Labor Day: Health Wake Up Call at Age 41

As we 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.  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.

As much as I hated the photo, it made me realize that I had lost sight of my health over the last year. Also, that I was being a little too forgiving for letting myself gain weight as I aged. I have been on a mission ever since to prioritize my health and open up access to exercise for anyone who struggles with exercise due to injuries, underlying health conditions, mobility constraints, and disabilities.

Gaining Weight as We Age is Natural, But We Control the Pace

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). Also, a look in the mirror highlighted how much muscle mass I had lost from my collegiate days of being an athlete. But, more importantly to me, I realized 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, 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 and women.

Sitting at a Computer Was My Health Crisis

So, what happened? Why the shift in one year? I think many of us are asking ourselves this question during the COVID-19 pandemic where the average adult in the U.S. has gained 29 pounds. It’s a stressful time!

Looking back at 2014, my weight gain was likely due to a gradual workaholic increase from a 20-year career working at a desk. However, 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.

A Broken Leg and Blood Clot Led to an Obsession to Do More for Myself and Others

That’s when Excy went from just an idea my co-founder Mike and I 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 and blood clot 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.

January 2015

(Tib/Fib Break: rod, screws, plate, blood clot)

February 2015

You Define What Health Is…

As with many things in life, sometimes self-discovery has much more impact than other people telling us anything. I’ve learned over the 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 upper and lower body workout anywhere, but it has to be a personal priority.

Weight is such a hard subject to talk about, but maybe if we 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 healthier pathways.

Perhaps the course doesn’t have to be what a celebrity obsessed society says is the healthiest path, but at least a healthier path where we take more pictures of ourselves with our kids. Also, where we don’t crop photos of our bodies and grow in acceptance of what it means to be our personal best.

Preference for High Intensity Interval Training

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). Most of my daily workouts are while pedaling Excy with my hands or feet while watching TV with my family. I mix up my Excy workouts, but most commonly pedal Excy as a recumbent exercise bike, upper body ergometer, or pedal while lying down in the supine exercise position.

At 48, I feel stronger and healthier than I have since my 20s. But, the joy from my health comes from being able to be active, including being able to still hang out and keep up with my now teenage son on a hike!

Weekend Before Labor Day, 2021

I am convinced from our customers that no matter who you are, some exercise is better than no exercise 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!

We know fall and winter can be tough to exercise between busy schedules, shorter days and longer nights, and cold weather forcing us indoors more than we’d like (especially for those battling injuries, disabilities, and chronic conditions). It’s also a tough time to get to a gym with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a perfect time of year to join the Excy Family! No one can match our versatility, quality, and convenience.

Happy Labor Day!


Instagram: michelemehl

Twitter: @michelecmehl

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