Thursday, January 13, 2011

Developing a personal relationship with your body~

Nope. Sorry, folks, I'm not talking kinky stuffola here today. You'll have to look elsewhere if that's what you're searching for! I've been thinking about what it takes to develop fitness and nutrition plan that truly works and that is lasting. It's definately not a recent revelation that we should be selective in what we eat and that it's important to exercise regularly. We KNOW this. The new year celebrations often involve new and renewed resoloutions revolving around weight loss and getting in shape---it feels like a fresh, new start come January 1st! But why is it so common for people to kick off their adventure with a blast of positive momentum only to end--sometimes suprisingly quickly--with a lackluster fizzling out of the mojo?!

For starters, maybe the main motivation (losing WEIGHT) is overemphasized. I mean, I know that there are a lot of people who really do need to drop numbers to be healthy. But let's set that fact aside for a moment. When I heard on the news the other day of a debate regarding the rising epidemic of TEENAGE cosmetic surgery I was absolutely stunned. Parents, afterall, have to sign consent forms for these surgeries to take place. How is it that so many parents think it's ok for their teenagers to rearrange their faces and bodies?!... in order to achieve what??...a more perfect visage?! Their bodies aren't even finished growing yet, for goodness sake. But why am I surprised? So many of us are stuck like a deep scratch in a record album on the idea that plastic surgery of whatever kind (you fill in the blank) will make us a better (ie: more desirable, more likeable, more popular, less teased, more "perfect") person. I'm guilty, myself, of seeking a surgery numerous years ago that I thought would help a relationship. Needless to say, it didn't, and I truly wish I hadn't have undergone the risks. In hindsight, I'd much rather be the natural, 'athletic' self I was born as. God didn't create me to be a Marilyn Monroe! It almost makes me sick to now have to lump myself (goodness...certainly no pun intended) in the mass group of people who felt the need to get bigger you know whats to feel better about themselves. How could I have felt that need?!

I question myself and yet I know the answer and it's age-old and getting worse with each passing year. Stupid pressure on so many levels to achieve some sort of vague and never-to-be-attained level of perfection. I've talked with my hubby and many other men and women about the subject and, hands down, the winning opinion seems to be that people think that a healthy and fit yet NATURAL-looking person is so much more attractive. We feel this way about OTHER PEOPLE...why is it that so many feel this continuing need, then, to impose impossible and ridiculous standards on themselves? Again, I think it falls back on scewed perceptions, priorities and expectations.

A couple of close friends and I have held interesting conversations on the subject. We have children of varying ages and have expressed deep concern over this whole subject of self esteem and health. We agree that it's important to get our kiddos involved in some sort of regular physical activity. The friends I'm talking about are fellow runners and we know, first-hand, how wonderful running is for kids and youth as well as adults. It's a great strengthener of your cardiovascular system, of course, as well as a couple of the major muscle groups (you know the ones...legs and buttoxeez)! You get an instant endorphin kick like you wouldn't believe and this helps to keep stress and anxiety at bay. You can set small and then progressively larger goals and enjoy the satisfaction of attaining them which is rewarding for all ages. Plus, one of the best things is that it places emphasis on being strong and fit, happy and healthy as opposed to giving your brain fuel to fester on woes and worries.

