Friday, September 9, 2011

Choosing a (Healthy) Goal

Escali Bathroom ScaleIt's Wednesday morning. You wipe the sleep out of your eyes and stretch as you roll over to check the clock. Time for your weekly Wednesday morning weigh-in. A million things run through your mind. I shouldn't have had that extra slice of garlic bread with my spaghetti last night. Forget the bread, why did I eat the pasta? You take a deep breath...

We've all been there. The battle with the number that we see on the scale. Society puts unrealistic pressures on us to be a certain size, look a certain way, and reduce ourselves to a number. But what does that number really tell you? When you step on the scale, it doesn't tell you your muscle mass, or your BMI or any other healthy way of measuring your fitness. So why should a number constitute a fitness goal?

Let's forget numbers all together. As I started losing weight thanks to my healthier meal selections, I tried to make exercising fun for myself to speed up the process.

Sort of like this, but less 80s.

I'm a fairly competitive person, so my choice for a healthy goal was to complete a 5k. Now, before you give up at even the thought of running, you should know that when I made this goal for myself, I could not run much more than a quarter mile on the treadmill. I may not have been obese, but I certainly was not fit. I had asthma on top of that to boot. Nonetheless, a very dear friend of mine, who was training for a half marathon at the time, convinced me that I should give it a try.

There's a neat little program called the Couch to 5K (C25K) program designed to get people off the couch and running in as little as nine weeks. I highly recommend checking this out if you don't think you're capable of running. I've heard many people follow this program to great success.

Rather than following a program, I pushed myself to run more frequently on the treadmill at the gym. Even with the array of ceiling mounted televisions at my viewing disposal, this quickly became boring. Not to mention humid. I wanted to feel the pavement under my feet and the wind in my hair. And whoever said running should be a solo act? I'm not much of an independent. I prefer not to be alone. This is where FI comes in.

We made a joint decision to sign up for a 5k supporting the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. Our reasons were twofold: to get us motivated and to support an amazing cause.

We started running at least three times a week. We took our dog along with us to get him some much needed exercise as well, and he proved to really enjoy himself on these evenings. Having FI and the dog with me motivated me to push myself further than I would have alone and gave me someone to be accountable to. If I wanted to take a night off, there had to be a good excuse.

This is a habit we started well over two years ago, and we keep running today. Though not as much as I'd like with wedding planning. Nevertheless, we have made a commitment to run the Leatherneck race every year it comes around. That's motivation to stay fit every Spring. My goal each year is to beat my time from the last year.

So I suppose there's a few tips you should take away from this:
* Choose a fitness goal measured by how you feel, or something you can achieve, rather than by a number.
* Exercise with a friend; it'll motivate you to do more and hold you accountable.
* Make a long-term goal to make sure you can maintain this level of fitness and activity.

And oh, by the way, that number on the scale fell on its own without the added stress of checking it weekly.

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