Posted by: thehungryrunner | December 31, 2008

Them’s Fighting Words! (In this case, a good thing)

Sometimes the most brilliant and applicable words of wisdom come in the form of the most simple and common-sense package.  I recently stumbled upon a magazine’s editorial on, in fact, the very topic I’m writing about here:  dealing with the challenges of staying fit in winter.  The writer gave what probably felt like an offhanded suggestion regarding the temptation to give in to the desire to just hibernate and abandon your fitness activities in light of winter’s many hurdles:  fight it.  Yep.  Those were his words.  Fight it.

That simple phrase got me thinking – and yes, true to form, experimenting.  We professionals in the fitness field, in our eagerness to help our clients and students be the best they can be, are often quick to devise solutions, strategies, and suggestions galore for overcoming the challenges of eating well, exercising regularly and orienting our lifestyles in a way that fosters good health and happiness despite our hectic schedules and the abundance of tempting food at our instant beck-and-call.  And without a doubt, these measures are profoundly useful and indeed, help to stack the cards in our favor towards following through with our fitness intentions.  But it is so very true, at the end of the day, that all the creative shuffling and arranging and planning can only take us so far.  We will STILL sometimes experience colossal cravings, some that hit from seemingly nowhere, others whose reasons are clear-cut.  We will STILL experience those moments in which we would rather a) get a root canal, b) watch a rerun of the Brady Bunch (with OLIVER in it!) or c) hang out in the Returns line at the local department store….than go to the gym to exercise.  And we will STILL experience moments in which we wonder if all this

effort to take good care of ourselves is even doing any good, considering the snail’s-pace changes we’ve seen in our bodies and minds as a result of it.


Those, my friends, are the moments in which you must pull out that magic secret weapon called resolution.  Or desire to succeed.  Or fortitude.  Whatever you call it, “fight it” makes a great representative mantra with which to draw upon that strength.  Because you and both I know, you almost always – if not always – feel better for choosing to stick to the plan, to follow through with that workout, to eat that apple in lieu of another chocolate truffle, to get to bed early enough to catch the number of z’s you need for optimal functioning and a reasonable shot at avoiding the flu this season.  And so on.  

But being the impassioned (obsessed?) fitness leader that I am, of course I couldn’t just leave it at passing along this sage advice.  I had to put it to active use, see if the addition of this mantra to my bag of tricks – in some cases, in lieu of my usual elaborate game-planning – could by itself make a difference.  After all, we’re in an era in which the words “will power” are often admonished to the point that they elicit more gasps of incredulity than do the words that get bleeped out on shows like Cops.  But even so, could adhering to one’s fitness be as simple as flexing that very “muscle,” and in this case, via the application of its representative words? 

Well probably no surprise here, I found the use of “fight it” a refreshingly simple, no-nonsense and yet effective approach to holiday fitness survival.  In fact, I found myself turning to it more often than I’d initially expected.  For example, having baked 12 different types of cookies, I now had 12 different “languages” of “Eat this instead of those stupid carrots!” every time I opened the refrigerator.  And I don’t care how well you’ve satisfied your body’s daily requirements for vitamin B-6 and iron; a buttery, almondy Kaleidescope cookie still tastes sinfully scrumptious.  And the weather certainly helped foster a fair share of “But I don’t wanna” moments on the subject of leaving the house to go do my penitence on the treadmill.  And yes, truly, the added excitement – good excitement, but excitement, nonetheless – of holiday preparations, visits and celebrations — kept my adrenaline (which in my body gets cleverly translated to appetite) on a level befitting a Formula One driver (thus an appetite on the level of Jolly Saint Nick himself) throughout the holidays.  It all funneled down to many moments in which the only tool I had left was to cling to those words, “fight it!” and hope for the best.  And lo and behold, the best is usually what I got!

Now obviously, there are times when you have to know when to allow an indulgence, to veto the “fight it.”  To be sure, I had many such times (for starters, I have an intimate awareness of exactly how each of those 12 varieties of cookies taste!).  And like with every fitness tactic, this one does not have a 100% success rate.  But it was a good reminder for me – and now hopefully for you, how blissfully simple sticking to your fitness path really can be!


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