My mother was my elementary school gym teacher.
My father was a New York City firefighter who ran long before it was cool and had a weight set in the basement that got a lot of use.
He was the guy who always parked as far away from the mall entrance as he could because “Walking was good for us”.
Fitness was not a foreign concept to me.
I spent 20 years in the Air Force, with weight standards, annual weigh-ins and fitness testing.
I was active, played sports, got into cycling and could always control my weight with the calorie counting I had learned from my parents.
Then I retired from the military.
I turned 40.
I stayed active but it wasn’t as easy to control my weight.
I succumbed to a few fads over the years – like the Zone diet – which worked in the short term.
And I rode my bicycle like a fiend -thousands of miles a year.
Then I turned 50.
I was still cycling like a fiend but it got even harder to control my weight.
I was getting softer.
It felt like a losing battle.
I wasn’t gaining a lot of weight but even a pound a year over a couple of decades adds up.
I had almost resigned myself to the idea that I was – I can barely say it – middle aged.
Then in January 2010, my roommate came home and told me about a guy (Chris) who had come to her office to talk about his boot camp.
He guaranteed success.
She wanted to try it and I was willing to try almost anything.
We signed up.
Five mornings a week at 6 am, we dragged ourselves in.
We counted down the days until we would be done (little did I realize then that I would never be “Done”).
At my first progress check, I’d lost 5 pounds and 5% body fat.
In June, I did a 208-mile/one-day bike ride.
By September, I was down 20 pounds and almost 12% body fat.
I’ve managed to maintain for more than 3 years now.
I wear sizes I think I skipped over on my way up.
Sometimes I wish there was a Breakthrough when I was in my 20’s or 30’s.
I imagine what might have been, before my knees started to hate me and arthritis settled into my lower back.
But I can’t go there.
Now in the second half of my 50’s, I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been.
I maintain a healthy weight. I’m happy to not lose muscle mass like other women my age.
Dragging into the gym at 6am has become something of a social event (Breakthrough seems to attract the nicest people…). I hiked the Grand Canyon – twice! – this past August .
It was so much fun I’m going to do it again next September.
But first I’m signing up for another 200-mile/one-day bike ride in June.