(This is a follow-up to two entries -- Do As I Say, Not As I Do, part I and Do As I Say, Not As I Do, part II -- regarding responsible blogging)
As a child we might have heard our parents say "Do as I say, not as I do" or "because I said so" quite often. Even as a child we realized that they weren't following the rules they insisted were so important. One part of growing up is realizing that the rules for children are different than the rules for a teenager, and the rules of a teenager are different than the rules for a young adult. Our parents tried to tailor the rules they gave us according to our maturity and level of responsibility. They followed their own rules according to their own needs and abilities.
So too everyone's nutritional and exercise plan should be tailored to their needs and abilities.
Not only do I work with a dietitian to cater my diet and caloric needs to my activity level, but I also have the recommendations and approvals of my doctors for my exercise plan (orthopedist, chiropractor, physical therapist). I have also worked with psychologists over many years to help me deal with many of my destructive and obsessive behaviors. My general practitioner and ob/gyn is aware of my health goals and monitor me accordingly (various blood tests, prescription levels, etc.).
While I do write occasionally about my own exercise plan and goals, or my own weight goals, I want to make it very clear that these are not plans or goals that I picked from thin air. They have been carefully considered and tailored to my own needs and abilities. For example, you don't see me running road races because that is something that would cause significant injury to my back, nor do you see me trying to stick to a 1400 calorie intake. I'm not saying that people who run races are going to have bad backs or people with 1400 calorie diets are wrong, I'm just saying that neither of those are reasonable or healthy goals for me.
I want everyone to take a deep breath and think about this. Think about how your own health plan has been influenced by outside influences that are not medical professionals. Consider the influence of media -- pictures of other people, stories about losing 5 lbs in 5 days, advertisements for the newest miracle food, etc. I also want you to consider the influence of other food/diet/nutrition bloggers.
Do you ever find yourself trying to emulate someone else's exercise or diet plan?
Do you turn to another blogger for diet/exercise advice instead of your doctors or as a supplement to health care professionals?
Do you know a particular author's background and/or credentials?
Have you ever been distracted from your own plan because another blogger's plan sounds more appealing?
And lastly before I go, I wanted to talk about something that has been on my mind, and I don't see discussed often around on the blogs: exercise bulimia. I want each and every one of you to read this link, and investigate the topic for yourself. There are many first-person narratives on the topic, such as this one from the magazine Elle [2019 update: link no longer works]
As we are losing weight there is a very fine line between exercising enough and exercising too much. We love seeing the calorie burn. We love seeing the weight come off -- but we have to keep our overall and long-term health in mind. Exercise should compliment our nutritional plan (i.e. we need to eat enough to fuel any and all exercise) and our lifestyle. It should not become our nutritional plan (i.e. we shouldn't feel like we have to have burn every calorie we eat; and we should remember that even without exercise our body is burning calories (our basal metabolic rate)) and it should not become our life (i.e. we should maintain our friendships, our hobbies, our focus at work, etc.).
If you see yourself heading down this path, please reach out and get some help. Please learn to incorporate moderate and attainable goals into your life. Learn to create an exercise routine. Show it to your doctor, physical therapists or trainers. Make sure you have planned REST DAYS, not just days you don't exercise because you're injured or sick.
I'll leave you with my opinion/advice about exercise: try not to think about exercise as a weightloss mechanism. Exercise should be about using your body, increasing its strength, flexibility, and stamina. Exercise should make you feel good about your abilities. Exercise is not about balancing out food choices. It is not about penance for food sins. Exercise is you honoring your body with the gift of movement.