As we get ready to celebrate Labor Day and heading back to school, it reminds me how on Labor Day of 2014 someone posted a photo of me on Facebook being over my ideal weight that made my mouth drop. It is likely one of the most unflattering pictures I’ve ever taken. As I found myself scrambling to have it taken down, I started realizing how frequently I would take a photo and crop out my body or just outright avoid being in photos. So, as much as I hated the photo, it made me realize that I had lost sight of my health over the last year and was being a little too forgiving of myself for letting myself gain weight as I aged.
Labor Day 2014 Facebook Photo
Sure, it’s natural to gain weight as we age, so I wasn’t too hard on myself. I gained 10 pounds in my 20’s and 10 pounds in my 30’s, so another 10 pounds in the 40’s seemed almost acceptable and expected. However, between 40 and 41, I gained almost 15 pounds and that weight had nothing to do with my age. I was somewhat of a health mess and needed a health intervention. With some self-reflection (no one mentioned the weight gain to me…I wish someone would have), I realized how much I was working at a computer without moving (which I had been doing since my early 20s), how much muscle mass I had lost from my collegiate days of being an athlete, and also that I was not setting myself up for a lifelong journey of continuing to be athletic in the things I love doing, like mountain biking, hiking, cycling, and playing with our son. Also, I have a genetic pathway of heart disease and this is nothing to mess around with. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in this country.
Sitting at a Computer Was My Health Crisis
So, what happened? Why the shift in one year? Likely a gradual workaholic increase from a 20-year career working at a desk, but in that one year, it caught up to me when my business partner of 10 years at the time had twins with a one-year old already in tow and decided to focus on her family. I was so proud and loved what she was doing, but I went from having a close partner to running the company we had built together by myself. It was a very stressful time that turned into a stressful year. We stayed very close and are great friends to this day, but it was hard to go from talking to each other daily to once or twice a month. So there was definitely a sense of loss and feeling of isolation. Then, there was the stress of managing the business alone, which meant I was working a lot. I already carried a pretty tight schedule with waking up at 4:30 a.m. and doing my best to balance work and being a good wife and mom, so this extra work took a toll on me. Weight piled on and not because I was eating poorly, but because I wasn’t moving enough. I was sitting too much at a computer during the day, and found myself having 1 to 2 glasses of wine a few nights during the week. I would get home after a long day of feeling like I worked my tail off and was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, yet would look at my fitness tracker and would have 2500 – 3500 steps.
I’ve never enjoyed working out and have mostly lived a life of a love for exercise when it came to training for sports performance as a young athlete in high school and college. I can’t even tell you how many gym memberships I have signed up for and not used (no time and I get bored). However, that Facebook photo was a wake-up call that my mindset needed to shift and to start thinking of exercise as medicine for health and performance for life. That’s when Excy went from just an idea my co-founder Mike and I we were playing around with and testing, to wanting to dive in and bring it to market. I lost close to 20 pounds using our prototype in the first three months. During the 5th month, it was a broken leg that turned Excy into a full blown obsession as I found myself burning 450 to 600 calories in an hour using Excy as an upper body hand cycle while non-weight bearing and in a boot. We realized that we were onto something to not only help busy people exercise more, but also those with injury, limited mobility, pain, and disease like Parkinson’s and MS. Also, children and adults with special needs.
(Tib/Fib Break: rod, screws, plate, blood clot)
As with many things in life, sometimes self-discovery has much more impact than other people telling us anything. I’ve learned over these last three years that making time to exercise for health is not something that anyone or any device can make you do consistently. Sure, we make it beyond convenient with Excy to get a gym quality workout anywhere, but it has to be a personal priority. Weight is such a hard subject to talk about, but maybe if we just approach the conversation from a place of assuming good intentions and love, the dialog will spur a course of action that leads us all down a healthier pathway. Maybe the course doesn’t have to be what society says is the healthiest path, but at least a healthier path where we take more pictures of ourselves with our kids, don’t crop and Photoshop our bodies, and grow in acceptance of what it means to be our personal best. I have found that 20 minute HIIT workouts 5-6 days a week is something I can commit to (I also drink maybe 1 or two glasses of wine a week now vs. per night, but otherwise have not changed my diet).
At 44, I feel stronger and healthier than ever and I am convinced from our customers that no matter who you are, something is better than nothing and it’s all about moving more and sitting less. They are the ones who inspire us daily to bring our new full body therapeutic cycling innovation for cardio and strength training to the world!