Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Own It (Don't Earn It)

Let me ask you a question....

Are you planning a Day-Before-Thanksgiving-Killer-Workout?  Maybe you've already done one?

That's awesome- I think in as far as recovery days, Thanksgiving is probably one of the best strategies.  All the protein and carbs will repair your fatigued body and will probably set you up for some massive progress in the days following.

But here's the thing....  did you tell yourself you're doing this workout so you can earn your feast?  You want pumpkin pie, so you're going to log an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill.  Gluten free rolls?  That's an extra 50 burpees.  And the mashed potatoes and gravy.... those are totally worth starving yourself leading up to the meal.

In fact, you've planned your dinner mitigating workouts down to the calorie.  That turkey doesn't stand a chance against you.

You've earned it.

Whoa.  Whoa  Whoa.  Let's slow down a minute.

From where I'm standing, you've turned your feast into a one way ticket to crazy town.

You probably know from experience that one meal will not make you fat, just like one meal will not make you lean.  Your body composition is directly related to long term habits, not a mega meal with your friends and family.

Approaching Thanksgiving, or any holiday for that matter, with the "I've earned it" mentality inevitably creates guilt and anxiety.  This is supposed to be a meal filled with joy, love, and thanks.

Additionally, the "earning it" mentality is a slippery slope.  Today you're trading pie for burpees.  Tomorrow you're trading ice cream for stationary bike sprints, bread for kettlebell swings, and cake for miles on the trail.  Before you know it, you're on a never ending treadmill with a pay-to-play mentality for nutritionally devoid food.

And if you're feeling pretty bad about yourself now, I am just going to kick you while you're down....  Watch your daughters, because they are watching you.  It's totally acceptable to teach your children to eat right and move well, but this behavior will associate food with guilt and anxiety, which has a high probability of turning into disordered eating down the road.

So, now that I've ruined your entire season, what to do?

Here's a thought....

Own It.

Instead of excusing away every bite you take, approach it as if you have complete control of what you are putting in your mouth.  Because newsflash....  you do.

Recognize that every forkful you eat of ANY food has a serious implication on your body.  It could turn you into a super hero or a trench dwelling fun sucker.  Appreciate the good food for the nutritive value.  Respect the bad food for keeping you sane.

You know how your body works better than anyone.  I know I need a high fat, high protein breakfast or else I run out of energy by 11am.  I know that my homemade Kombucha is like deploying reinforcements for my immune system.  And a sweet potato for dinner helps me kick it into high gear for a 5:30am workout.

I also know that sometimes I need some frozen custard to nourish my soul.  I can promise you that I am under no illusion that I've earned it.  Even if I do 50 extra burpees, the spike in insulin is still going to keep me from my goals.  And exactly how have I earned my place is a super wealthy, free country with frozen custard stands on every corner?  And down the slippery slope I go...

Nourishing your body can come from nutrients from food, regeneration from sleep, and the (occasional) indulgence of frozen custard.  But feeling guilty about it can block that benefit.  And then we're none the better.

Own It.

You can approaching Thanksgiving one of three ways.

You can follow a strict set of rules to make sure you don't feel guilty meanwhile making yourself crazy and everyone around you feel bad.

You can go gangbusters and eat every yummy morsel in sight, but hit the hay that night feeling defeated.  Only to get up the next day and kill yourself at the gym trying to work it off.

Or you can respect your food.  Give thanks to the farmer who raised it, your mother-in-law who cooked it, and your nieces who fill the whole day with smiles.  Give thanks that you are off work, with family, in warm house with a table full of food.  Stop balancing your caloric checkbook and enjoy the moment.  Then the next day, get back on your plan and hit it hard at the gym to make progress towards becoming a better person.

Stop Earning It.


Own It.  


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What Are You Voting For?

In case you missed all the mailers, calls, and yard signs, election day has come and gone.

Did you vote?  I did.  I even have the super cool sticker to prove it.

I love the fact that I get to vote.  But even so, watching another round of campaigns has me thinking...

Do you sometimes feel like the act of voting creates disengaged citizens?  

Hear me out on this.  

When I vote, I contribute to the democratic machine.  If something goes wrong, it’s not my fault because I cast my ballot for a minuscule percentage of the population to own my well-being.  And when things get messed up, it’s their fault.  Not mine. 

Does this line of thinking sound familiar?  I don’t want to admit it, but I’ve thought it and I would bet you have too.  It's embarrassing because the democratic machine only operates optimally when citizens regularly engage, not just once every one, two, or four years.

So here's my question.

Does this sound like something you've done with your health? 

I think if we’re being honest, the answer is yes.  

At some point, we have relied on a pill to regulate blood sugar or manage inflammation.  We put our health into the hands of food marketers and fry cooks for the sake of time.  We drank countless diet drinks, slim down shakes, or protein sugar bombs in the name of getting skinny. 

Inevitably, it’s “leaked” that those things are all bad for us.  And we get angry.  We get angry at Big Pharma.  We get angry at the food industry.  We get angry at lobbyists, CEOs, and politicians lining their pockets. 

But don’t you think we should take some of the blame? 

Make no mistake, I am not making excuses for these folks.  I think the current state of our food system is appalling and the groups listed above are a big cause. 

I’m all for calling them to the carpet to take responsibility.  But even more so, I am for personal responsibility. 

Any time we give up control and rely on a product or service we do not or cannot source, we are essentially releasing liability for our own well being. 

I recognize we don’t all have the ability to raise chickens or cultivate an organic veggie farm in our backyard.  I've shared my thoughts in the past on how to be good at being local, but don't get overwhelmed.  You most likely know your biggest opportunity for taking your health into your own hands.  It could be cooking more of your own meals, buying some more organic fare, or cutting out sugary drinks.  

If everyone makes small changes, the food industry will respond.  Change doesn't have to be drastic.  Progress. even when slow, is still progress.  

Let’s pick up our forks, our favorite recipe, and carve out some time in the kitchen.  Don’t worry about who else is doing what.  Forget about miracle products and shortcuts.  We all know that the places worth being are the hardest to get to.