Summertime when I was younger was a time when I could get up early and enjoy long days of sunshine, swimming, climbing, running, playing, and generally expending an enormous amount of caloric energy while the adults around me chased me around trying to get me to sit still long enough to replenish said calories with something resembling nutrition. Yes, I was one of those kids that felt that eating was primarily just a waste of my time that could be better spent on other adventures or completing my chores in order to have more time to spend on other adventures.
I miss those days. Now, summertime is a time when I can sleep late (if I am on vacation… not that it ever happens, but it technically could happen), enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee while I sit on my rather sizable back side and check the internet and social media to see what outside looks like from friends posting pictures, and eating goodies and treats not always available to my wallet or local eateries.
What the heck happened? When did I stop enjoying physical activity? When did lethargy and inactivity enter my unwilling spirit? Well, as you know, I have been making the effort to change my outlook, health, and general wellbeing through the deliberate expenditure of energy in what might be considered in a generous heart as physical exercise. Those of you who have been following my progress since my maniacal fit of madness will know that I am probably the most surprised by my perseverance. I am completely astounded that I have not argued away my own ardor for the gym and instruments of torture.
Does that mean that I have become a paragon of physical virtue and health? Um, I think the technical answer to that might be… Hell, no! There are absolutely days when I look at my workout bag and think to myself, “Oh my goddess, I do not want to do this today.” However, that particular epithet has presented itself less frequently than I might have expected. More than that, I am currently finding myself on vacation. This was possibly the greatest challenge to my new healthier habits. My general habit on vacation is to wake up naturally (meaning without an alarm) and lounge around drinking my favorite caffeinated beverage until I feel compelled to consume some food. Eventually I will wander down to the ocean to sit and read all day until the afternoon thunderstorm and/or sundown drives me back into shelter for refreshing beverages and more food. You see a theme here, right? The point being that I stood a significant chance of losing any possible advances I had made on healthy habits.
Recently, I had achieved a goal I never expected. I broke the 10 minute mile that I could barely even finish when I started. I not only broke it, I shattered it into pieces and went so far as to run my mile in 8 minutes and 43 seconds. What?!? Me? The woman who always said, “If you see me running, try to keep up because whatever is chasing us is bound to be bad”? Yep, that woman. I recklessly set a goal for myself for vacation. I wanted to run a mile on the beach.
I know this does not seem like much of a goal, but to someone who resembles some sort of vegetation during vacation, this is a pretty steep hill to climb. I packed a pair of running shoes and clothes that would be appropriate for a morning run. I still was not entirely certain that my inner slug would not surface with the usual excuses and rationalizations to remain on my generous posterior instead of getting up and moving about.
It didn’t happen. I actually ran a mile on the beach. Granted, I did not set in land speed records (running on sand is very different). My body protested and whined the whole time, but I did it. I ran on the beach. I ran a mile on the beach. I did it for two days in a row. Like I said, I am as surprised as you are. So, what was the difference? What changed my habit?
I blame it on the fit of madness. I blame it on a stubbornness that did not want to lose ground from what I had accomplished. I blame it on something that feels like… dare I say it? Pride. I actually am proud of myself for not giving up. Not that I have been transformed bodily into a picture of middle age sexiness… That definitely has not happened, but I do feel healthier and stronger. That is what is important (so, I’ve been told).
For those of you who may also be struggling with new healthy habits, I will make a few suggestions:
Keep a log of your journey – This can be something on paper or typing a journal (include pictures when possible to remind yourself of the before, the after, and the journey), but there are also a number of applications available out there that help (I like LoseIt and Runtastic, but there are a lot of others out there, too).
Reward yourself – It is ok to have a treat now and again. All things in moderation, but it is actually ok to reward yourself with things that you enjoy. In fact, restricting yourself from things that you love is one thing that can derail a plan faster than anything. Your new healthy living should be enjoyable, not a punishment. So, you really need to keep some of the things in your life that you enjoy (while adding new things you enjoy).
Share your progress with your support network – What? Support network? Yeah, those people who like and love you, who want you to be healthy and happy, who make you laugh and keep your spirits up, and who cheer you on. Tell them about your successes. Heck, tell them when you trip and stumble. The point is that they will help you celebrate the wins, they will hold you accountable, and they will remind you that you can try again tomorrow when you fall. Everyone needs a cheering squad.
Anyhow, this entry is a bit different than my usual tone for these pieces, but I know I’m not the only person who struggles to stay positive and making good choices all the time. If anyone else reads this, consider me part of your support network. I’ll tell you that I have definitely been there, and no one can be gung ho all the time. Every day I overcome the doldrums is a win. Now, to reward myself with a tasty beverage and the beach.