QUIT: Treating My Body Like Poo (REBOOT)

[Part of my mission to “live deliberately” involves ruthlessly cutting out anything that saps my time, energy or money to no good end.  I’m calling these things my “Quits,” and this is one of the many items that have found themselves on my Quits List.]


Sometimes, it takes a while for a Quit to take. Like, for instance, this little gem that I announced way back in October 2011 and am now dusting off and re-dedicating myself to.

Like most Americans – and most American women in particular – not treating my body like poo is one of those ongoing Quits I keep attacking in fits and starts.

I generally try to make healthier choices food-wise. I’ve cut out things like soda (which I really don’t miss) and have majorly reigned in my love affair with carbs. Now that don’t work in an office, I’m no longer tempted to raid the fundraiser candy bar box for an afternoon pick-me-up, and my go-to meal for dinners out tends toward the salmon-and-salad portion of the menu. I even had a lovely run of Pretending to Be a Gym Member for a whole month last fall, even going so far as to purchase a new workout wardrobe and genuinely think it would be seeing regular use.

But, on the whole, I don’t feel like a “healthy” person. And now that I’ve adopted the freelance (read: sedentary-in-front-of-computer) lifestyle, that feeling has been hitting me more and more lately. While mentally and emotionally, things are better than they’ve ever been, the physical side of my existence feels decidedly blarg. And it’s time to stop saying I should do something about it  and actually, you know, do something about it.


The Time Has Come (for Realsies)

I don’t like feeling not-healthy. I feel like my quest to become an ever-evolving, ever-awesomer version of myself has left one side of the equation completely out.

It bugs me that in spite of numerous resolutions to learn, I still don’t know how to cook anything more complex than an omelet, so any attempt to “eat better” can’t go terribly far.

It bugs me that I get winded after a 20-minute Zumba “beginner” routine (on those rare occasions I manage to prod myself to work out).

And it especially bugs me that, at the age of 30-mumble, I can no longer get away with crap the way I used to in my early 20s. When I fail to move around on a regular basis, I can feel it. When I give myself a weekend of junk food free passes, I can really feel it. I feel like my body is registering the effects of my bad choice with a directness it never used to in my carefree younger days. And I don’t much like it.

Getting healthier is no longer one of those “I should probably do that because everyone says so and my pants are tight” things. It’s an “I really need to do this because lately I feel like crap” thing.


More Than Just Exercise

This month is going to have a holistic physical health focus. Yes, I need to start exercising, but I also need to learn how to be better to, and more accepting of, my body in general.

I need to treat it nicer. I need to fight it less. I need to acknowledge that neglecting my physical health directly brings down everything else I try to do and be throughout the day. I live totally in my head and my emotions, and I need to learn to pay a little more attention to my physical existence in the world.

So, here’s the agenda for this month:

  • Get into a regular workout routine, no matter how tame. The whole gym scene is clearly out of the picture, a) because I hate working out in front of other people and b) because this polar vortex thing makes it seem really stupid to waste a couple hours getting to and from a gym when my husband’s PS3 will let me Zumba in the easy comfort of my own living room. It won’t be much, to start out, because I am horrifically out of shape – just a 20-minute routine as close to every day as possible. Hopefully, that will increase over time. The big thing is just that I start moving more on a daily basis.
  • Eat better. Learning to cook like a real adult will probably be a Quit for another month, because I think it will take a full month dedicated to just that to make it happen. But, whenever possible, I need to start integrating more fresh veggies, whole grains, and all that other good stuff into my regular diet. I’ve been slipping a little when things get hectic or stressful, and that’s no good.
  • Make healthier energy choices. Sleeping in way past my alarm, regulating my energy with a scientific combination of caffeine and bourbon, and popping Aleve whenever things get off-kilter are not doing anything to contribute to my feeling better. More balanced and more natural is the new focus. If I just make smarter choices and keep a smarter routine, the other stuff shouldn’t feel so necessary.
  • Stop beating myself up for not looking like I did when I was in college. This will be a hard one. I still have this secret hope that I’m only a few Zumba routines away from fitting back into the old pants I stowed away just in case. But it’s entirely possible that even if I got into marathon-running shape, I’d still never be the size and shape I used to be. I may never feel like an adult mentally, but my metabolism has already made the leap, and I need to learn to accept that.

