Don’t ask me why, but I hate this question.
I know it’s completely inncent, just one of those photos someone meant to use to motivate others if they truly want that flat stomach of theirs, but something about it just… irks me. That’s right. Irks. I can’t quite pinpoint it, I just know that it bothers me immensely.
Maybe because, I realize that I’m one of those people who look and wonder, “why not?” Why can’t you have those sweets? Sweets are awesome. You have tastebuds for a reason right? Chocolate is a savior. I do enjoy my occasional Chai Tea Latte, and yeah, I do eat the frosting off the cake without actually eating the cake. And let’s be honest, pizza is life. So this question irks me. I believe you can have the sweets and the flat stomach. You just have to practice moderation.
I’ve preached it once, and I will preach it again, moderation, moderation, moderation.
I believe that to be healthy, it must encompass body, mind, and spirit. Deprive yourself of the pleasures of life for one thing or another, and you’ll be imbalanced, and in that case, not truly healthy. But build on all aspects of your life, and I think you can achieve that fitness goal, while eating your cupcake with confidence. Have a confidence cupcake to celebrate.
All it takes is hard work. People, more often than not, try to cheat their way out of this, but be honest with yourself. If you want a stronger, leaner, faster, healthier, (name it and fill in the blank here) body, feed it what it deserves, feed your mind the happiness it needs for fuel, and work hard to build that confidence to keep your spirit and fire alive. Then you’ll be happy.
So practice moderation. You can work hard, I run twice a day myself (already I know someone is rolling their eyes at the screen, wondering, “Really? Twice a day, how is that moderation?” but if you’re a distance runner, you’ll understand), you can eat clean and take all the vitamin and protein supplements in the world, but it won’t kill you to enjoy and satisfy that craving for lemon bars you’ve had all week. You can eat that lemon bar with a smile on your face and no guilt in your heart, because if it makes you happy and you don’t use food as an escape for your worries, then why not?
So here I’ve laid out some of my own fitness goals, and healthy habits I’d like to start picking up. Because at the end of the day, I will run the distance, and enjoy that slice of pizza with a grin because I earned it.
My track coach told me that if I did 100 pushups a day for three weeks, I’d look completely different, have a kick at the end of the race like no other, and be much stronger. When he told me this, I smiled, nodded, and thought to myself… Yeah, no. But! Pushups are essential, despite their unpopularity in getting fit. Because they suck. Let’s not sugarcoat it here. I aim to do 50 pushups a day. There was a kid on my team who did do 100 a day, and quite surprisingly, did change dramatically in both racing performance and looks *wink* but I know what I want to start with and this will be it. 50 pushups will show results more slowly, but will still yield results.
Ok, not the classiest way of presenting it, but it’s honest and honesty is the best policy. For this, it’s all squats, squats, squats then lunges, lunges, lunges. Not only do these exercises work wonders for your tush, and being one who wears leggings on a daily basis because school is just not worth wearing jeans for, I can say I appreciate them for their face value and know their worth, but they’re also phenomenal for healthy hips and knees. I know it sounds strange saying that. I’m 18, not 80, must I already worry about my hips? The answer is yes. When you run, your gluteus maximus propels you every step of the way and without strong muscles, like your hammies and quads, you’ll encounter endless injuries like achilles tendonitis, runner’s knee, overextended hip flexors, and the list goes on. Don’t get hurt. Get off your butt. Do the squats.
I’ll admit, I’m the hypocrite when it comes to stretching. I would love to take up yoga, but what do I do if I can barely touch my knees? Cramps are not worth it though and my conscience knows this so luckily, after a long run or hard race, it pipes up to remind me that yes, stretching is important. You want some sort of flexibility, even just to pick up a pencil if you drop it on the floor. That’s where my goal with this is starting.
The Picture Says It All
It’s true. H20 is the best fuel for your body over any type of other sugared up, processed drink even if it does say Gatorade on the side. Just because the drink may be sporty, doesn’t mean it’s the fuel you need. I’ve learned that sometimes when I feel a food binge coming on, the feeling being that I really want to eat anything so I grab a handful of this and a bite of that and then an hour later I realized I carved my way through the cupboard of salty and carbo-loaded foods, that I’m actually thirsty, not hungry. Your stomach tricks you this way sometimes, but drink a glass of water before every meal and sip on it all day long. Hydration is key. Screw what anyone says about “water weight” and whatnot, because I speak from experience when I say that passing out from dehydration is not fun and does not help your performance as an athlete or your body. Just drink water. Just do it.
This goes unsaid I believe. Of course you should eat healthy. Think of your body like a well-oiled, high functioning machine. It needs the right fuel to work hard and keep up with the things you want to do. You’ll feel much better getting the right kinds of sugars from fruit and veggies than you will from candy and cake, but I do allow myself one cheat day a week. No crazy fad diets, no absurd detox recipes, just eating healthy works. Find something you like. It doesn’t have to be weird things like kale, (though I love kale when cooked up with red vinegar and garlic), just incorporate one healthy food item into your day rather than depriving yourself of other meals. From there, it will be easier to change your eating habits, because that’s what they are and that’s what you have to break. Your habits.
At the end of the day, it narrows down to one thing. The number on the scale doesn’t matter. The size of the jeans don’t matter. The pace you run doesn’t matter. It’s all just confidence. The world is full of goofy, strange and beautiful people. As long as you’re healthy enough to do what you love, then you’ll be happy. So rock your body. Work hard for your goals. Be happy.