Fitness and Nutrition, Health & Wellness, Uncategorized

What (failing at) Exercise Has Taught Me About Nutrition

Here’s something that you may not know about me: I’m one of those people who exercises. A lot (by some standards). I generally don’t talk about it much because I definitely did not use to be an exerciser. I didn’t really find fitness until I was in my 30’s. And a huge reason why I didn’t succeed with starting an exercise routine for all those years was related to intimidation and comparison and the shame associated with each of these. So now I don’t want to be shouting about my daily workout from the mountain tops because I don’t want to discourage the me from my 20’s. Hey, this seems logical in my head, alright?

This past weekend, I was supposed to be in a race on Sunday. This was a race that I had trained a lot for, and that I thought I had a chance at accomplishing a HUGE goal of mine at (or maybe even two of my biggest fitness goals at once). I was really excited to get it done and bask in the glory of my awesomeness. And feel grateful for #whatmybodycando. And generally just enjoy the endorphins that come from the hard work.

But then it rained. And thundered and lightninged and sort of flooded. I was up, waiting in my car at the race start at 5am. The race people eventually announced a 2 hour delay to the start of the race after I was there, and announced that the course would have to be shortened (Ok, one of the HUGE goals is now off the table – sad emoji). Then, after waiting for another 2.5 hours, they announced the complete cancelation. I was pretty upset to say the least. (angry swearing emoji)

I thought, “Well, since I can’t race and I already have this kid-free time set up, I guess I’ll head to the gym to crush the CVG weekly workout” (<– this is an amazing group of women in fitness, if you’re in that headspace check them out). I drive to the gym, trying to not feel angry at mother nature and trying even harder to not feel angry at the race people for taking 3.5 hours to make a decision (because I could have been sleeping, dammit). When I get there, I start my workout. I’m working up a sweat and getting to the #hurtssogood feeling when BAM! I missed a move that I have never in my life ever had trouble with and fell flat on my face, injuring my shin/leg. I saw so many stars that day, felt broken, and was totally defeated.

I drove home and proceeded to mope. It was NOT my day.

Now I’m sure you are thinking “Ok lady, what the heck does this sob story have to do with anything, especially nutrition?” There’s a point, I promise.

Since Sunday, I’ve been thinking about all the “fails” that happened that day. I also have been thinking about the success of going to the gym after the cancelation and doing something healthy instead of doing nothing. Then on Monday, I went back into my normal routine (to the gym) and made it through a grueling workout, even though I was sore. Me in my 20’s could never have accomplished this feat. Me in my 20’s wouldn’t have even shown up at the race start and waited for it to be canceled. 20’s me would have probably seen the potential weather forecast the night before (which was no where nearly as bad as the actual weather the day of) and thrown in the towel then.

It’s taken me over 7 years of continued effort to get to where I was with exercise and fitness this week. That’s 7 years of failures, of habit forming, of learning new and better technique, of learning about what works for me, of digging deep to find the grit and motivation and discipline to keep going.

What was different about these past 7 years compared to all the false starts that I had made with fitness over the rest of my life? It’s a combination of things: I was in a place where I finally saw that I needed to make a change for my health, I had moved and therefore got away from the expectations of others (“but you don’t like the gym“), and I was able to finally stop comparing myself to my fit friends (who ultimately intimidated me from trying because I thought I looked like a “wuss” compared to what I “should” be able to do).

Starting on a nutrition journey is almost exactly the same as starting on a fitness journey. There are the same false starts, the same “experts” online who present conflicting information as fact, the same comparison to others, the same shame associated with that comparison. Really, you can substitute everything fitness in the story above for nutrition and see what I mean.

My “ah-ha” moment this week helped to reinforce one of the most important (and best) things about Nutrition Coaching for me. As a Certified Integrative Nutrition Coach (yes, I did go to school for this), I am there to be a “personal trainer” for my client’s dietary choices. I get to meet them WHERE THEY ARE and hold space for them to let go of the comparison, the shame, the false starts. I get to help them learn to choose things that are healthy and that they actually WANT to eat. I get to guide them through the transformation from the person who “walks into the gym for the 100th first time” to the person who gets up after failing on Sunday and goes about their usual healthy business on Monday.

And you can begin to see why this work is so incredibly rewarding for me.

My little failure this weekend with fitness has ultimately helped me to become more empathetic for the struggles that my clients go through, which continues to make me an even better Nutrition Coach. And so I see again that “everything happens for a reason.”

Here’s to more failures and the lessons they teach us.