This post appears as part of our Healthier 2021 series, in which we follow three WebMD team members as they strive to improve their health this year. You can follow their journeys here.
By Mark Spoor
As I've gotten a bit older, one thing that I've learned is that I really need to allow myself to get excited about the little wins in life when they come along. Life's hard, maybe now more than ever. So anything I can do to keep my mind and space positive makes not only my life better, but the lives of those close to me, too.
Thankfully, I've been able to celebrate a few victories this week.
I took a full yoga class and survived it. When I first returned to yoga a few weeks ago, I only felt comfortable taking little 5-minute workshops that focused on one pose. It was like I was dipping my toe in the Yoga River. I got brave Sunday and tried a 20-minute beginner flow class.
How was it? Let's just say my “flow” was a little more like driving through a subdivision with about 9,000 speed bumps.
There were some unfamiliar moves that gave me a bit of trouble, so I found myself constantly looking up at my screen to try to figure out what the heck I was supposed to be doing. (Quite a metaphor for a fitness journey, don't you think?) But I felt some of what the instructor said I should feel, and I got through it without hurting myself.
In fact, a lot of it felt pretty good.
I've gotten my diet back in line. Like my fellow Healthier 2021 blogger Bill, I really like food. Sometimes during my attempts to get healthier, I'll justify eating badly by saying "I've earned it. I work out so that I can eat like this."
Also like Bill, I'm a pretty social guy. So I'll take almost any opportunity to gather with people over a plate. Usually when this happens, the choices I make aren't ideal. I'm not ordering quadruple cheeseburgers or taking on 10-pound eating challenges (OK, there was that one time…), but I do like the occasional chicken wing or sky-high sandwich, and if the people I'm with are having dessert, I'm usually not OK just sipping on coffee.
After a week or two where I allowed myself to get a bit more lax about my food, I've brought things back in line. More fruit, more vegetables, more protein, less sugar. Can I keep it going? In truth, this is always the biggest battle of my fitness journeys. I really struggle building a diet full of habits that I can keep for a lifetime as opposed to ones I can stick to for a couple of months here or a couple of weeks there.
For now though, things are good.
I've made drinking water a priority. I was inspired by my other fellow Healthier 2021 blogger Laura when she wrote recently about using a really cool-looking bottle to encourage herself to get more water. I've often attempted to drink more water, but if I'm being honest, those attempts have been half-hearted at best. I mean honestly, how much good can an extra glass of water here or there do?
This time, at least for now, I'm all in. I've purchased a water bottle that some might mistake for a small swimming pool (128 ounces), and I've actually come close to finishing it a few times.
The biggest challenge? The 37 trips to the bathroom before lunch.
But so far, so good.
I've taken 50 biking classes. I've moved from beginner classes to advanced beginner classes to, this week, classes that aren't beginner at all.
This is where I really feel a difference during this journey. I sweat hard, I feel great when I'm done, and I'm actually starting to know what I'm doing on the bike. I mean, I'm not ready for the Tour de France or anything, but even though the wheels on my bike aren't going forward, I'm pretty sure I am.
What are you celebrating this week?
Mark Spoor is a senior health editor with WebMD. He spent more than 2 decades in sports media, working with groups like the NCAA, NASCAR, and the PGA TOUR. Most weekends, you can find him and his wife, Chris, cheering on their daughter's softball team.
While Mark has spent a lot of time with athletes, he's not one, so fitness has always been a bit of a challenge. He hopes this endeavor will help him get a little closer to winning that battle.
You can follow Mark on Twitter @markspoor.