8.13.2014

What I've Learned About Health and Fitness

I've been exercising for about a month now. According to the sources and other books, this makes me a "guru" and qualifies me to give advice. Really though, maybe I'll look back on this advice in, say... another month, even, and find it quite hilarious and inaccurate. Who knows.

I would like to preface this post by saying I'm not dishing out judgments. You live the life that makes you feel good, and that's your deal. No judgments. (And since when has judgments only had one 'e' in it? Gonna be a great teacher some day, folks...)

So here are some three bits of fitness and exercise advice and experiences I've gained in the last month.

1. Exercise is something you do different. It is literally defined as something done especially to maintain health and fitness. What exercise is NOT is taking notice of the things you do every day. So you get up from your desk and walk to the drinking fountain every day. Just because you notice that you do that does not make it exercise. If a person is bragging about having gone walking for two to three hours, that means they walked an extra two to three hours on top of what they typically walk. Take me, for instance. I'm a self proclaimed runner. Meaning, I've been running consistently for one month now, go me. My pace is really pretty slow. It had to be, starting out, because I was burning myself out by pushing myself beyond what I could or SHOULD do. One month later, I've been having to up my pace or distance, because what I typically would run three times a week was becoming easy, it was becoming something that I did. My body was growing used to it, so if I wanted to improve my health past that point, I had to push myself a bit more. I'm not saying I had to add miles upon miles to what I already ran, I just had to go one block further, take fewer breaks, do something that wasn't typical for me. Something different.

2. Goals are there to be MET. I do My Fitness Pal. I think it's great for anyone wanting to live a more healthy life style. Why? Because it makes you more aware of what you're eating. I became aware that I wasn't getting the nutrients I needed through using My Fitness Pal. By being aware of what I'm putting in my body, I've had so much more energy and stamina. Walks and hikes are now exciting to me! What does this have to do with goals, though? My Fitness Pal gives me a set amount of calories I'm supposed to eat each day. I don't feel it's constraining or that it is beyond what I can do, it's just exactly right. Whether you're trying to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain weight, My Fitness Pal customizes that calorie counter thing to your specific goal. And if you do not meet that goal, then you do not do what you want to do. You lose weight if you want to gain it, you gain it if you want to maintain it. You maintain it if you want to lose it. Any combination of those things, if you're not meeting your calorie goal, you're not doing what you want to do. Ok, to be honest, I have a hard time hitting my calorie goal exactly. I'm often a few hundred below. That's something I'm working on and doing great on building up. But what drives me crazy is when people "like" that I'm below my goal, or when people strive to be below their goal. Cutting back calories hard core does NOT make you lose weight, people. There's all kinds of studies and stuff that show this, but your body will start hording those calories like precious gold if it's not getting what it needs. And My Fitness Pal customizes it to what you NEED. Furthermore, what if my goal is to gain weight? Or maintain weight? Why is it such an accomplishment to people to be below their goals? It's a goal for a reason. Aim for it, not below it.

3. Exercising has been giving me the energy to do the things I want to do. I remember an embarrassing hike during a family reunion this year. Yes, I was definitely out of shape. It was a beautiful hike and really pretty easy and fun, but I was panting up the hill and panting on the way down. My out-of-shape-ness was preventing me from enjoying the hike as I should, as I wanted to. Fast forward to one month later, we went on a hike with Joseph's family during a camping trip. It was straight up hill. It was a pretty hilarious hike, actually. We thought we were looking for a lake until about an hour later when we're on top of a mountain summit looking down on the valley and realizing we'd missed the lake by several altitudes. In fact, the trail we were on looked like it was created by a mix of deer and people building power lines. It was a stunning hike though, and oh so exciting to walk where few people have walked. We knew this because a lot of time was spent bush whacking. Though the hike was straight up hill and didn't lead to anything in particular, it was fun. It was fun to be out in nature walking where few had walked. It was fun to want to go further and want to adventure more. It was thrilling to have the energy to do this! No more were old people and children passing me on the trail (mainly because there were no old people or children), but even if there had been, they wouldn't be passing me. It was fun to not feel like I was holding people back, too. And it felt good to know I had brought myself to this point.


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