Tuesday, November 22, 2022

How taking care of your body changes you

  1. Your understanding changes 

Everyone supposedly knows the way to improve their health. Eat healthy and exercise, right? Well, not quite. There is some nuance to it. Take diet. There is the issue of quantities. How much to eat. How to eat. When to eat. What to eat and equally important, what not to eat. There's the issue of training your palate. Like possibly everything else in life, the quality of your understanding will be reflected in the quality of your outcomes. When your understanding improves, so will your outcomes.   

  1. Your beliefs change

    Beliefs are powerful things because they drive behaviour. In Ghana we have this expression: kɛseɛ wɔ ne ho. I have no idea what that even means. Basically, you're prone to being big and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Crazy huh? If you believe that, it will drive the choices you make. 

    Personally, some of the more exciting beliefs that I am in the process of jettisoning  have to do with what is possible for me. I've written sparingly about exercise so far, but there's a lot going on there as well. My challenge has been seeing a move that my Pilates instructor would do and I would believe without even trying that I won't be able to do it because it's too complicated. This negative belief would prevent me from even trying. The other belief that was preventing me from giving my best is the belief that all pain is bad and must be avoided. What my exercise is now teaching me is that some pain can feel good. It's not even pain. It's your muscles stretching to do something new. Something they've never done before. This has enabled me to lean into my stretches and body is doing new and exciting things and this is reflected not only in my outcomes but also spilling over into other areas of my life.

  1. Your desires change

When I first joined a gym, I didn’t know how to stay committed to my vision. There were so many options around me that I kept trying to get bodies similar to shapely women I met at the gym. But the truth is that each of us is beautiful in our own way. And we’re not meant to look like one another. Over time, as I kept up with the exercises, my bum grew, and lifted. My tummy went down and stayed down. It would take another year, before I caught a glimpse of  my own body’s potential. Thank God for gyms with wall to wall mirrors. Over time, my desire became: to build my body into the best it can be. I had come to desire my own best body. What you have to note though, is seeing your body’s potential will only happen after you’ve put in possibly years of work. It took me 3 years of consistent gym to believe that my body could be awesome! And it has taken me several more years since then to love the body that I have, not because it is perfect but because it is mine. It does wonderful things. It has a unique shape. So see, it's been several small shifts. First, I want her body. Then I want my body to look a certain way. Then I want and love the body I have today. And look forward to what it can be, do and look like tomorrow.

  1. Your habits change

Learning to enjoy fruits and vegetables so that you choose them consistently over your past favourite foods is a habit. Learning to control your portions is also a habit. Additionally, you may learn to cook differently, learn to snack differently, as well as new habits when you eat out. Then there’s acquiring a repertoire of exercises so that your exercise is effective and enjoyable. Additionally, for most of the exercises that are now my go-to, I did them with bad technique for hundreds of reps before I finally figured out how my body was supposed to be doing them. From there, results were rapid. I don’t think it’s possible to have great form without doing sub-par form for some time. 

Let me emphasise that what you're actually developing is yourself. You're developing the ability to say no to some things and say yes to what you actually want. And the more you choose the things you truly desire (often long-term goals, and dreams) over the things that seem good in the moment, the more your vision becomes a reality.

  1. Your community changes

If you go to the gym consistently, you get to build a community of other consistent people. It takes time to get to know people in a meaningful way. You’ll find that your workout buddies can be a resource for things like where to buy workout gear, and even who does the neatest cornrows in your area. 

One of my workout buddies gave me a Ghanaian food guide to attaining six-pack abs.

I asked another what he eats to attain his abs and he told me abs are as much about what you eat as about what you don't eat. In hindsight, I was not ready then for six-pack abs, but that insight is really deep. Getting the outcomes you desire is about what you do but it is also about what you don't do.

Personally, I find that I need community less now than I did in the beginning. My exercise has evolved from being a social sport to being a solo practice. Well, me and the instructor. And I choose my instructors carefully.

I'm happy for now, but If I find the right new community in the future, I'll be open to it.

  1. Your life changes

Your body will not transform and stay that way until you eat well, and train well, consistently. If you do it in one area of your life, you build the habits that allow you to be consistent in other areas of your life. I don't only eat healthy and train consistently, I also read consistently. And now I write consistently. I work on my goals consistently. A few years of doing this and life itself changes.

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