Exercise–Where’s the Line?

One of the reasons I adore blogging so much is because there are so many like-minded people out there who allow me to reflect on both myself and the world around me.  Being surrounded by so many incredible people has really given me the opportunity to grow in so many ways, and I truly appreciate all of you! 

Last week, after posting about my foot injury, Lauren posted this comment:

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While the entire comment is meaningful, it was one small statement within it that had me thinking for days about my relationship with exercise. 

“I got comfortable with not being super active all the time”

I can’t tell you how much this resonates with me, as I have always struggled with finding a balance with my exercise routine. 

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[sprained ankle in Aotearoa, circa 2006]

I’ve always been an all or nothing type of person… if I’m doing something, there’s no half-assing it – I put heart and dedication into it.  One of the most difficult parts of my [long] weight loss journey is the fine line between “healthy” and “unhealthy” weight loss methods [although I wish I were one of those people who could just eat intuitively – eating what sounds good when the urge arises – I know that, for me, if I’m not eating 100% clean, I’ll eat 100% dirty]. 

When it comes to exercise, the first seventeen years or so were nothing.  Then I put the pedal to the metal and was in the gym five days a week for 30 minutes at a time.  Once I got to college, I dedicated myself to five/six days a week at the gym for an hour minimum [most days I’d do 30 min cardio + 45 min weights + 15 min abs]. 

Since moving home, I’ve gotten into the habit of:

Mon: Teach TurboKick [60 min] + Weights [LiveFit – 45 min]

Tues: Weights [45 min] + Swim/Yoga/Run [45-60 min]

Wed: Teach TurboKick [60 min]

Thur: Weights [45 min] + Swim/Yoga/Run [45-60 min]

Fri: Teach TurboKick [60 min] + Weights [ 45 min]

Sat: Rest

Sun: Long Run/Hike [60-120 minutes]

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My schedule now feels balanced to me.  I spend time both outdoors and indoors, I get to inspire others by teaching, and weight training makes me feel strong.  Both my body and spirit have come to love exercise, and it has become both my alone-time and moving meditation.  I don’t feel overly obsessed with keeping to my schedule [if I miss a training run or weights session it’s not the end of the world].  I feel like this is me taking care of myself in the best, healthiest way possible; I’m energetic, strong, and athletic! 

And yet, when I take a step back, I start to realize that the relationship I hold with exercise may not be the healthiest.  Yes, I want to live an active and healthy lifestyle, but there’s a fine line between staying active and obsessing over the calories I’ve burned and having distorted feelings about the way I look if I miss a day or two [I swear my bulge is bigger today than it was yesterday].  Rather than eating – say, when I’m hungry? – I calorie-count to make sure I’m getting the equation right for my goals [what? Jillian Michaels told me to].

And that’s where this whole thing baffles me. 

Over the years, I’ve tried all sorts of methods and I’ve found what works for my body – mixing up my workouts, eating high-protein, taking out dairy, gluten + sugar, measuring what I eat – but I have yet to find what works for my spirit. Yes, I’ve found an incredible link between my creativity [writing, cooking, jewelry-making] and my self-esteem, but I’m now specifically interested in how to just be okay with my physical body and not feel the need to push myself so hard [after all, it is 90% nutrition anyway!]. 

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How does one know what amount of exercise is honoring for the body and spirit, and what is too much – driven by ego and a distorted self-image? I ran eight miles on a foot that told me to stop after the first, and I’m paying for it now.  Because as my body told me lay off, my mind kept saying you’ll be fine – the pain will cease and the rewards will be greater than the costs. 

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I’ve always been interested in the emotional aspects of weight loss and healthy living, and I think it’s high time I open up the lines of discussion.  Obviously I have no real answers, but I think there’s a lot to be learned through shared experiences and speaking one’s truth. 

So, here I am.  Nine plus years into my weight loss journey, wondering where to draw the line between pushing myself to be the best I can be, and pushing myself because I’m trying to change some aspect about myself that is innate. How do I accept myself as I am and continue to push myself to grow?  

My healing process started long ago, but there is only so much one can do alone and I still have so much to learn. 

How do you feel about your relationship with exercise?

Aloha Pumehana. Whether you’re here to find balance, wholesome recipes or inspiration, I hope you enjoy the posts.  Please subscribe to Green Plate Dinners to receive automatic updates and be the first to read new posts for free!

