Friday, April 22, 2011

Nike: Getting Back Into It

origonally posted May 06, 2010 by Coach Jay


Jay - About 5 years ago I was in the best shape of my life. I was running everyday, signing up for races and playing tennis. I decided to go back to school, which took four years and added 30lbs to my frame.

Needless to say, with the additional weight gain and the lack of mental motivation, I am struggling to get back to my old mindset of wanting to be in shape. I honestly never thought I'd be the type of person to lack the drive, but I do and I don't know how to get it back. Thanks. Dan

Dan - I feel for you and I sincerely appreciate the candor in your question. While I don't know all of the specifics of your situation, I'm going to share a couple of thoughts that apply to all of us when dealing with additional pounds after being more fit and more athletic earlier in our lives.

The first thing we need to talk about is the stress hormone cortisol. Obviously I'm not a bio-chemist and I can't go into molecular detail, yet cortisol is something I talk about with the athletes I work with. The body release/produces it in response to a stressor and the cortisol will, among other things, trigger a series of responses where the body will break down muscle to use as an energy source. When we're stressed we tend to be a bit puffy and this relates to cortisol as well because the cortisol is telling the body to pack on fat in need of an emergency, such as being without food for days on end. While the endocrine system is complicated and hormones like cortisol can also help an athlete, for the most part cortisol is bad for athletes and my guess is that your life stress is higher than it once was, if only because you're frustrated with the extra weight.

Another thing I'd like to talk about is something simple, but difficult to change. Running a bit more motivates a person to eat a bit smarter, hydrate a bit more and get a bit more rest... which, in turn, helps the person feel motivated to get out of bed in the morning for a run. This snowball effect is a simple, linear process that you've obviously seen before in your life and now you just need two things: faith that you can get back to a weight you're happy with and the patience to go through the cycle each day until the days have added up to several months.

Let me end with this. When I first started doing this weekly Q&A I was about ten pounds heavier than I am today. I wasn't running as much as I wanted and I had the diet that was all over the map. I'm running consistently, which makes it easier to eat mindfully and intelligently and for the most part I'm able to rest and recover from running each day, allowing me to be ready to repeat the cycle the next day. It just takes time, but the good news is it's as simple as getting out the door one day and seeing the first day lead to a second and a third day.

No doubt you can do this Dan and I sincerely appreciate you question. Thank you.

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