By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
January 7, 2016
Depression used to be a regular occurrence for me in my life. I say “used” because even though I deal with some bouts of sadness, it is not the unending pit of despair I used to experience on a daily basis. The anger wasn’t quite as prevalent and the sadness wasn’t overwhelming. The most derisive feeling though was my negativity, which poured out like a faucet much of the time and made me into quite the monster with just about anyone I knew. I was kind of lucky to know they still liked me enough to invite me out and stuff, even though a lot of the time I blew them off to gorge myself with food and stay up late watching cartoons on Adult Swim. Yeah, I was quite the winner back in those days. I think for the most part, I was just extremely moody and temperamental, trying to figure out ways to stay upright each day as I worked my body harder than it was capable of handling. My lashing out was particularly due to the pain in legs or the pain in my back, whichever was hurting more that day. That was my life during those days, for I often times wondered when the relief would come. This is why I always consider my old eating habits as an addiction, not an eating disorder. There is not a huge difference in the two, for I knew I could stop eating whenever I needed to, for there were several days when I would eat nothing during the day and survive all the way to dinner. Sure, I used this as an excuse to gorge myself even more at night, but sometimes it was due to money flow, and the stress by the end of the day certainly needed relief because I was running low on my fix. If I truly had an eating disorder, the sky is the limit in regards to how heavy I could have gotten. It’s not entirely inconceivable that I could have reached “reality show” heavy, being some random guy in a bed that has to have his door expanded in hopes of just getting out of the house.
At this time of year, we all have some new plans to get things started in the right direction. I have been invited to join 28-day and 21-day fitness challenges, even though I have been kinda light in the pocket book and am still trying to pay off my Ragnar Del Sol dues. I see people starting off the year trying to run everyday for 100 days or do a 10-day gym challenge. I find all of this illuminating, for the people who are doing all of this are already pretty healthy in my mind and should have no issue with getting some quick results. But it is the people that are starting from scratch that always worry me. How long will they last? Will they actually reach their goals? Either way, news outlets have already declared this to be a dead year in regards to the New Year’s resolution. Of course, a lot of people have pointed the finger at positive body movements, claiming people are loving their overweight bodies too much. Naturally, this keeps turning into great cannon fodder on Youtube, for you can remember how crazy all the knuckleheads went when a random woman stated she believes some women will ultimately prefer overweight “dad bods” to the well toned men of the gym sect. Well, people actually believe a lot of individuals want to remain unhealthy, even if that is counterintuitive to what pretty much all of society projects in our pop culture. Now personally, I do believe a great many people want to be healthy, want to be able to take advantage of the more physical activities in their community and want to be able to keep up with the fast pace of life. I know my parents like working out and being healthy, especially when you see how rascally and energetic their grand kids are!
Now, people don’t just flake out on their New Year’s Eve promises simply because they are content with being heavy or they love what they look like. You see, I think that is a thick line of nonsense being perpetuated by a small group of people that have nothing better to do than create click bait for their tired reading content. In reality, so many of us really don’t know where to begin or how to continue. Year in and year out, I failed miserably, but I always thought it would be easy, because then like a typical Chicago Cubs fan I would toss my hands up, down a few stouts and say “There will always be next year.” There was a great study that came out a few years ago that kind of focused on our inability to maintain a good regimen when it came to New Year’s Resolutions. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122781981 Now the article cited that 88% of all resolutions fail, which gives some credence about why you shouldn’t focus so much on hard numbers when it comes to your weight loss. According to the study, researchers found out stress has a direct correlation to bad eating habits. Apparently, when we work our brains quite hard and keep it under constant stress during the course of a work day, we are opening ourselves up to some problematic addictions. In the experiment cited, people were being rewarded with either fruit or cake, provided they remembered a two or a seven digit number. For some reason or the other, the vast majority of people that had to remember the seven digit number chose the cake. They called it “cognitive load,” where just the perception of five extra numbers forced someone’s willpower to go broke. This is all caused by the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls willpower. Even in a normal human being, controlling urges is a difficult concept. I assume I have a perfectly developed prefrontal cortex, especially since I know my mother never drank or even took aspirin when I was in utero. Despite all of this and despite a childhood where I was relatively healthy, I still developed an addiction to food. Perhaps it was job stress or monetary stress as my bills went up (and continue to do so) while my pay stayed stagnant. Just think about it, five little letters scared enough people to utilize a cake as the reward for doing something so arbitrary.
