I remember watching cartoons as a kid when one of those public service announcements came on declaring, ‘you are what you eat.’ I was shocked and even frightened, could it be that I was really made up of hot dogs? I recall thinking about the Salisbury steak they served at the cafeteria and wondering if it was still in me. It was the first time I actually thought about what I ate and I should have given it more thought as I got older. Instead I spent my high school years living on cheeseburgers and shakes and my college years living on beer and pasta. It was true, I was what I ate. I was a bit of meat wrapped in a pasty white, doughy bun of a body filled with fat. Pasty white and doughy (and sometimes drunk) is no way to go through life. I could have done better.
The diet gurus change their particular suggestions weekly but the theme remains the same; eat a variety of foods, eat everything –good and bad – in moderation, get out and get some exercise as often as you can. I suggest limiting your eating to items that are either delicious or nutritious. It sounds crazy but I’ve noticed a lot of what we eat is filler and eaten either out of boredom or for social reasons.
When it comes to exercise, Nike said it best in the 80’s, “Just Do It.” It can be anything you want it to be; walking, jogging, running, swimming, biking, baseball, basketball, football, golf, tennis, lacrosse or all of the above. As a matter of fact, like diet, a wide variety of exercise, done in moderation is the best.
Exercise is like a brutally honest friend; the relationship will develop and change over time, it will always give you direct and honest feedback and if you leave it, you will miss it. Your relationship with exercise will require you to change and evolve. What feels good today might be too painful tomorrow and you will have to change. Try to develop a relationship with exercise that is steady not mercurial and learn some exercises that you can do your whole life, not just ones you can do today.
I hate to exercise but I love the effects. So I trick myself into exercising. If I am supposed to be headed to the gym I tell myself that I all I have to do is drive to the gym parking lot and if I don’t want to go in then I don’t have to. Usually I go in, but sometimes I have to trick myself into going in to the gym so I tell myself, ‘just go in and you can quit at any time during the workout.’ Ninety five percent of the time, I finish the workout and 100% of the time I am glad I went and I feel good about it.
Even if you are a professional athlete you have to develop a long term relationship with exercise. I would even suggest having separate exercise time away from your work out time. When you are a pro or even an enthusiast, like someone who does triathlons, you are combining your exercise time with your work time or your hobby time. This can be a dangerous proposition as an injury directly effects your sources of happiness and money and could lead to emotional and mental consequences. Avoid this by developing a relationship with, not a dependence on, exercise; your brutally honest friend that you can’t live without.