously learning how to be reasonable with myself while still going for the bigger dreams, like getting the next thriller published. I think they call that balance.

After a swim in Lake Michigan

Is it possible that I might actually learn how to maintain an ideal body weight while having a good time working out? Stay tuned, I’ll let you know.

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The Chicago lakefront where I'll be running tonight. Photo by Max Wolfe

Yesterday started at 4:30 a.m. with a workout at the gym lifting weights with my trainer, Laura Weiner. She’s a 22 year old bottle of energy and joy. I get to hear about the recent trip to Puerto Rico, the new apartment and young men in general while she comes up with such clever ways to get the remaining muscles in my left leg to wake back up again. That’s the leg that I lost some of the tendons and muscles to cancer and I’ve been learning there’s still more to do.

After the gym was a full day of work before I rushed down the highway to my first swim class as part of the beginner triathlon training with Mo Wills and Lara Mele of Infiniti Tri in Chicago. That first lap I thought I was going to have a very long summer. I took in a little water and just could not relax, despite Lara gently pointing out how much that might help. But eventually, I was able to let the water do some of the work and after Mo refined my fish-flopping it got easier and easier. I caught a view of myself in the mirror afterwards and saw a look of joy on my face with no worries about how I looked or how I performed. I was 10 years old all over again. As it turns out, my anxiety and re-evaluating for the entire week before the swimming was really the hard part. Tonight, my first group run in 12 years by the Chicago lakefront. Here I go!

Keep the conversation going with me and let me know how you’re challenging yourself this summer.

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Picture by Jim Bahn

I love a good routine but lately, mostly due to very good things, I haven’t been able to make and keep a routine for longer than about six weeks. I get comfortable with the job and they give me new responsibilities. I start working out in the morning before work and somebody suggests beginner triathlon training. I’m not sure how that last one happened but starting today I’m jumping in the pool and going for a swim. Wednesday I’ll be running and Thursday I’ll be getting on a bike for the first time in about 30 years. I’m pretty sure I won’t be doing the triathlon part at the end of all this but I’d love to get better at all three of those things. It’s a beginner course, so how badly could this go? I’ve been telling myself that all week. I also figure it’s got to help get the rest of this weight off of me. It’s 12 weeks so I can count it down every week and by my birthday in September it’ll be over and hopefully I’ll still be standing. This whole weight loss and exercise thing is going to be an interesting chat this summer.

What are you doing to challenge yourself?

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