It’s been a few weeks since I completed my 12 week program with Imago.
When I started the program, I had two major goals:
1. Reestablish a workout routine with proper form.
2. Become strong enough to return to indoor rock climbing.
I didn’t have any specific weight goals because I trusted that the weight would drop once I got my diet and workout routine in check. But, I never realized just how much “fluff” I had around my waist and back until I saw my before photos!
This process was by no means an easy journey. I work 4 days a week from 3pm-11:30pm. On a GOOD day, I’ll have finished charting and given report by 11:20pm, clock out by 11:36pm, be home by midnight, have decontaminated and de-stressed from a very nice hot shower, and have eaten dinner by 12:30am. I’ll occasionally take a double shift when we’re short staffed and be home as late as 9am-- in bed by 11am. Like many nurses, my shifts vary every week.
I may have to work 2-4 shifts in a row, have 1 day off, and then back to work for a few more days before my next day off. The one day I have off will most likely be spent doing laundry or house chores so that I have scrubs ready for my next round of shifts. Due to my late hours, I only get to SPEND QUALITY TIME with my fiancé between 1am-3am on weekdays if he’s not already passed out from his busy day and long commute. We usually spend our short time sitting on the living room couch and simply being in each other’s presence while catching up on tv shows and eating dinner. Sometimes, we might take a short walk to look for new Pokemon or head to the nearest Pokemon Gym to take out our rival teams. Making plans for the weekends with my fiancé, family, or friends usually needs to be scheduled 2-4 weeks in advance because I only have every other weekend off. On top of all that, there is still some wedding planning to do!
Trying to coordinate my life to fit work, house chores, fiancé, family, friends, and wedding planning is much like stacking blocks onto your Jenga tower. For each block you pull from the bottom, you’re allocating a bit of your time to an aspect of your life and stacking it on top as you grow from the time you spent. But my life has been about constantly shifting my time and priorities to make the most of my personal growth. As my tower grows taller, the holes in the foundation become more frequent. Adding a "block" of fitness to my already stacked Jenga tower without causing it to tumble has been quite the challenge. Imago has helped me redefine and restructure how I distribute my blocks to support my drive to bring fitness back into my personal growth.
1. Meal prep
I have meal prepped in the past. It is a complete necessity for someone like me who doesn’t get home until midnight because fast food is my only alternative if I’m too tired to cook. The only problem is that it’s difficult to keep it going when you have to find time to plan what and when you will make food. What I love about Imago’s meal plans is that they have a delicious selection of meals in each menu. No rabbit food here. I was delighted to find fish tacos, beef and broccoli, and breakfast with English muffins in my meal plans. Carbs! There’s still some starchy goodness on my plate. The strawberry Chobani was a great item on my meal plan as well because it helped me satisfy my sweet tooth without the guilt. Having foods you want to eat make it easier to keep to your diet. I found that the ONE day I have time off work is the best time to multi-task with laundry and meal prep. It can be a little draining, but totally worth my time to get it done. I am rewarded with healthier dinners when I get home from work! I think the hardest part about having 6 meals a day was trying to eat a snack before dinner when you’re at work and things called "breaks" don’t really exist. In the cases I couldn’t have a snack, I’d just eat it right before I leave work to curb the hunger and have dinner an hour later.
I’m not a fan of running. Sarah, Char, and Coach have been very patient with me whilst I tried to insist that Cize and Zumba at home was enough cardio for me. I was also resistant to treadmills and elliptical because it caused numbness, tingling, and pain to my left arm. After a few weeks into the program, I conceded to at least try out the stair master. This machine changed my outlook on cardio. I have been used to the notion that good cardio is fast paced, heart pumping, high intensity, speed. I never imagined how much a slow paced eternal staircase can bring up my heart rate and drench me in my own sweat. I went from completing 1-2 days of cardio per week to 4 days per week. A month into the program, Sarah and Char helped me improve my overall strength enough to start using the treadmill and elliptical without numbness, tingling, or pain to my left arm. Since then, I have now incorporated both into my cardio. I thought I’d retire from running 10 years ago after my high school track days. Imago patiently gave me a renewed interest in it.
3. Workout Routine
I have not mentioned that I came to Imago with a 6 year shoulder injury from indoor rock climbing and a 6 month wrist injury from poor form during a workout session prior to joining this program. When I first injured my shoulder, I brushed off the injury as minor and would just rest when it hurt, and jump on the wall as soon as the pain subsided. I denied the seriousness of my injury until I developed numbness and tingling that radiated down my left arm and to my fingertips nine months later. It has been an ongoing battle of progressing to a stronger self since then: I did a few weeks of physical therapy, went back to climbing, and eventually re-injured myself; I stopped climbing for 2 years to give my shoulder a break, returned to modified workouts and reinjured myself from lifting a box overhead; I followed up with chiropractic sessions and further physical therapy which greatly improved my strength; I took a 6 month break as I transitioned from new jobs; returned to 3 months of modified workouts and eventually injured my wrist which stopped any further training. As you can see, it was repetition of injury and recovery. I needed to do something to get out of this vicious cycle.
After going through this rollercoaster of failed attempts to regain strength independently, I finally came to terms that I couldn’t do this on my own. The fabulous ladies of Imago Fitness Studio have really helped me reach a breakthrough in working out. The hardest part of this process was creating a routine to workout. My shift varies and I never sleep earlier than 3am. Through Imago Fitness, I have come to realize that my best workout window is between 10am-1pm and that keeping the window consistent enables me to maintain a consistent routine. I have also found that blocking my cardio and lifting together increased my productivity and consistency. In order to maintain accountability, I started using a monthly calendar and scheduled my lift/cardio days with my work days. Those days might be a bit rougher, but it will allow me to actually rest on my days off and free up time to spend on other aspects of my life. Lifting days have been the best part of this program. Sarah and Char have been my main trainers. Through every lifting session, they have watched my form and adjusted my workout to tailor to my weaknesses. I feel safe to push myself through their watchful eyes. They have always been encouraging and patient throughout this process. Together, they have helped me acknowledge and accept that the low weights I struggle to lift is simply a work-in-progress. The amount of strength I have achieved in this short time has kept me motivated to strive for more.
It has been about 16 weeks since I’ve joined Imago. I am amazed at how much my body has changed over the last few months. The fluff is all gone and I have grown stronger than I have been in a long while. For the last few years, I would tell my friends that I would start climbing by the end of said year, but would fall short to some injury that would set me back. Through the help of Sarah, Char, and Coach, I feel confident I could actually keep that promise. I have never felt THIS close to starting again. The mini victories and major wins I’ve been achieving over the last few weeks have been rewarding and validating: I am stronger and healthier. Most importantly, I have gained a better perspective on how I approach a healthier lifestyle. I have come to understand that the journey to fitness is truly different for everyone.There is no ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL plan. I've learned to accept that it's ok to go at my pace-- I will get stronger. I've learned that it's not the end of the world if I chose to eat something off the menu or if I miss a few workouts a week. Life isn't perfect. We are constantly adjusting to whatever life throws at us. In the same regard, it's ok that I'm not perfect with my meal plans or workouts. As long as I keep striving to push myself and am actively finding ways to fit cardio and lifting into my life, I'll reach my goals. I am excited to continue this journey as I incorporate more blocks of fitness into my personal growth. I couldn’t get this far without the patience, encouragement, passion, and guidance from Sarah, Char, Coach, my family, my fiance, and my friends.
All I have left to say is: Thank you!