What Workout Consistency Gives Us. Or, Shortening the Yo-Yo String.

You never stop being a yo-yo. The string just gets shorter when you're taking care of yourself most of the time. (Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
You never stop being a yo-yo. The string just gets shorter when you’re taking care of yourself most of the time. (Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

I listen really closely to people who  have lost weight and kept it off for a long time.  Because they know the score. They get it about how to make pretty massive life changes and make them stick. And I use them as my teachers, because, four and a half years into maintaining a 40-pound weight loss, those lessons help me every day.

Here’s the lesson that’s helping me today:

“I’m still a yo-yo dieter. It’s just that now I have a much shorter string!”

There you go. We don’t get to goal weight and then hit the Land of Perfection, where everything is lovely and wonderful and the world never, ever makes us want to crawl in a hole again. (Oh, not at all.) And we don’t start exercising and get it right every single time. We just pull ourselves back to equilibrium much faster.

Before I finally figured out how to change my life, one “bad day” turned into a bad week really fast. Now, one “bad meal” (and by bad meal, I just mean a meal that didn’t necessarily support my health in the strongest possible way) is usually just that – one meal. And I pull myself back, like the yo-yo string, and get back to living healthy immediately.

I’m thinking about this today because for some reason I’ve blown off two running workouts this week, at a time when that is not an advisable strategy. One does not simply phone in a marathon. It does not happen. I’m built for distance running – I like to run for a long time – and as a result I can jump into just about any race up to the half-marathon distance (13.1) without a ton of training and finish the race. Not comfortably, mind you. But I can finish.

Not so in the marathon.

I will not phone in the Boston Marathon. I will not phone in the Boston Marathon. (Image courtesy of Stoonn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
I will not phone in the Boston Marathon. I will not phone in the Boston Marathon. I will not phone in the Boston Marathon. (Image courtesy of Stoonn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

If I keep up this blowing-off-running trend, there will be a BONK heard ’round Boston on April 21. Physiologically, our bodies need a certain kind of training to kick butt in the marathon. I’ve trained really correctly – really, really  well – for only three of the 15 marathons I’ve run. Yep, it’s true. The 1998 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., the 2000 Chicago Marathon, and the 2011 California International Marathon were my three personal-best races. Is it a coincidence that those three races were the ones where I just pulled myself back from the brink whenever I was tempted to blow off my training and just got it done? No. I do not think this was a coincidence.

So in 45 minutes I will go to my triathlon swim class (it will have already happened by the time you’re reading this post, so I’ll report back to the troops tomorrow). I will just show up. Tomorrow, I will do my tempo run no matter if there’s a hurricane outside. (Well, not if there’s a hurricane – then I’ll do the run on the gym treadmill.) But what I’m saying is, no excuses. Gotta shorten the yo-yo string today.

Yesterday’s #every48 update: An unplanned REST DAY after two days of fun workouts (spinning on Monday and swimming on Tuesday). There might also have been a giant cookie involved. Oops. Back to business.

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