The simpliest way to look at your body, at least in terms of fitness, is that it is a machine.
Input vs Output, Energy Expended vs Energy Consumed. The difficult part is keeping everything in balance. Each of us falls off the beam in our own right, myself included. OK, let’s be honest. I’ve fallen off a few times, and I’m not disillusioned to think I’m immune to falling off again, but it’s that sobering thought that keeps me attainable for my choices day-to-day. And that’s the key. Short-term choices that help you achieve long-term goals..oh, and forgiveness. Forgiveness if you make mistakes, because you will, but just like dough, it’s all in how you rise.
More than once my fitness students have heard me say, “Be good to your body. It’s the only one you’re going to get.”
It’s taken me awhile to learn this lesson. I was never “athletic”. A natural artist and theatre bum, I joined the freshman track team in high school for something different, only to quit after a month because it conflicted with the musical’s rehearsal schedule. That was my last venture in being active until my last year of college. To reduce stress, I found myself in the swing dancing club, taking kickboxing classes, and walking several miles a day.
After graduation I got a full-time art job and went out dancing almost every night. Quickly I dropped to my lowest weight. This was great, but unrealistic. Soon came along a boyfriend, longer work hours, less dancing and 30+ pounds. There was a lot of denial and excuses. “I can’t believe these pants shrunk! I must have used hot water.”
Unwilling to buy an entirely new wardrobe, I took a hard look in the mirror and recalled some key pieces of advice I had heard at a college seminar about wellness that I want to share with you.
1) Don’t store it.
What does that mean? It’s simple. If “it” is in your home, you’re going to eat “it”. You bought “it” for that purpose and if “it” is there, you’re going to pick “it” over something like an apple.
What is “it”? “It” is anything that tempts you. Your weakness. Your guilty pleasure. Ice cream, potato chips, pop (I’m from the Midwest..so soda for everyone else) and even juice (high in sugar). Whatever “it” is for you, don’t store it.
That being said, don’t deny yourself. Have treats on occasion, but don’t bring them home.
2) Don’t drink your calories.
If you’re ready to really dive in, it’s time to get back to basics because unless it’s water, it most likely has a fair amount of sugar or high fructose corn syrup (except for you straight up black coffee drinkers out there). Here’s a tip – If you don’t love water on it’s own, try diffusing it with some cucumber, lemon and even mint. Here are 8 great recipes for infusing your water: http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-drinks/8-infused-water-recipes-upgrade-your-h2o
With these things in play, I also started running and strength training. Don’t get me wrong. It was work (and still is) but when I adopted my dog, Berlin, in 2010 she naturally became my running buddy and I had a nice streak of keeping my body and health in check. Feeling good, my boyfriend and I signed up for the 2012 LA Marathon. It was a great idea, but poorly executed. My strength training fell off the way-side and I developed a knee pain that effected my training. I completed the race but the true test was only just beginning. When my caloric burn suddenly dropped (running 30+ miles a week pre-race to maybe 12 post-race), and I randomly sprained my ankle, the number on the scale steadily rose.
Unlike last time, I went with it. There was even a day my boyfriend came home and I was eating cookie dough on the couch, with no intention of stopping..let alone cooking the dough to make real cookies, and he said, “So that’s where we’re at?” My response was short. “Yep.” I was upset and I was wallowing. My body was hurting and on top of it, my grandmother, who had helped raise me, had past away. It was a rough period but it was time for a reality check.
I’m not perfect but I know what my best is and that was not it.
As I said before, its about short-term choices that help you achieve long-term goals..and forgiveness. Continuing to wallow was not making my mind or body feel any better. So, just like before, I picked a race to train for with Berlin, except this time, I knew to integrate manageable change. I incorporated more strength training and better eating patterns so that this pre-race training was a kick-start to maintaining long-term healthy habits.
Life happens. You make mistakes. Hopefully you learn from them. Sometimes your mind wins (because my body definitely does not need cookie dough) and you fall. Just remember to get back up and be your best.