Jen Jeffrey: The Fast And Furious

Monday, February 10, 2014
Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey

It was good after interviewing a registered dietician last week to find out that I am not ‘doing it wrong’ when I have taken baby steps toward changing my eating habits. When I was younger, I would take on something fast and furious with all the gusto I had.  I loved fitness and working out and I learned over the years about ‘slow and controlled’ repetitions when strength training to get the most benefit.

I would watch bulky men go at it in the gym and I would cringe when they piled the weights on yet they lost ‘good form’ because they went at it too fast. Having paid attention to the right trainers and also physicians, I knew how fast and furious could harm our body if we lose proper technique. Learning how ligaments responded and about subluxation of the spine, I was very careful when I lifted to use good form instead just trying to ‘get it over with’.

Just as my friend Pam had mentioned, many people want a ‘jump-start’ when dieting. I have been guilty of this very thing and sometimes I still have to fight the urge to do so.

My schedule and the events of my life were once again where I could give attention to the recently gained weight and my lack of exercise. I wanted to hit the gym full force, but I also didn’t want to be so sore the first week that I would quit. So, I have moderately added exercise back into my routine. Some days I have gone to the gym and some days I have done Tae-Bo by DVD in my small living room.

Whatever changes I made in my diet had to be slow and controlled just like my workout movements in keeping good form to avoid injury. I admit I wanted the jump-start in shedding a few pounds and convinced Mama to go on the Three-Day heart diet with me. You know the one… all the plain tuna, grapefruit and carrots that leave you craving ‘real food’ by day three. When you go off of the diet on the third day, you are supposed to still eat sensibly during the next four days and then repeat the three-day diet.

The mind-game we play on ourselves is actually the sabotage to our success. Of course, after the third day Mama and I wanted pizza. And since on the three-day diet, you are allowed a half a cup of vanilla ice cream, we allowed ourselves to ‘add chocolate’ to our ice cream after we had pizza. Moderation is important in everything that we do. We know this. I knew after losing four pounds the first week that it was mostly water weight that I had lost. The second week I didn’t lose an ounce (and neither did Mama after having lost five pounds her first week).

The third week, we gave up. I knew when I started it that what my body was really craving was the healthy foods on that diet and not necessarily the drastically low calories and then ‘free-eating’ for a few days. I understood the concept of the diet and how it worked, and I know what Mama and I did wrong in between, but it took listening once again to the wise counsel of a dietician for me to examine my efforts and realize the inevitable outcome. You know, and I know …that it is all about a healthy lifestyle and every weight-loss diet out there will not work if we think of it as a temporary ‘diet’. We just need to eat clean.

‘Diet’ to us means restricting and restricting to us means punishment. And then after we have punished ourselves we seek reward with foods from our childhood.

I usually maintain an average weight and have achieved a healthy lifestyle, but when an unexpected stressful situation occurs in my life, my health becomes back-burner and I stop taking care of myself. I adopt an unhealthy lifestyle and the extra pounds slowly creep on. Once that happens it seems so hard to get back on track.

The baby steps have been in place since December as I have been removing certain things and adding certain things to my ‘lifestyle’. Yes, the temporary diet was silly and I knew better. It probably confused my metabolism more than ever. But as I have committed to workouts a little at a time - it is sticking. I have enjoyed them and now my body craves to stay moving.

Most days, I will do well to watch what I eat now, but it’s taking time to be where I want to be in my overall eating decisions.

It surprised me that I was not sore after beginning Tae-Bo because it is a very fast and furious workout, but I only did 20 minutes the first time and worked up slowly. I also have been using Fit One Gym’s ARC trainer that I love because I burn twice as many calories and it is low impact on my knees no matter how fast I go. I slowly added strength training and abdominal workouts and after a few weeks I felt I was ready to get back into Yoga. I had done the Nidra classes on occasion last year but that was mainly for my mind. I hadn’t gone to a Yoga class that required strength, balance, coordination and core-work for over two years.

My friend Cheryl who teaches the Nidra class also teaches Yoga class at Fit One on Friday mornings. I told her I would go, but then the snow and ice hit.  I was determined to go the next Friday. Though there was frost on my windshield that I had to scrape off, I still made it to class.

