It’s been a tough few months. In late October, Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, leaving us powerless for almost a week. Days later, we experienced the chaos of voting, followed by another storm.
Just as we were getting back to normal in early November, I fractured my knee.
Hobbling around was difficult at best, and for the first month, I barely moved, yet somehow managed 60-70 hour workweeks.
I just started walking a few days ago, albeit slowly and gingerly.
It is amazing how weak I have become. I am experiencing soreness, akin to the morning after a crazy hard workout, just from walking around.
As an avid exerciser, and someone who walked everywhere, this sedentary life has been difficult. More importantly, it has been eye opening.
I think I have been not only rehabbing an injury, but also rehabbing my lifestyle.
Prior to my accident, I had an extremely healthy diet. I lived in fear of skipping a workout, and felt guilty over indulgences. I tracked every movement and every calorie with an iPhone app. The mere thought of not working out for a few days, let alone months, terrified me.
The first few weeks were the most difficult. Not only could I not make it to the grocery store, I couldn’t stand long enough to prepare the food. Add in a beyond crazy work schedule, thanks to Sandy tearing through in the middle of a big deadline. Eating well was not a priority. I ate whatever, whenever, and worried that I would end this 10 pounds heavier.
Guess, what? My weight has remained about the same. Yeah, I am surprised too.
A few realities:
My increased activity levels left me always hungry.
Deprivation left me always wanting something else.
Muscle weighs more than fat.
It takes a long time to build muscle. Fat takes over pretty quickly.
My appetite is reduced; therefore my calorie intake is reduced. Although I am not limiting myself to being fat free, gluten free, or sugar free, I am simply eating less. If I want a cookie, I eat a cookie. I don’t seem to want 6 of them.
Muscle does weigh more than fat. While my weight is about the same, my pants are actually getting to be too big. Where there was muscle tone, there is now just flesh. I am looking skinny rather than healthy. My formerly hard body has been replaced by a very soft one. I now know that the number on the scale is not an indicator of how I look, or how much body fat I have.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not advocating a poor diet, or a non-active lifestyle.
I am not living on fast food and processed junk.
I will be back in the gym the minute the doctor tells me I am strong enough to do so.
What I am advocating, is giving ourselves a break. Would working out 4 days a week instead of 6 be so bad? Would eating healthfully but not obsessively, work better than constant restriction and occasional binges? For those who don’t have a good diet and exercise routine, the thought of all or nothing often feels too daunting and stops them from even trying. For those of who do, obsession can easily take hold.
I want to be strong and healthy, and of equal importance, happy.
I love how I feel after a hard run or a challenging cycling class. I have more energy and stamina when I eat well. But, moderation, for those of us capable of practicing it, is a good thing. And it works both ways. Too much of a good thing, is still too much. My body was trying to tell me to back off, with cranky aches and pains and constant exhaustion. It finally, just cracked. Right across the kneecap.
While many of you are crafting your New Year’s resolutions to start diets, lose weight, or join a gym, why not join me in vowing to respect our bodies and all it does for us?
Instead of thinking about a diet, why not think about nourishing your body for optimum performance? Care for your body as you might care for something else that is important to you. Listen to what your body is telling you and respond to it.
We only get one body; take good care of it.
photo: Glasshouse Images