If I had my druthers (By the way, druthers is a great word. Feel free to use it as often as you’d like. In fact, consider it your word WOD. As many druthers as you can work into a conversation. For time. … But I digress.), upon entering this world, I would have been handed a “How to Survive Life” manual, that among useful get-rich-quick tips, would have contained an eating and exercising plan that I could use for my whole life.
But obviously, that didn’t happen. Not only do I have to figure out most of life all by myself, but I also had to figure out how to eat and when to eat and what to eat and how much to eat and then when to exercise and how to exercise and how much to exercise … You get the idea.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, when I decided it was time to lose weight, I started by eliminating refined carbs and by walking about four times a week. When I eventually plateaued, I joined Weight Watchers and joined a gym. And then of course, this year, which has morphed into more maintaining my weight or shooting for those last five to 10 pounds, I joined CrossFit and started eating paleo/primal.
At each step along this long, often tear-my-hair-out-in-frustration journey, I have learned an incredible amount. About food and exercise, obviously, but also about myself and my body and what works and what doesn’t. When I first started losing weight, I had no idea how many calories I was suppose to consume or about portion control. I learned about that through Weight Watchers. While I did Weight Watchers, I didn’t really realize how much processed junk I was eating — even if it was “low cal.” I learned about that through the paleo diet.
The same goes for exercising. When I started, I didn’t know what to do. All I knew was that I could walk. So that’s what I did. (As a side note, I still love to walk and maintain that walking is probably one of the best exercises you can do. I love CrossFit, but walking makes me feel holy. Don’t ask why. And yes, I know that sounds weird. Just deal with it.) Anyway, eventually I learned about the importance of lifting weights and how to do so properly. Through CrossFit, I learned I could ramp up my heart rate to previously unknown highs for about 20 minutes or so and mostly not die afterward.
While reading Mark’s Daily Apple recently, I came across the most useful piece of advice I’d ever learned about this whole process: what works today may not work tomorrow. Whether it’s losing weight or lifting weights, you can’t always take the same approach and be successful. You have to adapt. You have to be open to change. And you have to accept that frustration is a part of all of this. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to lose 10 pounds, gain 10 pounds of muscle or lift 10 more pounds.
But honestly, that’s what’s exciting about all of this. There’s always another exercise to try or a new twist on an movement you thought you mastered. In terms of eating, there are billions of recipes to try and new research coming out every day that tells us the best way to eat. Sure, it can lead to information overload, but once you master the basics, you can learn what to filter out and what to keep.
And if nothing else, you can always go for a walk.