Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008: The Year in Review

I feel like 2008 was a bit of a pivotal year for me. It was the year that I finally got off my fat ass and did something about my lack of fitness. This was huge for me, my weight and disintegrating fitness levels was something that had been hanging over my head for years. By last Winter I felt like it was an overwhelming task and didn’t know what to do or even how to start. But then sometime in February or March I saw Valerie Bertinelli’s interview on Oprah, and then read her memoir. It inspired me to get started.

First I joined Jenny Craig. Yes, I admit it, I have been going to Jenny Craig. I haven’t really been open about that until now because, I don’t know, I really didn’t feel like it was anyone’s business. If I didn’t tell you about it, I didn’t really feel you needed to know the intimate details of my personal eating plan. I suppose I’m a little sensitive on this subject, but why is it when you have a “problem” people suddenly seem to think it’s THEIR place to get all in your business? If you’re struggling with weight, people want to know the details of your meals and your activity and want to pontificate to you about what to do (do I ask about yours?). If you are having money problems, people believe that it’s perfectly acceptable to get all in your face about your budget. No, I’m sorry, if I haven’t asked for your help or your opinion, I don’t care to share my personal stuff! I don’t ask about your finances, I don’t ask about what you eat or whatever. Now there are a very few friends for whom I make an exception, and I think you know who you are. I’m a private person and I’m just sensitive about people getting all up in my business when I haven’t asked for help. Anyway, rant over.

So, as I mentioned, I joined Jenny Craig back in March. I immediately started losing weight. It amazed me, I thought it was going to be tough, being in my mid-40s, hypo-thyroid, other hormonal issues, always had a tough metabolism, even as a child. I was never one of these skinny kids, I always struggled. So it surprised me that it seemed to work pretty much right away. After I had lost about 15-20 lbs, I started exercising. I started by just taking walks out on the trails around the campus at work. Soon that frustrated me, I wanted to do more. So I started bringing in running clothes and doing a walk/run thing on the trails, slowly increasing the amount that I was running. Amazing that I never seemed to develop any of the over-use injuries (or pre-injuries) that have ALWAYS cropped up from running previously. I think it’s because I ran almost exclusively on trails, so soft surfaces, and constantly varying foot strikes on the uneven surfaces. Anyway, I continued to lose weight and became happier as I progressed. After about a month or so of this process, I started using a trainer at the company gym two times a week.

All this provided me a consistent and steady weight loss through to the month of August. I had surgery in July to remove my gall bladder and I even managed to lose weight during that ordeal and recovery. Around the middle to end of August I added spinning classes to my exercise program and this is when the weight loss started slowing down. Really coming to a full stop by the beginning of September. So frustrating! I was exercising more than ever and not losing an ounce. Still, by then I had lost about 50 lbs.

It was then that I decided to look for a place to start horseback riding. Riding had been a passion for me growing up and something I had thought would always be a part of my life. Of course the reality was that I ended up working and living in NYC, so it was something that just wasn’t very doable for me with that lifestyle. When I moved to New Hampshire, I knew that riding was something that I would be pursuing again, and now that I had lost some significant weight, it was time. It was also my reward to myself for working hard on the weight thing and getting to the place where this was possible.

So I started riding at one barn and soon decided to give a second one a try as well. The first barn became my “fun” barn. Going out on trail rides, riding in a hunter pace with them, it was a total blast. The second barn is more of a serious “eventing” barn, so this became my structured barn. The one where I was REALLY going to learn, get my riding legs back, re-develop all the subtle nuances that allow one to ride dressage and be able to negotiate a cross-country jump course competently. For a while I rode at both places. I love both really, and was very torn. Then I made the decision to half-lease Lulu at the second barn, finally adding a second training class to my week there as well. My decision was made.

Since then, I’ve been working hard on improving my riding. I think I am making progress, but am still sometimes extremely frustrated with myself. I think this barn is the place to get me to where I want to be though, so I feel satisfied that I am taking the right steps and putting in the work to get me there. Most of all, riding in general fills me with joy like nothing else in my life. It’s also the one thing that I do, where I don’t think of any other thing while I’m doing it. I don’t think about work or money or my big butt (well, unless I happen to catch a glance of myself in the mirror at the indoor ring). I just think about what I’m doing. What’s going right, what’s not going right, all the subtle nuances of what I’m doing with seat and legs and hands to accomplish what I want, while also reviewing the horse and how we’re going, are there any potential obstacles or spooking opportunities ahead. My mind is so full of the immediate task while riding that there really is no room for extraneous thoughts or worries to work their way in.

2008 has also been a pivotal year for me at work. At the end of last year I transitioned off of a long-term project where I had been doing heads-down development work. This year has seen me move into more of a higher-level consultant role, some project management, some strategy, a lot of customer-facing advisory work – really my job has become pretty multi-faceted. It still all seems so new and is continuing to be defined, so I feel that it’s just the beginning of a new professional era for me. At the beginning of the year I was worried about the directions I would be moving in, I didn’t know what was going to happen. Now at the end of the year, I feel like I have made some definite positive strides towards redefining my professional life and am starting to make the next natural step of progression.

Overall it’s been a pretty busy and eventful year for me. For the most part, all of the changes have been positive, so as hard as 2008 has been in general, I think it was a good one for me. I hope that I can continue this positive bent through 2009 and end next year as positively as I feel that I am ending this one.


Cheryl said...

I hope that 2009 brings just as many positive changes & I'm hoping that I get to see you even more next year.

deborah said...

Thanks, I am trying to be be optimistic about the coming year. I'm hoping to see more of you too, as well as other people. I think being more social in general is going to be one of my goals for 2009. It's so easy for me to just stay in my little cocoon.