I know that running is not for everyone though. Actually, after the last marathon I ran, I started experiencing some intermittant knee trouble. I'm learning not to stubbornly insist upon running as my sole source of exercise, though it is my first love and I try to run a few times per week . During the time that I was a BeachBody coach I was introduced to a lot of wonderful programs and it sparked the desire within me to create a fitness plan that was more well-rounded. With the arrival of the 2011 new year, I've embarked on a personal quest to create a fitness plan that is the best for ME. I make a point of not making my emphasis losing weight but on doing SOME type of workout for approximately 45 minutes to an hour (sometimes less and sometimes balances out) each day for the sake of being healthy, relieving stress and, in general FEELING great! I'm still experimenting with what works best for me; that's the whole 'developing a personal relationship with my body' idea in action. Most weeks I enjoy alternating between a few of my favorite activities: running, walking briskly with my family, P90X workouts, Insanity workouts and yoga. In fact, in a perfect-for-Lisa world, yoga is a part of my every day. When I'm doing some sort of yoga practice daily, I find that the nagging lower back pain that sometimes creeps up on me is nonexistent. I have SEVERAL yoga dvds of varying time frames--some active workouts and others geared more toward relaxation and winding down. I'm familiar enough with many poses now that I'll often stick a short yoga routine at the end of a run to help loosen my muscles back up. Yoga gives me so much: strength, flexibility, detoxification, a sense of peace and balance. During our warm Florida summer months I enjoy adding swimming to my fitness coral. I'm also reintroducing biking. I did a lot of that during my triathlon training days; biking on a road bike (or any bike, for that matter) is a great complement to running because it works different muscles and gives my knees a break. In deepening the relationship I have with myself, I've also come to find that I really don't so much enjoy working out in the gym environment (not enough to be a member) but prefer outdoor activities or participating in exercise involving a small group of close friends, my family or even just by myself for some meditation time. That is the equation for MY personal fitness plan. You have to find what YOU will enjoy, what will motivate you to stay plugged in and excited to continue doing and what makes YOUR body and mind feel their best. It'll take trial and error.

Eating healthfully--and this involves good food choices as well as appropriate portion sizes--is also a hugely important part of deepening my personal relationship with myself. I've had my annoying days as an obsessive foodie. It's as annoying as piss on a pickle to have obsessive people around (I can say that because I have often been the annoying one); so much better to achieve balance and enjoy your food. I now find that I can't stand the word "diet." I find that it's a helpful part of my regimin to have meals and snacks all planned out and shopped for in advance so that I'm not left hanging after a rigorous workout starving to death with no healthy snack to reach for! Quick fixes always seem to be calorie-laden bombs. Calorie-laden bombs are often the types of foods that just compound the problem of feeling unmotivated and bleh. Good food makes you feel good. It's energizing and doesn't weigh you down mentally, emotionally and physically. Matt (my husband) and I have been really trying to take note of how our bodies react to different foods and to avoid the ones that we seem to have some sort of negative reaction to (tiredness, irritability, allergic reaction, etc) and gravitate toward the foods that make us feel terrific. There are a lot of interesting written resources on the subject. We've found that there's no easy formula to follow. You kind of have to make the commitment to just enjoy the self discovery. Keep a food journal to help you remember.

Healthy fitness and eating plans often fail us, I think, because we think of them as something we HAVE to do. For those of you who believe in God, it's like a relationship with him...or it's even like a relationship with your parents: You don't HAVE to come to them--to spend time with them deepening the relationship...but it sure is a lovely thing when we do! If we think of exercising and eating right as something we HAVE TO DO we feel rebellious and eventually revolt and toss in the towel. It's also similar to a situation I experienced with some of my students today. They were asked to write a narrative on a prompt and 3 of the students absolutely stiffened up and closed their minds refusing to write. After saying some encouraging words and reminding them of some basics I asked them to think of it a different way: Think of it as Ms Lisa giving you permission to actively daydream in school ('actively' meaning they just had to WRITE about the things they were daydreaming about). Sometimes we just have to adjust our outlook--our take on things--look at a situation with rose-colored glasses (you friends and relatives of mine know how very Bohemian I am...I had to throw that in). :) Cast into the fire your past ideas of what exercise and healthy eating represent and think about making the commitment to discover your authentic self. Tell yourself that you DESERVE to feel and be healthy! You deserve the small amount of time each day to devote to moving in a way that your body and mind enjoys. Now just get going on trying out different activities...classes, dvds, outdoor activities. Come to me for ideas and encouragement if you need to! Just get moving and discover that the beauty who is YOU is not a carbon cutout of somebody else. You are unique and beautiful. ~Go discover that.~

In peace~


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