The year that was in general health and fitness

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life32 Comments

I used to blog a lot more about health and fitness… specifically, mine.

Remember that? If you click here, you can read post after post after post after post on the very subject.

Lots of before photos. Lots of after photos. Then more let’s try this again photos. There was some whining. There were some truths. But basically, this has been a subject I’ve talked about since I quit smoking almost 11 years ago.

Funny. I never talked about smoking while I was actually a smoker. God forbid I would let fellow scrapbookers in on my dirty little secret addiction.

Eleven years.

That’s how long figuring out how to take care of myself has taken. Is taking. Let’s move it into the present tense. Because this is an ongoing thing for me.

Part of not blogging about it was getting negative comments in the past from people who would say things like, “SOLVE THIS already.” As a sensitive kind of girl, I decided to hedge my bets and take this story offline into the safety of an online course. I know that thicker skin and blogging should match up nicely, but they don’t for me. But in the safety of the class, I know I can speak freely about where I’m at, and how this shit is going.

And if you would like to know, it’s going alright.


One could say that 2016 has been a year. The macro stuff (the election, the wars, the artists we lost), and the micro stuff (my family, your family… the stuff that is literally close to home), have added up to a year wherein I think I felt less joy than others. That’s not an excuse for not having some bomb ass after photo that demonstrates how well I care for myself. It’s just the year I personally experienced.

The micro stuff has been challenging, namely Dan’s career change and yes, it’s funny how someone else’s challenging experience can spill over into another’s (i.e. mine.) The hours he’s putting in… the stress he is navigating… and the partner in crime that I’m actually missing… this is a time of transition and change.

Me being 50 and the whole post menopausal thing (what the hell? chin hair? you’ve GOT to be joking, right?), and just getting older with all they physical changes that come with that territory.

And yet, the desire to simply appreciate this body for all that it lets me do is stronger than ever. The push for some ideal of perfection is losing its luster. If I am not simply more than the cells that tie this all together externally, then we do have a problem, Houston.

And I’ve spent too many years throwing darts at a board that just keeps moving anyway.


The year in general health and fitness was pretty good. I had two doctors say, and yes I’m quoting them, “You’re a pretty healthy person.” I had a clean mammogram. I had a normal colonoscopy. I had no major issues save for sore hips when I exercise with regularity. Hello age. And sugar.

I haven’t been the poster child for all things healthy. At times, sure. But not always. I’m just saying that eating Nutella with a spoon right out of the container may not be best for my continued longevity. But I keep showing up and remembering to be grateful and to do the best I can.

Maybe that is the ultimate takeaway from 2016. Show up. Be grateful. Do the best you can.

Ain’t no shame in that game, people.


I’m inviting you to join me for Fit 2017. We’re going to show up, be grateful and do the best we can. We’ll journal the story, too. Being connected to your facts is a powerful tool in cultivating self-care and a conscious approach to life. Even when Nutella gets in the way. I’ll work to share a bit more of my story here on my blog, too. I’d love to have you join me in 2017. The introductory price ends on January 1, 2017, then it’s $31 to join.


Cathy ZielskeThe year that was in general health and fitness

32 Comments on “The year that was in general health and fitness”

  1. #1
    Marge J

    Thanks Cathy for always keeping it real and honest!! I’m in (again) — going to try the travelers notebook — hoping that keeping it with me will help me stay on task! Seems I feel off somewhere mid-June — and then the wagon rolled over me and I didn’t even look up as it moved on! ugh…. And menopause!! We should have a real discussion on the shit that women have been holding out us about!! My sis and I were just discussing the fact that we, as women, don’t discuss our “change” openly – like there is something wrong if you can’t deal! Umm… no one told me my weight would stay the same yet I wouldn’t be able to button my pants!!! AAGHH!! And the personal sauna sessions…. yeah, thanks for the warning!! lol Okay, I’m going to stop whitching (whining/bitching) and go print my pages so when my new Websters notebook arrives I’ll be ready!! 🙂 Joy in the little things ….. !!!

    1. #1.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Marge, I too feel like there aren’t a lot of public discussions on menopause, unless there is some great blogging out there on the subject that I’m missing. I accept the process of getting older—hell, I am GRATEFUL for being here—but there are things that have come with it that are like, ohhhhh, so that happens too?

