Autumn Runs and Freedom from “Dieting”

How the heck did it get to be October already?  So far, we have been granted the most glorious Washington October I can recall.  The mornings have been crisp and chilly, with glorious sunshine that slowly warms up as the day rolls on.  By afternoon, it’s in the low 70’s and then the evening brings the chill again which is great for a warm dinner and snugly blankets (and early bedtimes).

I skipped out on the toddler music class and stroller fitness both days this week because I just could not stand to let these beautiful fall mornings slip away without enjoying them. So, I loaded the girls in the stroller and hit the road at Point Defiance Park each morning, allowing the girls a peaceful snooze in the old growth forests as I worked my way around 5 mile drive.  Speaking of which, I seem to be adding a few minutes to my time each week.   All of us are getting bigger–Jen’s girls, me, and the sweet potato in my belly.  I’m learning to let go and be okay with slow.

Wanting to give myself a little running break yesterday, I did some gentle prenatal yoga and then went to the pool for the first time since we left Korea.  I admit I was nervous.  Bathing suit?  Cold water?  Busy pool?  As it turned out, it wasn’t so bad.   The pool was sooooo clean and calm compared the one I swam at in Korea.  No one yelled at me in Korean to put the kicky board away, and I had a lane to myself the entire time!

This leads to what I’ve been thinking about in terms of health and diet.  In high school and college I did lots of stupid diets.  I’ve discusses before, my disordered eating habits from the past and how unhealthy they were for both my mind and my body. My view of food has COMPLETELY changed in the last 10 years.  I believe I have a much more balanced/holistic approach to eating and thinking about food.   Some people might argue that my food choices and beliefs have become more “extreme”–slowly cutting out animal products and eliminating, as much as possible, “gunk” from my diet.  People also might view my eating habits as “restrictive” and limiting but what I have discovered is that my choice to eat a plant based diet has actually been the most liberating food choice I could make.

Here’s why.  When I was struggling with food and body, I would try all these different “diets”– restricting calories, not eating this or that, not eating past a certain time…etc. etc.  I usually made room for a “cheat” during the week.   I would stick to a strict eating plan and workout plan 6 days a week and the other day I would be lazy as hell and eat whatever I wanted–usually stuff I had been daydreaming about all freakin’ week.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with eating a treat and relaxing from time to time.  But when we start eating wholesome foods–mostly if not all plants–we find that we don’t need to build a cheat day into our plan.  I eat what I want, when I want it. As you ween yourself off animal products and processed foods, your body doesn’t want that stuff anymore.  I don’t remember the last time I felt “deprived”.  I eat plenty of treats, especially being pregnant, but most of them are made from whole foods–homemade banana ice cream, homemade peach crisp, occasional dark chocolate…

The other aspect of the “cheat” days that I use to have is that I would take the day off from exercising.  From time to time, I do have a day when I don’t do any extra working out.  I don’t run every day most weeks and some days, like yesterday, I do yoga and swim for 30 minutes.  Trying to view exersise not as torture but as joyful movement changes how you feel about it and your body!  So it’s your “day off” of whatever training program you happen to be on–so move your body in a more gentle way that you really really enjoy!  Garden, swim, go for a long stroll, ride your bike JUST FOR FUN, do some gentle yoga…this will do so much more for you that sitting on couch eating food that will probably make you feel yucky–both physically and emotionally.  It’s called active recovery and it is so much better for your mind and body that being a lump!  Save your “lump” days for when you are sick or just not feeling well.

In summary, the biggest game changers for me have not been about a dietary change or exercise plan but rather about morphing the way I think about food and movement in relationship to my body and mind.  This happened learning more about food and pushing my body to new limits physically (long distance running).

What have been your biggest breakthroughs in your journey with food and exercise?

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