As a member of various fitness groups and pages on social media, there always seems to be some kind of challenge, contest or accountability thing going on. For example, one group is streaking (repeating running or exercising consecutive days in a row), another is recording minutes per week engaged in physical exercise, and another offered up a fast food New Year’s resolution. The resolution is to abstain from fast food entirely (including Starbucks) for as many days as possible. I love all of it; the feeling of not being a fish swimming up stream and that we are all in this together to improve our health. Camaraderie and having partners to help us stay focused are wonderful things.
What I struggle with though, is when to say “I’ll pass, thank you.” I tend to have a hard time living in that elusive window of moderation and balance. It’s all or nothing. It’s either balls-to-the-wall or slugfest on the couch. No middle ground. I recently finished a 138-day running streak (at least 1 mile per day). It started out as a challenge to streak for 100 days. Then, my son wanted to jump on board. Many days it was a strength workout combined with running. Some days were just a casual walk with my dogs. Sitting here typing in my 3 hours of minion-free time, it feels like I “should” be doing something physical. “Why didn’t I do the workout first?” The truth? I had to get some bills paid, eBay stuff shipped, and make some appointments. It was just nice to do it in the quiet (and finish a task uninterrupted) instead of trying to do it around playing family, barbies or coloring with my daughter. Getting crap done allows me to really be present when the kids are here. My being present and not in my head thinking about the 45 other things I could be doing results in them feeling more connected, more loved, and all the feel-goods. Time and presence are the keys to improving and maintaining my relationships.
Given all of this that I know to be true, why do I feel guilty about when the workout doesn’t happen as it should? I know I’ll be walking the dogs with the kiddos later. My workout will still happen and they’ll get some exercise, too. It’s a win-win. But there is that nagging in the back of my mind. Perhaps it’s simply that I know how good I feel when the workout is done. Maybe taking one step closer to the window of balance is just what is needed.
On the food front, I’m not a fan of fast food in general. I would much rather eat my own food from home. The times when I would eat fast food, I never felt good afterwards. Ever. No one eats lunch out of a drive-thru bag and thinks, “Hmm. That was delicious and will help me feel better!” No, it’s more like, “Ugh. I’m not hungry anymore but I feel like crap and I want to take a nap…” Basically, the fast food type of challenges are not really that much of a challenge, which is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge for someone. Something occurred to me as I was re-working this post from a draft. I can sound really awful! Here is a portion of what I wrote (unedited):
So why do we continue to put crap in our carts and fill ourselves up with junk? Why do we complain about bloating, pain, weight gain, and general sluggishness and still buy boxes of preservative, artificial food-like products? Some might say it’s because we don’t know. Okay, maybe to some degree. If you never listen to the news, and you were raised on junky cheap foods, I get the patterns of habit. But really?! Does anyone consider the connection with how we feel with what we put in our mouths?
While I agree with the substance of what I wrote – I reread it now and cringe. I sound so preachy and self-righteous! YUCK. Like most people who like the world of extremes – once we learn something (i.e. – healthy living) we think we must convert EVERY SINGLE PERSON to our way of thinking. Does this really do much good? Or do we alienate those around us? I think it’s more of the latter. Delivery methods count. If you have ever yawned through a fitness post, or I’ve come across as self righteous and preachy, I do apologize.
Here’s the thing; I know what it feels like to be winded at 9 a.m. by simply walking up the stairs. I know the frustration of running after a toddler who is faster than you. (And the worry that he’ll duck into traffic and what do I do if I am not quick enough to grab him?!) It sucks to feel that way. It sucks to feel depressed and think there is no way to climb out. It sucks to live in a body that doesn’t feel good. (This has nothing to do with aesthetics and being “pretty” or a socially acceptable size. It has everything to do with how we feel on the inside.) The realization of just how bad I felt came only when I started to feel better. Only then, did I realize just how uncomfortable in my body I really was. There is an urgency that many of us feel that have gone from unhealth to fitness. It’s simply an urge to share just how much better we feel, to share just how good it feels to be in a body that moves and is well-cared for. It’s an urge to help anyone who is tired of being tired. Ultimately, please understand that a delivery method may not always be palatable, but it’s coming from a place of passion.
Those of us who have succeeded in any measure of lifestyle change are passionate people. We know what it’s like to feel awful and we know how good the opposite feels. I LOVE the feeling of a killer workout. I LOVE the endorphins that follow a spectacular run. And ultimately this blog – when it pertains to fitness – is me sharing that love with anyone who wants to listen.
When it comes to food, fitness, and being present with family – balance is hard. We live in a space of “if some is good, more is better.” Here’s to all of us finding some balance and not clobbering each other over the head with our passion in the process.