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I ran home from work today, having carted my running gear with me on the bus in the morning. The voice in my head who loves to criticize, provide an abundance of unwanted and lame excuses, and otherwise find ways of making life miserable was not going to make it easy though.
“You forgot to bring your running shoes, you idiot! Now you can’t run home like you said you would.” (How that little bastard likes to criticize).
“I have good walking shoes on; they’ll do.”
“No they won’t! Are you crazy? You could hurt yourself.”
“Bullshit. You’re just making stupid excuses. So suck it up because I’m running! The shoes will be just fine.”
Thankfully, silence ensued… for a while.
Off I went, leaving my work clothes, umbrella and lunch container in my desk drawer; I’m going to have to figure out which day to pack home all the stuff, but that’s the least of my worries.
It turns out, the damn voice wasn’t finished with me yet, enjoying giving me a good heckling as I ran. It’s never is finished with me it seems; we’ve known each other far too long.
“Oh, you’re too tired for this. You should stop and walk. Maybe just catch the bus. Come on; you ran yesterday so you deserve a break”
“Um, I’ve been on my ass all day at a computer. How can I be tired?”
Ignoring my question, and realizing a different tack was needed, it went into criticize mode. “But you’re so slow!”
“Slow is better than not running.”
“Barely” (oh the sarcasm!).
With all its contempt, excuses and bloody whining, the voice and I continue to have ongoing conversations about exercise, mostly not out loud. I’ve been hard on myself lately and so the voice thinks it has some leeway. Sometimes, like today, I defy it just to show it I can; no creaky knee, windy weather, wrong shoes kind of excuses stopped me, and I had the right to pat myself on the back afterwards. And thankfully the little bastard begrudgingly said, “Good job” in spite of itself.
I need to reprogram the little shit before hedrives me mad, but only if I can catch him; he thinks I’m too slow.
Posted April 16th, 2012. 3 comments
Someone gave me a half-dozen gummy bears today and nom-nom-nom. Yup, I ate them up faster than you can say, “Hey, are you sure you want to eat those?” And as I was happily munching the last one I realized that they actually don’t taste very good. In fact, the flavour is kind of weird and their texture gross. It made me wonder just how often I eat things:
- I think I like, yet haven’t really paid enough attention to know if I do or don’t; or
- I used to like and don’t any longer but haven’t paid attention; or even
- I like only because other people have said they were good but haven’t really paid any attention so I don’t really know if I enjoy them all that much.
Ah, so there’s a theme here: paying attention to what I eat and actually tasting it. What a novel idea.
“Oh, I don’t really emotionally eat; it’s not something I do. I just happen to really love the taste of food, that’s all.” This falls into the realm of ‘stupid lies I’ve told myself and others about me,’ also known as denial. It’s the ‘I only have a couple of beers a day to relax!’ kind of alcoholic denial. And it’s bullshit.
Yes, I emotionally eat. It’s an issue I’m only just starting to really come to terms with. I’m not talking about binge eating. I’m talking about the ‘couple of beers a day’ kind of emotional eating, where I think that because I only sometimes eat a bit more than I need to that it’s okay. Even though sometimes all I can think about is food.
Sometimes food is barely an issue; merely the background music of a fun get-together. In other social situations though, I park my ass as close to or as far away from the food as possible depending on whether I’m trying to eat it or avoid it. Much of the rest of the event is not a lovely evening with friends or family; it’s a struggle to not succumb. Sometimes I have the stubborn willpower of a fucking tank and leave exhausted but triumphant. Sometimes not, regardless of whether I’m hungry; even if I’m full. Yes there are some helpful tools out there, including reminding myself ‘it’s not part of the plan’ (read the Beck Diet Solution) and remembering that food is fuel. That’s absolutely true. But at the very core – at the root of it – that root is going to have to eventually be weeded out if I want to fully live life and stop letting food rule me.
I started reading “Women, Food & God” recently (again). So far, it’s pretty clear that actually feeling my feelings is on my self-discovery “to do” list. Fuck! In the book, Geneen Roth claims that “… being with feelings is not the same as drowning in them”. Easy to say; hard to believe. I also recently started talking to a life coach about, well, life. She sent me a link to an audio file here. Apparently thoughts cause feelings; change our thoughts, change our feelings. Question what I’m thinking and feeling. Eat when I’m hungry, feel when I’m not.
So, my look of concentration next time someone sees me at a friendly gathering may be trying to figure out what I’m feeling (or why the hell I’m there) rather than on eating or not eating. And maybe that by admitting it to myself (and others), it helps release the stronghold it can have.
Posted March 26th, 2012. 1 comment
My husband Chris is someone who is slim and stays that way. His weight varies little whether he’s active or not, and seemingly irrespective of what he eats. So when I started my fitness journey in 2005, some of what I dealt with wasn’t part of his experience and was difficult for him to understand. There were times when it felt like he was sabotaging my efforts, and other times when he said and did things I felt were unhelpful. That said, he also genuinely tried to be supportive when he better understood what I was trying to do. And he wholeheartedly agreed to my going to a trainer, which was no small amount of money. So here I am, nearly seven years after I started and significantly smaller than I was at the beginning of our marriage in 1994. Here’s what Chris has to say.
What is your ‘take-away’ from my fitness journey?