      Anyhoo… i’m doing the Traveler’s Notebook this year, too. And make no mistake, a journal can solve all problems, I get that, but it is a way to “know thyself” and I personally believe that is the key to it all. 🙂

  2. #2

    I completely understand the stress felt by a first-year teacher, having lived through it myself. You have to create every lesson, every worksheet, every test from scratch. You have to create all your classroom management processes from scratch. (How to determine seating assignments? How to take attendance? What if someone’s tardy? Or asks to leave the room? How will absent students get the work they missed? What about students asking for work in advance of a planned trip? Do you provide extra pencils, paper or books in the room? How do you teach them to remember to bring their own? What are your consequences for disruptive students? These are all policies you have to decide on and tweak throughout that first year.) You have to design your room decor from scratch. And change it multiple times so it doesn’t get stale. You have to create a grading process from scratch. (When will you do your grading? How do you keep papers from different subjects/assignments/classes sorted? How much will each assignment or test count toward final grade? Are there participation points? Behavior scores? Will you accept late assignments? How are those scored? Will you allow extra credit? Do you create special extra-credit assignments?) You have to do all of that while also learning the material you teach, often only a few steps ahead of the students but prepared to answer any question they come up with. You have to reply to parent emails and phone calls, calculate grades for progress reports & report cards, go to meetings and attend professional development seminars.

    And those are all the things you do when you aren’t doing the actual teaching, which itself takes up most of your day.

    Almost every day that first year something goes differently than planned. A lesson you thought would take an hour is done in 20 minutes. The topic you planned to talk about for 5 minutes lasts an hour. The kids you thought would be agreeable and engaged are distracted, tired, bored or disruptive. You constantly question your lesson design, your materials, and yourself, making tweaks to see what works best. And throughout this process you are being continually judged by students, administrators, co-workers and parents. Complaints or criticisms feel personal because they are. The stakes are high because your “product” is someone else’s children. And that’s a lot of pressure.

    But I’m writing this to let you know that the first year only happens once. Next year he’ll have an idea already of what works and what doesn’t. He’ll already have all those lesson plans, worksheets and tests to use. He’ll have a better knowledge of the subject-matter. He’ll have classroom decor he can repurpose. He’ll have his systems and processes worked out. And best of all, he’ll know what to expect. There will be fewer surprises and he’ll avoid many of the pitfalls that might have tripped him up this year. Year Two will be easier than Year One, but he will still be tweaking things, creating materials, and working things out. It will still be a lot of work. The same is true for Year Three.

    But know this: there is a big shift that third year. Every teacher I’ve ever talked to agrees. It suddenly seems to fall into place. A rhythm is established. The work seems easier. He’ll have a substantial bank of materials and lessons to pull from, knowing what works and what doesn’t. He’ll know the material and won’t have to study up beforehand. He’ll have his tried-and-true classroom management strategies. He’ll have more confidence dealing with parents. He’ll be more efficient and able to plan ahead finally. This will mean less work to do at home and more free time for family. And he’ll be more relaxed. You’ll have your partner-in-crime back.

    So to both of you I just want to say, hang in there! You just have to make it to Year Three.

    I hope it helps to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and when you’ll be reaching it. 🙂


    1. #2.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Wow, Amy… thank you for sharing this. It is very helpful for me to hear this as well. I think i may have had an unrealistic expectation that grad school and student teaching were going to be hard on our family… that was a cake walk by comparison.

      Dan and I were just talking this morning about him possibly sharing his experience in a post here. I had some folks who are thinking of making a career change ask him to share the whys and the experience of what it’s been like.

      And let’s just say I’m looking forward to that Year 3. 🙂 For him and for me.

      1. #2.1.1

        Cathy, yes! A post from Dan would be incredible. I’m debating whether to keep trying to go back into teaching at 47, and keep wondering what his take is just starting out…

        I can second that it IS so much better by year three, for sure.

        Meanwhile….that FIT class is calling my name. ?

    2. #2.2

      Amy, thank you for perfectly describing it!! I taught middle and high school for 6 years then stayed home to raise our babies. I went back to subbing in the primary grades when my youngest started first. Even subbing felt like starting over, and I was incredibly stressed. After trying for a few years to get back into the profession, I am now doing other work from home.

      It’s always been difficult to describe how challenging teaching is, especially if you’re doing it right and have a sensitive soul. Thank you!!

  3. #3
    Kimberly O.

    “Ain’t no shame in the game folks.” That’s my new motto for 2017. LOL No really. Well, and “Stop trying, just do.”

  4. #4

    Great post! I am the same age and dealing with similar menopausal and body issues. “The push for some ideal of perfection is losing its luster.” So agree. I want to be healthy but I appreciate my body more for all it does for me. I’m more accepting and even getting in pictures more. That feels good. I took the January FIT class 2 years ago. Maybe I should sign up again. My big change for 2017 is my oldest going to college. And, man, I know that’s going to be tough for me. Thanks for your honesty and sharing. I love reading your blog!

