Fit Nation: Change up your living space to get in shape

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My husband and I sold our large house and purchased a small empty-nester house — perfect for 2 people. Well, it was until we acquired a roommate named CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge.

Our new roomie moved in around the end of January and has totally changed our household! The amount of space this roommate takes up keeps growing. Kind of like having another child. But we don’t have to feed it.

Some examples:

• Closet/drawer space. My ever-growing wardrobe of workout clothes seems to be encroaching on my “regular” clothing. Move over work clothes! Plus, I have new “regular” clothes now that I’ve dropped a size, thanks to our roommate.

• Basement. One room of our finished basement is now my “training room”. Treadmill, bike and trainer and a TV. Sorry grandkids, the playroom had to go!

• Linen closet. Roommate needs to swim, so I took out the summer supply of big towels to use at the pool. Had to reorganize the linen closet in order to fit them in. Even then, it’s kind of like Jenga in that closet. Remove one item and shut the door real fast.

• Kitchen. Roommate encourages healthy eating. Open the fridge door and you will now find bags of kale, romaine, veggies. You know, healthy stuff. Cabinets no longer contain my black licorice or my husband’s huge box of Cheez-Its. Sunday is no longer bagel day. The blender is always on the counter, ready to make green smoothies in the morning. And I don’t mean a Shamrock Shake!

• Laptop. Roommate tracks my workouts so I’ve commandeered the laptop. When I come in after a workout, I log it into Training Peaks and download my Garmin data. I briefly used the laptop for a week in February to have a movie-thon while recovering from knee surgery. Roommate said it was OK.

• Car. Roommate’s gym bag lives in the back seat of my car. It contains fins, swim cap, goggles, pull buoy and water bottle. It’s convenient. I just have to remove one of those big towels (see above), put it in the gym bag and go, assuming that the carefully stacked towels don’t collapse. Remember, think Jenga.

• Sleep habits. This roommate likes to work out and will not let me sleep in! We’re up early to go to the gym or ride my bike or swim. But I sure have no trouble falling asleep. Thanks, roomie!

That about covers the impact our new roommate has had in our house. But the impact CNN Fit Nation has had on my life is even greater.

A big thank you to Dr. Sanjay Gupta for this program. He started it, supports it, and will be with us in Malibu.

I have awesome, incredible, fun and hard-working teammates. April Gellatly, our coach, has a great laugh and a way of telling us like it is and what we need to do. I’ve never been on any athletic team so April is my first and last coach. I am lucky to have her as my one-and-only coach.

Matt Sloane is our producer and arranger extraordinaire. He organizes everything, makes it look easy. and he drives the van on our training trips. He does it all.

I’ve received the wonderful warm support being sent my way from everyone in my life and from the CNN Fit Nation alumni.

Last, but certainly not least, my family is so proud and excited for me. They just sort of wrap me in love, hugs, support, and encouragement. Wow.

How did this 67-year-old wife, mom, grandmother, semi-retired school nurse end up working her rear off, being happy about it and looking forward to the next day’s training?! I thought I knew myself but this journey is like no other. I’m discovering more about my healthier self every day.

By Linda Garrett

Special to CNN

Thank you CNN Fit Nation for this life-long gift.