Health Hero Hernandez Shares How She Gets Back on the Horse

I asked Cynthia Hernandez from Department of Natural Resources and Parks how she gets back on the horse after falling off. I’ve been really inspired by her journey to good health and have seen her sustain her healthy lifestyle. In a future post we’ll hear about some of the cool technology she uses to stay motivated. Here’s what she told me about her own journey to better health and how she stays motivated:

My initial approach to becoming more fit and healthier was initially bolstered greatly by two things:

  • the culture of wellness and encouragement that has surrounded me in the workplace since the advent of the county’s Health Reform Initiative and
  • the support and encouragement of my closest friends, who have always accepted me for who I am, regardless of size or habits and who have supported the success of the goals I set for myself, with compliments, reassurances, permission slips, diversions, or whatever was needed at the time.

The Plan

As an approach, I started with strict calorie restriction as a primary means of achieving results. The fact that I did achieve results was a big boost in and of itself, but I knew it wasn’t enough and wouldn’t last without a fitness/exercise component, so I forced myself to take up running. I started with interval jogging….brisk walks, with intermittent running, where I would run as far as I could before I got too tired to continue. Then I’d resume walking. Before long I was running two miles at time and loving it. I am now a bit of a running “addict” insofar as I feel out of sorts and cranky when I don’t get to run.  Here again, though, I knew running wasn’t enough and so I also joined a gym, which I love. For the workouts the number one thing that motivates me when I don’t feel like doing it is music.

The motivation

I have a few playlists that not only have a good beat (that makes it hard not to want to move my feet) but also lyrics that inspire me to keep on track (lots of themes of fighter, stronger, invincibility etc.). Sometimes I can put the music in my ears and listen for a few minutes and if I didn’t feel like going before, I do after a couple of songs.

The reward

I reward myself with clothes that make me feel good when I look in the mirror. I remind myself that I couldn’t wear such clothes if I didn’t stick to the good habits that I have created.

Getting Back on the Horse

I do get off track, mostly when I go on vacation and I take a break from calorie restrictions, or when I have a high stress situation that makes me want to run for the ice cream or chips.  For vacation, I get back on track by reckoning with the scale and by telling myself that every day I don’t get back on track will make it harder than the rest.

As for the less healthy of my strategies, well, I keep a couple of photos on the fridge to remind me of how far I have come and how much I don’t want to lose the ground I’ve gained through all my hard work and dedication.

I do wish it were easier sometimes. I worry that I will gain weight if I look at a pastry. I wish I could be free of the need to eat as carefully as I do without care of gaining weight. I tell myself that if I ramp up my exercise/activity level, I may reach that magical place that some people seem to enjoy where they can eat whatever they’d like, whenever they’d like and they don’t gain an ounce.  I doubt I will achieve that, but it spurs me on to try. I feel more fit than I have in at least a decade. I have heard from friends and family that I seem younger than I have in at least a decade, and I know I am healthy. All of these things serve as motivation to keep on track.  Seeing other people who are working on similar health improvement and/or weight loss is a huge boost to me, as are the many compliments that I hear from coworkers and friends.  Finally, as someone squarely in middle age, I am both motivated by an urgency to retain my youthfulness and life force, and I am acutely aware of the health problems that can arise because of a lack of proper care and feeding of one’s body. I want to live a long, enjoyable life and I don’t want to be restricted by ailments, and I recognize that it takes work to maintain health, but it’s so worth it.  Thanks for asking. Good for you all, whatever motivates you and spurs you on. Keep it up. There’s no doubt you are inspiring someone.

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