    1. #4.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Would love to have you join in, Jeanne! And yeah… that going to college thing… just this whole ‘our children growing up thing’ is a new thing to navigate as parents. Life is wonderfully complicated though, isn’t it? So many moving parts. 🙂

  5. #5

    I bought the course last year, didn’t quite get things going good before my crazy work hours kicked in for January. I guess you could say I never got on the wagon. lol. I love the travelers journal idea for this year, so I am going to sign up for it again and try to do better. I have lost over 50 lbs the past 3 years and I don’t want to gain it back. it is a daily battle…but one worth fighting. Thanks for being so real Cathy!

  6. #6

    Add me to the list of those looking for some more honest discussion about what to expect in menopause – I’m 55 and not “post” yet – my cycle became irregular over the past two years and I’ve now gone 4 full months and have my fingers crossed (and toes, legs, all parts of me that cross) hoping this is it! But I sure didn’t expect to GAIN 20 pounds over the past two years while actively trying to lose, nor did I expect my middle to balloon to where I look like I’m 6 months pregnant. I heard plenty about hot flashes, but I don’t think I knew they were followed up immediately by cold flashes. I spend more time now peeling off and putting back on layers of clothing… The good news is that I am more physically active and able to walk further and do more than I could two years ago, so I’m trying really hard to accept that as the reward from FIT and make peace with the body I now inhabit.

  7. #7

    Wow, all us women have so much in common! I was a teacher for 10 years and and then left to help run the family business. I graduated from college and couldn’t find a job. The school district was hiring college grads without a credential. (Majority of the assignments were in the inner city). We were required to go to school at night to complete our teaching credential. Since there were so many of us we had a great support group. But I do remember the stress. I still remember my first year of teaching. There were many tears that year. My boyfriend at the time, and now husband of 28 years probably remembers them as well. So yes, year 2 will be better! All of the work/prep Dan is doing now will payoff in the future.

    I’m a few years older than you and had a hysterectomy 4 years ago which threw me into menopause….weight gain, mood swings, hot flashes… At this point just trying to deal and appreciate life and my family for putting up with me ? We have changed our diet (kind of vegetarian and less carbs) Lost a few pounds and actually feel better. Still have them hot flashes though…? I would love to take a few classes from you!! Hope that 2017 will be the year!

    1. #7.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Thanks for the words of encouragement for Dan. And yeah, the hysterectomy instant menopause thing would kind of suck, but… there are upsides, right? 🙂

      I’d love to have you join my fit class in 2017 but I hope to create some other workshops more related to scrapbook page design, too. That’s next on my To Do list!

  8. #8

    Love the idea of “My Meno Moment”! I got to do menopause twice, once thanks to chemotherapy and then a second time when I finally got off all cancer related meds ten years later. My “personal summers” rarely show up now, but while I was still working it was so embarrassing. I’d be running a meeting, feel that internal heater kick in, know that my upper lip was beading with sweat and just have to keep talking as if nothing was amiss. But I think the worst part is the facial hair. I feel as if I have a full beard and have resorted to regular facial waxing. No one told me what to expect. My mother never mentioned anything about the “change”. So I’ve been somewhat vocal with my younger gal pals about being grateful for their hormones. As humans we are incredibly resilient and seem to adjust to whatever the new “normal” is for us. And I’m not complaining. I’m grateful to be here considering how things could have gone a different way. But it is nice sometimes to hear how others are fairing and to “whitch” a little.

  9. #9

    Show up. Be grateful. Do the best you can.

    This is going to turn into a sign, be framed and hung in my office at work. Right next to the framed sign that reads “If it weren’t for my great sense of humor, I would spend my entire day sitting in the corner crying.”

    I would love if someone (you) did a series on the female side of things. I have not hit that point in my life to be dealing with menopause just yet but I know it is coming and I have no idea what to expect, as I grew up in a family where these kinds of things were not discussed at all. I’ve been winging my way through adulthood, not knowing really what I should be doing/not doing or what should be happening/not happening. Does it seem strange that I am going to be 47 in less than a week and I have never had a major surgery, been seriously ill or had a need to ever find out what my blood type is? (Seriously, I don’t know and have never known what my blood type is and my parents don’t know either.) So – any posts brought to the space from someone who’s “going through this stuff” would be extremely helpful to a lot more readers than just myself, I would imagine! And I can’t help but ask why in the world are female subjects not openly talked about? It makes no sense to me, especially when we’re all in the same boat gender wise! Why can’t we openly talk about things with one another? Thank you for always keeping your posts so real Cathy. That’s the reason I keep coming back. Life isn’t always unicorns and rainbows and you never try to persuade us that it is. Thank you for that.