It really rubbed off on me. I became more concerned about my own fitness. For example, despite not being a runner, I did the Sun Run a few years after you, and I started rollerblading more. I became more concerned about my overall health despite my thinner appearance. Research shows your peer group impacts your lifestyle; I understand that trying to change yourself is harder when you’re hanging out with people who are still part of the old lifestyle, which in many ways I was. Although I wasn’t fat, I was out of shape (a skinny fat person) and suspect I had more dangerous visceral fat than I would have thought. So I started getting fitter as I saw you getting fitter.
What would you say was the biggest surprise as I worked towards my fitness goals?
The main thing I was impressed, astounded, confused, blown away by was your willpower and stick-to-itiveness. Getting up at some ungodly hour in the middle of winter to go running was astounding. There was obviously a fire that was lit in you and I wasn’t quite sure what the fire was or where it came from. It was actually a bit baffling, but at the same time great! Wouldn’t it be great if I could get that amount of steely determination in some areas of my life!
If you had anything to say to other partners/supporters of someone on a fitness journey, what would it be?
To be honest, I wasn’t always as encouraging as I could have been. Right from the outset it would have been good for me to be 100% on board. So, be supportive of the person and do things that help them achieve their goals. Don’t bring fattening foods around the house. Don’t say things like, “Come on! I’m having a doughnut; you can have one too.” Not tempting her would have been better. And here’s a shameless plug: “for your abs, ten minutes of all out laughter is equal to 20 minutes on a rowing machine.”[Chris is a laughter yoga leader and I can attest, he does indeed have great abs!]
So in a nutshell, his advice boils down to “do everything you can to be helpful and supportive, and laugh a lot!”
Posted March 12th, 2012. 1 comment
I went on a nice 5km run on Saturday and guess what? Not once did I consume a sports drink, fancy bar, goo, gel or other glow-in-the-dark chemically-laden expensive ‘sports product’. F-bomb of the day… “Fuck shelling out wads of your hard earned cash on drinks, bars and other shit you don’t need!”
I remember when I first started running; I was an information vacuum trying to suck in as much information as I could. I found a lot of advice about electrolytes and hydration, how often to drink (usually bottled), when/what to eat on a long run or workout, and on and on. I eventually learned from a doctor that the most important thing on longer runs/workouts, especially on hot days, is a bit of salt in my water. I am not a world-class athlete who has to balance everything perfectly or my performance will be off by 5 seconds; I’m a middle aged woman who enjoys running and likes to compete against her own time (okay, and occasionally the jerk who just passed me who had no right doing so).
There is an entire industry trying to convince you all this stuff is necessary; they are not benevolent organizations just informing the active public on how to fuel their bodies in the most healthful ways. They exist to separate you from your money; specifically, to put your money in their pockets.
So what do we do? First, we cut through the bullshit and realize that the average active person on an average run or workout does not generally require special fluid (sweltering hot days aside) or glorified candy bars and gummies. Second, we can take a look at what these companies are offering and just make our own for the days we do need something extra. Some do-it-yourself drink recipesare here and here (I haven’t tried them, I just googled them). There are many do-it-yourself bars out there too (you know how to use Google), not to mention the already assembled humble banana. Finally, we can become more curious and ask ourselves if adding all these chemicals and calories to our bodies is necessary; how many people consume more calories consuming the ‘fuel’ than expending on the run or workout? And this doesn’t even touch on the fact that none of this is whole or natural food, and all are heavily packaged at the cost of our environment.
So keep your money, be wise about your body’s needs and make your own drinks and food for hotter and/or longer runs and workouts. Your body, bank account and the planet will appreciate it.
(PS: while you’re at it, I’m glad my post didn’t end up being about the Tyranny of Water Guzzling Preachers (it almost did), because here Krista at Stumptuous posted on that very topic today!)
UPDATE: article on sports drinks published in The Atlantic in July 2012 entitled The Controversial Science of Sports Drinks concerning the influence of the sports drink industry over academia.
I was traveling recently and decided to pick up some easy reading for my trip, so I bought a “women’s magazine”. I know, I know… what was I thinking? I should have been tipped off when the cover expounded the virtues of a woman who had lost a lot of weight and looked great, and right alongside that was a note that nearly a dozen chocolate recipes were inside. I can guarantee you that if she made those chocolate recipes she wouldn’t be looking like that! From Slim Fast ads and “good health” sections to pork recipes and french fry taste tests. Talk about blatant mixed messages!
In another magazine I dug out, there were exercises to ‘slim your thighs’ and recipes for bacon and onion perogies, cinnamon buns and other fine ways to turn your ass the size of a house. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t expect women’s magazines to be health or fitness magazines (*see note below), but the contradictions are crazy-making. How to lose weight, over indulge and lose your mind all for $5. It’s a form of insanity I think; we pay for magazines that give us mixed messages to make us crazy. Next time, I’ll save my money and bring along a book.
* Please don’t think I’m deluded enough to believe that women’s health and fitness magazines are about either health or fitness; they’re usually about “how to be sexy for him” rather than “ass kicking workouts”. In fact, a friend on Facebook recently complained that a women’s fitness magazine she bought was more about advertising and botox than actual fitness.
Posted February 20th, 2012. 1 comment