When Fitness Becomes A Habit

Strange things happen: difficult things become easier; effort becomes habit.  I no longer smoke, nor drink alcohol or soda. At first, these changes seemed impossible and the withdraw symptoms, even from Diet Coke, were difficult.  Yet I have learned how to deal with cravings, how to walk through them to the other side and today I am a healthier and better person for it.  The thought of smoking or drinking rarely crosses my mind and if it does, I have enough experience to handle them without succumbing.  It has become somewhat of a non issue. The same is happening with lethargy and inactivity.

We travelled for two weeks during the holidays and visited with my husband’s family in the northeast. I’ve heard some nightmare stories about holidays and in-laws but I don’t have any. Luckily, I really do love Joe’s family.

What's not to love about good food and great company?

What’s not to love about good food and great company?

Yet I was off my routine.  I am in running season with the Miami Marathon up next.  I am fundraising for my son’s seven year old friend, Brianna, who needs a heart transplant. This would keep me committed and while travelling I had plans to at least get out and run, and maybe catch a spinning class or two at the local YMCA.

But it was cold, especially for a Miami girl like me.  The first run I did was 4.5 miles in Vermont with 26 degrees.  My hands froze to the point they hurt when I came inside, I thawed them in tepid water and it stung.  The other days were even colder and I was not about to venture outside again.  In fact, even when it snowed and my kids went out to play, I had no desire to join them. I had freeze PTSD.  I did do a 15-mile run in New York at 30 degrees and another 10-miler in New Jersey at 28 degrees.  Neither felt good but at least I got them done.  That was the extent of my physical activity for two weeks.

Brrr. 10 miles in under 30 degrees

Brrr. 10 miles in under 30 degrees

The thing is, I missed moving.  I realize everyone needs a break, a vacation from their routine, and that is all fine and good, but by the end I was itching to get back to my pace of life.  I felt I needed to be outside more, I missed going to sleep with a dead tired body, I missed the sweat.

And so I realized … this is now my lifestyle.  My fitness is no longer something that I must struggle to do but it is who I am.  It’s a habit.  As if I gave up my long term lethargy vice.

This gives me hope that the changes I am making to my nutrition today, will also eventually become a habit.   Maybe one day I will even choose hummus and carrots over a chocolate chip cookie without considering it a sacrifice; I will not want the cookie.  Though I have to say that sounds pretty absurd right now.

The dawn of a new me!

The dawn of a new me!

In fact, my mind set is still one of an unhealthy eater.  One of the reasons I signed up for Ironman was to lose weight and I discovered that is a stupid reason to do it.   You burn thousands of calories training, consequently you are constantly hungry and must refuel.  I didn’t eat wisely during my journey, I felt entitled to treats because, well, I earned them.  My hope is that if I do another Ironman, I will have gone through this eating habit change, I will be at or near my #SixPackMami goal and I won’t be eating a burger and milkshake after a 100 mile ride because that won’t make me feel good.  I won’t feel entitled to it because it’s no longer what I like.

Yet right now I am facing this reality: as much as I missed moving, getting back to it doesn’t feel as good as I would like.  In fact, my first run back this morning was ridiculously slow, even for a slow runner like myself.  And I biked next to some of my Wolfpack teammates and fell pathetically behind.  But it felt great to be out there: clothes drenched in sweat and a sore body in the shower.

And next week I will be re-evalutad on  my #SixPackMami challenge with Mandy from Fitness Together Miami. I was totally on target until our trip where our hosts where amazing cooks, and had a knack for deserts (my downfall).  At this point, I am hoping for a net positive change and will try not to be disappointed by the slowness of the process.

It took me three years to have exercise be an integral and natural part of my life; something I miss doing if I am away for too long.  It will take more than five weeks for my eating habits to come into alignment.  The only difference is that now I have proof that stranger things have happened.



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