So, that’s the deal-i-o for February. Who’s in?

Are you down for making yourself feel less like poo? How can you focus on boosting your physical health, even in the tiniest of ways?


Image:  Bejan / Flickr

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  • Lindsey

    Oh my goodness, I faithfully read your blog (I’ll admit it’s one of the few I get excited about seeing in my inbox) and so often I feel like you and I are totally the same person. Today is no exception; I am right there with you. My husband is totally dedicated, going to the gym 4 times per week (sometimes at 9 pm if he has to.) I just don’t get it, and I struggle. I even got a gym membership in December and have only been a handful of times. I think you’re right that modifying workouts for home is the way to go and we are planning on investing in a home gym. I need to learn cook better too….again my husband has that covered, but I can’t leave it all up to him. Some of my goals are to simply start walking more, taking the stairs at work, getting to bed on time and drinking more water. These simple things add up. Also, as an aside, my husband would say for us females, it’s actually ok for us to focus less on cardio and more on muscle strength for weight loss and general health. I love this because it means I can skip the elliptical and look more badass with barbells 🙂

    • Aww, thank you for being such a faithful reader! I get that “this person GETS me” feeling from my favorite bloggers, and it means to much to me that you can relate to CCIQ the same way. If blogging has taught me anything, it’s that so many people can totally relate to whatever it is you’re currently going through.

      I’m focusing a lot on small changes myself. While I admire my friends who are Crossfitters, I’ll count it as a win if I can make myself do a little dancing to up-tempo music each day. I “joined” a gym in October and have gone, maybe, 3 times? It’s just not for me. Although I did enjoy the few times I used the strength-training machines. Perhaps I’ll join you in the barbell-weilding badassness. Let me know if you find any good routines/reps I can start following. 😉

  • Monique Muro

    Congrats on making healthier choices! I am in the exact same boat. My mom got me a gym membership and it took me nearly two months to finally go on a regular basis. Because working out is soooo boring! So the only time I go now is to their kickboxing classes twice a week (which are actually heaps of fun when you’ve got a great teacher).

    I also can’t cook for squat. Even worse, I don’t even want to learn. I’m all about healthy microwavables. But lately, in an attempt to eat more freshly cooked food, I’ve been paying my sister to cook and package up meals for me throughout the week. She’s a rockstar in the kitchen so that totally helps out!

    It’s hard trying to squeeze in fruits and veggies on the regular though. But I think you’re doing awesome recognizing the need for change. Start slowly and don’t feel bad for the occasional drink or potato chip. Life should be tasty and enjoyable 🙂 As long as there’s a balance I think you’ll be fine!

    • Good for you, hiring-out the seriously I-don’-wannas, too!

    • That is the most brilliant healthy eating idea I’ve heard yet! I have a friend who subscribes to a Paleo meal plan, not because she’s Paleo, but because she likes getting healthy meals delivered to her. If we had the money for something like that, I’d be all about it. It’s tough when you’re only cooking for one (the husband and healthy eating don’t mix); even though I mean well, it’s hard to motivate myself to get all the ingredients together and prepped to make a healthy meal from scratch. I usually find myself gravitating towards Lean Cuisines and then throwing in some hummus or nuts for a snack in between.

      Where is your sister, and will she ship her packaged meals? 😛

      • Monique Muro

        Aw she’s out here in LA, I wish I could say she had the resources to ship you fresh and wonderfully packed meals at a terrific price! Haha. But I’m really trying to get her to start a business from it. She’s such a great cook, and while I’m not really looking to make any weight loss goals, I’m certainly trying to live a long and healthy life. 🙂 I’m the same way with those Lean Cuisines, but lately I’ve started doing the Amy’s frozen meals, and Kashi, which are also good!

  • Jamie

    I’m right there with ya! I’m a few pounds heavier than I was over the summer, and it’s just enough that I can see it in my face and how my clothes fit. 100% my own fault. I started eating more junk and all but stopped working out, and it was frightening how quickly the pounds came on!