I am usually not one for group fitness classes especially if it is a ‘fast and furious’ class of dancing or aerobics. My brain and body just doesn’t coordinate and I would rather do that in the privacy of my home. I didn’t mind teaching group fitness, a few years ago, because I knew the routines.  I was also teaching seniors and we didn’t hit it fast and furious (though we didn’t have a pansy workout either).

Cheryl had just started the class when I walked in and I grabbed my mat finding the only place available on the floor. If I hadn’t had to scrape frost from the windshield I would have been on time, but at least I made it. After running up the steps to the group fitness room, quickly getting my mat and trying to ‘fall in’ I was trying not to breathe hard when we first started.

What I hate about group aerobics or cardio classes is how uncoordinated I am at that fast and furious pace and I feel as though everyone is watching me mess up. I am easy to spot because I am the one flinging her arms to the left while everyone else is flinging to the right. I am the one kicking sloppily while they are doing a knee-up. My brain just doesn’t respond to quick commands.

Yoga is different for me even with the classes that elevate your heart rate. It is more than about being fast or getting a good sweat going. It is about reaching a certain place for your body inside and out. I am no Buddhist and I know there are a few people who think Yoga is evil, but it isn’t about that for me. Is it spiritual? Yes, it is. When I do Yoga, I am aware of my body as well as the way my creator made my body to function. I marvel in His creation (me) as I become aware of myself in the way He wants me to.

When I do Yoga, I feel my breath at each level and I know what it is doing inside my body. I am aware of my blood flow and aware of my muscles. To me that is very spiritual. As I moved my body and paid attention to lengthening my core and my limbs, I felt the stress that I put on my body leave. I knew as we worked into harder movements that there may be some I would not be able to do. It surprised me that I was still limber enough to do them, but there was just a little more ‘curve in my way’ as I would bend.

My heart rate did elevate as we reached the peak but it felt great and I could keep up. As it was time to cool down, Cheryl took us through a relaxing segment she sometimes uses in Nidra. My favorite method is when she uses colors of light and we are to think of the colors she talks about and what that color is doing in our body whether it is ‘giving energy’ or ‘drawing away stress’ or if it is bringing warmth or a cool refreshing. It isn’t a spell or anything scary - it is just a relaxation method to make you aware of one part of your body at a time.  It is using your imagination and letting your inner child be free for a moment.

Cheryl didn’t use the colors this time. She used a ‘marble’. As we lay flat in a relaxed position, she told us to imagine a marble in our hand and it was rolling across our palm massaging it. Then the imaginary marble rolled up our arm… she took us through the whole body slowly so that we were aware to focus on each body part and relax it as the marble rolled its way around. This is more difficult than it sounds. When the marble got to my shoulder and even though I was extremely relaxed, I felt that my shoulder was tense and I didn’t even know it. That is the purpose of this exercise. We think we are relaxed but it takes a lot to get our mind in a relaxed state and focus on each part of the body to release all the tension throughout. As my marble traveled over my body I felt relaxed but also energized. When we sat up, Cheryl took the class through the short “Om” and “Shante” chant and ended with Namaste. I don’t let this part of Yoga freak me out because I am firm in what I believe.

Yoga helps to become aware of one’s self and I do my best to respect that when I’m in class. I love to make people laugh, but during class I do my best to refrain so that everyone can focus their mind on their body and what they need out of the class. After class is over… that’s a different story and I couldn’t help but crack a joke. I stood up and spoke to the girl next to me and pointed to the ground as she was still kneeling. I said, “You lost your marble.”

She looked around not quite sure of what she was looking for. She tried to focus on what this goofball next to her was saying and she asked, “What?” I repeated to her, “You lost your marble…” I began giggling and introduced myself, “Hi, I’m Jen.” She giggled too and said, “I’m Alice.”

My quest for better health is slow, but sure… and when you pay attention to your body, what you put into it, how it affects you and how it moves, it needs to be slow. When I think about how long turtles live… I think slow is pretty good.

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