I was thinking about blog posts and realizing I hadn’t written one lately about my exercise and weight loss since last year. Last year’s commitment to getting into shape has really paid off. All totaled I have lost around 45 pounds and have become a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers is one of the best plans for me and I was motivated and ready to make a significant change for my health. Recently, I reached another milestone. I ran 10 miles. Yep. That’s right. Not 10 kilometers, but 10 miles.
As part of the Weight Watchers plan you also track exercise. I knew that if I were to really be successful, I would have to begin exercising. I began walking in the neighborhood. That was fun and easy. At some point, I realized that if I intensified the workout I could lose more calories in the same amount of time. I have never been a runner and I hadn’t planned on being one either.
I discovered the Couch-to-5 K. The first week you alternate between 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking. The first time I did it in March of 2011 I thought I was going to die. I couldn’t breathe. I thought I would never make it to 5K or 3 miles. However, I kept on going, reminding myself that each day was its own goal. I made it to 5K and then I tackled the Bridge to 10K. I achieved that in late August. I had some aches and pains along the way, but as I kept losing weight, the pain would ease and my bones and joints loosened up.
One day in late September after reaching 8 miles, something happened. My left inner thigh was sore. It didn’t go away. I tried ice, anti-inflammatory drugs, and resting. Eventually, I took myself to an orthopedic specialist, got some x-rays and got news that I had a problem with my hip. I went to physical therapy and discovered that I had no strength in my glutes. I had been inactive for so long that some important muscles had lost strength. I started doing strengthening exercises and after three months was back to new and started running again. By strengthening the muscles I was able to literally pull the hip back into place so that the irritation that had created the injury was gone. Our body is an amazing system. By strengthening one part of the system, I was able to put the overall system back into its proper place and improve my overall physical health and begin the process of running again.
As I think about this journey, I think about the variety of strategies that are available to fight poverty. Poverty is created by a vast system with several pieces that are interrelated and broken. Here at work we are starting with one part of the system. Household income. It’s quite simple and has common sense. If we can help people improve their income, help them manage their money, and lower the expense of their largest need (their housing), then we can have an impact on part of the system. Do we solve poverty? Not all of it. However, we will be helping people move in the right direction.
Other partners across the community are working on other parts of the system, including the education, transportation, and health care systems; all of which play a part in poverty reduction. I liken it back to my own body. I worked on my food intake, my cardiovascular exercise, and my strength training; all playing a role in my own health. I couldn’t always focus on all of them at once, but as I tackled them one at a time, I discovered where I needed to focus my energy, without compromising the gains I had made in other parts of the system, in order to improve the overall system.