Tuesday “What Went Well” (for real today): Go for a Ph.D. in Healthy Living

Wow. Quite a cool week last week. Here’s the biggie take-home message: Consistent exercise – that is, a good, solid workout every 48 hours or so – really is awesome.

Here's the deal. Changing our lives takes real time. We're going for a Ph.D. in Healthy Living, not a quick-fix one-stop-shop switch-flipping cheapie solution. We're reprogramming our lives. (Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Here’s the deal. Changing our lives takes real time. We’re going for a Ph.D. in Healthy Living, not a quick-fix one-stop-shop switch-flipping cheapie solution. We’re reprogramming our lives. (Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

I sort-of thought so (after all, that’s how the Every48 blog came to be in the first place) – but regular exercise has turned out to be *the* game-changer in my life. No matter what else is going on – the ups and downs, the disappointments, the really great “highs” of doing work that thoroughly feels “right”…and the moments when it seems scary: there is just no situation in which exercise does not help. A lot.

It’s September 2, 2014.  And it is nuts that I’m writing that, by the way. It’s getting dark out at 7:30 p.m. all of a sudden in Seattle, and the long nights of winter await us. A new season is starting to beckon. It’s been eight full months since I decided to blog on the idea that getting regular exercise, in whatever dosage worked that day, or that week, or whenever, could be a game-changer in our lives.

So what went well last week? I’m suddenly in the best overall shape I’ve been in since at least the spring of 2012. After a summer spent nursing an injury, no less. That’s just awesome, because it’s a huge reminder that if we just do what we can do, and try as hard as possible not to worry too much about what we can’t do, all could be kind of awesome.

(And you’re probably wondering…as I have in the past…what exactly constitutes “best overall shape”? It’s not just weight, and it’s not just being injury-free and running happily, and it’s not just an overall sense of contentedness in life…but all of those things are kind of in the ballpark of what constitutes an overall healthy life. It’s a gut feeling more than anything else – but it’s also part “wow, I can run again,” “yay, I wore the dress pants last week that fit when I’m in good shape,” and “hooray, I can do one-legged balancing postures in Bikram yoga class now without my knee having major discussions with me about checking out of the joint.”  Literally, in the case of that wonky knee…or more specifically, the lazy quadriceps that support it and need lots of gentle nudges to keep on doing their job.)

And we just spent a holiday weekend almost entirely unplugged (hence yesterday’s reblog of a post from July…I could not find decent wireless service anywhere and finally had to scrounge around a local restaurant that was not super-close to where we were staying). I highly recommend being unplugged for a weekend every now and then. It keeps things in perspective.

Here’s the thing about regular exercise. (And, while we’re at it, making the commitment to learning how to eat well, and rest well, and have healthy relationships, and do the work that we’re supposed to be doing in our lives.)

It takes time to learn the craft.

It’s not a one-and-done kind of effort, or a flip of a switch. (I did actually give up fast-food hamburgers cold turkey, in a switch-flipping moment at the beginning of my weight-loss journey…but that was because I finally realized that anything I could eat in five minutes that made me feel hungry ten minutes later probably did not belong in my body.)

But seriously. This stuff takes time. August was lovely because it was the month when I celebrated five years of maintaining a healthy weight, after an absolute lifetime of struggle with extra weight, and a family heritage that suggested I would struggle with obesity all of my life. Hitting that five-year mark means a great deal, because it’s one of the sweet-spot markers in the research on long-time weight loss success. If you’ve maintained a significant weight loss for five years, chances are you’ve learned how to do it for a lifetime. That’s just plain cause for celebration in my book.

That’s the Every48 message for this fine Tuesday morning. This stuff takes time. Take notice of what you’re doing on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to get where you want to go. Think of yourself as studying for a Ph.D. in Healthy Living. Changes really can happen. We can reprogram our brains. We can run faster at 42 than at 21. We really can change our lives. It just takes getting out there, getting after it – and paying very close attention to the changes that are happening, day after day.

Now get out there and play! It’s almost fall – and that means it’s almost fall marathoning season. Yay.

Yesterday: A REST day after a great run on Sunday. I got some walking in (probably less than I should have). Today’s plan: a midday walk, and a bout on the indoor spin bike later this afternoon.

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