accepting the challenge

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This week I attended several presentations at the Microsoft Women's Conference, a 3-day event held on the corporate campus in Redmond. There were hundreds of other women there--all Microsoft employees. So many, in fact, that several of the mens' rooms had been temporarily converted to women's rooms, prompting MSN VP Debra Chrapaty to exhort us to take advantage of our unique opportunity to make deals in the men's room. (Chrapaty was part of a wonderful panel of female VPs at Microsoft, and I loved her description of her own personal style--"outwardly casual, inwardly rigorous.")

When I registered for the conference, I made sure to select a session on "Body for Life for Women," based on the book by that name and presented by its author, Pam Peeke. Pam's a friend-of-a-friend--while in Seattle, she was staying with my good friend Linda Stone, who had strongly encouraged me to attend the talk.

Before the presentation was over, I'd ordered the book. Not only that, I'd ordered a second copy to be shipped directly to my best friend and workout buddy. (She may be 2500 miles away, but we can still be virtual workout buddies...)

Pam's approach centers around a 12-week "body challenge," which includes aspects of changing your mindset, your eating habits, and your exercise routine ("mind/mouth/muscle"). The book itself arrived wrapped in a thin strip of paper covered with before-and-after photos of women who'd done the 12-week challenge. The photos are inspirational, and I've put them up on my fridge as a daily reminder that I can do this. The stories that accompany the photos are in the book, and they're equally inspirational. These are real women, with real lives and real stresses. The message is clear--if they can do it, so can I. (She's also got a fabulous quote in the book from Eleanor Roosevelt: "Women are like tea bags. You never know how strong they are until they're in hot water.")

I'm also going to use her "clothes-o-meter" trick, which is to pick out a pair of pants that you think you ought to be able to wear when you're in good shape. They have to be pants that you can pull up over your rear, but not even come close to zippering. (Hmmm...I wonder if I could even get my infamous black leather pants over my hips any more. They're in Rochester, so I can't check.) You hang those pants in the front of your closet, so you have to see them every day when you're getting dressed. She then describes the message you'll get from them each morning: "Mornin'! Are you going to have a good day today? Great! 'Cause I'll be right here waiting for you when you get home!"

What I really wish I had was a local workout buddy who wanted to hit the gym with me on a regular basis. I know from past experience that it's the best motivator for me--I'm a lot less likely to hit the snooze button and burrow back under the covers if I know someone's expecting to meet me. But I've let that be my excuse for too long now, and I'm not happy with the results. When I turned 40, almost four years ago, I was in the best shape of my life. Since then I've put on nearly 30 pounds--all of it fat. Blech. I'm back where I started before I got fit, and I don't like it one bit.

So yes, I'm taking Dr. Peeke's body challenge. Starting this week, I'm embarking on 12 weeks of commitment to taking care of myself. Healthier food, regular exercise, and a commitment to not wearing my stress on my body. That puts my ending date for the challenge in mid-April, just in time for my birthday. I want to feel as good (and as good about myself) this year as I did in 2002.

When Weez was here she jumpstarted my gym attendance, and this week I've gotten up early three times to go do cardio and weights before getting to the office. Next week I'm going to start going daily--I know myself well enough to know that I'm more likely to stick with something that's part of a daily routine than something that I can put off 'til tomorrow. This morning I'm en route to California to spend a weekend in Monterey with some of the most amazing women I know. I brought workout clothes, and have every intention of getting some exercise every day. Here in the San Jose airport, I opted for a protein-enriched smoothie instead of a burger. Small steps, but steps nonetheless.

(Note to Weez: My ongoing reluctance to do leg workouts was backed up by Dr. Peeke! In her talk, she said that particularly if you're overweight, there's no real need to do weight training for your legs, that cardio will take care of them for you. "The heavier you are" she said, "the stronger your legs are. You're your own gym!" Instead, she said to focus on pelvis on up. She alternates days--chest/shoulders/triceps one day, back and biceps the next.)

I'm not going to chronicle the process here on the blog, but Weez and I are going to set up a private space (in Basecamp, probably)

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I got the book! Yay!

There isn't any revelation there for me, but structure is a good thing. And if we are following the same metrics, 2500 miles or no, we can still work out.

I now have a pair of black leather pants hanging in my room. They too are speaking to me.

perchance we can all go clubbing in leather pants when you get back to Rochester ;)

A friend of mine blogged about the conference too. Her first post about it is here:

You go!! Thanks for blogging about this. My reading of it was well-timed, having just gone for a walk, and having just begun filling out a fitness tracker online web thingie that my gym (rejoined after a year hiatus, but haven't gone yet) has. The tool is here: I have no idea if you have to be a member in order to do it.

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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on January 13, 2006 12:50 PM.

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