March 1, 2010

Keep Your Options Open

A friend of mine came to visit this week and asked me to "keep her in shape" while she was in town.  I took the challenge literally; I scheduled an entire week of workouts for us to do (together and apart) with painstaking detail - we would Spin on Monday, run on Tuesday, row on Wednesday, do yoga on Thursday, and lift weights on Friday.  We had a four-mile trail race on Saturday - before bene-fit Boot Camp! - so that day was well taken care of, and then we could rest happily on our laurels on Sunday.

From the get-go, my best-laid plans started to fall apart.  I suffered a bout of food poisoning on Monday, which wiped out workouts that day and the next.  Wednesday we ran to make up for Tuesday, but kept our original plan to row, and added a weights circuit on top of it all - meaning Thursday was lost to soreness, and Friday's shopping outing shortened our planned long run to a brief walk around the neighborhood.  With our race nearly rained out (and muddy and miserable) on Saturday, by Sunday we'd done nearly none of the planned workouts for the week, and I was feeling a bit down about it.

It wasn't until I realized the truth under my perceived "failure" that it all clicked: we had worked out almost every single day, and we did it all together!  Whether or not we ran five miles a given day or walked a few blocks, or even if our "weight circuit" consisted more of lifting shopping bags around a mall for 3 hours rather than weights for 30 minutes, we spent our time together catching up, talking, laughing, and best of all - being active.

This is, at its best, the bene-fit lifestyle.  Exercise, eating right, and staying active with energy shouldn't always be a plan, a chore, or a task.  Getting and staying healthy can be a fun activity, something to share with others, or a place you use as your own private retreat.  You can turn around a bad day with a good salad, or celebrate a healthy week with a semi-indulgent but well-earned treat (like a nonfat frozen yogurt with fruit or a bag of lightly buttered microwave popcorn).  You can come get your butt kicked at bene-fit Boot Camp and ease into some nourishing, strengthening yoga the next day.

Healthy lives are the compilation of our little daily decisions - some perfect, some not-so-great, and most right in the middle and just good enough.  Planning is always a good idea, but an even better strategy is to try not to stress when the plans don't go your way.  As actor and athlete Matthew McConaughey says, "aim to break a sweat every day."  Whether you break it taking the stairs instead of the elevator or running around after your kids instead of running outside with a heart rate monitor doesn't matter.  Find YOUR bene-fit and you will begin to make the positive changes you want.

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