My new habits

30 05 2008

I know that most people say they are worried about their health. They buy overpriced energy drinks and share unsanitary communal gym equipment when not shuttling the kids to soccer practice. Those people are the ones I like to call “armchair athletes.” They pretend to walk the walk because it’s fashionable and they have such low self-esteem they end up being as pretentious as possible about physical fitness in order to feel like they have shamed their friends into working out and they are making a positive contribution to society. Not true.

Now that I have gotten that character assassination of middle America soccer moms out of the way, I can get to the real topic at hand: me. For about a month now, I have been making a concerted effort to improve my physical and mental well-being. Why would I do this despite my self-professed perfection? I am trying to make myself better, stronger, faster so that I can feel better about myself. Increased self-esteem leads to increased confidence, which leads a better chance at a happier, more successful life. What am I doing?

I am improving my diet. This involved eliminating a few things from my diet. I also don’t like to “swear off” certain things. I prefer to simply focus on staying away from them. I have stopped drinking caffeinated drinks. If you know me, you know I used to be a complete Pepsi/Coke/Mountain Dew junkie. Now I am almost completely off the juice. (I like to call caffeine “the juice.”) This was a big deal. I even went through withdrawal to an extent. Crankiness, depression, and mood swings were all part of the deal, but they wore off after a few days. (I’ve been on the juice for a long time.)

I have also eliminated meat and become a vegetarian. This is not out of some kind of concern for the well-being of smaller, weaker, and tasty animals. This is about my own health. I am very thin, (115 lbs, 6ft) and I don’t need much to keep my body running. My body is generally good about telling me what to eat: lotsa grains and bread, fruits, veggies, and dairy. I didn’t really see the need to eat meat, which provides much more protein and fat than I really think I need. Plus, it makes me kinda nauseous and sluggish, which is not fun. Although I am worried primarily about my personal health, the large costs and and environmental impact associated with raising animals also played into this decision.

As a minor tangent, there seems to be some confusion on the part of my family about exactly what I meant when I said “no meat.” “Does that mean eggs?” “I thought you just meant red meat.” “So I guess no milk, then?” “How about chicken for dinner?” Wrong on all counts. To me, eggs count as meat, as do chicken and red meat. As for milk, I am still drinking milk and eating cheese and yogurt. Why? Because the good milk doesn’t have meat in it.

As another part of this spurt of fitness-consciousness, I have started exercising regularly. I figured it would be good to start at the end of April. I can have the entire warm season to work on this, when I’m unemployed and only doing summer school. I love riding my bike, but never really seemed to use it very much while school was in session. So, I am doing pretty well at meeting my goal of riding at least 10 miles a day. It gives me some much-needed activity and lets me catch up on my podcasts. However, if you plan on doing an all day trip, be sure to wear sunscreen. This is my own experience talking.

I have thought about running, but usually talk myself out of it. It would probably be a good habit to get into. My stamina is terrible. I was hoping to start this up at the beginning of May, but chose to stay in bed. Oh, well.

I you are interested in learning about this sort of self-improvement thing, I would head on over to Zen Habits. They have lots of resources and advice columns for people looking to improve their lives.

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