Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fitness: What you see is not what you get

One of my resolutions for 2011 is to be nicer to myself.  Like many American women, I forget sometimes that the vast majority of the images portrayed by the media are designed to instill powerful emotions of urgency to change something about ourselves. Whether its a new car, a new investment broker, or a new body, the media powers that be are dead-set on convincing us that whatever we currently have is not nearly as good as it could be.

And as a continuous improvement kind of gal, I think there is some truth to that - almost anything can be improved upon. Fitness is the kind of hobby where you can always make advancements, and that makes it fun for me.

But sometimes its easy for those messages to cut a little deeper and make us feel bad about what we have when what we have is actually pretty awesomeYesterday I talked about how sometimes I feel like my flesh-and-blood image doesn't always reflect the amount of effort I put into my fitness, and how focusing on the other benefits of health helps me remember that looking fit is not necessarily the same as being fit.

Today I want to put some muscle to that thought with some ways to do that:

1. Track it. My favorite - log the numbers!  When I spend too much time looking in the mirror, I get out my notebook and start paying attention to something I can manage: the numbers.  I can't control what my body looks like from day to day, but seeing "ran 5 miles" on my calendar this morning felt really good.  Whether I am putting my smiley face stickers on my calendar, jotting down what I did for exercise every day, or posting my workouts on Twitter, seeing it written down is a visual reminder that I am doing something every single day to be healthy. 

2. Internalize it.  So many people kvetch about how they've been working out for two whole weeks and nothing has happened.  Baloney!  Nothing has happened in the mirror, but amazing things have happened inside your body. Your heart is healthier, your brain is working better, your joints are stronger, and your muscles are stronger, not to mention the fact that you're probably less stressed and overall happier.  So quitcherbellyachin and keep moving!

3. Trust it. My Daily Dose today (did you know I can send you a pesky email every morning with some healthy vibes?) was about how fitness happens: if you put in the work, fitness will happen.  Maybe not on your time schedule, but it will happen. Trust that if you eat well and exercise, fitness WILL happen.  It's science.

4. Get over it.  I know someone who will not go to the gym until she loses some weight because she is embarrased about how she looks.  I get that, but you know what?  Its been years and she's never done it.  Get over it.  No one else cares what you look like and besides, they're all too preoccupied with how they look to worry about you.  I promise.

I believe that when it comes to fitness, what you see is not what you get.  The mirror lies, and so does the scale a lot of the time.  Your body, however, is a finely-tuned machine designed to respond positively to good nutrition, exercise, and adequate rest.  Do those things, and fitness will come.

It just might not look how you thought it would. :)

Off you go!


Rachel said...

Heather, what a terrific post! I've been reminding myself lately that a baby step may not feel like much today, but it took you farther than where you were yesterday.

Thank you very much.

The (not so) Reluctant Athlete said...

Yes, Rachel! That is exactly it!