Here’s what’s so nifty about our bodies, besides everything: they love change. We might think our brains are the reason we get “bored” with the same workout routine over time, but the truth is our bodies crave change in order to thrive.
Over the years, I’ve discovered that my workout tastes run in phases. I’ll trail run predominantly all summer, along with playing soccer once a week on an intramural women’s league. Right around mid-September I start thinking about how I’ve neglected my five-day-a-week yoga practice, and start that up. Then Christmastime screams, “Join a gym! Hire a trainer! You need to lift weights!” It’s not the cookies that are yelling at me; I don’t even like sweets. (Don’t hate me because I don’t like sweets.) My body’s adapted to the same moves, the same routine, and it’s telling my mind that it’s time to mix it up. This doesn’t mean walking or running on a trail in the woods no longer has benefits; it simply means we’ve adapted and now it’s time for a new challenge. Our bodies want to work different muscles and increase strength and/or flexibility. This goes for dietary habits, as well. Our bodies need to be fueled in a variety of ways for optimum performance and health.
My personal trainer recently asked me what I eat for breakfast. I told him a one-egg omelet with spinach, or tomatoes, or avocados, etc. He said, “What else?” I said, “That’s it.” I was all proud, too, thinking I’m the healthiest chick he knows. He didn’t call me an idiot, per say, but I could see it in his eyes. “You know, Lis, you have to mix it up. Throw in some oatmeal, yogurt, peanut butter on rye—keep it interesting.” “Why?” I asked. You see, I didn’t want to “keep it interesting.” I wanted to eat my breakfast—’cuz it’s the most important meal of the day and it jumpstarts my metabolism—and move on. Apparently I was denying my body an opportunity to be all it could be. (This is where my story gets fun, promise.)
Our bodies need change, and that includes taking a break— “cheating,” as we call it.
So, you’ve got a food plan you follow and it’s the holidays and you’re at a party stuffing yourself with Christmas cookies and spiked eggnog, and you laugh at everyone’s jokes and delight in stories about the kids, but deep down your self-loathing is stewing and brewing because you lost all control and carbo-loaded. Give yourself a break! Our bodies are built to adapt. They love change. You’ve been a pillar of celery stalks and will power all fall. Have that molasses cookie with the Hershey’s kiss in the center. Have three. Then pick up your diet at the new year, but not because you made yet another resolution, because you mixed it up for a stint and now you’re going to shock your body again with your regular diet plan. This is how you keep your body guessing. The fitness pros do this to us all the time with the workouts they design. They just don’t necessarily tell us about it. Then they take our measurements three months, six months, or one year into our training regimen and we’ve lost 7” in our waists and hips, and gained 1” in our biceps. And we don’t get it, but we look at them like they’re superheroes or magicians…and simply want more of whatever it is they’re doing, which is giving our bodies a break from the same routine.
Joe: Thanks Lisa, that’s great stuff. You guys have been working hard and doing things right. Variety is the spice of life and fitness. I’m about to start my 11th week of jiu jitsu after getting bored with the forms of strength and conditioning I had been doing for the last 5-7 years. I couldn’t be happier.
Don’t be too hard on yourself over the holidays. You’ve been doing great all year. Recharge and refresh. Happy holidays all! Thank you for a great year! We look forward to continuing to help you reach your life, fitness, and nutrition goals in the new year!