And so was the feeling of relief.
Let me tell you what I mean...
For the weeks that followed that December 2 night, I gave myself permission to relax a little bit. I eased up on my exercise routine. I cheated on my food a little bit more than I had in the two years prior. I gave myself the space to live life a little bit more freely than I had before, and in some ways, I was subconsciously 'testing' the idea of what my new 'normal' in life would be like. I was testing whether or not I could trust myself to live my life in a little bit less of a regimented way, and in many ways, I was testing just how slippery the slope back into an unhealthy lifestyle would be.
I learned that my slope wasn't very slippery at all. It's got lots of traction. The past two years have given me tremendous traction in the form of good eating, exercise and mindfulness practices that have helped me not only to be successful, but more importantly, to truly transform my way of being in the world. And it felt fantastic to know that I had not only the knowledge, but also the willpower to know what it takes to 'never go back'.
But what's been interesting, is that over the months that have followed, in spite of not going back, I don't necessarily feel like I've moved very far forward.
Early in the new year, Sebastien and I sat down to define some new goals for the year ahead. One of those goals was to weigh 200 pounds in time for my 600km bike ride to Montreal. This was a very achievable goal... I had given myself 6.5 months to lose another 35 pounds. Given what I had accomplished in the years before, I thought it would be easy. Sebastien warned me that these last 35 would likely be the hardest... but I didn't believe him. I mean, I had the skills. I had the knowledge. How could I not achieve the goal?
I'm not sure I had convinced myself that I wanted to actually achieve it.
You see, in the past four months, my weight hasn't changed very much. Well, it has changed quite a bit... all within the same 10-pound zone. I've gained. I've lost. I've gained, and lost again. And even though I know... cognitively... that the number on the scale isn't the only indication of my success, I can't help but now realize that it's really starting to get me down.
And it's not like I don't have an explanation for why it's happening.
It's happening because I feel like I've been really dragging my feet for the past few months.
Because I'm tired. I'm really really tired.
In fact, I think I'm a little bit exhausted.
A lot has gone on in the past four months..
- I became a certified indoor cycling instructor.
- I've started teaching regular spinning classes.
- I've started leading a small but mighty weekly running group
- I hosted a really successful fundraiser for the bike rally with my friend Jonathan.
- I wrote my comprehensive exam for my PhD (and passed).
- I ran the Mercedes-Benz Oakville 10k road race in a time of 1:01:45, in 5 degree weather, pouring rain and 25-30km headwinds.
- Six days later, I ran the Toronto Sporting Life 10k in 57:45:00 in 19 degree weather, 98 percent humidity, and even stopped for a moment at the 7km mark to pay my respects to a fellow participant who was on the receiving end of full chest compressions from a heart attack.
- I've even had my first sports injury (bruised carpals in my left hand) from kickboxing.
And one of the things I've learned about myself is that when I start to get off track... it's easy for me to veer far off the track... and struggle to get back on again. So, in spite of still working hard at the gym, and running lots, my food has been the pits. I told Sebastien on Wednesday night that I couldn't remember the last time I ate a salad. I hadn't put raw broccoli in my system for weeks (although I had 4 cups with dinner tonight... steer clear of me.... I'm a bit gassy). And for the first time in 2 years, he looked me directly in the eyes and said nothing.
The look said it all.
Kind of like one of those looks only your Mom can give you.
But this one came from my trainer.
This look said:
Chris, you can do better.
Chris, you know you should do better.
Chris, you deserve better.
And it's interesting, because I've had that look etched in my mind for the past two nights. Yes, it's helping me get back on track, but I have to realize that getting back is going to take a bit of time. I can't jump whole-hog into my old (intense) regime. Because the pace and intensity of the past two years is still fatiguing me. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally.
I wish it were easier for me to just get away. To escape for a little while and take a breather. But I feel like that's what I've been doing for the past few months. I've relaxed a lot. I've discovered the joys of Cold Stone Creamery Ice Cream. I've been eating out... a lot. And I've developed a taste for a cold pint of Blanche de Chambly beer. So yes, I'm living life. But I'm a bit unreconciled about doing so. Because I'm not feeling as great as I used to feel. Yes, I still train like a maniac... but my feet are dragging because the food I'm consuming is not fueling my body or my mind in the ways that I need it to.
All that said, tonight, I am recommitting myself to getting back on track. My friend Sammie Kennedy has issued a challenge to followers of her blog, and participants in her boot camp programs through BootyCamp Fitness. And I think I'll follow along...
I'm giving up:
- refined sugar
- one LARGE salad into my eating plan every day
and I'm going to promise both Sebastien and Sammie that I will do 3 minutes of belly breathing EACH and EVERY day. (Sammie's challenge only requires one minute, but I know that 3 minutes works better for me). If you don't know what belly breathing is, check out Sammie's video. It's an incredibly easy way to deepen your core workout and complement all of the other great things you should do to work your abdomen. I swear... when I do my belly breathing correctly, I feel that abdominal burn in such a wonderfully intense way.
And that's what I'm going to do to get back into the game. Why? Because Sammie is doing the same thing as she prepares for her upcoming fitness competition, and she works out just as (if not harder) than I do. And also because it's what I know I should do to be feeling better about myself. I know that when I eat right, am active, and feel that deep burn in my core (from an ab workout, not from a plate of nachos, LOL!) that I feel fantastic.
So I know what I have to do.
Now, i just have to do it.
And I'm going to stop dragging my feet.