Happy New Year to all you folks who plan on losing fifty pounds, eating salad three times a day and eschewing soda! How’s all that going a few weeks in? Are you exhilarated? Defeated? Or just hanging on to your old bad habits and parading them around because what’s the point? We have all been there, my friend. It is especially hard to exercise when you are exhausted and overwhelmed with small children. I have been through many phases in regards to my health myself. I fight against genetics that are rife with diabetes, heart disease and obesity and want to share a few things that might give us all some hope.
Don’t hate me but somehow, despite my Polish background, my calves and ankles always look phenomenal. It doesn’t matter if I’ve gained forty pounds during pregnancy or if I’m training for a half marathon–they look pretty chiseled. I should be a calf and ankle model but alas my agent hasn’t got around to it yet. For the record, this is the only part of my body that could apply for a modeling career; the rest of me looks like a normal middle-aged woman in Mom jeans that eats a tad too much Nutella.
Somehow my metabolism (and therefore my body) has shifted in the last decade so that no matter how much I work out or eat healthy, I still look chronically three and a half months pregnant. I’m pretty sure that even if I worked out for five hours a day, I would still have amazing calves and a bread dough belly.
So, for those of you struggling to keep your momentum and even though I’m not a hard-core runner or athlete, there are some things that consistently attempting exercise has taught me over the years:
You go as far as you let yourself go. The first time I ran thirty minutes without stopping, I thought I was going to die. I was practically fine-tuning my will the last ten minutes. The first time I ran four miles, I thought I was going to die. The first time I ran six miles, I thought I was going to die. Do you see a pattern here (besides the fact that I am obviously a tad dramatic)? Goals are important if only for the simple fact that they force you to change and push yourself. I didn’t know I could run (slowly) that far until stopping wasn’t an option.
There is a huge fallacy in the world that somehow if someone has something you desire, it must have been easy for them. I used to think, “It must be nice to be happily married, wealthy, educated or skinny.” I daresay that is a big, fat (ha!) lie. In marriage, jobs, health or in any area of life, I’d say very few people have it easy. It may appear to be so on your social media feed but I promise you it is not. Each and every person you know stinks at something and naturally excels at something else. Each and every person is struggling: a marital, parenting, mental or physical health, financial, employment, or an addiction issue. Somehow God doles out struggles and strengths pretty universally.
No one, and I do mean no one, gets a free pass. I don’t know anyone who says they have it all figured out. If they do, they’re either age 17 or lying. It all takes effort and a lot of it. Sure, some people are genetically predisposed for their body frame but that doesn’t mean they are healthy. Strive to take care of the two greatest gifts God has given you: your body and your soul. When you feed your body, mind and soul goodness, when you make them stronger through effort, you are benefited.
Your mental/emotional and physical health are inexorably tied together. You can’t benefit one without the other. I exercise for three reasons and for one person. I exercise to fit in my pants, to keep my sanity and so I can hopefully embarrass my grandchildren by doing some fly dance moves (does anyone say that anymore?) at their weddings. I want to be active then so I make it a priority—but not a burden—to be active now. It is one of the tools I use to feel whole and well.
As I’ve said before, just do your best today. Sometimes my best is doing a ten minutes Pilates/yoga workout right before I head out the door, sometimes it is an early 5:30 run in the summer and sometimes it is twenty minutes of playing basketball and chasing my kids in the field next to our house. Find something that works and do it as much as you can. And if you get wrapped up in a novel for an hour and run out of time to exercise or eat junk for a week, hit the reset button and do better next time.
I am in no way a certified personal trainer, dietician or even a perfect illustration of health but I promise that putting effort into fueling your soul and body with healthy food, treats within reason and moderate regular exercise is the best gift you can give yourself and your children. If you need some motivation, feel free to cast your eyes on my ankles, for they are truly stunning to behold.