Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ease and Convenience: Two Fair-Weathered Friends

So, you announce that you are going to eat right and get healthy.  Perhaps, like most, you tend to make this same resolution every January 1st.

You begin January with a strong bolt out of the resolution gate. You stick with what you know. Thirty minutes on the elliptical. Maybe hop on the treadmill. Sprinkle in some strength training here and there. The intention is there. The thought is "I'll just ease into it." An actual plan is nowhere to be found.

January turns to February and the workout gets monotonous. The food becomes blase. You take a day off.

A day off turns to two days, three days, suddenly you're in a slump.

This has happened to me. Not in January, however. My rough patch goes from October (candy corn season) through Christmas. I can make excuse after excuse as to why downing an entire bag of candy corn (which I hide in my car) is actually acceptable in October. I OD on them and then, get right back on the wagon. Right? Well, not quite. That bag of candy corn just drives my sugar addiction and thus, after consumption, I fall into a coma. A coma which zaps my energy and my desire to take any more steps towards healthy living.

I know myself.

Do you know yourself?

Here's the thing. I was pondering ease and convenience in the shower the other morning after conquering ChaLEAN Extreme's Burn Intervals which took me a good 80 some days to actually finish without stopping. Every time I "pressed play" I tried a little harder. Did one more rep. Pushed myself. Pushing myself is new to me - other than when training for a half-marathon.

Think about it. You want to make a change. You want to get fit. How does this happen? Simple. By actually making a change. Duh. Wait. Give me a moment.

When I train for a half-marathon, I up my mileage every week. If I didn't, I'd never reach 10 miles prior to race day. Without that 10 miler, I don't have much stamina built up to even think about finishing a race of that distance. I can't keep my training at a maintenance pace, running 3 miles, say, 3 or 4 times a week, and really expect that doing so will help me conquer 13 miles.  No, I have to increase every week.

Same goes for "working out". I can't say, "I'm going to make a huge change in my life," and then continue doing the same maintenance routine that has become my habit. The goal is to CHANGE A HABIT. For me, I wanted to make a lifestyle change. One that encompassed daily exercise. I wanted to see muscle definition, an increase in leg strength, and I wanted to find a new energy in my life. To do this, I had to get out of maintenance mode. This meant finding a workout that would force me to CHANGE my schedule, CHANGE my routine, and, ultimately, CHANGE my perspective on fitness, rather than finding one that would jive with my current short-term thinking approach. Does that make sense?

Committing to making a change means that you must be willing to make changes.  Change of this magnitude isn't easy and it isn't convenient.

My entire family helped me make changes. I announced my plan to them.  We watched ChaLEAN's intro DVD as a family.  I told them that THIS was going to be the new norm.  Now, they either sit with me during workouts, join me in those workouts, or vacate the room while I'm grunting and moaning. They do NOT engage me in conversation or even think that I will come and help them set up their Playmobile figures while I'm in a squat. It took about 90 days to set up this system. They are now on board.   And so is Dad.

For those of you with young children, this may not work.  But, what will?  Waking at the crack of dawn might be what has to happen.  Or, when Dad gets home from work, maybe he needs to do dinner duty so you can get at it.  Something has to give.  Get creative.  All hands on deck.  You gotta actually make a change to experience change.

Let's move on to eating. I have a gripe with the pre-packaged and convenient foods that have become staples in American households. Not only are they full of chemicals, dyes, and HFCS, but they are expensive.  These are not deals, people.  No deal for your health or your wallet can be found in individually wrapped snacks.  We are suckers for fast and easy. Our nation's obesity rate continues to rise every year.  Kids go to school with gummy "fruit snacks" and juice - as if these snacks will really sustain them through a school day.  We can blame corporations and the companies who make this stuff, but instead, why not admit some personal responsibility and quit buying them.  That's what we've done.  Ok, yes, my kids get candy and ice cream and Popsicles and other high sugary doodads every once in a while, but, for the most part, other kids are bored in our kitchen.  Mine included.   They get over it.  We have a health-care crisis in America.  Anyone else think that the foods we eat are linked to the increase in diseases and illnesses both of the physical and mental variety?

That was a question.

My 90 day journey hasn't been easy.  Changing the contents of our fridge, freezer, and pantry wasn't easy - and our meals aren't convenient.  I didn't pick an exercise and nutrition plan that conveniently fit into my lifestyle.  I chose a plan that would force me to CHANGE my lifestyle in order to experience success in this area of my life.

I'm digging the changes.  Ironically enough, becoming fit and healthy has made life easier.


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