Reviewing and setting goals for myself is one of my New Year’s Eve traditions. This time around, I was intentionally stingy in the number of goals I set. I had a few big ones on the list and didn’t want to overwhelm myself with too much pressure this year in part because I’m already overwhelmed caring for my two elderly parents and their sprawling property in Connecticut.
Helping them with everything from doctor’s appointments, to their Internet connection (yes, I’m also tech support), bills, and maintaining their incredible 5-acre property is almost a full-time job for me these days. I’ve joked with friends that I had launched a lawn care company called Tits and Grass.
That’s why self-care has been so incredibly challenging for me this year. Those of you in caretaking roles know precisely what I’m talking about. Caring for oneself is particularly hard when all your energy is going toward someone else.
But, I also knew that if I didn’t begin taking better care of myself, I would be no good to anyone else. Over the years, I gained more and more weight, and this past year, I really began to feel the ramifications of that extra weight. My energy levels waned, I felt achy and sore from the moment I opened my eyes to the moment I fell asleep.
Back to those goals. Losing weight was my number one goal. And honestly, I picked the worst possible age to begin that journey. At 46 and likely in the throes of peri-menopause (a veritable hell no one ever told me about, but that’s another story for another day), I began the arduous process of slimming down.
I’m a Capricorn, so taking small steps one day at a time towards a larger goal is right up my alley. I’ve trained for and run marathons in my younger days and played multiple sports, including college basketball. I prayed for my muscle memory to kick in as I hit the weight room for the first time in many years.
It eventually did.
I still have a long way to go, but I’m down 42 pounds today and feel better than I have in years. Once I began really paying attention to my diet, I also realized I was fairly gluten intolerant. My Italian roots aren’t particularly pleased that I no longer eat pasta or Italian bread, but it’s a small price to pay in the larger scheme of things.
I reached another milestone last night. Playing basketball again was linked to my weight loss goal. For those of you who know me well, you know that basketball has always been a massive part of my life. After college, I was drafted to play professionally in Israel (pre-WNBA days), but I turned it down to focus on my career. My first book Why She Plays: The World of Women’s Basketball centers on the sport I love so much. But, over the last seven or eight years, I was unable to pick up a ball and do more than shoot around or watch it on TV.
Two months ago, I petitioned the local Parks & Recreation department in my town to allow a women’s pick up basketball game night during the summer months when gyms are usually quiet. Over the years, I’ve only ever played pickup with the guys, and while that’s okay, I really wanted to create a time and place for women to come together. I felt like I was in good enough shape to give it a go without both injuring or embarrassing myself.
I’m proud to report that I played for 90 minutes last night with a great group of women. I’m sure our group will grow as more women learn about it. I didn’t exactly light it up, but I held my own. I’m definitely sore today and will probably hurt more tomorrow (DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness is real, people).
The highest compliment I’ve received in a long time came from a player in her late 20s who told me, “You're pretty good for an old lady.”
Another goal checked off the list. So far, it's been a very good year.