Getting Fit — One Year Later by Dr. Brenda Bethman

brenda bethmanBrenda Bethman has been Director of the UMKC Women’s Center since January 2007. She also holds appointment as Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, and Affiliated Faculty in German. Before coming to UMKC, she was founding Program Coordinator of the Women’s Center and then Director of the Women’s & Gender Equity Resource Center at Texas A&M University, where she also taught for the Women’s & Gender Studies Program, College of Liberal Arts Honors Program, and the Department of European and Classical Languages and Cultures. She is a past chair of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Women’s Centers Committee, as well as past Secretary for NWSA. Brenda was a member of the committee that revised the CAS Standards for Women Student Programs and Services.

Brenda has presented and published on technology, social media, assessment, women’s leadership, women’s literature, Elfriede Jelinek, Marlene Streeruwitz, Ingeborg Bachmann, and feminism in a variety of venues. She holds a B.A. in German Literature from Dickinson College, an M.A. in German Literature from Temple University, and a Ph.D. in Modern German Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies from UMass Amherst.


One year ago, I made a “mid-year resolution” to finally get fit. At the time, I wrote:

“I know, however, that left to my own devices I will fail once again — this time around, then, my plan is to work with a personal trainer. So starting next week, I will be working with Shannon Hutsler and her team at UMKC’s Swinney Recreation Center (aka one of the best-kept secrets on campus) to develop a plan. The tricky thing, I think, will be managing to keep things going once the semester starts back up — I will be teaching two classes and trying (again) to learn some French, in addition to my day job.”


I am happy to report that while I once again failed to learn more French (I think I made it to 3-4 classes, but, hey, there’s always this semester!), I did manage to stick to my fitness plan. As someone who has never been athletic or who previously managed to have a consistent workout routine, I think no one is more surprised than I am that I actually managed to do it. And the key, as I noted in my post from July 2013, was indeed working with a trainer. I’ve worked out with her 5-8 times per month for the last year while also taking fitness classes at our campus recreation center (mostly Kinesis, but also boot camp and yoga). Combining personal training sessions with classes gave me an accountability and a plan that was lacking in previous attempts. Somehow “hey, I think I should go to the gym more often,” just doesn’t translate into actually doing it. And definitely doesn’t result in graphs like this:








The above is from the Digifit website and represents a year’s worth of workouts. As you can see, I totaled 263 workouts between August 1, 2013 and July 31, 2014, which is an average of about 5 workouts per week.

The combination of completing those workouts and a healthier diet resulted in decreasing my body fat by 6%, losing 17 pounds of fat, gaining 3 pounds of muscle, and overall improved well-being. My only regret is that I didn’t do this 10 years ago.

I also learned a couple of lessons that apply to my life as a student affairs professional:

  • Self-care needs to include the physical: I have always been pretty good about self care, but until this past year, I did not include taking care of my body as part of self care. I’ve never been a big junk food eater, but I definitely let that slide — it is amazing to me how much better I feel when I make time to be active. Heading back to work on a Monday morning after a weekend of yoga and Jillian Michaels videos has me ready to tackle the week with more energy than when the weekend was spent mostly sitting around.
  • It’s okay to leave the office: Often, when I try to talk colleagues into signing up for a daytime class for me, they’ll say “oh, no, I can’t be unavailable for that amount of time” (to be clear — wth Kinesis, we are talking 2 hours per week for the class and cleanup since it’s a half hour class). I used to think that way also — but have learned that things will not fall apart if I spend my lunch hour in the gym instead of hunched over my desk, eating while I work. I simply put it on my calendar so folks know I’m not available at that time and head off. The world has not ended — in fact, it’s just fine.

Most importantly, I have learned that it’s okay to take care of myself even when that means saying no to other things and that fitness can be fun once you find the activities that work for you. And that a good trainer is worth her weight in gold.



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