Being Mindful & Taking Care Of My Body

If you remember, at the beginning of this year I decided to take a break from running.  It was no longer bringing me joy and I was totally burned out.  It was a tough choice, but more and more I’m realizing it was the best one for me.

Just because I don’t run doesn’t mean that I have totally given up on working out.  In fact, I think my workouts, and overall health, have improved vastly by taking a step back from running.  Adam and I have been following along with Fitness Blender’s workout programs and they’re no joke!  They incorporate strength, flexibility, HIIT, yoga, pilates, kickboxing, plyometrics… anything is fair game in their workouts and it keeps my body and my mind engaged in what I’m doing.

Last Friday, as we were finishing up our workout, Kelli (one-half of the husband/wife duo behind Fitness Blender) mentioned lifting a weight that’s heavy and challenging for you.  She also said that it was totally ok to drop the weight completely and just use body weight and that it was important to listen to your body.  After hearing this Adam quipped, “Unless you’re Katie, then you just keep pushing through the pain.”  He was mostly kidding and I told him I don’t always do that but then I started thinking about my runs.Being Mindful & Taking Care Of My Body | Life Healthfully Lived

No matter what, I always pushed through my runs.  The only time that I didn’t was when I hurt my knee and physically could NOT run.  Other than that, I ran and there were definitely some times that I should have stayed home.  Pushing through those times is probably what led to me being burned out on running.  It’s probably what made my body tell me that I had to stop or something worse than a slight knee injury was coming.Being Mindful & Taking Care Of My Body | Life Healthfully Lived

I’m not saying pushing through a tough workout is a bad thing.  It’s important to go a little outside your comfort zone and push yourself in order to become stronger, faster, and better.  But it shouldn’t come at the risk of your overall health.  If your body is telling you it has to stop or it’s going to completely give out, you should listen to it.

Which is part of what I have been doing the last few months.  There are days when I am raring to go on my workout, where I feel so strong and can lift heavier than I ever have before.  Then there are days when I’m more tired and can’t go at 115% the whole time.  That’s ok.  Before I would have thought I was just being lazy.  I would have said you have to push past this and keep go, go, going.  Now I pull back and listen and realize my body knows what’s best.Being Mindful & Taking Care Of My Body | Life Healthfully Lived

It’s kind of a relief, for both my mind and my body, to know that I don’t have to go all out 100% of the time.  It’s ok to pull back a little and adjust to what you need in that moment.  Health is a series of ups and downs.  You hope and work for the best but realize there are going to be times when you have to give in and take the down.  It’s a part of life and it’s all good!Being Mindful & Taking Care Of My Body | Life Healthfully Lived

 

You’re a Bully

Battle the bulge.  Fight flab.  Annihilate your arms.  Crush your core.  These are all fairly common phrases when looking at articles and websites on how to lose weight or exercise your body.  You’ve heard or read these numerous times whether you realized it or not.  You probably don’t pay much attention to them, but could they be affecting you anyway?

In the past few weeks and months, I have been working hard on learning to love my body.  I have shared before some of my insecurities and past issues with my self image.  It’s tough to try to retrain your brain to actually see what’s in the mirror and not what you think you see.  It has taken me a lot of practice to be proud of what my body can do, rather than trying to change my body into what I think it needs to look like.  Amongst all this working on my self image, I have come across a lot of tips, articles, workouts, and diets that use words and phrases like those above.  At first, I really didn’t think much of it.  As I kept seeing these things and kept working on my own issues, I felt like maybe these things were affecting me more than I realized.  I have a tendency to be very harsh and critical of my body.  I know that many other people struggle with this as well.  We all think that we can be better, we can do more, and we believe, for whatever reason, we aren’t good enough or think we look the way we should.  To be blunt, we’re bullies.  We’re bullies to our own bodies.

That may sound kind of ridiculous.  I mean, you aren’t knocking your own books out of your hand and demanding lunch money from yourself.  But think about your inner monologue when it comes to your body.  Would you say those words out loud to someone else?  Would you want to hear those things coming from your friends or family members?  Is what you’re telling yourself helping you achieve anything positive?  For me, I can tell you it wasn’t true.

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Wednesday’s I have my long run day.  Lately, I have been getting in a little over 10 miles, which is really exciting for me because I have never run in the double digits before.  A few weeks ago, I had just finished my run and was about to get in the shower and I started to do my normal nitpicking of all the body parts and areas that I didn’t like.  Is my lower stomach as flat as I think it should be, is  my butt a little too big from all my kettlebell work, are my arms as defined as they were two weeks ago…. then I stopped mid-thought.  My body, the one I was bashing with negative thoughts, had just finished carrying me over TEN MILES.  It had just done a 7 minute plank workout.  It had popped up into a headstand with ease (and might I boast a little grace) and held it for over a minute.  And here I was beating it up and telling it that it wasn’t good enough.  It dawned on me how crazy I was acting.  As weird as it may sound, I apologized (out loud) and thanked my body for all it had done just that morning.  That day was my a-ha moment, and it really helped me turn a corner in truly appreciating my body and all that it does for me.

