Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fit for Life

I have also been an exerciser. I played fall and spring soccer from age 6 until age 16 and swam in the summers. Once I stopped with sports, I joined the YMCA and have been going at least 4 times a week since. In college I played intramural sports. After college I got into running as I began doing races around Richmond. I also joined a summer rec soccer league to spruce up my skills. Currently, I run 2-3x a week (I’m training for the 10k), go to the gym 2-3x a week, lift weights 2-3x a week (usually the days I am at the gym) and coach soccer 2x a week. 

Needless to say, fitness is a part of who I am. I am not the most intense workout-er (I find that if I kill myself on a daily basis, I won’t stick with it), but I workout consistently and make it a priority. It is a nice mental break that helps me in all other aspects of my life. That is not to say that I always like to workout or want to take the time out of my day to do it (especially since on weekdays I often have to work out in the middle of the day since I get off by 3 and then have to shower and redress if I am going back out at night) but it is not an option for me. It is so much a part of who I am that I don’t even think about it. I usually schedule the days I will go/what I will do at the beginning of the week so I can plan for them. That way it is built into my schedule and not an option. I always work out on Saturday and Sunday (usually running) and the other days in the week tend to vary based on activities. When I coach I run around and play with the girls during practice, but if I don’t feel like I got a good workout or if I want to lift weights I go to the gym on my way home.

People often comment about how they “wish they were more active and could be healthier.” It is not easy. Any athlete or fitness buff knows that it takes time and energy to stick with any fitness regimen. Luckily, I grew up in a family where health and fitness were the norm. My dad ran marathons and ran 6x a week my whole life, usually at the crack of dawn (I still don’t know how he did it- I get up at 6:20 and can’t imagine getting up at 5 am in the dead of winter to run in the freezing cold darkness). He didn’t like it, but he did it to be healthy. My siblings and I always played sports (soccer, baseball, track, bowling). As I got older my mom got into walking and now walks 5 miles a day and does zumba, pilates or yoga a few times a week. My oldest brother has a treadmill and my middle brother runs. We all have kept active and are all (thankfully) very healthy. We also eat generally well- not one of us eats fast food on a regular basis (and we never did growing up…hmmm see how that works?). I don’t drink soda or eat red meat. We cook and eat at home more than we go out. My idea of going out is to Panera or for Sushi. Not TGIFridays or Outback. We watch what we eat. We’re not perfect and we still splurge but the majority of the time we’re healthy.

Being “Fit for Life” – as the class is called in the high school I work at- is a dedication. It is not always the easiest or cheapest or most convenient way to live, but I believe it leads to a better life. True we could be as healthy as possible and still die in a car accident or get cancer. But that’s why it’s all about balance and being held accountable for what you can do- you live and make healthy choices but also let yourself off the hook on the weeks you didn’t eat as well or didn’t work out as much as you should. It doesn’t mean you have to run 5 miles a day- that 20 minute walk or that 1 hour spent doing yard work or those 2 hours you were standing cheering at the game- they all amount to something. It’s ok to agree to go out with friends but to only get a little to eat or drink- they understand. I remember for the longest time I felt like I had to eat big amounts when I was out because I was out. Now my friends and I will only have one drink or something small to eat or even just come out for the company in an effort to be healthy and save money. Being social does not have to equate to being unhealthy.

Why am I writing about all this? We’ll, because sometimes I think people don’t understand what it is like to truly have health be a part of your life. They amount you to “dieting” or “trying to lose weight” (so therefore you’re not fun to go out with) or that you are thin because you have “good genes.” Sure genes do help your size, but then again, I work out more than many of my friends and many of them are smaller than me. But I never am on a “diet” or “trying to lose weight”- however I am constantly trying to make good health decisions and trying out new things to see how they make me feel or change my body. My weight goes up and down just like the next persons. I am still getting to understand my body and my health because my health needs are constantly changing.

So for those of you wanting to be healthy, here is my advice: To truly live healthy, you have to change your life. It is not a diet or a fad- it is a lifestyle. A lifestyle of waking up on a Saturday and putting on your shoes to go for a run instead of sleeping an extra 30 minutes; a lifestyle of having only an hour and a half break after work before you have another commitment, so you go to the gym; a lifestyle of saying no to that second beer at happy hour; a lifestyle of sometimes going to bed a little hungry even though you REALLY want a cookie. So do it one step at a time. It does take time and is a mental and physical transformation. But to me the drawbacks nowhere near outweigh the benefits- I rarely get sick, have great energy, and can do many activities without much effort because of my fitness level. To me, feeling good and feeling good about myself are priorities in life.

It is a slight obsession to be fit for life, but I think it’s one of the better ones.

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