Another day of life hacks to get dressed. Slowly lifting one stiff leg onto the bed, facing left to strain and reach for my foot to bend it back far enough to get the 30-40mg compression support sock over my toes. Then straining to pull it up over my calf. Stop, breathe, turn and repeat for the other leg. Slide the belt through the 46-inch elastic-waist khakis since the idea of putting on a belt while my slacks are on is a faded memory from when my arms seemed longer. With this as the start of a daily routine, the likelihood of ever rolling my 17-foot sea kayak on the surf of Lake Erie, or backpacking again in the backcountry of Denali National Park with grizzlies, Dhal sheep, and caribou is an increasingly unattainable dream. Even more depressing is the reality that there is definitely no chance of salsa dancing with my beautiful bride on our 25th wedding anniversary in December—even though I bought dance shoes and promised to start dancing with her again years ago. That was my life before the 60-Day Challenge.
After decades of battling my weight, sometimes with brief success for backpacking trips followed by tragic failure, I realized I needed something more than me to finally move from my transactional or project-based approach to weight management and a healthy lifestyle. Pam and I stopped in at Life Time in Novi because Terri had talked to her about signing up for the Fall 60-Day Challenge. I had signed up for one a year earlier, but never made it past the before photos—inertia is a powerful obstacle that we sometimes hide behind or can’t see past. I was trapped in a terrible cycle: an overwhelmingly sedentary routine that only reinforced other stressors and depression from the lack of activity—the activity that was my way of releasing and recharging from stress.
However, this time it was different. Although I am an extreme introvert (backpacking and kayaking solo most often), I decided to work with the Life Time team rather than going forward alone. Adam’s weekly messages of encouragement and information kept me motivated and increased my knowledge about fitness and nutrition. Then, about midway through, I met Josh Fallon. I was beginning to layer on more intense aerobic and resistance work, but was concerned about some specific problem areas with joint and tendon issues. Josh offered some advice and assistance that led to us working together through the end of the challenge. His expertise and customization of a program that matched my interests and concerns while pushing me to get the most out of my Life Time experience were amazing. Beyond workouts, we discussed nutrition, behavioral aspects of training and lifestyle changes. The protein powders and hard-boiled eggs (whites only) at the café became staples for pre- and post-workout nutrition.
Through the weeks of the Challenge, my daily routine evolved from averaging less than 5,000 steps per day to 16,000 steps per day. I lived on the treadmills with the live-action mountain hiking scenes. Steps were the base. Adding on resistance work, directed by Josh, we moved at a challenging but realistic pace given the amount of inactivity that I had experienced in the past two years. We worked together to begin rebuilding my core, upper body strength and flexibility. The circuits and super sets he developed for me addressed the weight loss as well as the longer term development needs to prepare me for a lifetime beyond the 60-Day Challenge. His sessions with the foam roller opened up an entirely new realm of treatment for a long-standing IT band issue that had plagued even my best hiking condition in the past. Oh yeah, and the new “hamster wheel” treadmill is amazing too.
In these final weeks, I’ve hiked twice for 10 miles at a time with a 30-pound pack (less than half the pounds of excess body weight that I was carrying around on my body before the Challenge) and spent hours paddling and rolling my kayak on the local lakes now that I fit in the 23 inch cockpit again. At this pace, I’ll be back to Denali next fall to experience a week in the backcountry in the best condition I’ve ever been in since my first trip there in 1989. And I’ll be kayak surfing by spring. Best of all, I’ve even begun searching for a place to get a few salsa lessons to remind me how to do what I have not done for too long–hold my loving wife close on the dance floor. After 25 years, we still hold hands on the way to work, sit on the same side of any table we’re at, and now . . .
. . . no barrier (think “food baby”) between us to keep us from dancing the night away, as others assume we must be newlyweds.
Next month, I’m joining the Transformation Challenge to maintain the support in my journey to a healthier life. The Transformation Team will help me continue my weight loss efforts and add focus on my balance of lean tissue, body fat, and cardio capacity. After years of trying (failing) on my own, I am now a believer that I can do it all WITH my Life Time.