Do I think that the people who use phrases and words like “battle the bulge” or “fight flab” are deliberately trying to be mean? Not at all.  They want to motivate their audience and give you the power to change your health and your life.  I am all for motivating everyone to make the healthiest decisions possible, but I am also for being kind to our bodies.  How much better and easier would getting healthier be if we all loved ourselves just a little bit more?  Instead of fighting our bodies, let’s work with them and listen to what they need to live healthier.  When you really start to think about all the things you ask your body to do day in and day out, it’s amazing.  As cheesy or silly as it may seem, I’m going to ask you to talk to your body just a little bit nicer than normal.  Thank your body for carrying you through this life and give yourself props for making choices and taking steps to be healthier each and every day.  That little extra kindness can stretch a long way and give you the tools to see how truly awesome you really are!

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When We Go to Extremes

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There are a lot of extreme things out there. Extreme sports, extreme food, extreme vacations, pretty much anything can be made extreme these days.  Extreme can be a good thing, as some people really like to push themselves when it comes to sports and thrive in an “extreme” atmosphere.  But extreme can also quickly get out of hand and become dangerous, especially when it comes to the way you eat.

Extreme dieting is not a new issue.  People have gone to great lengths just to lose weight and shed pounds.  We have heard of the grapefruit diet or the cabbage soup diet.  Back in the day, those were some pretty extreme diets.  Subsisting only on one kind of soup or one type of fruit is definitely not a healthy or sustainable way to lose weight or eat.  That seems like common sense for most of us.  Yet there are still extreme forms of weight loss out there today.  This week I came across this article from Health magazine.  It highlights seven crazy and ridiculous methods that people actually use to try and lose weight.  From feeding tubes, to tapeworms, to having a patch surgically attached to your tongue that makes it too painful to eat any solid food, the list is pretty extreme.

When I first read this article, I thought, “Come on now people!  This is just silly!”  As I kept reading, I started to feel really sad.  It made me sad to think of the extremes that some people will go to just to lose weight.  It made me sad that some people felt that this was their only hope at being thinner.  It made me sad that I used to think the exact same way.  It also made me mad that in some of these situations (feeding tubes and tongue patches in particular) doctors, people who are suppose to be helping, not hurting, were endorsing these forms of weight loss.  To be honest, it also made me feel a little helpless.  How can I, one person with very little pull, help stop this?  How can I make even a tiny dent and convince people that this is not the way to go?

Once I stopped feeling helpless, I realized I can keep sharing my story and my experiences with others and help guide them in the right direction.  When it comes to diet and lifestyle, extreme will NOT help you.  Sure, on some extreme diets you will lose weight quickly.  That’s what happens when you cut out food and starve yourself.  That weight loss though isn’t healthy weight loss and it is not sustainable.  Taking extreme measures to lose weight will just hurt you in the long run.  With some of the methods listed in that article, they can cause serious medical damage.  At the very least, you are taxing your body and messing with your metabolism which will make it really difficult to maintain a healthy weight in the future.

I understand the helplessness that can accompany trying to lose weight.  At times it can feel like nothing works.  You either can’t lose weight at all or you lose the weight just to have it all come back.  You feel that you are on a never ending diet and you are tired enough that giving up and going back to your old lifestyle seems more and more appealing.  Not caring anymore is a lot easier than caring sometimes.  I have been there and I know it’s tough to push past that mentality.  Truth is the only way to truly be healthy is to change for the long term.  You have to make yourself view it as a lifestyle change, not just a temporary fix.  You can’t have the mindset that you are going to do this until you lose x amount of pounds and then go back to the way things were. It doesn’t work that way.

Yes, changing for the long haul is hard and daunting.  You mean I have to do this forever?  Yes.  Yes, you do.  Stop looking at all the things you are “giving up” or “losing”, don’t put food into categories of can have or can’t have.  View it as you are CHOOSING to live a better life, you WANT to have great health, you are GAINING good nutrition and habits.  If you are at a point in your life where you are ready and willing to change, don’t overwhelm yourself.  Don’t make a massive change to your life, because changing everything at once can cause overload and make you want to quit before you even begin.

Start small and start simple.  Remember, extreme doesn’t help when it comes to a lifestyle change.  Cut out candy bars as a snack and have fruit instead.  Go for a 10 minute walk on your lunch break.  Read a book instead of watching TV at night.  Easy things that you can sustain, and once you have made those into a habit, move on to the next change.  Will this take a long time? Yes, but this is what helps you change for life permanently.  As you slowly start changing your life, you will start to see the benefits of living healthier.  Those stairs that used to wind you at work are now a breeze to climb.  Chronic headaches that used to plague you are now few and far between.  You sleep better at night, you have more energy than before, and you are actually enjoying real food more and more instead of processed junk.

If something doesn’t work for you or doesn’t seem to benefit your personal health, then stop and try something different.  That is OK! Remember we are all different and our bodies need different things.  Maybe your friend is feeling amazing by running every day and subsisting on a more Paleo- type diet, but those things leave you feeling drained, sluggish, and you are SO not motivated to run for even 5 minutes.  That is totally fine!  Find out what works for you.  Health is very personalized, which makes it so great.  You can customize your life to give yourself maximum health benefits.

The main takeaway for this post is to keep things simple.  I don’t want you to feel that the only way you can lose weight is to take up smoking or swallow a tapeworm.  You and your health are worth so much more than the damage those methods will cause.  The only extreme you need in your life is extreme happiness.  Keeping your best interests in mind will help lead you to the best health you can obtain, I promise!

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