The challenge of healthier living – one year later

It’s been a full year since I decided to stop talking about getting healthier and actually began doing something realistic about it on a daily basis instead of wishing, being angry, saying I didn’t care, being upset, and nearly killing myself every weekend on a one-off hike.

I finally worked it out for real. I owed it to nobody other than myself to stop the cycle of self-bashing. Only then could I stop thinking negatively about my size, my fitness, and my belonging in a town where fitness is a theme. I admitted that I wasn’t happy, and I needed to fix it because nobody else was going to do it for me while I came up with excuses.

Nutrisystem said they’d like to take my journey with me. On my birthday last year I signed the contract with them that gave me the tools to succeed. My friends were really happy and supportive. I started an exercise routine (see what I said there? Routine, not schedule or program. Routine. Like a habit). It wasn’t strenuous, but it could be built upon and included the things I loved about the environment here.

I can avoid these, truly

I started hiking every day with my dog and eventually I picked up speed and lengthened it to 4.4 miles every day. I finished my time with Nutrisystem after eight months, at 34 pounds lighter than I was this time last year. I am very much fitter. I am not thin (I never wanted to be), but I feel like I finally belong. I look and feel healthy. Mainly.

It hasn’t been a wonderful year on all fronts. I ended up spending a substantial amount of time in Australia and my mum’s passing has injected an incredible amount of emotional pain for me to carry. A pain that I would always in the past (and have done a little of over these last couple of months) try to placate with food. I didn’t exercise while I was in Australia. And then my husband was very sick for a week this month. Depression and weight gain/unhealthy living are related and mutually contribute to a cycle of going nowhere but down.

This kind of cycle hits most people who are trying to lose weight and get healthy. So many pile the kilos back on after reaching a goal weight – because they return to bad, comfortable habits instead of sticking with the new ones. It’s tempting. I really think if my life changes hadn’t been so severe over the last few months, I’d be totally fine. But I’m not.

The good news is I’m coming slowly back. I’m not at my peak any more. I still hike every day but I can tell the difference. It’s a little more difficult physically than it used to be. Additionally, I am not finding the joy in doing it that I was. Honestly, everything feels very much like I’m just going through the motions. The irony is that it’s upsetting (depressing) to me that something I was loving to do, that gave me real joy and self respect/love seems quite vacant now. But I’m told it will come back. It will all come back. To just keep doing what I was doing and that joy – and great fitness, and the self love that comes with it – will slowly return.

It would be so easy to just return to a life full of the couch, M&Ms, and excuses.

But I know that’s depression talking, and not what I really want. I really loved being the fit and healthy person at my peak, getting stronger – and I like to believe it will happen again. I need it to. While I’ve gained a little weight (8 pounds altogether from when I finished with Nutrisystem), I’m still 26 pounds lighter, way fitter and healthier than I was a year ago. (That’s easy to forget). Plus, when I do that 4.4 miles (and don’t ‘cheat’ myself by only doing 2 miles), the dog and I both feel energised and exhausted at the same time. It’s just so easy to keep saying I need to work my way back up by only doing a short hike instead of taking that next step, sucking it up and going further.

It’s hard to push when I’m pushing on everything. Daily life in our house is very busy – getting back on top of that’s a push for me. The work I do is very ‘head-intensive’, and that’s a push. Those are the two things that I really, desperately want to be at the top of my game for quickly. My personal relationships and my own headspace are also needing some extra care right now. I truly want to get better at all of it.

I’m realising that those things will happen hand in hand with my fitness levels getting back to where they were too. It’s a complete set, not just one or the other. And it’s tough.



  • You are amazing Jo. You’ve done so well and handled all the difficult things with strength and integrity. Yes, you may have gained a few pounds, but you know why and you are pushing yourself to change it.

    I understand about the exercise. I took a break from running and now it’s tough to get back into it – I loved how strong I felt and fit, I know I’ll feel that way again if I just stick with it – but it’s difficult and easy to talk myself into only doing half, or walking instead.

    Anyway, give yourself permission to feel your feelings and continue to recognize when it’s depression talking or demotivating you. Keep pushing yourself to do your hike and although it may be just going through the motions now, eventually those motions will be second nature and it will feel normal again.

    BIG HUGS to you!

  • Great post Jo. Stick at it -all. Very proud of you. And by putting this post out in public you are backing yourself even more. And thats a win as well!

  • This is inspiring because of phrases you mention like self-bashing, placate with food – that is me. I also love the word routine vs. schedule or program. I’d be thrilled with the kind of weight loss you’ve mastered and I, like you, don’t yearn for thin, I celebrate my curves. But I do yearn for healthy and being comfortable in my own skin/size/clothing. Congratulations, Jo!

  • Super proud of you, Jo. My hubby and I have embarked on the healthy lifestyle thing this year as well. I hope I can post something like this after a year!

    I know this has been a difficult year for you. I, too, tend to turn to food when I’m depressed or sad or really, just stressed out. Just the other night, I was a nonwilling bystander in a VERY uncomfortable conversation between two friends, and found myself furiously munching the garlic bread on the table – something I thought I was past! I guess not. It’s always a challenge, every day.

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