04 May, 2012

Experiments in … health!

Thomas Edison + light bulb
I recently read a little tidbit about Thomas Edison.  I don’t remember where I read it, but I am sure it has been repeated plenty.  This particular tidbit was regarding the fact that Edison had reportedly had one thousand failures before finally succeeding in inventing the light bulb.  His response to this sentiment was that he had not failed at all.  The light bulb, he claimed, simply took one thousand steps to invent.  Pretty wise fellow, that Edison.  I really appreciate his ability to blend a focused diligence and determination with a humble acceptance of and regard for the fumbles along the way. 

Why is this relevant to health, you may ask?  Well, I have been feeling pretty guilty of late as a result of my failure to maintain the Body Ecology Diet (BED) beyond two months.  (Perhaps it was because I allowed myself to get smug for having lasted that long?)  Over the past several weeks I have been making allowances – small ones at first, then larger ones – for eating cookies, pastries, chocolates, fries, and gasp! an inordinate amount of gluten!  This will not do!  It’s no good at all!  My body’s very angry, and I’ve been tunneling down a shame spiral as a result.  Of course, I also have moments during which I play the spin doctor to my wounded inner conscience.  You don’t really have to do this diet … it was a choice!  You’re only cheating this little bit!  You’ll be better tomorrow!  You can totally make exceptions when you’re out with friends … it’s a special occasion!  (This dialogue chain is very familiar to me.)  Then there’s the Aries rebellion that starts working away on my will.  You can’t spend your whole life worrying so much about what you eat!  Screw that!  Life is for living and enjoying!  You eat well most of the time.  You eat organically and locally and seasonally.  You practically pay the salaries of the Whole Foods staff single-handedly!  Why should you not treat yourself with this little glass of champagne?  Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t have some of that delicious dark chocolate mousse that your friends are enjoying … I mean, it’s right there in front of you!  Eat it!  (This dialogue chain is also very familiar to me.) 

I am learning a great deal about myself here.  I am learning that, like countless others in this world, I have become A.) disillusioned about just how healthy I really am, and B.) a total pansy.  That’s right:  I’m a weak-willed emotional eater who doesn’t exercise nearly enough.  I also seem to forget that I am no longer that twenty-year-old girl with lightning metabolism who works out regularly and goes dancing on the weekends.  In fact, I am a woman in her late thirties who rarely works out and never goes out dancing.  Hm.  That’s quite sad, actually.  No wonder I have a tendency to fall into the moody blues (the emotional state, not the band). 

 Wait, where was I going with this?  Oh yes … I have decided to strike a deal with myself.  And this deal is that I will maintain a basically conscientious eating plan, sticking to many of the BED principles a majority of the time, while allowing myself to have some of those things that really make me happy (ie: granola w/ coconut milk, fruit, and an occasional glass of bubbly wine).  I will be sensible about, but  not fixated upon, the food I eat.  In exchange for this culinary freedom, I will work my body.  I will put in some serious effort to make it stronger, leaner, more pliable and more capable.  And I will begin doing this by committing to Tracy Anderson’s 90-day Metamorphosis program.  No more will I so cavalierly sit on the couch watching fictional characters lead active healthy lives in films or television shows.  I will begin earning that couch time by crafting my body into a formidable and flexible machine.  I will offer my blood, sweat and tears to the fitness gods and pray for healthy results, and maybe some endorphins, in return.  (Though hopefully there will be mostly sweat, and extremely little quantities of blood and tears.)  

Tracy Anderson

I have already experienced Tracy Anderson’s 30-day boot camp.  A little over a year and half ago, a friend and I did that program.  It was hard, and – surprise – I was kinda half-assed in my approach.  I did the muscular structure work really well until the last 10 days when it got really … really … hard.  The cardio dvd was really badly produced, so I used that as an excuse to be sloppy with it.  And I didn’t even bother with her diet plan (which may lead to weight loss, but I believe is too calorie-restrictive).  Unsurprisingly it didn’t change my life.  It did, however, change my body, though in much more subtle ways than if I had done the program all out.  I do believe that her method of working the body is effective and, if done with awareness, better for the joints than most styles of exercise.  Already, for the past week I have been doing a sort of halved version of a Tracy Anderson Method (TAM)-esque workout every morning.  I’ve been doing around 15 minutes of muscular structure work and about 20 minutes of dance cardio on a rebounder.  The Metamorphosis program consists of 30-minutes of muscular structure work and 30-minutes of dance cardio.  (At least that’s what Tracy claims the time commitment will be … that doesn’t include the moments of lying on the ground in a crumpled heap trying to convince yourself to keep going.  I had these during the boot camp, and am sure to have them during the 90-day gig.)  I’m sticking to a combination of rebounder and floor dance cardio to keep from over-stressing my joints – specifically my hips which have been very angry with all my walking.  

So, that’s my deal with myself.  I’ve already ordered the Metamorphosis dvds, so I suppose I’ll begin whenever they get here.  Wish me luck and fortitude, please!

Oh, speaking of my cranky hip joints … (jeez, I really am getting old!)  I have also started wearing a heel insert in my left shoe.  During my last massage appointment, my therapist agreed that my left leg is actually skeletally shorter than my right.  I’ve known for years and years that there was an imbalance, but for a long time I believed it to be muscular.  So, the insert is meant to keep the rest of my body from taking on so much stress in compensation for the imbalance.  This is day 2 of wearing it, and already I’m feeling relief, though I imagine at least part of that is due to the exercising.

Mens sana in corpore sano.  Translated, this familiar phrase reads: A sound mind in a sound body.  It is a common belief that if one creates strength, health, flexibility and endurance of body, then the same traits will naturally be extended to the mind, or even more optimistically, the soul.  Here we go … I’m going to get my body in order, and with any luck, the rest of me will follow. 

Happy experimenting, everyone!  I hope you're enjoying this amazing Spring!


PS:  If any of you are interested in joining me on the Metamorphosis challenge, I would love the support and camaraderie.  Send me a message if you’re in!

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