Jan 10, 2014

Run (and eat well) with Perseverance

My run this afternoon turned out to be quite meditative and enlightening.  About 10 minutes into each run, my thoughts turn inward and focus exactly on the present moment as I mentally complete my running form checklist:  cadence, footfalls, posture, arm swing, breathing.  And repeat.  And repeat.  I've done this for so long it's become almost subconscious.  It is during this time that I've received some of my most profound insight. I'm not saying this is one of those times, but the thought really brought a sense of peace and satisfaction to a day where I felt I was falling short of my nutrition goals.  Surprising how all that feeling was contained in only one word:  perseverance.
 For those of you who run or do any sort of endurance activity, have you noticed the first few minutes into the exercise are nearly excruciating on body and mind?  The beginning of a run is always hardest on me just about every single time.  It's like my mind becomes two-years old and is shouting, "No!  I don't want to!  I want to play and watch my show and eat candy!"  But there I go again, hopping onto the treadmill (or onto the road depending on circumstance) in spite of the mental protesting.  About  10 minutes into a run, the anguish turns to euphoria.  I hit that sweet spot, whether I'm completing speed work or an easy run.  And that sweet spot continues until I reach the limit of my fitness on that particular day.  But my mind doesn't always turn back to the protesting.  Instead, I tell myself all sorts of "you can do it" mantras.  At that point, I begin competing with myself and I want to do better than the previous workout.  Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't, but I usually end up satisfied with my effort.  To get to that sweet spot though, I have to persevere through the hard part.

It's the same with nutrition.  After I've fallen off the healthful eating wagon and am trying to get back on, I find it near impossible to turn down those decadent desserts, succulent sweets, or fast food french fries.  The craving is so intense I feel as if I can almost make a McDonald's Big Mac meal materialize in front of my eyes.  Sure, I give in at first....a lot.  But as I exert more self-control and mindfully make healthful eating decisions, it soon becomes second nature within a week or two.  The cravings turn from sugar and grease to fresh produce and lean protein.  Fast food dinners become homemade feasts.  And then it seems all of a sudden I go from feeling sluggish, tired, and lazy to feeling fit, energetic, and productive.  Yet again, to reach the healthful-lifestyle groove I must persevere through the hard part.

It all comes down to perseverance.  Persevere through the pain.  Persevere through the cravings.  Persevere through the physical and mental discomfort.  With all this persevering I soon find I've conquered my weaknesses and achieved my goals.

This doesn't just apply to fitness and nutrition, but to everything and every trial and every hardship encountered.  When things seem difficult and impossible to complete, persevere a bit longer.  Cast off anything that is dragging you down and tell yourself not only that you will do it, but that you are doing it!  Sure you may stumble and make mistakes, but the task will seem easier and the burden lighter.  The work is ofttimes the same, but your capacity to bear it and succeed will have grown.

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