A Fit Update for August 2019

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life40 Comments

As summer begins to wind down here in the upper midwest, my gaze turns toward those delicious fall days, the crisp, cool air, the crunchy leaves—you know, basically every autumn cliché you can think of is completely my jam.

A year ago, I didn’t realize fall was going to shake me up health wise. I was doing mostly okay in my brain and what not (if you put aside the anxiety I worked through after sending my second born off to college and all that it entailed). My cheap red wine happy hours were definitely a big part of my coping mechanism during that time, and looking back, I do see myself wanting to escape the pain of everyday life, however small and neurotic that pain may have been.

The unknown is painful for people who like to know what’s coming.

I have been that person for as long as I can remember and until I started working with a therapist back in 2011, I probably would not have sought to change it. I mean, I liked the feeling of being in control. Of thinking I knew what was coming. It explains a lot about who I became on this planet.


You might be wondering what being in pain has to do with self-care. Or maybe you’re not thinking that at all. Either way, I have a few thoughts on the subject.

First things first: I want to define what self care means to me, because it really is bandied about like a catch all for pretty much everything and anything that makes you feel good.

Manicure? Self care. Naps? Self care. Taking a mental health day from work? Self care. Buying those shoes you’ve been eyeing for a few months? Self care.

And really, all of those things do, quite possibly, make a person feel better.

Everyone wants to feel better. I certainly am not unique in this.


But over the past several years, I’ve been trying to connect to what is really needed on any given day and what self care looks like to me when I’m being fully responsible for my life. What I mean by fully responsible is that everything, and I do mean everything, is mine alone to handle. My health, my work, my emotions, my pain, my frustration, my love—and the list goes on.

It’s not Dan’s job to take care of me. It’s not my children’s responsibility either. It’s my job to wake up every day and say, “Okay… what’s next? How can I be present today and do what is needed?” And probably most importantly: “What can I offer to those I love and the world at large today?”


I’d never even considered what was needed before therapy. It was only what I wanted. What do I want right now? What do I want every single minute of my life? How do I feel and what am I getting? It was a very young perspective to have, and becoming an adult is basically what I’ve been working on for many, many years now.

For some people, that just comes naturally. It didn’t for me.

Some of you might see a drop of yourself in my words today. Sometimes the drop is the beginning of the proverbial stream, and so on and so forth.

I don’t write about this a lot because I’m not completely all in on it just yet. I still cling to vestiges of the old me, because a new, fully adult and responsible me doesn’t feel quite as normal. And that’s okay, too.


But my point today is that taking care of me is both a big job and really, not that big of a job. It’s not that big of a job when I focus and remember: this is my job. These are my choices. Some days are hard. Some days are easier. Life has pain and it’s also my job to respond in kind like a grown-ass adult human. If I’m responsible in the area of feeding myself and moving my body, and I gather some momentum, it gets easier.

I needed to make changes when my blood pressure was high last fall. It scared me. It reminded me that I’m not here and healthy forever. And I buckled down and used those abstainer, all-or-nothing tendencies that make up my personality to effect some change.

I’m still effecting.

A year ago, I just just under 200 pounds with high blood pressure. Today, I’m down 40 and the numbers all look good. There is no destination, however, because it’s just a process. This process needs to be integrated into every day. I wish this magically happened for me. It doesn’t. It takes a renewal to caring and being fully responsible every single day.

But it’s my job and I’m presently equal to the task.


This year, on some levels, is winding down. I am fully committed to offering Fit in 2020. I love documenting this journey, both during ups and downs, because it does help me to remember that I got this, and even on the days when I clearly don’t, there is a path back to the center. If you are struggling with taking care of you, I just want to send you some love today and remind you that it’s okay to struggle, and maybe tomorrow will be a bit easier.

Thanks for reading.

p.s. people have asked if they can still join Fit 2019, and the answer is yes! If you want to get started now, instead of waiting for that new year to roll around, I encourage  you to join. You’ll access the past 8 months of materials and messages to give you a boost right now! Fit 2019 runs through December, and I will be launching registration for the new year, Fit 202o, beginning December 15, 2019!