    However, I’ve noticed that when you start eating just a little better and working out a just a tiny bit more, it’s surprising how quickly they come back off, when you put just a little effort into it. A couple tricks that help me:

    Have pre-prepared healthy snacks, and make them the first thing you see when you open the fridge/cupboards.

    For me, I can’t even have junk food in the house, or I will eat it. All of it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stocked up on chips and snacks for when people come over, only to eat it all before I actually have company.

    I’m not a huge fan of the gym. There are times I would much rather workout in the privacy of my living room. But the group dynamic of classes is a huge plus. If you’re afraid of people watching you, it really motivates you to push yourself so you don’t lag behind everyone else! It’s too easy for me to not give it my all when I’m alone in the living room. Who’s gonna know?

    • I noticed that myself — back in October (when I joined a gym for like 3 weeks), I was tracking my weight for one of my client’s “biggest loser” challenges. It was amazing how I fluctuated by a couple pounds every day based on what I’d eaten or how much I’d worked out.

      I wish I could eliminate all junk food, but since the husband eats only junk food and cooks all of our joint meals, that’s probably not in my cards. I am, however, working at replacing all my snacks with things like veggies, hummus, and nuts, and preparing healthiER options when I’m eating alone. Baby steps…

      I did like how attending a Zumba class forced me to really keep pace with everyone, but I actually think I give it more when I’m alone and no one can see how stupid I look — I may not be a sexy dancer, but damn it, I’m giving 100% effort! I think that’s just my social phobia — I don’t mind embarrassing myself at home and am more likely to give it my all when I know no one’s watching. (Although, secretly, I think everyone in that class was probably too busy worrying about how THEY looked to everyone else!)

      • Jamie

        Nothing can be worse than my zumba-ing skills. The one class I tried, there was more than one occasion where everyone in the class was facing one wall and I was facing the complete opposite side of the room!

        • I could so see myself doing that!

      • Rob F.

        I know what you mean about the social phobia – me flopping around on the floor at a beginner’s capoeira class was bloody uncomfortable and not just physically. Still I kept reminding myself that I was doing more capoeira than I’d ever done in my life (to that point: none) and I got through it!

        Still, I’m not sure whether the pain in my right arm (again thanks to the scooter crash) was a convenient excuse. I still have to get off my arse and book an appointment with my GP about that…

        • I just looked up what capoeira is, and that sounds like a ton of fun! Is it really “a unique art form and self-defense incorporating strong elements of acrobatics, dance, and deception”? Because I would do be down for any workout that involves deception! 😀

          I hope your arm feels better. You may need to find a way to exercise that doesn’t bother it so much?

          • Rob F.

            Heh heh! I don’t know about the deception bit except that the rest of the “beginners” on my class didn’t seem very beginnerly! 🙂

            If you’ve seen Tron: Legacy, though, you’ve seen some capoeira: The guy who played Rinzler, Clu’s helmeted henchman, is a pro capoerista, and I think a lot of the moves in that arena disc war were capoeira moves.

            My arm is still giving me some trouble, I’m afraid; it’s complaining a little after I mowed the lawn yesterday, so capoeira’s handstands and cartwheels are, I think, a no go for now.

  • WHAT IS IT about the body after the age of 30 that just decides to slow down? I hear you loud and clear, Kelly – the same has happened to me and I feel cheated !

    That being said, I have a question: what’s taken you off track with eating well before, and what will keep you on track now?

    I ask this because I’m the same – it’s peaks and troughs with eating well. And then at the start of the year, I joined some friends in an accountability group.

    Rather than simply ‘checking in’ to say how we were doing, we chose a cause we hated, to donate money towards, if we went off track.

    I chose the equivalent of the Nazi party in the UK, which means I’d rather starve-since-there’s-no-good-food-around, than give money to them!

    It’s kept me on track so far. And so I’m joining your February quest, my dear !

    • That’s a very good question. I think what’s taken me off track, most often, is work and stress. (Which usually go hand in hand.) When I was working the day job, it threw all sorts of personal quests off because of its sheer soul-suckingness. Now, I love my work so much that THAT can consume everything else at times.

      It’s all about balance. And I’m beginning to realize that without fail, the physical side of things is usually the first to go when I’m cutting corners. Perhaps it’s time I pledge something to get some skin in the game, too. I can see how that would be a serious kick in the pants to stay on track!

