Balancing Act

normal_walk_1Jogging is one of the lifestyle changes that I referred to in my blog a couple of weeks ago.  I have tried to start running several times in my life, but I was never successful.  I’ve always figured it’s because my body is designed for strength, not speed.

Before she moved away, a colleague had twice worked us through a “couch to 5k” program after school.  Twice, I gave it a shot  — even when I had plantar fasciitis in my left foot.  I just wrapped and padded it up, and then stretched out really well afterward.  The pain actually went away during the program.  The second time, I was battling a sore knee.  I quit running at the  end of the program.  I blamed it on the pain, but I really think I wasn’t ready to make the lifestyle change.

Last summer (2011), I tried starting the couch to 5k program on my own.  I was almost 250 pounds, but I figured if I took 9 months instead of 9 weeks, I’d be ok.  I was into my second month when I got plantar fasciitis in my right foot and had to quit.  I spent the fall, winter, and spring moping and not doing much physically.

I went to see an orthopedic doctor this past summer (2012), and he very quickly was able to determine that my gait, largely due to my high arches, was the root cause of my issues.  I took it upon myself to improve my gait and to purchase better footwear.  The pain subsided quickly.

About this same time, a friend invited me to walk with her occasionally.  Suddenly, I was remembering why I gave myself plantar fasciitis in the first place!  This was fun!  I loved the feel of my body moving, I loved being outside in the fresh air,  I loved the nature trails around town, and I loved that I kept feeling good long after the walk was over.  I was hooked again,.

When the school year started back up, I kept a promise to myself to walk to work as many days a week as I could (weather and early-morning meetings can be a problem).  Walking wasn’t enough, so I started pushing myself to run.  I put some podcasts from Podrunner.com on my phone, stuck my bluetooth in my ear, and set a goal of running farther before I took a break to walk, as well as a little faster each week.  I noticed that a side effect seemed to be eating less and making healthier choices.

The end result is that I’m feeling good, the weight is coming off, and I’m looking a lot better.  In fact, I’m starting to get a lot of compliments about it.  So many, that it created a problem I never saw coming.

 Losing my Focus

The compliments must have really gone to my head.  I started focusing on improving my weight loss, which hasn’t been all that significant over the past 4 months.  I began to monitor my food choices even more.  I made this crazy decision to push myself in all areas of my life to see how far I could go until “I hit the wall.”

It backfired pretty quickly.  Without realizing what I was doing, I started sabotaging my diet.  I went back to my old habits of coming home, snacking on the highest carb foods I could find, and sitting behind the computer “catching up” every evening.  I couldn’t control my cravings for starches.

Within a week, I noticed the change in my patterns and began to wonder what was happening.  That’s when I noticed how physically and mentally drained I was, and especially that none of these things that I was doing were any fun anymore.  I had no joy in all of these positive changes.

An LDS Perspective

As a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I know that I should be working hard to take care of my body and my responsibilities.  However, I am also supposed to have some balance.

We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives. (Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best,” October 2007 General Conference)

Remember, too much of anything in life can throw us off balance. (M. Russell Ballard, “Keeping Your Life in Balance,” Liahona, September 2012)

Life by the yard is hard; by the inch it’s a cinch. (Thomas S. Monson, “Believe, Obey, Endure,” 2012 General Young Women’s Meeting)

Finding My Balance

Even when “doing my duty,” I have a strong need to have fun.  The older I get, the more I believe that life needs to be enjoyed.  In fact, I owe my two girls an apology for not making things more fun when they were younger — it might have made a real difference in our home.

Perhaps because I am becoming more sure of myself, I think a part of my psyche rebelled and decided that, if it’s not going to be fun, I’m not going to do it.  I started jogging because I liked it — because it brings me joy.  When I started pushing myself toward weight loss and other goals, it wasn’t fun anymore.

Taking time with my son is fun.  The things I do that nourish me spiritually bring me joy.  I am at peace when I am spending time with my fiance.  I love the rush I get from accomplishing things like cleaning the house.  I may do some of these things because they need to be done, but I get through them because I feel joy and satisfaction.

So, the next time I find myself emotionally worn out and unwilling to keep trying, I know to start looking for the fun!