“Focus on self,” she texted me. I had to think about that for a moment. Much as I didn’t want to admit it, my little sister’s text made a whole lot of sense.

I’m at one of those cross-roads we occasionally face in life. Kind of in limbo with what I’m doing and what comes next. Facing some significant challenges within my family. Struggling with some life-changing decisions. But basically just finding ways to get through the days as I count them down from February to May when I will return to the US for a while.

My weight has always been a problem. Yo-yo dieting and sporadic exercising habits over the decades have done their damage. Now, at age 50-ish, it’s crazy difficult to get rid of these extra pounds…but even more important.

I’ve been fit at various times in my life. Never slim, but even with extra pounds I’ve been fit and active. And I’ve always been relatively healthy (knock-on-wood.) But over the last five years or so, my fitness level has really fallen off. Part of it has been lack of motivation. Part of it due to circumstances caused by where I’ve been living. Developing arthritis in both my hips hasn’t helped my motivation any either. It hurts to move, and yet with arthritis, the less you move, the worse it gets. I know this but putting it into practice is not always easy.

So my couch-potato life is mostly my own fault, if I’m really honest about it. Granted, there are no Western-style aerobics classes here, which is my preferred way of exercising. But hey, there’s nothing stopping me from popping in a Zumba or Jazzercise DVD and rockin’ out in my living room, right?! But no, I’ve not done that. Coulda. Shoulda. Didn’t.

So with my sister’s comment, I started thinking about how often in life women ever get long blocks of time uninterrupted by work or family obligations…like, uh, NEVER! Anyway, it occurred to me that since I still have several unscheduled, uncommitted months ahead of me, I’ve been given a gift. A gift of time. Time to focus on ME.

So the question becomes not HOW will I use this time, but rather WILL I use this time to make some improvements in my health and fitness? Can I REALLY make some changes in my eating habits? Do I have the motivation to literally “get up off the couch” and make myself move every day in some manner that benefits heart and body? And what about those decisions I’m struggling with? Will flexing the muscles and breathing deeply help clear the cobwebs? The truth is, I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but the time is NOW to at least try.

Since I arrived here in the UAE in September, I’ve worked out off-and-on to those DVD’s in my living room, but nothing consistent. I’ve walked for exercise somewhat regularly this winter while the weather has been cool. Still, most days are passed sitting on the couch, surfing the internet. And plowing through bags of Doritos… Wow, that’s embarrassing to see in writing! But it’s the truth.

Jane Fonda DVD cover
Jane’s still got it!

So, “Focus on Self.” I’m happy to report that as of today, I have worked out EVERY day this week – five days in a row. Thanks to YouTube, I found Jane Fonda’s new videos…for folks over 50…but it has been just enough to help me get moving. I also added her 1980’s-era videos to my playlist and hope to eventually get around to doing those. Well, at least the low-impact version of them! But with a combination of Jane’s fun little dance aerobics video and some beginner Yoga routines from my new App (Yoga Studio App for iPad – best $3 app EVER), I actually do feel better. While there has been no improvement from the scale yet, I’m okay with that. I can tell from the way I feel and the way I can move more easily that I’ve made a little bit of progress this week. Yay me!

So, can I keep it up? I’ve been known to start things and not finish. Sad but true. But again, right now I don’t have any other obligations or commitments. Yes, there’s Indiana Joe – my husband. Thankfully he’s a pretty low-maintenance guy – one of the things I love best about him. But with nothing in my day planner and no other responsibilities, I really have no excuse.

Besides, what else have I got to do right now besides Focus on Self?

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