They’re two of the most powerful forces in my life: food and exercise.
For me these two are at the forefront of most decisions I make during the day. My inner-dialogue sounds like this: “I should just stick with oats for breakfast – it’s the most nutritious option in the cupboard,” or “What’s the best thing on this menu (in leafy green terms)?” and “I didn’t get to the gym this morning – fail – maybe I could squeeze in a walk in my lunch break? No, I’ll go to Pump tonight instead – that’s a whole hour – double brownie points.”
This might seem a little OTT but my health is important to me. Food and exercise are at the core of that, so, everyday I have these types of conversations with myself. Our minds and bodies know nothing else but to be honest and when I fuel and move mine correctly I feel the truth every time; nourished and strong.
This is the dance. When the song is playing good food and moderate exercise put everything in sync. Life just flows. The body is fueled to go the distance and my mind operates with clarity. It feels natural, easy… even effortless. The nutrition packed meals slide onto the table (and into my handbag – I’m super organised with healthy snacks when in this phase) and the movement enters my life from all angles: walks, gym classes, runs on the beach, pilates and yoga. My body laps up the endorphins and sound sleep that comes when I’m in the zone.
It’s good. It’s rewarding. But let’s be honest – it’s freakin’ hard to keep up.
The winter season has set upon my little piece of the world, the most southern (and I believe the most consistently cold) state in Australia, and I’m feeling ‘meh’. This
week month I’ve been berating myself for the fact that I can’t be arsed lost my mojo for the Food and Exercise Dance. Despite knowing how good it is for me, knowing what it feels like to be in flow, I’ve forgotten the steps, the rhythm, heck I’ve forgotten the god damn song.
The new dance? ‘White’ is a fair description of what’s been on my plate of late: bread, potatoes, oats and diary, they’ve become my new staple. My green smoothies have lost their pop, my clean cut meats and steamed veges taste like cardboard and I’m
craving drawn towards hearty, heavy, hot meals that are low in greenery and high in the Italian-comfort-food category. And exercise? Well swapping Pump classes and sprint sessions for a walk every-third-day is an even deal right?
If you’re joining me in a case of the winter blues (which I/we will get over and eventually find my/your mojo underneath the bed covers, couch or fluffy dressing gown – wherever it was last year) it’s got me thinking: What’s healthy motivation to stay, well, healthy?
Some might describe my behaviour (a.k.a lack dancing) sheer laziness. Weakness might get a look-in and perhaps even a good old-fashion case of dog-ate-my-workout-DVD excuses? Laziness, weakness, excuses I’m sure I’ve seen these ‘motivational’ words somewhere before…
Oh… and this one makes me feel really good…
I used to pin these images, as ‘motivation’, to a fitness and health board I thought was destined to keep me on track. Then I started to scroll back through the images and quotes, this time with a clear and reduced need-to-be-perfect mindset, and was numb. “It’s just stupid,” I thought.
Let me ask you this: if I called you lazy, put a bunch of french fries in front of you and told you to do a thousand sit-ups whilst lifting up my top (exposing my perfectly photo-shopped abs) and saying “What did you do today to earn this?” you’d laugh and mime a WTF at me right? There’d at least be one hell of an awkward
silence mortification. Moving past that situation I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be at the top of your she-makes-me-feel-good-about-myself list.
Just because you ate a burger or skipped the gym doesn’t make you less than the girl who didn’t.
Berating and scolding yourself about how well you did the ‘dance’ this week is not helping you on your way. I really believe it is so-so dangerous to assess how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you were today with how much you worked-out or ate. You’re essentially attaching your worth to this assessment. You’re comparing. And human nature tells us you’ll almost always see yourself come up short against someone else.
Now I’m not giving you a free-for-all here. I’m not endorsing a self-destructive but ‘feel-good’ lifestyle. Food and exercise are at the forefront of managing your personal health BUT (and I really like to avoid this word) should not be at the expense of damaging your inner-self.
Remember her? She’s your feel-good compass. She’s that butterfly feeling in your gut when you’re excited or embarking on something new: “Keep, going,” she whispers. Your inner-self lifts the mental load when you’re down and high-fives you when you’re doing awesome. But she’s also fragile, like a child. When you berate yourself for not doing (or doing) something she takes the hit too. And not to get too woo-woo on you here but Louise Hay does explain this best:
“It doesn’t matter how old you are, there is a little child within who needs love and acceptance…There is a parent inside each of us, as well as a child. And most of the time, the parent scolds the child—almost nonstop! If we listen to our inner dialogue, we can hear the scolding. We can hear the parent tell the child what it is doing wrong or how it is not good enough. We need to allow our parent to become more nurturing to our child.”
The message? More nurturing, less berating in the food and exercise dance. The routine needs to come from a place of respect and love for you and your body if you’re to motivate your life, not just your love-handles. Get-off the Instagram and Pinterest guilt trips. Where you are is just a point in time, it doesn’t define you. After all, you’ll do it when you’re ready.