One Tough (Mud-Covered) Cookie

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I don’t know one single person who doesn’t want to improve their health in some way, shape, or form. I believe that if you pick a goal and blend it with your life, anything is possible. For my new year’s resolution, I decided it was time to take back my body. I have spent the last 11 years being a mommy and taking on all that comes with it. I put my daughter’s dance class first. I put my son’s guitar lessons first. There was never enough time for me. I decided that I wanted to see just how much I could transform myself. As luck would have it, my employer started a 30-day fitness challenge in the beginning of January. Perfect timing! I told myself that I would make it to the gym once a day no matter what. While it was far from easy, it was oh so worth it.

I tried P90X before, and I ran track in high school. Both gave me a general idea of what hard work is. About 20 years ago, I was also an avid dirt bike and ATV enthusiast. As soon as I could walk, I was placed on a dirt bike and rode it through my teen years. While I loved the adrenaline rush, it came with consequences. I ended up tearing my right ACL in half, and I had a large section of my left calf surgically removed due to an internal infection from an injury. My ACL has since retracted, and my knee is arthritic in the cold. I crack, creek, and occasionally my knee will buckle, giving onlookers a good laugh.

Before I began the 30-day challenge, I met with our staff fitness specialist. She taught me a few exercises to strengthen my knee. At first, I was not very hopeful, as I was used to living with my restricted mobility for some time. The first week was the worst. During my first spin class, I had to sit back in the saddle before everyone else, I had to stop to breathe, and my knee kept trying to fold in. I was not about to give up, though, because I knew I could only improve.

I jumped into Tabata classes, HIIT classes, core circuits, spinning, and barre. When I got home at night, my daughter was eager to hear what fun things I got to do in “mommy’s gym class.” So, I would show her and eventually these demos transitioned into second workouts. My daughter loved them, and I knew they could only help me. I always push myself hard, no matter what. I started adding extra weight to every sequence I could. Eventually, the 20-pound kettlebells became my new BFFs.

“Hitting the bag” during a HIIT session at work.

At the conclusion of the challenge, I could breathe easier during workouts and I actually noticed a difference in my knee. I had to keep going! It was then, with my colleagues’ and family’s support, that I decided to make it a 90-day challenge. Knowing that exercise is only half the battle, I altered my diet to include protein shakes and more fruits and veggies. I decided to replace my morning coffee with a smoothie, because let’s face it, 30 minutes after the coffee’s gone, I felt drained and tired again. The first few days, the headaches were not pleasant. But, after a week or so, I felt more energized and alert than ever.

“Slamming the ropes” during a HIIT session at work.

During month two I hit my first milestone. I could keep up with the spin class and my knee would no longer give out! I felt like I turned the clock back to my teen years when I had normal knees! This allowed me to stay out of the saddle and get the most out of the class. At this point, looking back I had made amazing progress.

I love to try new things and I love to challenge myself, so I decided to look into a few obstacle courses. As soon as I read up on the Tough Mudder, I knew it was for me. Who wouldn’t want to run 10 to 12 miles, jump in a pool of ice, and get shocked?

As I push toward my goal on August 19, I will continue to chronicle my training. How does one prepare for ice and electricity? This should be interesting …

My sister-in-law and friend teamed up to train on a beautiful Sunday morning!

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