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9 thoughts on “Exercise–Where’s the Line?

  1. Therese says:

    Oh wow! That’s a loaded post woman, but such a powerful one! It’s one I don’t have an answer to either. As someone who, up until the last 2-3 years never exercised a day in her life to exercising 5 days a week I ALWAYS wind up asking myself if I’m not doing enough or doing too little. When I sprained my toe a week before my 30k I spent all week going back and forth on whether or not I should at least TRY to race. In the end, while going for a brief 3k trial run the day before the race I had to ask myself what my motivation for this race was, for running in general and it was just to see if I could do it and I knew I could. I got up to 26k and knew if I could do 26k I could do 30. The race itself meant nothing more than the means to seeing me run the 30k I proved that I could do. So in that regard, I didn’t need the race anymore to prove anything and did the right thing, I let my toe heal more. Who knows what I could have done to it had I ran even though it was mostly healed by then.

    On the other hand, knowing that I CAN run 30k has given me the confidence to push myself in other directions. I know I can run far so what else can I do? I decided to try something else instead, I’m hanging up my Garmin and am focusing on shorter but much more intense workouts (Turbo Fire). This has also been a challenge because some days call for only 15 minutes of working out!!! So then I also think of the calories but have to quickly remind myself of what my overall motivation is and that’s to live an active, healthy life. I know the weight will come off eventually and as long as I keep to my training plan, it will.

    So I guess what I’m trying to say in such a convoluted way is that I’ve had to not only really get in touch with what my internal motivating factor is but I’ve also had to remind myself that it’s all a process. You can push yourself to go beyond your limits but if you’re causing your body pain, you might have to ask yourself why you’re doing it.

    • greenplatedinners says:

      You. get. me. =) Thank you for your constant reminders of what’s important… I continue to learn so much from you, Therese.

      PS: It IS a loaded post, right?? But it’s my truth and I feel that it’s so important to share.

  2. Pema says:

    Two comments you made caught my attention: 1. “…rewards greater than the cost” and 2. “….pushing myself to grow”.
    In my life when I notice that I’m focused on the goal/reward then I know I’m attached to ‘getting something’ and have forgotten about doing an activity simply because I love doing it. Process vs. outcome.
    Also I believe we are not unlike plants in that our innate nature is to develop; as a gardener I have made a choice to not “push” my plants to grow (use growth stimulants) but instead to support/nurture their innate process to grow. Hope these reflections are useful even if not directly related to ‘exercise’. Sending you love and healing blessings.

    • greenplatedinners says:

      Wow, Pema. I really had to sit with your words and let them sink into my soul for a bit. You are so powerful and I continue to learn so much from you. I really appreciate your comments about process vs. outcome – it’s something I’m learning to find balance with.

      You are so beautiful ❤

  3. Angela says:

    WHAT A GREAT BLOG!!!
    Ok, enough yelling 🙂 Seriously, I think anyone who has gone through any sort of weight loss process can relate to this. I know I can! When is it enough? When can we stop counting calories? When can I not worry about working out? Its something I think you need to come into on your own. I’m always trying to find a balance. Right now, I don’t have much time to work out so I have to accept that. I’m also uber broke and don’t have much time. Instead of worrying about missed workouts, I just concentrate on getting clean, good foods instead. I thought I was eating really bad but then tracked a few days on SP and found out I was right in range and sometimes low. You have to learn to trust yourself!

    And if all that doesn’t work, I find that the Eat Clean Diet books have some great tips. I don’t always agree with everything in those books. I am not one to follow any advice blindly but I do like the way she teaches you to measure your servings and how to balance your meals. It makes for a balanced diet and no tracking!

    As for workouts, I think whatever schedule works for you is great but you are right (and already know) that you need to remind yourself that its ok to take it easy sometimes. I am the first to call it quits at the first definite sign of possible injury but that is just my cautious nature. You will learn when to listen to your body and if you don’t, I’m painting you a wonderful canvas to hang on your workout wall that says “Remember the Ankle” 🙂

    ~Ang

    • greenplatedinners says:

      =) Ang, I can’t tell you how much it has meant to me to have met you on my journey! It sounds crazy, but I feel like you’re my sister – just across the nation, lol. I’m still learning to trust myself, and it isn’t always easy… but I hope that the simple act of staying honest with myself and others is a big step.

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