  10. #10
    Kimberly Reed

    lots of love for keepin’ it real. i’m generally not one to sign up for classes (for a myriad of reasons) but this one, this one tempts me. and just so you know, i just shoved a hand full of peanut m & m’s into my mouth. why?! WHY?! oh. i know! because they were given to me as a gift and they were here. feeling like it is impossible to ever stay on track for taking better care of myself. i sabotage myself at every turn (except for that i really do walk 4-5 miles every day). having a crazy dog that needs it helps. but even walking that much, i am back at a weight that i am not comfortable with. feeling comfortable in one’s own skin is quite nice and i miss it.

    i am sorry people made you feel like you had to “solve this already”. it never really gets solved, just lived, a day at a time. be strong my friend and post what YOU want. whatever that is. or isn’t. xo

  11. #11

    Thank you Cathy. I am now 72 and have not had older friends for decades. I was the first to think I had a brain tumor and found I only needed reading glasses. That was the start of many firsts. First one to experience the flooding periods that seriously disrupted my work life. Chin hairs. How can a 1inch hair sprout overnight? Chin and lip. Ugh. First one to have cataract surgery. First one with a knee replacement. I won’t even go into th loss of a waistline or the continuous drop of the boobs. I could go the Spanx route but am not sure how it all would be arranged inside that girdle. And girdle it is! But as you say I’m in the game,trudging about London this week and reminding myself how blessed I am not to be bedridden, in a home or on the wrong side of the grass. There is also the future topic of ‘Living With an Old/er Man’. Oh baby!

  12. #12

    I can relate to all of your life challenges and changes. Right down to the chin hair. My doctor suggested cutting down on the wine as a means of dropping the pounds that have been added every year for the past 3 years. Nope.

    Anywho. Thank you for showing up here and sharing. I enjoy reading your blog.

    1. #12.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Yeah, a year ago I cut out wine for nearly the entire fall… I did drop weight and had fewer hot flashes… so you know, it’s all about choices…. I chose more wine in 2016. lol.

  13. #13
    Lisa Soares

    Hi Cathy…I came to your blog today to look up your post on the Instant Pot. At the time I read it and thought I should get it, but didn’t buy it. Then it came up on Amazon for a good price on Black Friday and I remembered that you said it was good, so I bought it. I haven’t used it yet though and wondered if you’ve been using it much lately and if you have any good recipes to share? I thought I would ask here on this post because I wasn’t sure if you’d see it back on the Instant Pot post. Thanks! And, Happy Holidays!!

    1. #13.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Hey Lisa,

      I haven’t used it all that much lately, truth be told, but… it makes the best hard boiled eggs for sure! There is a recipe for a dish called Kalua Pig on that is SO so good. Otherwise, I’m still kind of a newbie with it.

      There is a Facebook group that is pretty amazing though. SO many recipes and ideas.

      Check that out. I think it’s a great group!

      1. #13.1.1
        Lisa Soares

        Thanks, Cathy. I appreciate you getting back to me. I will check out the Facebook group.

  14. #14

    Definitely joining in this year. I need a good motivator to get my ass off the couch once and for all. Could this also work in a bullet journal if I want to keep it simple?

    1. #14.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Absolutely! In fact, the Traveler’s Notebook insert has a bullet journal style page in it! So yes, you can adapt the cards and prompts for a bullet journal. Simple is GOOD!

  15. #15

    I have to say I wasn’t inclined to take your FIT class, but after reading your post and having it resonate with me on several levels, I am seriously considering signing up! As 50 is right around the corner for me (I will be turning 49 Jan. 2), it will be inspiring to hear your thoughts on “keeping fit”. I honestly enjoy reading your true and honest take on life as what is real for each of us is different. I believe in achieving that happy balance between being healthy and happy (if you know what I mean). So, I am looking forward to sharing a “FIT” year with you in 2017. There are certainly a few goals I could set for myself and it would be great to have a community of others to navigate my journey with in the coming year.

    1. #15.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Hey Susan! Well I’m glad to have you. Lord knows I do not have all the answers but I do know a thing or two about working to figure out what is needed. : )

  16. #16
    Kim L.

    So glad to know that I am not the only person who eats Nutella straight from the jar! I finally had to stop buying it in the jar. I will occasionally buy the single serve packages that come with breadsticks for dipping and that seems to fulfill the cravings. Thanks for your transparency; it is always appreciated here! Merry Christmas!

  17. #18

    Joining FIT after reading all these comments…think it might be just what I need, especially the “community.” I’m just a year ahead of you in life. No menopause yet, but there are signs, including the dang facial hair! Other signs of aging and just poor self-care are freaking me out — high cholesterol and for the first time ever my blood pressure was high! ? Lots of “things” going on in my life and lots of decisions to be made…I’m beginning with self-care, putting myself first! I’m not going “down” without a fight!

    1. #18.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Glad to have you, Kim. I, too, am not going down without a fight in 2017. Meaning, I can do better. Not perfect, but better. Much better. 🙂

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