Taking a break

One of the hardest things about making life changes is staying on task. I mean, realistically, I need to stay on task for the rest of my life, and there are days—which can easily turn into weeks—that I just can’t manage it.

Writing this column adds a layer of stress to that, because not only do I feel I need to stay on task, but then I have to write about it, too. It creates a weird feedback loop where I just feel like avoiding the whole thing.

Still, I feel it’s important to write during the times I’m not “getting it done” to the standard I expect of myself, because in life there is an ebb and flow, and because falling off and getting back on the horse is part of the process, too.

Like any long-term endeavor, working toward better health and fitness means pacing is crucial to avoid burning out.

To that end, during those times when I just can’t muster the gumption to get it all done, I give myself permission to take a break. The trick is not to move in and live there.

My basic strategy when getting exercise and eating right becomes a struggle is to find a thread to hold onto, so I don’t let everything go. That, and taking my break with an eye on the clock, so that it doesn’t turn into an extended slack-o-rama.

Another important aspect is my No. 1 rule: No beating myself up.

This past week, I’ve been concentrating on having fun moving my body around. The kickboxing class I’ve been attending was called off two weeks in a row and I haven’t been to the gym in ages. But when my grandson said to me, “You know what we haven’t done in a really long time? Crazy dancing! Let’s do some crazy dancing!” you can bet this grandma hopped up and danced like there was no tomorrow with that happy child. We both worked up a sweat and I was still smiling about it hours later.

In recent weeks, I’ve found time for swimming and walking, dancing and the odd home workout. So it hasn’t been a total loss, I just haven’t gotten in the four or five times a week that I want to get some serious exercise.

So that’s one thread I cling to: having fun while moving my body around. Another is keeping my diet as “clean” as I can.

I’ve read recently that there is a new eating disorder, where people become so obsessed with “clean eating” that, like anorexia or bulemia, avoiding this, that or the other thing deemed unacceptable to eat takes over their lives. I don’t mean anything like that.

What clean eating means to me is simply to eat whole foods I prepare myself as much as possible, avoiding processed foods. I’m not perfect at that and I don’t try to be. I simply strive to make sure that the majority of my diet is plant-based, homemade, and nutritious.

The last thing I work on is mental. I don’t want to be one of those people who thinks about nothing else but what I eat, whether or not I exercised today, and what my body looks like. Recently I was approached in the post office by someone who said they know I’m “always trying to lose weight.” Ugh. I’m not always trying to lose weight, and if that’s the takeaway you get from this column, I have not communicated effectively.

The title is somewhat ironic; I’m losing it as the double meaning of losing weight (or inches) and losing my marbles over it all. This has more to do with my busy schedule and the struggle of prioritizing my own health and wellbeing in the face of it.

I know this is a struggle that many people share. Aren’t we all over-scheduled, over-stressed, and searching for ways to strike a balance? Seems everyone I meet, men and women alike, feel this.

Keep dancing, keep celebrating, and remember that my health and quality of life long-term are what it’s all about. Take a break if you need one. Then pick yourself up and get back on that horse.

Do you allow yourself a break in your health and fitness routine, or is it a non-negotiable for you? Contact me at 505-286-1212 or leota@lobo.net, or find my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!” I’d love to hear from you.