Thanks to brand ambassador Kim Potter for these fantastic words of wisdom!
As we welcome spring with open arms, we can be glad for many things the year has brought to us already. Longer days, for one. It's all downhill cruising from here. Soon the snow-pack will melt into spring colors, and after-work rides will no longer be a dream.
Not long ago, people were focusing on something that comes around every year and is notorious for falling flat on its face: New Year’s Resolutions. I have made a few of these in my time. Some were a success; others a failure. After discussing resolutions with friends, it's safe to say there are aspects of our lives and habits (read: health) that we would love to improve. Why not use the new year as a kickstart?!
While I honestly believe new beginnings can be incredibly exciting and hopeful, they also have to come with a healthy side of moderation. I'm absolutely not the first – and I won't be the last – to say these things. I don't even claim to have any kind of prowess or knowledge about such things as "moderation." But I have certainly learned over the years what "excess" can do to a person; what it can do to a body.
My mom used to tell me, "Kim, everything can be unhealthy in excess. Even broccoli can be dangerous in abundance!" Mom was right. Many people have struggled and continue to struggle with food intake. Healthy eating is one of the most enigmatic and poorly understood concepts. Not to mention dynamic and ever evolving with our attitudes, cultures, moralities, and tastes. As we see health food fads come and go, one that has been particularly oppressed in our society is fats in our diet. It comes and goes as good for you, bad for you, and good for you again. And then the different varietals of fats are good, then bad, then ok, then unknown, and then good for you again. I don’t know who or what to believe at this point, and I can’t imagine anyone else really does either.
Which brings me to my next point: We have to begin to trust ourselves. Trust what our bodies tell us. Our bodies are relaying messages to us constantly. Maybe we eat a fast food burger 3 times a week and begin to feel a softness building around our midsection. Maybe we started parking farther away from our offices and eventually we start noticing that the extra walking has made our legs feel different. Maybe our thighs feel smoother upon our gait. Maybe we feel our hearts racing when we walk upstairs or slowing when we lay down at night. I wonder how many people actually realize the things our bodies go through and do we even appreciate it? Perhaps saying the words “listen to your body” isn’t informative enough.
Maybe more action-oriented tasks would help people realize and awaken to the sensations and cues of the physiological presence. Perhaps we as a society could be more in tune with our bodies instead of being disappointed by them.
I’ll stop here and clarify. Realizing our potential and being aware of our physical selves comes through mindfulness. Mindfulness isn’t about losing yourself. It is about finding your Self. Your physical presence and how it connects to your mental awareness. Your emotional space. Your being as you are being. I don’t proclaim to be an expert on Mindfulness. My academic training, however, is in psychology, and I have been aware of it in peer reviewed literature for over a decade now. I am also a practitioner of Mindfulness training and have subscribed to Lumosity’s sessions in mindfulness. This is app-based and currently in beta mode. It consists of multiple sessions ranging around 10 minutes each. They are spoken word sessions where one only has to listen and practice the advice given during the sessions. Some focus on clearing the mind of racing thoughts in order to bring about sleep. Others focus on listening to your body during the day to curb stressors and anxiety. These sessions can be used anywhere to provide a break from the day-to-day, or they can be used to wind down and fall asleep.
I truly believe that becoming more aware of your body will make you better at knowing what helps you and what hurts you in a physical or even emotional sense. We can use these tools to eventually overcome the disappointment we might feel with our bodies if we are in an unexpected place; if we don’t feel our ultimate level of “healthy.”
Maybe a New Year's Resolution would best be replaced by goals to be ever-improving. I would love to make every day a new beginning with hope for conquering a fear or smiling at a part of my body I have always frowned at before. In my cycling endeavors, listening to my body has makes or breaks a good day on the bike. When I was racing, everyone would tell me to train with power, train with heart rate, ride for this amount of time at this amount of intensity. While this will absolutely get you to the haute classe in sport, I am a firm believer that you also absolutely must incorporate a sense of self in your endeavors. Going out on the bike without a Garmin, without Strava, without even a route planned can be one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself. The numbers are meaningless if you don’t know what it means to you. Just like saying the sky is blue would be meaningless to someone who has no idea what blue means to their eyes.
I hope this year is the best yet for you and for me. I hope you find a new level in life and in sport. I hope for an awareness of ourselves and our Self. I found an inspiring graphic on the internet the other day and edited it a bit myself. I made the “NEW” in the middle of the picture into an “ALL.” I think it makes more sense to me that way, and I want to share it with you as well. So cheers to making your New Years Resolutions into All Years Resolutions. Now get out and ride your bike!