Thursday, January 28, 2010
Let me start out by saying thank you to everyone who read and commented yesterday. Sharing a burden always seems to lessen it somehow, don't you think?
Now I want to get real with you. Strip off the layers, down and dirty real. So here it is. I used to be a complete fruit loop about food and exercise. And before I get bombarded by people assuring me that I couldn’t have been that much of a nut job since I’m not overweight, I’m going to give you a glimpse of crazy. Just a glimpse. I think it is best not to overwhelm you with all the details right now since we’re just getting to know one another, so we’re just going to scratch the surface of my particular flavor of crazy today.
Keep in mind that during much of my life I was an athlete and a personal trainer so I felt it was my JOB to look good and, for appearances sake, look like I was living a lifestyle that people wanted to emulate. Sure, I said all the right things about how you just need to exercise portion control and moderation and all those annoying “buzz” words you tell people when they are trying to lose weight. And then I would go home, grab a spoon and a pint of ice cream and eat the entire thing in one sitting. For a long time I was convinced that a pint was actually a single serving, hence no need for a separate bowl. Turns out there are FOUR servings in a pint. Who knew?
Of course, I couldn’t bear to gain weight because that might mean I wouldn’t be as good of an athlete or that my clients wouldn’t listen to my advice or, even worse, that I wouldn’t be able to get new clients so I would run … a lot. I have the degenerative knee and decrepit old spine to prove it. And if we’re being really honest, the obsessive exercising started long before I became a trainer. In my early 20’s I remember my best friend (who will remain nameless - but you know who are!) and I eating some french fries one day and being so flipped out about it that we immediately ran around Burke Lake … four times. That’s over 16 miles of penance. And, as I’ve learned, that is not necessarily normal or healthy.
When I think back to those years of my life I realize how much of my time and emotional energy was wasted focusing, obsessing really, about what I ate, how much I ate and when and what I would do to burn off the calories. I don’t think I ever really exercised for fun … I was either training for an event or race, which I felt gave me permission to eat with reckless abandon, or I was running or going to the gym for the singular purpose of weight-loss. It was definitely all-consuming and what I was, or was not, eating and how much I was exercising occupied my thoughts most minutes of most days.
I can look back now with some clarity and see how empty and pointless all that worrying and obsessing was. And how I lacked the balance and perspective to truly be happy. I was either restricting calories to lose that elusive last 5lbs or I was literally running my body into the ground to compensate for the food I ate. It illustrates how we’ve come to equate being thin, or thinner, with being happy. I’m definitely not saying that we should just be “fat and happy” and eat ding-dongs all day. That’s not healthy either. What I am saying is that we need to stop waiting to be happy until we find that “magic” number on the scale, because it doesn’t exist. And we need to start focusing on actually being healthy, rather than only appearing so.
I’m learning that when we make food choices that promote wellness we have the physical and emotional energy necessary to live a much fuller, richer life. It’s hard to feel positive and excited when you are physically tired, lethargic and generally unmotivated. Processed junk food, refined carbohydrates, soda, fast food and large quantities of animal protein really bog down our system and our body wastes precious energy trying to process and eliminate these types of food. Processed foods, aside from being highly addictive in nature, also wreak havoc on our blood sugar, causing swooping highs and lows in our energy levels.
So, in the name of better health, increased energy and an overall more positive outlook on life, we are going to start exploring ways to tweak our diets and include exercise to achieve better health and set a positive example for the next generation.
Take a deep breath and tune in tomorrow to learn who your new BEST FRIEND is in your quest for better health and weight loss.