      Happy to have you with me on this, Raz!

  • Rob F.

    Thanks to a wonderful wife who always cooks healthy, I have few problems with food – although I do have a big one of not really knowing how to prepare it myself. It’s something my wife is keen on me fixing; it just needs me to get involved n the kitchen more!

    Exercise isn’t usually a problem either; my job may be sedentary, but I go for a stroll for my morning and afternoon breaks and usually at lunchtime as well, plus my walk to and from the car is, if I trust MapMyRun , 1.2 kilometres. Still, my midsection is a little loose, and after that two months of bootcamp last year I appreciate the value of a truly active body more.

    Of course, since bootcamp finished I’ve done little to maintain the routines. A scooter crash on the last day of bootcamp didn’t help, of course, but trouble in my arms shouldn’t stop me doing sit-ups, squats, planks and ab bicycles. I just resist pushing the envelope of discomfort! 🙂

    Still, I did crank twenty-one push ups out this morning, so I’ll count that as a win!

    • I would, too. That beats my current pushup count of… um… none. 🙂

      • Rob F.

        Well, that’ll be an easy win, then, eh? One push-up! 😀

  • My best advice is to think of your favorite foods, and find an alternative way to make them! Once you can learn to make the best foods in a healthy way, it all becomes way easier! (This is also important because what you eat determines 80% of your health)

    My biggest weakness for eating healthy has always been desserts. I would eat great all day, feeling wonderful than the sweet tooth would kick in and down goes a whole box of Chips Ahoy. Then I started to learn how to bake healthy desserts, using ingredients like 100% chocolate, almond flour instead of flour and coconut oil instead of butter. And I dunk them in almond or coconut milk instead of skim milk.

    It’s really just a baby step process of taking the food your MIND loves and making it work with the food your BODY loves!

    • That’s a great point. I hate cooking (largely because I don’t know how), but I can actually bake just fine and don’t mind doing it. Maybe if I learned some healthy baking recipes, that would be a good way to baby step my way in. You’ve got the wheels spinning…

  • I walk 3 miles a day, drink plenty of water, and eat smaller portions (the small plate instead of the big plate, NO seconds). I eat 3 times a day on a schedule.

    Gluten free (check with a doctor first), no soda ever, NO ice cream or cakes or pies (if you need a sweet, a couple of small pieces of candy ONCE a day won’t hurt you), and at least 30 minutes of “down” time before bed.

    And always involve your doctor when you feel it’s appropriate.

    I’ve lost 74 lbs in 12 months (from March 2011 – April 2013), and kept it off.

    I don’t say this to brag.

    I say this, because it isn’t hard at all to do. You just have to want to do it.

    They aren’t something you can check off of a list, they are a new lifestyle. The lifestyle is the key part of that statement.

    You don’t “eat better” … you want to be healthy … you don’t “want to try this walking thing” … you want to be healthy … you don’t “try to find ways you can cheat” … you simply choose not to as part of your lifestyle.

    It’s a choice. When you boil it down, it’s a choice.

    So it’s time to choose. You can do what I did, and wait until some wake up call makes the choice for you … or you can choose now and avoid that wake up call. But the choice is yours and yours alone.

    I quit (following the theme of this blog) choosing the health problems, and instead chose to solve them.

    • Good for you! That’s a mindset shift I could stand to make myself …it’s not “I have to work out today” or “I ought to choose a salad instead of pizza”; it’s “I want to be healthy. What’s the healthy way to live?”

      • Yeah, for years, like a lot of people I tried the “choose this not that” type of mindset. Didn’t work out so well.

        Then I got a wake up call in March of 2011, and looked at myself in the mirror. Didn’t like what I saw.

        So I said, f*** it, I’m going to be healthy and keep it simple.

        Hell, I still have a slice of pizza every now and then, still eat a hot dog once in awhile. I also know I’m not going to be a body builder (not my goal in life anyhow) … so I just keep it simple.

        You have to eat right and the rest (it is a lifestyle), but you don’t have to micro-manage yourself to death doing it.

        Worked for me any my wife anyhow (she lost 50 lbs in about 14 months doing the same exact thing).

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