I always think another big mental hurdle is we put too much pressure on ourselves. Think about it for a second…what if you don’t get that goal? I’ll admit, there has been lot of frustration on me in regards to a lot of my goals. I’m still nowhere near the bench press goal, and I still got 25(+) pounds to go to reach my 215. It’s been a bit hard on me, especially during this holiday season where I have suddenly developed a desire for Field Roast Celebration Roasts, especially when I discovered how amazing they taste with Chao cheese while sitting on a bagel with mustard. Yeah, it reminded me of the old days when I used to eat Sausage McMuffins like crazy and chow down on whatever breakfast monstrosities were on sale at Carl’s Jr. While I am kicking myself a little bit, I have not been angry with myself, even when the turn of the year started. Why should I be? I have kind of given my eating habits a little leeway going into the new year, for I have placed more pressure on myself in the gym and on the track than in the eating department at the moment. Throw in the fact my parents are leaving out of town and they left some free food for me, and you realize I am going to be eating quite well going into next week, when I start a modified Ten-Day Potato Challenge. While my eating habits have been poor, just that little bit of leeway has allowed for me to not kick myself down and get angry about my effort. Just think a subtle little change in your thinking and it can be a slightly good thing in your progress. Of course, with the challenge I start next week, I do it because I suddenly have a long term goal to look forward to. My brother in law’s brother is getting married in July, and I really want to look my best for that shindig. I might even take up dance lessons if I have the money!
ABC news kind of beat me to the punch in regards to what I wanted to write for this post, so I have to give some credit where it is due. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/real-key-weight-loss-hint-diet-exercise/story?id=36037786 Emotions are almost as important as the desire to get ripped up or try to make one self more attractive to the opposite sex. But like always, basic things can get in the way, and I have been no stranger to the condition. The first one is obviously fear for me. It is something I deal with daily, for I often wonder if I ever truly will be healthy “looking” and reach my goal. While most days it is silly for me to even consider this, it obviously lingers in the back of my mind as I take a walk through the supermarket and such. I look at the potato chips, especially the Pik Nik Sticks and Kettle brand, and I often times just think “Why not!” Fear of my unknown monetary future is really the deep problem for me, and I will admit I engage in some emotional eating due to this stress, especially after a tough day at work. But it is not just fear that sort of drives this issue, this kickstarts all of the other emotional rollercoasters that could lead me back down the path of self destruction. Much like Yoda pontificated about in the Empire Strikes Back (yeah I know, I’m lame…hehe), fear can lead to anger and then hate, and often times that hate will most likely manifest into self hate. And why not? It is the easiest and most seductive aspect of quitting. When you hate something, isn’t giving it up all the more easier?
Now of course, you need to find that mental fortitude to make peace with your health. For me, I try to follow as many people as I can to stay inspired, like the one Facebook friend that is in the midst of an incredible 200+ day clean eating streak, or the other friend that has lost 300 pounds due to juicing! I wouldn’t say these type of things are for me, for I have a hard tim being a raw eating athlete, especially when I love and need carbs to maintain my lifestyle. But here is the best part emotion I am trying to utilize…happiness. You can imagine my glee when yesterday I was driving around with my father and noticed a new section of running path had finally been opened between Drexel and Valencia near my house. I had been waiting for months for the project to finish, and I finally had a chance to use it. With just a couple more sections to go, the running path along the Santa Cruz River will soon be complete. It was a great feeling running down that part, seeing the open space and looking up into the cloudy sky that had the right mix of blue and sunshine. While I was seeking a 7.5-mile and only completed six, I wasn’t angry about the effort. I was happy my favorite path added some new amenities and happy that I was able to run six miles at less than a nine and a half minute rate.
Mentally, I am getting back into the rhythm I had before all of the foot problems started cropping up for me. And truthfully that is the toughest part about the upcoming battle I have waiting for me. I mean, I want to look good at the wedding, and I also want be able to tackle some running paths up in Denver when I get there. so that means I just need to stay the course and get ready. My mind is gearing up, now I just need to start pushing the body!
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.