I know, I know – it’s the end of the year and we’re all doing the retrospective thing, making (or vowing not to make) resolutions, letting the excitement of a new year build in our mind’s eye.
For some, that kind of circumscribed time feels like pressure and stress, a time to point out faults shown and wrongs done, to punish oneself for real and imagined transgressions, and to promise to do better.
Others think of time as a continuum, where the sweep of the clock matters only as a benchmark in the present moment.
Me, I’m not quite sure where I fall. Life is what you make it, as they say, and time can pass as quickly or as slowly as one chooses – so I’m always on the lookout for those little moments that make life worthwhile.
ANYWAY. Enough with the existentialism. The real point here is that I’ve hit one. A point, that is – several, in fact – this year. It seems like such an easy concept, but it is in no way simple:
It all boils down to choosing QUALITY OVER QUANTITY as often as possible.
1. I am now a trained yoga instructor and am leading beginning yoga classes on a regular basis. Where I once strove to ignore every intention inherent in the practice of yoga, I hope to guide people to let go of physical activity as punishment or conquest. It’s a process.
2. For two and a half years, I’d been struggling to keep weight off. Not a lot of weight, not backsliding, but it seemed the harder I worked out, the more calories I burned and the less I ate, the harder it was to maintain. So, I decided to go with quality over quantity, period. Heavier weights, less cardio, more stretching. No more terrible hunger, no more overtraining syndrome. I’ve gone from 15 running miles a week to maybe three, if I feel like running. I still do races, but they’re ones I truly enjoy. I still wear my HRM, but rarely look at the calorie counter – it’s to monitor my heart rate over time, period. Right now, my workouts look like this (and used to look like this):
Monday: Pilates, maybe a 2-3 mile run (Cycling or hard run, Water “Insanity”)
Tuesday: 45 minutes circuit training focused on functional movement (90 minutes of high-intensity circuits)
Wednesday: Pilates or rest (Hard 3 mile run or cycling)
Thursday: Circuit training & gentle yoga (Circuit training & cycling/running)
Friday: Cycling (Cycling & hard run or high-intensity intervals)
Saturday: Rest (8-10 mile run, 90 minutes of vinyasa yoga)
Sunday: Traditional lifting & gentle yoga (5 mile run)
You can imagine how much more time I have, and how much more energy, too.
3. At this point, I’ve been able to stop tracking my food intake without worrying about creeping weight gain. Once I quit punishing myself with exercise, allowing my body to rebuild lean muscle in order to burn calories, my hunger abated almost overnight. I lost eleven pounds and a clothing size in two weeks; my stomach is nicely toned(!). And I’ve continued to maintain during the holidays – cutting a few calories here and there in order to enjoy portions of my favorite foods. Quality is NOT shoveling down dry sugar cookies just because they’re there. (Eating Brie en croute, however…)
4. Choosing quality over quantity has seeped into my personal life as well. No, I’ve not cut anyone out of my life; on the contrary, I’ve started to allow more people into my over-cluttered world. Instead of forcing relationships or forcibly letting them go, I’ve invited people to join me during my day to day routine or joined theirs. Things like asking a friend to help inventory dishes, giving us a few hours to catch up (rather than an hour over coffee before I have to go over and take care of this time-intensive task alone), or taking time to join friends on a leisurely hike (rather than trying to make up for “lost miles” on another day). If other folks are too busy, or not busy enough to bother, I don’t sweat it. I say hi more, engage with acquaintances more and let people’s little quirks slip on by.
It’s a process of realization – to finally see that there is no magical crossroad of health, growth and happiness – these roads begin to converge into one if you manage to get on one of these positive pathways. You can’t prevent growth if you’re focused on health, you can’t avoid joy if you seek to grow, and your health will never suffer from being happy.
May happiness, health and growth be yours!