My Edmonds News published my first Fitness Corner column 10 years ago this month. It was a fairly typical January piece about making changes in the New Year, although to this day I consider it solid advice that will always stand the test of time: For health and fitness in New Year, consider lifestyle changes not resolutions
I could not have known that two weeks later my world would be totally upended with the death of my beloved husband. It would change my life, including my writing. I do not believe I would have evolved into the writer I am today if I had not been forced to navigate through the terrible pain of Dan’s loss. This column has been the mechanism by which I inadvertently developed my current writing style and flow, simply by writing consistently month after month, year after year.
How can I revisit 10 years of Fitness Corner in just a few paragraphs? The year 2014 seems so long ago, and so much has happened in that time. It feels like we live in a much different world now.
I didn’t set out to expand beyond fitness advice into deeper topics, but when grief overwhelmed me, it was a reminder that fitness is never an isolated thing we do. We bring much of what we are experiencing at any given time into our workouts. So, it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to write A guide to exercising through grief as my second column. I’ll never forget how supported I felt by your responses, my readers! That was the first of many amazing comments you have left me over the years. I am very grateful for each one, even if I am not at all good at offering replies.
In that first year I ended up taking a six-month-long leave of absence, but not before I recommended Fitness DVDs first on the list as a resource for gaining strength in Get strong, stay strong. DVDs? We really do live in a much different world now!
I came roaring back in January 2015 with This too shall pass, which was my first piece of writing in which I went into depth about my grief process. My two favorite columns that year were The healing table, (because you never know what might happen when you walk into the QFC Starbucks the day after your husband dies), and Life’s second chances, (because you never know when you might find true love for the second time.)
Over the years, Fitness Corner morphed into a mix of health and fitness interspersed with grief, loss, life, love and Edmonds-specific content.
Even though I’m technically currently no longer a resident of Edmonds, my heart still is, and I pour it out in An Edmonds kind of homecoming and Incognito in Edmonds. I expressed my deep appreciation to our local first responders in The value of quick emergency response and I profiled my nonagenarian Edmonds neighbor Jan who is the epitome of Simple lifestyle choices key to actively aging. Jan is still going about as strong as you would expect!
I wrote several times about my family in the context of living life because, ‘Your parents are cool’; and because of The ripple effect, my sister went from a life-threatening blood clot to an ultra-runner. I wrote about death, in Contemplating what could have been, when my mother had a heart attack, and when my father was about to die, which was indeed An (extra)ordinary Father’s Day. I worked so very hard on that column, because I knew it was my last gift to my father.
One of my own ongoing practices is to incorporate mindful breathing into my life, which I discussed in Just breathe and How one minute of breathing changed my life. When challenged personally, it helps me to write about my process and the forms of self-care I fall back on, as I do in In the New Year, resolve to persevere (after my father died) and in A New Year’s note (broken wrist and ensuing complications).
Jan. 1 also happens to be my late husband’s birthday, and this year, on Jan. 16, it has been 10 years since I lost him. Two years after his death, in Reflections on loss, I wrote that I was concerned about saturating Fitness Corner with too much grief. However, eight years after I wrote those words, I now accept that grief is not something that any of us can put a timeline on and it’s certainly not something I can ever stop writing about. I still think of Dan’s divot tool, even though I made peace with its loss a long time ago.
When COVID hit us, my own grief experience helped me to process my own and our collective shock in Grieving and the COVID-19 crisis. A community’s grief also propelled one of my columns, A ray of sunshine, gone, to go viral (it was a local kind of viral, but still, many thousands of people read it, which is a record for me as far as I know). Amy’s family, who I did not know before then, reprinted my column in its entirety in the program at her Celebration of Life! It is an honor that still takes my breath away.
Ultimately this is a fitness column, where I hope I offer insightful, useful, and motivating advice and ideas about starting, maintaining and mixing up your workouts. My favorite columns include The many levels of strength as well as How to make exercise (mostly) effortless and Strive to be an average person doing average exercise. We are all individuals on different and unique fitness journeys. If all I can do is remind you that any movement is good movement and to cut yourself some slack but still keep in mind How do you want to show up for your future self, then I’ve done my job as a fitness professional and columnist.
Ten years later, it continues to be my honor and privilege to be a part of this community and this publication. In the next decade I look forward to more writing and, if I am lucky, less grief, loss, injuries, or life changes. I know there will never be a shortage of topics to share with you, and I thank you for continuing to join me here at Fitness Corner.
Happy New Year!
— By Pritam Potts
Coach Pritam Potts is a writer and strength coach. After 16+ years of training athletes and clients of all ages as co-owner of Edmonds-based Advanced Athlete LLC, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. She writes about health & fitness, grief & loss, love & life at www.mrsathlete.net and www.advancedathlete.com.