I recently read an article in Men’s Health Mag that reminded me of the personal weight loss journey I shared with you last year, on how I lost 100+ lbs.
When I shared that post, I was so overwhelmed by the receptiveness and the positive response it generate. I was so touched by the people reached out and shared with me, how my story inspired them.
As I was reading through the Men’s Health article, I was reflecting on a few things:
Am I addicted to exercise?
Am I fit enough?
How do I know when enough is enough?
I workout, every single morning. Sometimes I go in the evenings, too. I love the feeling I get after a good workout, particularly after running. The endorphins release in my brain, and just like that, I’m on my runner’s high.
I feel invincible, like I can do anything in the world.
Now, it’s not the high that I’m addicted to (I think), but rather the thought of working toward self-improvement. The thought of becoming a more in-shape version of who I am in that moment.
We all strive to be better versions of ourselves, don’t we?
Over the last ten years, I’ve learned so much about myself. My mind, my body, my endurance, perseverance… I’ve learned more than I can even put into words.
There were days where I could literally wake up in the morning, and run 25km (15.5 miles). No big deal. I’d even go home, shower, run a few errands during the day, and then go to the gym in the evening.
I never took breaks, and never considered rest days.
Nick, you’ve gotta do this. You need to lose weight. You need to tone up.
You just ran 10 miles, great, but what about building muscle? Technically you burned more than just fat on that run, you burned muscle. You can’t expect to be cut if all you do is run.
What was I thinking?!
On the days I wasn’t able to get a workout in, my emotions would be all over the place. My mood was affected, I’d be sluggish and both my mind and my body were craving stimulation.
In hindsight, I know now that I was going too hard. I don’t think I realized how much I was letting exercise (or lack there of) affect my mood.
I needed to stabilize my body.
The fundamental rule of life just kept knocking. Everything in moderation. My obsession with becoming “fit” was unhealthy.
I think I was exercising so much, that my sleep was being affected, and in turn, my hormone & testosterone levels. I would eat more, at random times, too. My body felt like it no longer knew how to react in situations.
Instead of working out to improve myself, I was working out as a punishment for the foods I ate.
One day I actually felt like collapsing. So I didn’t do a single thing, the whole day, other than lay in bed. I was exhausted.
I stopped working out for seven days. I gave myself a week to recoup, to clear my mind, and to give my body the food & nutrients it needed in a relaxed, sedentary state.
But I kept asking myself, why was I so obsessed with working out?!
Here’s the truth. The media has us convinced we’re living in a protein-deficient world. The more protein, the better. Right?
The media also has us convinced that thinner is better.
And while there may be SOME truth to both statements, how we interpret them dictates how we live our lives.
Fat around the gut, even small amounts, does not lead to a healthy life. It can promote anything from type 2 diabetes, to metabolic syndrome, to cancer. So yes, thinner is better, in the sense that no one can expect to live healthily with 20-30+ lbs that don’t belong around our abdomens.
Losing weight is hard. Trust me, I know. I’ve done it. Read my weight loss story here.
I think I was obsessed with working out because of how it made my body & mind feel, during the workout. I also happen to think I kept questioning my personal shape & fitness because I was comparing myself to magazine cover gym-junkies.
A mind shift in what fitness really meant, changed everything.
Am I in perfect shape?! No.
Are you in perfect shape? No.
Was the guy on the cover of Men’s Health Magazine in perfect shape?! Trick question. But also No.
Some (re: most) people would answer yes to the last one. But that is THEIR perception. It was my perception for a long time, too.
It’s fine to want to look like a magazine cover model, if that’s your ideal state. But I’ve learned that perfection doesn’t exist. I share more on that in my Mindfulness & Meditation blog post.
Perfection. Does. Not. Exist. Period.
If you’re down in the dumps on your physical appearance, or you weigh 40+ more pounds than you should for your height & weight, then it’s easy to fall victim to “oh those models all have perfect bodies”. But the definition of personal fitness, is different for everyone.
Sometimes it’s genetics, sometimes it’s sacrifices in diet and making time for working out and living a balanced lifestyle. But trust me, we all have different ideas of what perfection is, yet, perfection doesn’t exist. Ask any one of those magazine cover models or fitness-junkies and they will name at least one thing or more about their bodies that they’re unhappy with.
Strive for improvement, not perfection.
My ultimate learning on this fitness journey is to strive for improvement. Take yoga for example.
I’m sitting in class, and I’m not as flexible as some of the people around me. I can’t go as far deep into the moves as he can. Does that make him perfect?! No. Is there room for him to improve on his flexibility and depth?! Of course.
The instructor says “stand tall on your inhale, and bend your body to the right on your exhale. With each exhale, bend further, reach deeper.”
At that moment, it clicked. Each class I attend, each posture I get into, and on each exhale, I was striving for improvement. I wasn’t expecting to be able to bend into a pretzel after my first couple of classes.
Each stretch and each exhale was an opportunity for me to get better at yoga, to reach further, to get more fit. But there’s no limit. There is no perfect state.
Who else struggles with working out and finding balance?
What do you find has helped you the most to stay active and healthy?
Let me know if you have any tips, tricks or learnings by leaving me a comment below. I’m always looking to improve.
Nick Joly | Inspired by Nick