Cathy ZielskeA Fit Update for August 2019

40 Comments on “A Fit Update for August 2019”

  1. #1

    Cathy, Would you share what you did to drop those 40 pounds? This post is me right now. Thanks for sharing.

    1. #1.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Sure! I got off junk food and sugar. Almost completely.

      I dropped all gluten, too.

      Then I started to lean into the keto way of eating, basically, low carb! And beginning last March, I started doing Intermittent Fasting (which is not what it actually sounds like! lol!) you just narrow the window of time during the day wherein you eat your meals and snacks! It’s not for everyone, but… I eat real food and not diet food, and the cravings for the crap have kind of faded away.

      Oh, and I mostly ditched red wine.

  2. #2

    This is so good. It’s all a process and if we’re growing (not in weight, ha! ha!) and moving forward, that’s what matters. Even the baby steps. Because sometimes that’s all we can do. My motto the past year and a half has been, “Just keep coming back.” Will I have day I don’t drink enough water? Yes, just get back to it the next day. Did I eat poorly at this meal? Just get back to it the next meal. Did I completely derail with getting my steps in? Just get back on track. I’ll never be perfect. I will “mess up” (or perhaps “make poor choices” is better), but the key is to just keep coming back to it.

  3. #4

    Hi Cathy, I have been on a “fitness journey” about the same time you started. I too, have been concerned with taking care of myself because it is my job. I think you have expressed exactly where I am at in life and I enjoy hearing your updates. We are close in Midwest regions, as I am in the upper Illinois area, close to Wisconsin. I am excited to experience our beautiful Autumn. Thanks for keeping it real, because you are very relatable. Have a great day!!

  4. #5

    Cathy, I’m with you. Impressed by how far you’ve come after some therapy. It took me years to own my resistance to tend to myself. After much weeping about my difficult childhood, it was time to push on.

    1. #5.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Well, good on you, Laurie! It’s hard to take in pain, period. But when we do… well, life can really open up!

  5. #6

    Cathy, I’ve been noticing in your self-photos lately how good you look & I’ve meant to tell you that. Yes, you do look slimmer. But the thing that really is apparent: you kind of glow. You look happy. You’ve lost that “I’m hiding, skeptical, defensive, pulling back” look. Now you look as if you’re ready to face the world and life, with enthusiasm. Nice goin’ gal!

    1. #6.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I will attribute that to growth. Not feel good BS stuff… but I’ve been working on stuff. Much more to do!

  6. #7

    Your “drop” of wisdom hit me hard upside my head today! I’ve lost quite a bit of weight this past year and thought that would be the answer to all my woes. Nope – I realized the weight of what I’m juggling in my mind is keeping me down from being my best self.

    Self care both physically and mentally is vital to us all. Thanks for your candor Cathy!

  7. #8

    So many parallels to my life in this post! Not 100% empty nest yet, but one more year until #2 goes to college. Returning #1 to her second year of college was just as emotionally difficult as the first year. All I think about is what my life will be like when I’m no longer responsible (or maybe the word is ‘in control’) of my kids’ day to day lives. Started some healthier eating and working out with my daughter this summer, as she wanted to work on her Freshman 15. But now I struggle with staying motivated to do it myself. Anywho, therapy appointment scheduled for mid-September, can’t even wait. I’ll probably overwhelm the poor guy with my laundry list of things I’m struggling with!

  8. #9

    I am struggling to take care of me , but I am truly trying. My husband of 23 years left last year, and I just sent my last child to college. Empty nester and newly single and living alone for the first time and now trying to take care of me. Thanks for your post!

    1. #9.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Just wanted to say, Amy, that is a lot. I can only imagine. But… it might be a wonderful opportunity for you to connect to yourself! Wishing you the best.

