Last week, I got a note from Orangetheory Fitness telling me it was my anniversary with them. I know I’ve talked a lot about OTF in various Chairman Mom posts about exercise and fitness. (And to anyone who will listen generally…)

But this note was opportune, because after more than 100 workouts and even being named “member of the month” one month this summer, I totally fell off the OTF bandwagon around August. 

There were all the usual reasons why. I had been traveling and got out of the routine. Work had gotten too intense for me to step out at noon everyday for a workout. I lost my tracker band and didn’t want to spend $100 on a new one. These little things added up and before I knew it, I was just out of the habit. Just like that, 10 months of routine, discipline, and results went up in smoke. 

Even though I was still running and Peloton’ing and was eating well, I wasn’t working out as often or as intensely, and I could feel that I was gaining weight or losing muscle or both. My body was changing, and I was down on myself, felt less energized, and less positive. 

It’s amazing how you can watch your healthier self slipping away, but can feel so powerless to reach out and grab it back, isn’t it? 

Fortunately I had roped so many people into the OTF cult that people kept asking where I’d been. Finally one day, I got it at school drop off, and again when I went to get my haircut. Paul had started going back and said that the staff always asked about me. “FINE!” I thought and pulled out my phone and booked a class right then, mostly so I could stop having this conversation.

That was a few weeks ago, and I’m solidly back in the five to six times a week OTF zone. It took discipline to get through the first week. It was a rough reentry, but now, I feel like the muscle memory has kicked in, and I feel like my old self again. Everyone who works at the studio was so kind, celebrating that I was back more than making me feel bad for dropping out for a few months. It felt like a homecoming. 

There are so many reasons that the actual workout of OTF works for me, but the thing that roped me back in is the community around that studio and how incredibly nice the team and the trainers are. I spent years (and so much money) going to SoulCycle just as regularly and loved the workout, but I never felt that from the staff. Falling off the bandwagon is so easy; anything that helps you get back on matters. 

But one thing both the trainers of SoulCycle and OTF drilled into me was gratitude. Working out can feel like drudgery, especially as a woman post-childbirth in her 40s. I work so hard for minimal results, especially compared to Paul. 

But it’s really a privilege to be able to work out as hard as I do. Not only because I can afford to, and because I have a job where I can duck out for an hour at noon most days, but because I’m healthy enough to do it. The quote above is what my fav OTF trainer says before each workout. I may be dreading it, not feeling in the mood for what’s coming when I hear those words, but he’s right. We are alive and well, and life is good. 

My mom and both of my grandmothers had Parkinson’s. Some of my earliest memories are of watching powerful matriarchs of my family decline before my eyes. Sadly, it’s been the one constant for my entire life. First my mom’s mom, then my dad’s mom, and for the last 20 years I’ve watched it with my mom. 

Parkinson’s has become the shadow in my life, the demon always whispering in my ear. “Enjoy it now, because I’m coming for you….”

This, to me, is reality not a fear of what could be. It’s a huge reason I’ve lived my life in fast forward: At 40 I had written three books, traveled all over the world, helped build three companies, written magazine covers, raised millions in capital, hosted an online show, spoken at conferences all over the world, and of course given birth to two phenomenal kids. I felt I had to wring every bit of life out of a time when I could move, because I’ve become convinced the time is coming when I can’t. When Paul and I started dating, I spent months warning him what he was getting into. I see what my dad has to do physically to care for my mom now in her 80s. That, I told him, is what he is signing up for. 

And all this may still be the case. In another 20 years, I may well be sitting in a doctor’s office when I get the diagnosis that so many other powerful women in my family have had to hear. In a single instant, I’ll feel the crushing weight of a lifetime of having witnessing what that disease can do. I can’t help that. But I can spend the next 20 years getting my body in the best shape I can going into that phase, and enjoying my ability to use it in the process. 

This week, I’m spending a lot of time focusing on what I’m thankful for. And finding my inner athlete in the last few years is definitely a big one.

Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:

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