It's actually been quite reassuring to know that without guidance or a schedule I DO enjoy swimming, biking and running JUST as much, that the motivation is still there when I could easily choose to do other things (and somedays I have chosen to do other things, like sleep, or make bagels :). It's refreshing to also know that while my life benefits greatly from the training, it does not revolve around it. That I don't just exercise for the sake of burning calories or chasing goals, but often for simplicity of soaking up the sunshine and fresh air and letting my mind unwind from the stressors of life. It has been incredibly liberating to adopt this "go with the flow" mentality over the past several weeks and to watch/feel my body naturally bounce back on its own terms and at its own pace.
Just as I've dropped the structure in regards to workouts in November, I've adopted the same relaxed attitude towards my nutrition this month. Currently I'm putting little pressure on myself to eat "healthy" while simply rolling with whatever my body has been craving (or what's convenient at the moment). Though this has lead to more than a few indulgences and my clothes fitting a little tighter, I have no regrets in regards to my food choices as of lately or that I've gained a few pounds. I used to fear off-season weight gain, but now I realize that (within reason) it's a natural by-product of the change in routine, aids in the recovery process and have learned to embrace it. Quite simply: I've learned to trust my body's instincts in terms of what it needs nutritionally and that, with time, I will settle back into a more normal eating routine and the weight will settle where it needs to be. This approach is perhaps not for everyone, but it's currently working for me knowing that in the big picture a few weeks of less than stellar eating is not the end of the world and that my habits in the long term are what matter most. Similar to what I mentioned above, it's incredibly freeing to eat what I want without an ounce of guilt (when not exercising a ton, that is), and I know that mentality allows me to strike the right balance in the long term of providing my body with the nourishment it needs to thrive and enjoying food!
I am thankful for a lot of things this Thanksgiving. Top amongst those things includes the gift of having the budget and accessibility to consume a diet that is plentiful in calories and quality nutrients so that I may have the health and energy to make the most of each day, including the time that is spent engaging in a sport that I enjoy so dearly. I also am abundantly blessed to be surrounded by a community of amazing family and friends whom I love dearly.
Happy Tuesday! I'm off to go run... no agenda, no plan...just because :)
Later on I'll be training for IMLOU 2016, but for now, I'm happy simply training for life.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and endurance athlete residing in southwest Virginia alongside her husband and dog. Through this blog she aims to share favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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