  9. #10
    Deborah P

    Interesting timing. Interesting, because I’m getting so many reminders today that, as Brandi Kincaid said in her IG post – “I pick.” Rats! That means that I’m in charge of how I handle everything that comes at me today. And every day. Also interesting because I’m a control person too, yet somehow, it’s hard to remember that this is totally within my control. I’m going to take all these reminders that I’m getting and put them to good use. After all, apparently, I need them. LOL Thanks, Cathy!

    1. #10.1
      Cathy Zielske

      My wonderful therapist has been trying to get me to see that control is actually an illusion for years… we don’t really have any control over life. Life has some brutal facts, you know? We are born, we age, we get sick, we die. But… connecting to that can make you feel more alive. It can help you to connect to joy. It’s all good.

    1. #11.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Hey Terresa!

      It’s actually still open. I had that date on there and decided I’d just leave it open.
      BUT this is a yearly class so… Fit 2020 registration opens up in December! A new classroom, but the same concepts!

  10. #12

    Cathy, thanks so much for sharing your truth. As all the others that have commented your blog hit home with the honest truth we all have to face on the importance of self care and dealing with these new life stages. I am almost 56, empty nester, stressed with work, and still trying to find myself. Is about perspective and realizing we matter and that we want to be around for a good while.

    If you have a chance watch in Netflix the movie Otherhood. Is about 3 female friends and their struggle with no longer feeling needed. Good laughters and a few tears, right up the alley of this discussion. Also if you want some good laughters recommended the series Grace and Frankie, nothing like two brand new senior divorcees learning to be single and learning to self care too.

    Cathy thanks for all you share, God bless you!

  11. #13
    Karyn Penno

    It’s my job to take care of me? And do what’s needed, not what I want? OMG Not just a drop, a total downpour. With lightening! I’ve been struggling to find my way out of some horrific years, and had been giving myself the “grace” to do what I wanted because I thought that would be the best way to rest and recover. It hasn’t been working and I couldn’t figure out why. Your words are totally what I needed to hear today and I can’t thank you enough for expressing your truth so generously.

    1. #13.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I’m glad it resonated. It’s not going to be what everyone needs to hear. I just share the things I’m learning and leaning into, and much of it is who I aspire to be. : )

  12. #14

    I would like to join your Fit class. I need some motivation. My way is not the resounding success that i had hoped. by chance is there a 16 month version? September through next year? If not, i will sign up in january.

    1. #14.1
      Cathy Zielske

      It’s only a yearly course! 🙂 And in December, it will launch at a discounted rate, which is the only time it goes on sale!

  13. #15

    We bring our first born to Winona State today. I don’t know how I am going to handle her not living at home anymore. I need to find a way to deal with my sadness in a healthy way. Ugh!
    You are doing great!

    1. #15.1
      Cathy Zielske

      One of my dear friends is doing the same! At Winona State! Hang in there. Feel the sadness. It reminds you how amazing being alive really is.

  14. #16
    Helen Rosen

    You look amazing and you are very inspiring with your self care. I’m just curious if exercise had anything to do with losing the 40 lbs. I have changed my eating habits, but the 30 lbs. are stubbornly stuck there.

    1. #16.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Honestly? Not really. I injured my knee in March and my exercise has been limited to light walking. It try to get 10K steps daily but almost never do. I’m convinced it’s what we eat… and continually evaluating and being really honest about it.

  15. #17
    Helen Rosen

    You look great and you are very inspiring. Did your weight loss include exercise or just changing the way you eat?

  16. #18

    Wow, Cathy, you’re an inspiration to me and I’ve missed checking in with Fit 2019. You’ve been on my mind the last week and wa-la what do I see in my inbox – a beautiful picture of one of my mentors from afar, sharing her update on transformation. I think to myself, “I must read this one”. Please know that you’re walking the talk and inspiring so many of us from afar, so thank you for all that you do in taking care of you so that, in turn, you encourage others to take care of themselves.

