I realized if I’d had strong self-esteem and a positive body image to begin with, he would have never been able to make me feel like that. His ass was fat too but I never said anything because I accepted him AND his love handles. But, we live and we learn, right? As I’ve done most of my life, I educated myself. This time regarding nutrition and exercise. I decided I would never give any one reason to make me feel like less than I am. Physically, that meant changes in my appearance and taking better care of myself. I decided to grow my hair and guess what? It is growing! The bad news: it’s growing grays! Oh well – I’ll consider them blessings that I’ve lived long enough to sprout ’em. I have about a foot of hair now and it’s still growing.

My hair is just one part of getting my “sexy” back.  The other is something I’ve been doing for the past four years: low impact cardio i.e. walking. Once I could do 2 miles with no problem, I upped the ante in distance and time. At the peak of my walking season, I can easily walk 4 miles in about an hour. A couple of times a week, I include periods of jogging…. I jog/walk/jog/walk for a little more intensity. I track it all with a pedometer and spreadsheet. The benefits have been tremendous.

I’ve never understood what people have against sweat. If my body is overheated, I sweat. One of the things I loved about soccer was being sweaty – and muddy. Sweat cools you down, plus, when you sweat, excess toxins, hormones and other waste is eliminated from the body. Sweat is not a “problem”… I digress. Anyway, since I started walking a couple of years ago, I’ve maintained a 35+lb. weight loss. I’ve lost 5+ inches off my waist, hips and thighs. I am now below my high school weight.I’m also more toned. I’m not quite to kick yo’ ass toned, but I don’t want to be too muscular. Just thick and toned.

The Plan

This past summer, I moved to phase II of “Operation: Sexy Back,” which included strength and resistance training in addition to my cardio. I walk briskly for a bit, stop and do some squats and/or lunges and then continue walking. Slow high-stepping or bounding is good too but only if you have the knees for it. That little burst of intensity can burn extra calories especially when you get your heart rate up. Warning: do not do this when it’s very hot and humid and there’s a chance you might be dehydrated. I had a muscle in my thigh seize on me one day and had to crawl off the road!

Am I a health freak? By no means. I was an athlete years ago – playing organized sports from 5th grade on. From 8th grade through high school, I played sports pretty much year round. Soccer practice started before the fall semester and rolled into basketball season. Basketball season rolled right into track season – which often extended into the summer. I also played soccer and some basketball through my first two years of college. Somewhere along the line I realized that I am still an athlete – just out of shape! I’ve reclaimed some of my athleticism by integrating exercise into my daily routine and I’m loving the results. Sure, my butt isn’t going to return to its former glory, but part of the whole Operation: Sexy Back mantra is to love what I have regardless of what it once was. I know what I weigh, but I’m still adjusting to being a smaller size. I don’t have a weight goal, but I know how I want my physique to look. My proportions haven’t really changed. I still have a full bust, butt and thighs but I didn’t realize just how different my body looks. At the beginning of the summer I was shopping for clothes and reached for a 12 skirt. I rethought it and grabbed a 10 as well. The 12 gapped at the waist. The 10 was a little snugger than I like to wear but it fit. All of a sudden, I had a goal. I’m a size 10 on top have been working towards being a true 10 on the bottom. I’m there. I haven’t been a size ten since, since… I don’t know. I wore 11/12 and 13/14 juniors in high school.

Bring It All Together

I should note, I couldn’t have lost the weight without a change in nutrition. I continue to eat what I like, but in moderation. If I happen to overdo it, I feel it. Sometimes I work harder to offset the consequences. Luckily, changing my dietary habits wasn’t a difficult thing to do. I love vegetables and most fruits. I like beans and grains although I suspect I have a sensitivity to wheat and soy. I have never dieted in my life because I don’t like to feel deprived. I’ve even found a way to satisfy my sweet tooth: fruit cups and trail bars. Many food manufacturers also make 100 calorie packs of everything. You do have to check the labels for added fat, sugar and sodium but for the most part, it’s all good. Just don’t eat 8 of those joints (kinda defeats the purpose).

Slowly but surely, diet and exercise are reshaping my body and I know I can do better. There are also added benefits. I read just yesterday that exercise is tied to increased brain activity (because it stimulates blood flow) and regulates your body’s many systems. I still backslide and get a bit lazy during the colder months but I always get back on my grind. Call it vanity…but I love the way I look. I’ve had people call me little and for the first time in my life “skinny-minny.” Sometimes other women say, “You must eat like a bird.” Umm No. I love food and I love to eat but feel good when I exercise because I’m doing it for ME. Walking also clears my mind and helps me think. It takes work and patience but the results are well worth it.