As the saying goes, appearances can be deceiving. While I don’t look all that different than I did two years ago, the truth is that I’ve dropped the ball on my health and fitness. Not hugely but significant none the less. What happened? Complacency.
Five years ago, when I changed my life style from active ninja practitioner and teacher to full time writer, I did it conscientiously and with discipline because knew I would need to make adjustments and build new habits to keep me healthy and fit. I dropped some weight, purified my eating habits, and began a daily regime of power walks, mostly in the hills and always longer than eighty minutes. I stretched regularly, did mat work at night to maintain strength and agility, cut out chocolate (my addiction), limited white flour, and drank tons of water.
I felt energized, calm, and injury free. Then complacency set in.
Actually, I think it began with confidence. I felt so disciplined and healthy that I thought I could afford more frequent treats and less vigorous hikes. I went back to eating chocolate. This led to consuming more sugar and with that, more flour; because let’s face it, gluten free cookies and cakes just aren’t the same. At the same time, I was extremely productive. I polished one novel and finished another. I attended writers conferences, wrote a short story for an anthology, and traveled to Bali. I cared for ailing parents, endured my mother’s passing, and helped my father move to another town. I felt justified in cutting myself some slack.
As complacency crept in, my personal expectations lowered until I settled into a new and sloppier norm. I wasn’t slovenly by any means—after all, I’ve been an athlete all my life and have maintained that outward appearance. However on the inside, I was feeling the effects.
You can’t stop good habits and expect the same good results.
My body starting breaking down. I injured my hip flexor, which triggered a string of sympathetic injuries, and landed me in chronic pain. Those daily power hikes up the mountain trickled down to less frequent therapeutic strolls along the coast, with occasional bursts on pain-free days. My calm breathing tightened with anxiety that was likely caused (or significantly effected) by the increase of sugar and caffeine to which I’ve always been sensitive.
Being a mindful person, I usually pick up on these trends and straightened myself out. However I hadn’t accounted for the drama, trauma, and tremendous activity of the last eleven months.
Which brings me to my wake up call.
After a couple years of ever increasing sugar and ever decreasing exercise, I’ve crossed the line into alarming territory. Yep. Miss Health and Fitness bombs her glucose test. Not a failing grade by any means. Just enough to smack me in the face and wake me out of complacency.
So goodbye addictive chocolate and the excess sweets that (for me) inevitably follows. Hello more frequent, lengthy, and vigorous exercise. I’ll have to be smart with my back and hip so as not to inflame old injuries, but I suspect much of those problems were triggered by a loss of strength and aggravated by sporadic exertion. Just as poor habits can create negative cycles, a return to good habits will promote positive ones. Already, I feel stronger, calmer, and more energized.
Such is the power of perspective that everything else—commitment, discipline, enthusiasm—fall into place. The arduous becomes exciting. The difficult becomes easier. And health and fitness bring their own reward. What an empowering way to end the year.