    You’re right Cathy, I do see much more than a drop of myself in your words shared here. This whole coming into ourselves on a deeper level is an awakening to my soul that I’ve never experienced. Like you, I’m an all-in kind of girl, which has its good and bad points. This time around, I’ve set my mind to use it for good with changing some habits that were holding me back from rising to the next level of humility and grace of knowing and loving who I am today and changing the not so good attributes. And you know what . . . it’s working! One single small change of replacing a bad habit with a good habit is actually working. Also, like you, I’m still effecting – truly though, I believe we’ll always be effecting otherwise, we stop growing and becoming better mentors and leaders to those craving positive influences like you!

    I also relate to the requirement of daily renewal of setting my mind and keeping it set and is one of the first things I say to the hungry for change, girl looking back at me in the mirror; along with prayer for Him to grant me His grace and power to cast down the negative self-defeating thoughts and replace them with positive uplifting thoughts and to fully understand, to the depths of my soul, that I have freedom of choice and a free will to choose wisely or destructively and how that will look in years to come, both on the inside and outside and a full understanding that our choices WILL show their effects, it’s only a matter of time. I refuse to be blind-sighted in years to come when my eyes are wide open today so I choose to take action today for a happier today and tomorrow.

    It’s also clear to me that at the end of the day, the only person I can be happy or angry with is myself. I’m happy to report that I’ve been choosing to pass over the old bad habits as I know what the result is, it almost never waivers – it’s like a strong concrete barrier, it barely shifts or changes, it’s predictable. At some point we have to choose a path, so why not choose the path of change, be different, knock out the self-defeat and buckets of self-inflicted disappointment and make a breakthrough by creating a new concrete barrier made from the strength of investing positively in our mind, body and spirit! Feed ourselves what the three facets of human existence needs.

    I read personal hand-written devotional cards throughout my day, ESPECIALLY during the time of day I’m weakest and have tendencies to mentally fall back into old habits. This is working for me as well.

    I was listening to a Dave Ramsey podcast where his guest speaker, John O’Leary (author of On Fire – The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life) where he shared the 1st choice is to Own Your Life. Hearing those words and intensely listening to his own life experience of being burned on 100% of his body, with a grim chance of living as a result, those three words and his story completely changed my reality. There’s no one else responsible for my choices, no-one can save me from bad choices. I’m the one in control of choosing my path in life, the friends I keep, the career I choose, the food & drink I choose to put into my body and feed to my family, the wind-down cocktail that’s so commonplace in today’s society where everyone says is fine – don’t worry about it – everyone’s having a glass of wine daily, if not 2-3! Well, here’s what I’m learning – when there’s a disruption in our soul and gut about anything, that means something isn’t right and it’s time to listen and change. It might be okay for others to continue on their path because they haven’t come to the point you’re at, so we can’t gauge our decisions based on where someone else is currently. I’m listening more closely to my soul and gut and responding to it and not the world around me.

    That was long-winded however, I hope it inspires you to know you’re inspiring me and many others. Warm Blessings!

    1. #18.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Well it sounds like you’re also doing the work, Brandi. The best thing we can do is try and understand ourselves fully, then offer that to others. Sounds like you’re well on that path!

  17. #19

    Thank you for sharing your heart on self care. I, too, have been struggling with some health issues as well as a season of great loss and loneliness. For the past few weeks, I’ve been reminded to make victorious declarations over myself and to remember who I am and what I stand for. I cannot allow the negative thoughts to take over and ruin a perfectly good life! I am starting to come out of my funk and get to living the life I was meant to have.

    1. #19.1
      Cathy Zielske

      You can do it, Paige. Life is a gift, even with pain and sadness. I have been extremely lucky to not have horrible pain and suffering. Of that, I’m very aware. Sending you a virtual hug today!

  18. #20

    Cathy, thanks for this post. Really helpful reminder. Re: your quitting sugar—do you allow yourself to eat fruit, or no sugar at all, regardless of the source?

  19. #21

    Thanks for sharing such a personal story. I am so glad for you that the work of change is going so well!

  20. #22
    Karen Coyle

    Hi Cathy, just want to keep encouraging you!! Feeling good about yourself,inside and out is so important to our overall health. Wishing you all the best.. you are strong and beautiful. Keep it up!! You can do anything.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *