By Kimberly Paulien - I was a student a few months ago and I studied nutrition. I love nutrition. Basically, I just love to eat, but I figured I could and should channel my obsession into a healthier vice. Therefore, I studied nutrition and dietetics, eat dark chocolate, and exercise daily. On this personal journey I have been searching for the right balance for myself. Yes, I am learned to teach others in my classes, but seriously folks, you can’t take someone past where you currently are or beyond the roads you have trotted on your own journey! Last summer I attended a fitness symposium held on the campus of Andrews University. One motivating speaker said, “You are the subject and the scientist of your own life.” YES YES YES!!! These are the words of inspiration I’d been searching for my whole life. This is a great mantra to live by! I have tried many anomalous things that have epically failed! Things like: veganism (tofutti ice cream doesn’t do it for me), going sugar-free (but chocolate isn’t sugar free?), marathon running (ow! my knees hurt), road biking (seriously? THREE flat tires in a month?), kettle bells (what the what?) and many other things that I could continually lament over! What a waste of time and of money? Maybe, but what a great investment in experience, experience in the big scientific study of my own life… conducted by yours truly! We try, we fail, we try, we succeed, we try we fail again, and so on and so forth. Such is life! But in this dramatic roller coaster process we learn what works and what does not work for us! It’s good practice, and practice is needed for mastery! There are many ways people try to lose weight, get fit, or just be a bit healthier. We see our friends and we are excited for them, maybe. Mostly we are jealous. And we wonder, “Why can’t I find ‘the thing’ that works for me too?” We try their “thing” and sometimes it works. Usually, it does not. You have to figure out what works for you, not for Angelina Jolie! Because lets face it, you are NOT Angelina Jolie, nor will you ever be! You need to find out what works for you! Maybe the thing that gets you excited is hot yoga, calorie counting, salad for dinner, Tae Bo, forgoing desserts 3 times per week, or only buying vegan milks and cheeses. Whatever “it” is, go for it and do that thing! I like yoga. Yoga is something that didn’t work for me for a very long time. But my mind wasn’t in the right place. Sometimes we just need to try something again at a later date. You might be surprised! Back then I wanted a quick calorie-torching workout so that I could eat a huge bowl of ice cream (vegan failure). Why would I waste my time with yoga? Besides… isn’t yoga… kinda… weird? Most of my life I thought yoga was this peculiar eastern religious practice of emptying the mind while sitting on a sweaty mat and chanting… right? “An empty mind is the devil’s playground,” I was told growing up. Therefore I stayed away. FAR FAR away, but as I began to hear more and more about this oddity known as yoga I started to enter into the contemplation stage (stages of change anyone?). “ Five stages of change have been conceptualized for a variety of problem behaviors. The five stages of change are pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. ” Maybe, just maybe, yoga could be part of a balanced life? You may just be in the pre-contemplation stage. Last year one of my New Years resolutions was to practice yoga at least once per week. This classically failed (hello New Years Resolutions). It wasn’t until that summer when I began running a lot that a friend said just the right words. “Yoga would really improve your running, strengthen your body, and stretch out your tired limbs!” SOLD! Her enthusiastic words were the catalyst I needed to get me to move from pre-contemplation stage to action. I eagerly hustled my butt to the nearest store to buy a yoga mat and then attend a few hot power yoga classes. I. WAS. HOOKED. Yoga has changed my whole paradigm! It’s part of a balanced life, for me! After a few weeks of strengthening my abs and back I no longer hurt after runs like I used to! I can now kneel for long periods of time and stretch farther and farther. My arms were stronger then they have ever been and my athletic self-confidence skyrocketed! It was incredible watching myself improve on a weekly basis! I could do poses in yoga after a few months that I wouldn’t have dreamt about doing before I started (side crow anyone?)! Yoga is one of the things I have learned to love. But, like I said earlier, I wasn’t ready a few years ago. I tried it, but I didn’t try it the right way! I wasn’t ready! Now it has revamped my life! Experience is part of a balanced diet! You, sitting there, wherever you are, reading this article is part of your experience! Where will you let it take you? I also love oatmeal and roasted brussel sprouts, eat beans everyday, run, strength train, swim, bike, limit dessert to a few times per week (well, at least it's a goal), drink lots of water, and many other things. I used to wear a pedometer everyday, I used to feel guilty about snacks at night, I used to binge on prunes (bad idea… bad bad idea) and I also used to do a whole lot of other things I don’t do now. Life is a process. Chock it up as full circle understanding! Life is full of experiences. You need to find what works for you! You need to find what you love and do those things! I love chocolate! So I incorporate it into my diet on a regular basis. That way I will never feel deprived! Find out what works for you! Then do that thing! I don’t like basketball; therefore I do not play basketball! I love swimming therefore I swim. Maybe one day I will learn to love basketball. I just am not there yet!
http://www.uri.edu/research/ (article link has been moved) http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=188150