Sunday, July 13, 2008

It’s A Process

As everyone knows, changing bad habits is never easy, or fun. And if you change too much at once your head may explode. The changes I made last October were a byproduct of conversations I had during training sessions last year.

My trainer Kristn and I would talk about nutrition and health studies that were in the news, pros and cons of eating certain foods, etc. And the more we talked about it, the more I started coming home and doing my own research about topics we’d discussed. Which is how I ended up here, writing a blog about beating diabetes, of all things.

Fast-Forward
So today I was talking to someone who had recently lost 30 pounds on Weight Watchers and was beating herself up for having a bad day last Friday instead of being happy about the weight loss. The bad news is her pantry won for a little while. The good news is she was able to recognize a pattern and stop herself before too much damage was done.

It was at this point, she told me, that she realized she had lost control of her life. She looked around at her house and realized she did not recognize the chaos that had become her home, her body, and it was time to take some control back. We talked for a long time about eating strategies, the mental part of eating a healthy diet and basically just learning to ignore the cravings for crap that your body sends to your brain. You just have to get out of the habit of reaching for the cookies or the ice cream or the potato chips. The more times you're able to win that internal battle, the easier it gets.

She was also a little discouraged because she had gotten out of the habit of going to the gym and had not been for a couple of months. She was thinking there was no point in going back because she'd just have to start over again. It was good to be able to remind her that the better shape you're in, the easier it is for your body to heal and/or get back to where it was before you stopped working out. So the gains she'd made over the last 4 or 5 months wouldn't be for naught. She'll be able to get there a lot faster because her body is stronger and she has muscle memory going for her.

This was also a good reminder for me. I'm struggling with the same thing right now as I have an injury that has kept me from working out for the last week and it's driving me completely crazy not be able to lift anything and to be assigned as the official recordkeeper at workouts, although I am getting in some practice at being the trainer. (That has its own small rewards.) Anyway, I'm finding that the injury I have which would usually take six weeks to heal will probably take just a week or so because of all the resistance training I do. I was able to perform a couple of push-ups this afternoon after not being able to lift my arm to shoulder height or even laugh without a lot of pain a couple of days ago. And while I'll probably be lifting half of my normal load tomorrow morning, I'm guessing that by the end of the week I'll be pretty close to where I was before the injury.

So just a reminder that even if you fall off the workout wagon, your body remembers what it can do for a long time, and it doesn't take nearly the time to get back where you were after a break. And if you have a bad night of eating, don't beat yourself up about it. Figure out what caused it so you can start recognizing patterns and avoid the temptation to eat crap the next time the eating trigger tries to go off in your head. Also, try to come up with an alternate activity for the next time you feel like diving into the junk food. Having a plan beforehand is never a bad idea.

4 comments:

Kristen said...

I'm glad you're still plugging along. However, please don't push that injury! I speak from experience--I come from a "no-pain-no-gain" competitive swimming background. It took me a long time to realize the difference between a little post-workout soreness and your body telling you "STOP THAT!" Consequently I've had to have a couple surgeries on my right foot (sprained ankles I pushed back into action too soon) and I've got a hamstring that never recovered from a tear because I went back too soon. So, while I know it is frustrating to be sidelined, please do give your body the time it needs to heal so you can get back into the game 100% when it's ready.

Norma said...

OMG. The muscle memory thing is INCREDIBLE. me? As I think you know, I was almost 10 years practically sedentary, after being quite "good" at working out for a many years. Started up again last November (though had done TOUGH Bikram yoga for a couple of years, but still) and the gains were amazing. Of course it does make me wonder what could have happened had I been "good" all those years, but still. It's never too late, and it's never wasted time. And resting and healing are undervalued -- honestly, my best workouts are after I've had a bit of a layoff.

MaryB said...

What you say is true, o wise one. We have all fallen off that workout wagon from time to time (ahem, some more than others...). And getting back on it in times of stress (like dealing with breast cancer...) really is worth it.

But as for you, heal up -- and don't rush your return to the gym. If this muscle memory is what you say it is, your muscles won't soon forget the routine. Better come back strong then risk a reinjury...

Hugs, MaryB

Kathleen C. said...

Thanks. I was sitting here nodding my head as I read this...
I was VERY active at one point in my life (I was a ballet/jazz dancer). And although I dread the feeling of "out of shape" that working out for even a little while gives me now, I know that the strength and stamina WILL come back. And quicker than it might otherwise. I just have to decide to do it.

Also thanks for the crustless quiche suggestion you gave a while back. We tried a version of it last week and it was yummy!!!