Sunday, March 3, 2013

Walk But Don't Stop: An Epiphany

No, I didn't make it to the gym on Wednesday.  I very seriously considered lying about that fact because, lets face it, "If you lie in the woods and no one is around to hear it, did you really lie?" But I decided to come clean.  I have done enough lying to myself about my personal health, and it is past time for that to come to an end. I did, however, spend most of the day buying and cooking healthy meals that would last the rest of the week, so the day was not a total loss.

I  was also able to use Wednesdays "failure" to dig up the motivation to wake up at 7:30 AM on Thursday, Friday, AND Saturday and put in at least an hour at the gym each of those three days.  That's right, THREE days in a row of running on the treadmill and weight training, and I didn't even cry one time! I did, however, rediscover my shin splints on the very first day and come to the realization that my body was fairly dehydrated.

After the first days tribulations I found myself not only sore, but also frustrated on Day #2.  As I walked across the parking lot to the gym that day a menagerie of questions rushed through my mind;  "Am I physically capable of doing enough in the gym to make a difference", "Should I really be coming back today", "Am I wasting my time?"  Then, a simple comment from a friend came to mind...

"You need to do more cardio."

This was my original, unspoken response. At that point, however, I had not fully processed the statement.  Of course it was obvious, that is how the comment was intended. But this particular comment seemed to swan dive into the deepest recesses of my brain that have apparently been inaccessible until recently (perhaps because they we filled with Diet Coke).

I kept repeating it over and over to myself, and it was soon about more than just a treadmill. "You need to do more cardio," it resonated one last time. Then something clicked as I closed my gym locker door and I caught myself audibly saying "You need to do more cardio," as if I had just heard it for the first time, and I decided right then that I would log two miles on the treadmill no matter what.

For some of you, two miles sounds minuscule.  For me, two miles might as well be two light years, as I would soon find out.  Not even 1/4th of a mile in to my brisk jog my calves began burning, my shins began aching, and I was seriously considering stopping for water.  Then, right as I was preparing to hit the "Stop" button, I realized that I wasn't cheating myself if I slowed down.

So that's exactly what I did, I slowed my pace to a walk for 30 seconds.  During those 30 most glorious seconds all the tightness in my legs subsided, and before I knew it I was ready to run again.  I repeated this pattern of running/ walking for the duration of the workout, and eventually exceeded my goal of two miles. Then, while wiping down the sweat soaked machine I came to the realization that I had, in fact, done more cardio.

As it would turn out, I had been doing myself a great disservice all along by trying to push through the pain and ultimately coming up short of my goals.  Thus, a new philosophy on life was born...

"You can walk, just don't stop."

It seems like such a simple concept, but it is one I had never considered an option for myself.  I have come to realize that, with most things in life, I wait until I am 100% ready to do something, and then it consumes my entire life until it ultimately fizzles and I return to my old ways. 

This seems especially true with dieting.  I sit around and eat junk food for a few years until one day I wake up and say "Holy shit! I weigh 308 lbs and I'm going to have a heart attack in my 30's if I don't do something."  Then I go on a super clean diet and exercise routine for a few months. During that time I always end up losing a substantial amount of weight, but it inevitably makes a comeback when then "holy shit" factor wears off.

I am now learning to fully embrace the "Walk But Don't Stop" philosophy in all aspects of my life, especially my personal health and my career. From now on, when life becomes overwhelming or discouraging, I am going to avoid the temptation to "hit the stop button" or "break into an all out sprint." Instead, I'm going to slow to a walk for just long enough to regain focus then take off running again without ever stopping.

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