So I finally got my lazy butt to do some cardio this morning. It has been a long time since I've gotten up early to do cardio, and my body was a little reluctant, or more accurately, my mind was reluctant. I started pedaling on my stationary bike a little before 6am, and about 1/2 hour before any caffeine hit my system (I won't make that mistake again, lol) and I got 7 minutes in before I reached a point where my quad muscles were getting sore. I knew I could push through it and keep going, but I really don't want to be sore because that'll make me stop wanting to do it. So I got off the bike and walked around the inside of my apartment for 13 more minutes. My dog thought I was nuts walking back and forth, it was funny to watch his reaction. I would much rather walk outdoors but it was super cold, windy and icy this morning, so I made do with the indoor walking, which makes me look like a crazy lady pacing back and forth. haha. It is all for a good purpose, and I will work up to longer cardio sessions but today I just didn't time out the taking of my reflux medicine/caffeine so I was still tired when I began working out. That's not a great combo. But, by the time I ate my taco salad and fruit, and had a couple cups of coffee, I was feeling pretty darn good. I have missed that post-cardio calmness/happiness I get. What I don't miss is the shakey feeling I get when I work out my muscles, and that has been one thing that has made me not do it in so long. I will have to get past that feeling, it really only lasts an hour or so, but the benefits of strength training are so amazing not just for physique but for bone health, heart health, agility, balance, posture, and maintaining muscles that can support me as I age. Did you know that after the age of 35 we lose 5% of our muscle mass every 10 years?! (Sharecare.com) That's absurd! No wonder we easily equate old age with failty. I think, after 35 we start to notice little aches and pains more, and perhaps it takes longer for our muscles to recover, and most people have a mate and children at an age where we no longer have to lift them,etc. It only makes sense that people become less active. But I think, for myself, that is a really bad idea because I don't want to keep losing muscle until I can't do the things I think I should be able/want to. I used to be stronger than people expected and now I feel like, because people usually estimate me to be 5-10 years younger than I am, I am weaker than expected. When I had my physical exam earlier this month, my doctor tested whether or not I could twist and push all sorts of areas, and tested my hand strength and found everything to be normal. But after releasing the grip on her hands I felt a tinge of pain run up my wrists and I was disappointed that I have not really treated my body very fairly. Oh well, I can't fix the past I can only make right now better, day by day. I don't think I am horrifically out of shape, but I am not a spring chicken anymore either!
Yesterday in our office lunchroom, someone had left some cookies with a note "Help yourself!" I am not a huge cookie person so it wasn't anything to me. I have a really easy time imagining them to be dry, overly-chocolated (which tends to upset my stomach) and stale tasting by now. This morning there were even more added, leftover, sad Christmas cookies that were cooked God knows when and people are trying to pawn them off at work. The sad thing is, they will probably be eaten. In the past I would have taken one without any thought, just to have something sweet or continue celebrating the holiday, or because my birthday is in 2 days, or because I will start fresh in the new year. Any other excuse or justification could easily be substituted, if they are there for the taking, I used to have some, and a lot of times, I would eat more than everyone else to make sure I got my share. Now, I am really indifferent to those cookies, even a little yucked-out by them because of how I imagine they would be this far past Christmas. Not to mention, who knows where they've been before they made their way to the lunch room! No thanks. The sugar I did have during the holidays was not over-the-top, done in a controlled, planned manner and not very satisfying at all. I think I truly am really discovering that I genuinely do not like sweets that much. Maybe I never did, I was just using it as a drug, but it was a pretty ineffective one. I think I was not wanting to see the truth before because I was afraid I would crumble without my crutch. I'm not saying I never get sad or stressed, everyone does, but now it rarely makes me think of food when I do. Hot tea, a nice soak in the tub, maybe some snuggle time with my dog or chatting with my husband? Yep, that sounds soothing and theraputic, food sometimes sounds nauseating when I am stressed now. When I think of how I looked, shoveling food into me when I was feeling bad, it makes me sad, like that person I was before didn't have control or even hope, I was just trying whatever I could to get through the drama of the moment. Now, I feel like I have broken through a blanket of fog to find a clear day, and looking behind me I see that I was trying to wrap myself in that blanket without realizing it was the very thing that was suffocating me. I am more at peace with food, my relationships, work, and generally every area of my life since I gave up trying to ignore what was bothering me and decided to explore and tear down the ideas that don't add up. I didn't find this peaceful happy place by losing a bunch of weight, some weight came off of me because I stopped trying to make my weight the center of my life. I know it's a cover for the deeper stuff inside, the stuff that hurts and nags and makes me feel worthless. I knew that working on fixing that stuff was the key, and once I began, I was easier able to give up sugars, and once I gave up sugars (sweets) I was able to seperate the stuff I was using as a drug vs. the stuff I genuinely enjoy eating when I am truly hungry. Sometimes that is a plate of tortilla chips with melted cheese, sometimes it's a chopped salad or a veggie burger. It hurts me when I see people torturing themselves over not feeling in control of their cravings, especially for sugars or chocolate, when really what they need is to find inner peace. It might not be easy, but it's not as hard as most people make it out to be; sometimes it just takes turning off the noise of all that surrounds us in the media, our coworkes on hardcore diets, and the endless Facebook posts of fad diets and runway models who are so emaciated they look ill. The beauty about the whole thing is this: every person has the power to fix what is broken and it doesn't necessarily take anything (plan/diet) outside of themselves to do it. That is scary to some, and maybe it seems like tough love saying, "Fix yourself" but to me it is a gift and a blessing that peace can come if you seek it out. But it doesn't come in a smaller jeans size, from starving yourself or making a big deal about food. It comes from being mindful, being aware of what is really going on and facing tough stuff face-on instead of trying to avoid it. Food can't do that for us, our spouses can't do that for us, we just have to go in there and get it done. In the end, you might find out that your perception of things was skewed and you were reacting emotionally to something because you were seeing it through a child's eyes and made assumptions. And when it comes down to it, self-kindness is really what we need, to be the nurturer we wish we had when we were little, or when we were in high school or going through a messy divorce or caring for our parents. Be the nurturer you wish you had for your own self. You can even revisit things that happened to you in the past in your mind and allow your current self to defend and nuture your child-self. It may sound silly but really it's empowering. And who couldn't benefit from a little self-love and empowerment? Geneen Roth, one of my favorite authors on mindful eating and self-care, says she does a quick meditation every morning to ask herself what blessing she already has. It's a way to affirm that we are already enveloped in good things and to not be so quick to look externally for joy or peace. I think that is a beautiful sentiment. Being aware of all the great things we already have makes us feel happy and gratful. No matter what you eat or what size clothes you wear, you have things in your life that you are gratful for if you look deep enough. I am gratful for so many things and none of them is attributed to my physique. And I'm so very gratful that I was finally able to let go of the diet mentality that tortured me for years. I don't feel like I am in a crazed, temporary, on-the-verge-of-losing-control-type plan that will cause me to yo-yo and cycle and recycle unsuccessful and counter-productive behaviors. I am finally free, and I've never felt better. I wish this for everyone, I really do.