As some of you may know, my road to health has been, well, incredibly bumpy. From overcoming years of overeating and being sedentary, to months upon months of overexercising and undereating, to falling somewhere in between, I’ve never really been at a happy place. There are a few things I have learned though, and hopefully they can help you, as they did me:
I read many blogs and many health articles that caused me to believe that if it worked for them, it must work for me. If a blogger was running multiple miles a day, doing heavy lifting the next, and yoga on a “rest” day, then I should, too. If I didn’t, then that meant I wouldn’t be healthy, fit, or thin. What was the end result of all of this? A total crash and burn. I hated the gym. I hated working out every single day at my designated time. And, though I don’t want to admit it, I hated yoga. Something that should be a calming and rejuvenating practice turned into solid routine. A routine that, fittingly enough, I hated.
If you’re going to burn hundreds of calories per day, make up for the calorie loss. You will probably lose weight if you don’t properly fuel your body, but you will also do horrible things to your body at the same time. Even though I’m at a better place, health-wise, I’m still recovering from the hormone imbalances, low blood pressure, and hypoglycemia that under-fueling and being underweight caused. For the love of God, women, please eat at least 1800 calories a day, even if you’re trying to lose weight. Trust me, if you eat well and make those 1800 calories count, you will be in good shape. If you eat 3000 or 600 calories, you will, as I did, crash and burn.
Don’t over-do it. This is my biggest issue, as evidenced by the fact that I completely sprained my foot while running today. I pushed myself too hard, too fast, and paid the consequences. Don’t overexert yourself – as long as you’re moving your body in some form, you will be fine. Not every day is a sprinting marathon.
Work out not just for weight loss or physical heath, but for mental clarity. I did yoga so much that it became solely a work out for me, instead of a peaceful time for my body and mind to connect. I did so many chaturangas that my arms quivered, instead of resting in pigeon pose to stretch my tired hips and back. Any work out can be good for the mind (and body), but too much of it isn’t good for any part of you. And doing an exercise that you honestly don’t enjoy isn’t good for you, either.
So, what does this all mean?
Find what works for YOU, not what works for other people. Try new forms of exercise and test it out. If you don’t like running, stop. If you love pilates, deepen your practice. If you would rather take a nightly walk and have that be it, then that’s good enough for you.
It will take time. You won’t wake up one morning and automatically decide what is best for your body, and that’s okay. If nothing else, we have time.
Don’t let exercise control your life. Move every day, eat well, and smile daily, and you’ll feel wonderful.
Don’t be ashamed of what you’re doing. Not everyone wants to, or should, run marathons, bike centuries, or go on week long yoga festivals, and that’s okay. Be proud of what you do, no matter what it is or how much of it that you do.
Simply put: if you don’t like it, don’t do it. Just stop. Life is way more enjoyable doing things you, well, enjoy.