I’ve always seen myself as the athletic type. My mother encouraged classes for a wide variety of water sports and there was always ballet as many young girls are signed up for at an early age. I became a competitive swimmer at the age of 9 and it was the focus of my life through high school. During this time I learned about strength training, how to be persistent (even for very long term goals) and gained endurance that I still have today. Unfortunately by the end of high school, swimming was the last thing I wanted to do. I was burned out at the whole concept. This was not a sport I would be able to stick with throughout my life.

After high school, as for most people, life (college, marriage, divorce, marriage, career, family, etc.) got in the way of my health and fitness as a lifestyle priority. Sure there were times that I would get into a fitness video or other workout routine, but it was always short lived due to some illness or injury, which caused me to get out of the habit. My healthy eating routine was just about as haphazard as my exercise was. I knew what to do, but never seemed to stick with it very long.

I hit a bit of an early mid-life crisis just before I turned 30. It’s amazing what those birthdays ending with a “0” will do for you. I broke my Coke addiction (the liquid type), joined Weight Watchers and started my journey to becoming the healthy person who exercises regularly that I am today.

Weight Watchers taught me portion control, that it is possible for a middle-age woman to lose weight (if she’s willing to work for it) and the concept of calories in vs. calories out (or points in the Weight Watchers case) is what it takes to make those weight changes.

When on vacation and to a trip to Barnes and Noble, I was intrigued with a book on walking, Walking for Fitness by Nina Barough. It spoke about how to take walking to a new level, different types of walking, training programs, nutrition, proper equipment, racewalking and actually walking marathons. My husband couldn’t understand why anyone would need to read a book about walking, since everyone knows how to do that. Little did he know how far this book would eventually take me.

Since my first introduction into walking as a real sport, I’ve studied and learned a great deal about training, nutrition, recovery, form, etc. After all these years and trying many different sports, I have found and fallen in love with racewalking. I hope that through training wisely I’ll be still racwalking marathons into my 80’s and beyond.

Today, I racewalk at least four times a week. I thoroughly enjoy this as my “me” time. I add cross training (typically weight training) to that, and spend as much time with my husband being as active as possible. We enjoy a rather healthy diet on a regular basis, which concentrates on lean protein, whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetables. I fully believe that diet is a great place to use the 80/20 rule. I don’t want to deny myself or my family comfort foods in moderation. My next goal is to seek out and add more locally producted foods to our diet. All this is much easier since we eat most of our meals at home, where we are able to know what really goes into our meals and are able to control them to our tastes and likings.

Please join me on my health and fitness journey. I’ll be sharing knowledge, resources, motivation and inspirational posts to help your journey be successful.

Patti Winters

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