It’s hard to believe that this year is almost over. There have been numerous ups and downs and I can truthfully say that it’s been one of the faster years I’ve experienced. I’ve become more comfortable with setting my own hours but also realized that there’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to work life balance. This year my birthday came up so much quick than I anticipated and while I did reflect a bit on what I wanted to do and what I accomplished this year. I will say that fitness and health have played a major role in my daily life in a way that I never expected. Going to the gym every day, watching what I eat, going to the sauna and trying to better manage stress has made a difference. People talk about the importance of consistency but it’s different when you see the results in your own life after making a choice and then accompanying it with an effort. Being able to tolerate over 30 minutes of the Stairmaster when previously I was dying at the 10 minute mark has been a source of motivation and a reminder that I can do hard things. Finishing a doctoral program that took 6 years to complete is not the same as obtaining and maintaining a 60+ lb weight loss. They both require discipline but a different type. All that to say, this year has been tough, it’s been good, it’s been sad, it’s been soul-sucking but it’s been worth it. I’m looking forward to bigger and better things and also scheduling a few more days to sleep in.
I’ve always lived fairly health conscious. I’m familiar with many fruits and vegetables and I was raised as a vegetarian/vegan. However, recently due to a change in my workout regimen and weightlifting routine I’ve had to start eating meat as a means of increasing protein and helping me recover in between workouts. It’s been a challenge so far because I have no idea how to cook meat and the texture of it is way too chewy for my liking. One thing that I can appreciate is the fact that I’m cooking more and getting a chance to become more familiar with the layout of my kitchen because traditionally I’m not a fan of cooking for one. So far salmon and crab are my favorites and I like the challenge of experimenting and figuring out what recipes taste good. I’m seeing favorable results so I’ll continue to stick with the meat thing. I feel better overall and I have more energy. I have more endurance when working out and I’m seeing changes with the way my clothes fit. I just wish chicken tasted as good as tofu.
I remember reading somewhere that men are like waffles because they can easily compartmentalize while women are similar to spaghetti because everything is connected in some way. Once again I’ve relocated and along with the change in location has come a renewed commitment to be more healthier after I was challenged to make better choices. There’s this story in the Bible about a guy that had a skin disease and he was told to wash in a muddy river 7 times. The guy almost turned around and went home because he was expecting to be told to do something big and the remedy was just too simple. However, his maid convinced him to do it and it worked. In a world of fad diets, special equipment, and fancy fitness plans that consume your life, there still isn’t a substitute for eating healthy and exercising regularly. It’s a solution that seems too simple to a lot of people so they spend money (sometime unnecessarily) in the hope that it will take the place of hard work and discipline. I’ve learned more about discipline in these last few weeks than I have in a long while. It’s the same kind of internal motivation that I had to use in order to finally finish my dissertation and it’s really uncomfortable. However, it’s the only way to get the results that I want. It’s not something that I can delegate or outsource to anyone else. Like most decisions to make some significant changes, the question is, “How bad do you want it?” I’ve always admired people who genuinely enjoy working out but as I’ve been more consistent I can see how it can become a habit–regardless of the degree of “like.” I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out despite the fact that it’s still uncomfortable. But anything worth doing is worth doing well and I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge.
So today I tried yoga for the first time with my AirBnB host. It’s been something that I’ve wanted to try for a while but never quite got around to. I’m trying to be healthier and I vowed that this year I would try to have some new experiences. So to a yoga class I went. The first thing I noticed was that I really wasn’t flexible. I don’t make stretching a frequent practice and boy did it show as I was trying to breathe and stay in the same position at the same time. The teacher talked about trusting the Universe and just relaxing. For the life of me I couldn’t bring myself to relax. I admire those people who can automatically calm themselves down and focus on the present. I haven’t mastered it yet. I could feel my anxiety rise as the quiet music played and the class was quiet with everyone practicing their breaths. I thought about all the uncertainty that I’m surrounded by and what the week would be like. My mind raced to how hard it is being single sometimes and the trips that I had planned. I tried my hardest to focus on the present but the planner in me needed something to do. While I want to try yoga again, I need to try it on vacation because I’m usually a bit more relaxed and maybe I’ll get through without distractions. The class was good but seemed incredibly long. I really liked the focus on being grateful and eliminating distractions. It’s something I need to do more.
Like millions of other people, I had the New Years Resolution of becoming healthier. For me this included going to the gym instead of just thinking about going there. As much as I like the idea of being healthy, I like doing what I want as well. But this week I decided a change was in order. I actually joined a gym and paid a pretty penny to do so. My goal isn’t to become a bodybuilder or anything–just to fit more comfortably in an economy airline seat. The gym I joined offers fitness classes 6 times a week and I decide to go to 4 classes a week. I wouldn’t have to make up a whole routine–I could just try to keep up without passing out. There’s a personal trainer who leads each class and provides direction. A decent start. So I started out on the first day just hoping that I wouldn’t die. I had been dreading the class the whole day and knew that I just needed to get it over with. It wasn’t impossible but it was difficult. But I made it through the first class, and the next one, and the next. The soreness was excruciating but I pushed through. Now I don’t know if I’ll see any difference or notice any changes, but at least I’ll be consistent.
About a month or so ago I made the decision to join a gym. A friend of mine had invited me to join a 3 month challenge that involved making healthier food choices and an exercise regimen. So, being the all or nothing person that I am, I decided that the best way to be consistent was to go to a gym for my workouts. I’ve been fairly consistent for the last month and am starting to see the results. But it’s still not fun to me. I see people who enjoy their workouts and talk about how great it was but that’s still not my experience. Long story short, I’m there because I need to be–not because I woke up at 4:30am excited to get a great workout in. That’s the great thing about being a responsible adult. You end up doing things because you know that you’ll be happy you did in a few years or even decades even if you hate it at the moment. The nice thing is that it’s starting to get easier to wake up and I’m not bribing myself to get out of bed and go. It’s becoming more of a routine. And maybe I’ll actually start to like it. That would be great.
Lately I’ve been lacking motivation to work out consistently because sleep has been competing with work for my time. But that’s no excuse to not be active (or so I’m telling myself). For motivational (and curiosity) purposes I’ve been watching some of the show, “My 600lb Life.” It’s been very effective so far as a source of motivation for a healthy lifestyle. There’s something about watching someone be lifted by a crane-like device that will have you making a conscious decision to put down the junk food and go to the gym. One thing that I’m always looking at when I watch the show is the role of friends and family. Almost 100% they serve as enablers because they have to prepare the food to give to their family member who is bedridden because of their weight. There was one lady whose husband married her because she was bigger and he refused to support her weight loss despite the fact that she was unable to do anything due to her size. He still bought junk food and tried to make her eat it because he didn’t want her to lose weight. However, it was literally killing her and she wanted to be an active mother with their little girl instead of parenting from her bed. This caused an unbelievable amount of strain on the relationship as he continued to make snarky comments that were very hurtful about how she needed to gain more weight. The documentary ended with her deciding that she would take the verbal abuse for as long as she could before she would leave him. I doubt the marriage lasted long after filming because her husband had a very hard time adjusting to the new and more healthier her. I’ve actually seem this happen in couples where one partner decides to live a healthier lifestyle and it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back and the relationship disintegrates. The other partner isn’t happy and finds themselves with a different person than who they thought they married and they can’t reconcile the two. So more often than not they start an affair. That’s why it’s so great if both partners can be on the same page and change together. It rarely happens that way but it’s nice when it does because they can support each other.