The Difference

Today was a very busy day for me at work and while that’s generally a good thing (and it generally was good today), it afforded me little time to think about/plan for eating. Some of you may think, “Perfect!” But not so, my friends. Not so. Lack of thought and/or planning generally ends in a binge for me. And, sure enough, the moment I walked in the door at home this evening I began thinking about what sort of leftover Halloween candy I could begin shoving in my mouth.

I was starving, a little stressed, and my body was desperate for quick energy. And while I did eat a couple pieces of chocolate the moment I walked into my kitchen, I also took a moment to think about what lead me there.

I already know tonight is going to end up a bit of an emotional eating night for me. My last update, I talked about falling out of love with strength training/weight lifting and how I would just proudly wear my Cardio Queen crown and enjoy the movement and my regular physical activity. Well, just as what almost-always happens when I pile on lots of various cardio-focused activities: I’ve developed terrible, terrible shin splints. Adding 2 miles of running three days a week to my existing walking routine of anywhere from 3-6 miles/day was too much too soon for my lower legs. Add that to a pair of new running shoes that were not a great fit for my forefoot strike and heavier body weight? Disaster.

I’ll have to stop running for at least 2 weeks. Right as we come into November. 5 days before Daylight Savings Time ends. Smack in the middle of a struggle with SAD. This is obviously a little upsetting for me.

Will tiny candy bars heal my shin splints? No. Will they give me a little bit of an endorphin boost, release some much-needed serotonin? Absolutely! And so I shall eat them – after consuming a nutritious, well-balanced dinner to prevent over-eating them. And I shall enjoy them. And it will be good.

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Non-Weight Lifters Anonymous

Hi. My name is Jess and I’ve fallen completely out of love with weight lifting, strength training, “toning”, whatever-the-heck YOU like to call it.

The idea of doing squats and deadlifts and push-ups and presses and rows and curls and lunges and… all of it… is entirely unappealing. I don’t know what happened, folks. I don’t know where it began. I think part of it started after canceling my gym membership in order to save some money (since I wasn’t going very often anyway!), perhaps the idea of moving heavy things around my basement just wasn’t quite as appealing. When I began this whole “week 1” of purposeful weight loss back in June and set a training guideline for myself (moderate to heavy lifting 3 times a week! running 3 times a week! all the sleep! all the protein!) I may have inevitably set myself for failure. It was too large a commitment. It’s what lead me to giving up not-quite-a-year earlier. It was not sustainable.

Here I’ve been beating myself up inside my head for “abandoning” strength training, worrying myself silly over loss of muscle mass as I cut calories, and even concern for my future bone density, when, really, my main goal at this point in my life is regular, consistent, sustainable physical activity. I take at least two walks a day 6 days a week. I am currently two weeks in to a run training program that has me doing short runs 3 days a week. I go hiking and/or trail running one day a week. I walk between 10,000 and 15,000 steps every day. My estimated TDEE is 3,200 calories which allows me to still eat all kinds of delicious food including dessert and alcohol “splurges” here and there while maintaining a caloric deficit. My pants are even starting to fit better! Yet, here I’ve been the last several weeks forcing myself to do a strength-based workout here and there when it doesn’t give me anywhere near the same endorphin boost resulting in  the warm and fuzzy feeling that a long walk, a quick run, or a hike through the woods does. For me, the most important part of a sustainable exercise program during the colder, darker months is that mental health benefit – and right now, cardio of all shapes and sizes is what gives me that. And even still, I’m having more days where I’m struggling… which is an even better reason not to force myself to participate in exercise I don’t 100% enjoy.

So, for now I’ll be a bit of a cardio queen.