Jen Jeffrey: “Fall In!”

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - by Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey

As I have been slowly trying to ‘do a little here and a little there’ in creating my fitness routine, I still hadn’t yet mastered ‘consistency’. Either cold weather would blow in or rainy mornings and, while trying to get started, the weather can be a deal breaker. Thankfully, the weather has been cooperating lately and has not been a hindrance so I signed up for Bootcamp by Dillard’s Training at Fit One Gym.

When I worked at Fit One I was in shape and fitness was part of my lifestyle. After three or four years of getting out of those good habits, I adopted a lot of bad ones and I knew the moment I “crossed over.”

Crossing over was ‘my mentality’. It was about how I saw myself and what I desired. When I had a healthy lifestyle I desired to get a good sweat on or have a nutritious salad, but after gaining weight (beyond what was easy to take off) I felt the cross over happen and I saw myself as chubby with a desire for Pop-Tarts (thanks, Mama).

Now, it is harder to think fitness minded or do the right things for my body. But it has to begin somewhere and, though it has been slow this time, I am not giving up.

Just a few years ago when I was in shape I enjoyed that extra oomph I got from Bootcamp, but now I am pretty far from the fitness level I had and I felt I needed to “get in shape” before taking Bootcamp. That is kind of like getting cleaned up to take a bath… or when Mama thinks she thinks she has to curl her hair before she goes to the beauty shop. I had a gym membership, but could not get a consistent routine going. I knew it would be harder now, but I wanted to jump back into Bootcamp.

A friend of mine from Fit One (who is younger than my sons) said that she would like to do it too. Jess is already fit and she runs and hikes. To me, she looks like J-Lo and her shape is nice already, but to have someone in a training class with you makes it more fun so I contacted my friend Bill who runs the Bootcamp along with his wife Patti and Jess and I joined the March Bootcamp sessions.

On the morning of the first workout you know how it goes… you lie in bed and think of all the reasons why you can’t go. I woke up two hours before time to try to get alert and the whole time I was telling myself I was not going to go. I signed up for the month of March, but Bill said we could come on the last session of February.

Not only was this group four weeks (or more) ahead of me, but several were in shape and also younger. This is where I had to swallow my pride and accept the fact that I put myself in this position - I let the extra weight come on and I let my fitness routine go. So however hard it would be and however far I lagged behind, I had to just suck it up.

A woman named Holly taught the Friday class. I knew her from when I worked at Fit One. Even though I had taken Bootcamp before, this time there were new routines. I really felt like the grandma I am as I watched these younger people bounce, jump and still smile as they did it.

Not long ago, I had my core pretty tight for someone my age and my abdominal muscles were strong. I could out crunch anyone, but now I have lost muscle along with my agility. I was no longer the queen of crunches. I found it hard and my body shook as we held a position sitting on our bums while holding our legs up. There was also a lot of leg work, but that was good, because my legs and my hips are my most troubled area.

We did several squats and I knew what that would mean the next day. Squats kill your thighs and make it hard to even sit down on the porcelain throne. As we were doing cardio intervals we had about 15 minutes left of the hour-long class and I felt a prickly light-headedness. I knew I better march in place while everyone else jumped. I caught my breath, but it was a tough workout. I could tell that 30 pounds ago I would have enjoyed the challenge but on this day, I hated it. Still… I loved it. It was harder now, but I had no one to blame but me.

Holly looked over at me when I was the only one who was marching. I told her I had to pace myself and would ‘fall in’ when I caught my breath. “No-no… there will be no passing out,” Holly said nervously as she watched to make sure I was okay. I told her, “No, I was talking ‘Army’… I will fall-in as soon as I can and catch up with y’all.”

This Bootcamp is different than what you see on television with people yelling at you and making you throw up. The instructors do encourage you to push yourself, but they let each individual gauge their ability. I have never been a quitter or someone who takes the easy way out, so it was understood that I really needed a slight break. When I fell-in it was time to stretch. My body felt like it had been run over by a Mack truck and I couldn’t wait to go back!

I was glad I joined the last of February’s class to give myself the muscle recovery time I needed before the March class began on Monday. And boy, did I need it.

It took a day before I really felt my body betray me, but the second and third day, I literally had to hold onto something when I sat down. It was so painful, even stretching didn’t help. My hiking club hadn’t scheduled any hikes over the winter and with my current traveling I didn’t take time for anything else active so I have been quite sedentary.

Having a career in writing makes it hard to keep up a lifestyle of fitness, but the common denominator in being a writer and exercising is ‘having the motivation’ to do it.

I love writing and there are so many things that pop into my head where I feel an urgency to write. I can write several pages in no time when it comes straight from my head, but, when I have an assignment to do on someone’s story, the hardest part is getting started. I will have a great interview with someone, find their passion and I am thrilled to share their story, but to actually sit down to begin is the hardest part. Just like working out.

When I piece the interview together on a Word document and add narrative, it is a ‘blank canvas’ until it begins to flow and I might procrastinate or put off beginning a story. And, just as ‘distractions’ may cause me to put off writing, there are ‘excuses’ that cause me to put off or dread working out. With both writing and exercising, I know once I get started I will love it and feel alive once I am in my zone.

The good thing is I know from past experience that the mind, body and spirit all work together. As my body feels better, my cognitive function is sharper. Joining Bootcamp will make my body stronger and fit, but it will also give me energy, the desire to eat better and fuel my body with the things it needs to keep up with Bootcamp and result in my whole self feeling better.

My legs were too tight to go to the first class in March, so I ‘fell in’ last Wednesday. That class was even harder because it was colder that morning and my winter asthma made it hard to breathe. After only 30 minutes of class, I felt the prickly feeling in my head again and I knew it was because I was nearly hyperventilating as I tried to breathe in the cold air.

I kept my breathing as calm as I could and only did what I knew I could, but I noticed that I also felt better after class than I did the first time. I knew I was on my way to getting stronger and it would just take time to be able to do an entire class without taking a rest.

There was no soreness at all after that class, so I am excited to continue my journey of fitness and I never want to allow this part of my life to become back-burner again. I realize that we all have life-changes that throw us off, but fitness is a part of my life that I not only enjoy, but it is necessary for my health. It isn’t about looking great or trying to hold onto my youth – it is about sustaining good health and staying out of the doctor’s office or being dependent on prescriptions.

After being sedentary with only an occasional hike or horseback ride, it has been hard to stay consistent whenever I have attempted to regain a more active lifestyle. I am doing all I can to not miss any sessions in Bootcamp, but I will miss a whole week this month.

Next week, I am taking Mama on a trip to Kentucky to see her friend Peggy (Jason’s mom) and we have a lot planned.

I told Jason that I need us to find time to work out somehow while Mama and I are there, so he and I will either go to the gym he goes to or …I may even go for a run with Jason’s greyhounds.

I am sure that next week’s road trip with Mama will bring much laughter and be a wonderful change from the cabin fever I had over the winter as spring now approaches. Tomorrow I start my second week of Bootcamp and I hope I don’t have to fall-in, but if I do… it’s better than falling OUT.

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