November first, that’s when the tight squeeze in my chest starts. At first it’s just a little tingle but as the days roll by it grows like Ivy, twisting it’s way into my brain. That damn Ivy chokes the life out of everything, my workouts, my family time, my ability to maintain a spotless home…it wraps itself around every detail of my life. I know I am not alone and I know this because as the days and weeks roll by I see more clients wrapped up in the dreaded Ivy. They stop coming to training classes, they cancel private appointments, and they slip away unable to kill the pesky grip of Ivy’s obligations and expectations. The holiday’s…don’t ya love ‘em? I don’t mean to single out women but I find Ivy to be more of a woman’s weed than a mans. Ivy is anxiety out of control. Ivy is the by-product of trying to do it all and do it all perfectly in a span of time that is completely impossible. It’s hard enough to keep my life afloat without the added demands of gift buying, card writing, party planning and decorating the house to reflect the holiday cheer I so poorly lack. This is a reality for a lot of my female comrades and clients, and I want everyone to know I am on the same sinking ship. I knew I was in trouble when I showed up to coach a group class and asked my fellow trainer “ How do I look?” and he said, “ Worn out”. Uh-Ohhh…damn it! It’s hard enough to look fresh faced and be perky when your 54, clearly I am not pulling it off as well as I had hoped. So here it is:
For all of you who are excusing yourself from your fitness programs and have fallen head first off the nutrition wagon because Ivy has enveloped you like Saran Wrap…I get it. I am not Superwoman I don’t have shiny wrist things that reflect stress off with the flick of a bicep. I…am…a mortal…trainer. Let’s just say that while I am preaching about the benefits of kale and almond milk, I am not actually eating or drinking either of those in November or December with any regularity. Amy’s organic cheddar bunnies and chardonnay are far more medicinal for me than kale, almond milk or salmon will ever be. Doesn’t make it right…doesn’t actually help my cause to stay under 25% body fat…really doesn’t make my liver sing with joy either. But with every crunch and sip….Ivy loosens it’s grip…until I wake up the next day. Clearly cheddar bunnies and wine are a misplaced effort to regain some sense of calm. Bad habits don’t last in my life I am fortunate enough that I get sick of me way before cheddar bunnies become a pantry staple. As a mortal trainer maybe I can leave some wisdom for those of you struggling with guilt, stress, perfection and zero me time. And here it is:
One: You are not as important as you think you are. The earth probably won’t stop rotating on its axis because you choose to exercise for an hour rather than make sure [insert person who needs you] did not eat dinner at 5:00 pm. The earth most certainly will continue to spin if you say “No”. Putting yourself last in life really never works. You end up resentful, tired, bloated and empty. I think my family would rather have a happy, healthy me than a cranky me with chest pains in the Emergency Room. I guard my running and gym time like a fierce momma lion. Does it annoy people, yes. Is it inconvenient for people, yes. Is someone frequently trying to persuade me to skip it or change it, yes. Has everyone in my family come to the conclusion that the only way I will miss a run/workout is life or death events, yes. Women are notorious for putting themselves last, which might explain why so many women are depressed and overweight. This is my mantra on days when I am feeling overwhelmed by everyone’s needs that I can’t meet.
“ Get Over Yourself”. The more I dial OUT of my self importance the better able I am to dial IN to self preservation.
Two: Get over that ALL or NOTHING mentality. Yes, I have a thing for wine and cheddar bunnies but not at the expense of my lifetime effort to stay healthy and fit. Good nutrition and exercise just has to become “ that thing you do”. It’s not that thing you did last month and not this month. It’s not that thing you do for 6 weeks before your class reunion, it’s just that thing you do “most” of the time. Most is the keyword, nobody other than those fake fitness celebrities eats clean and never misses a workout in life. Well, I take that back there are people who exist like that and they are about as much fun as snowstorm in May. You missed 2 weeks…and next thing your saying to yourself well might as well round that out to a month! You ate like a Medieval King all week, doesn’t mean you might as well pillage the kingdom. Stop with the excuses. Yes you screwed up and refer to number One, Get Over Yourself. Because honestly at the end of the day it’s all what you allow and tell yourself.
Ivy…it’s a big huge choking weed. The more obligations you have the more insidiously it will creep into your life. Eventually you end feeling like you can’t do anything about …well anything! Stop…breath…pack your gym clothes and don’t second guess the importance of your decision to stay healthy. Stop…breath…push away foods whose quick feel good turns into feeling horrible even quicker. Exercise and good nutrition are better than any weed killer on the market. Remind yourself that fitness isn’t some trivial selfish activity, it’s the activity that keeps you whole and healthy.
It’s harsh…but your no good to anybody if you’re dead. And that’s my parting wisdom.