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First Run of the Year.

5 January 2016

Yesterday after work I went out in the 24 degree weather (Farenheit, for you foreign devils reading this) and ran for the first time in 2016. My last run of 2015 was on the 30th, so I took four days off. I didn’t ride or go to the gym in that time either. I just rested and took a few shortish walks. Definitely time to get back to it.

It surprises me how much a few days break will allow my body to both recover and back slide. The run yesterday, only a touch more than four miles, made my lower back ache a bit. My right thigh was tweaky. It didn’t feel great. But I definitely needed it and I was thrilled to get out there, go up and down a few hills, and turn in a pretty good pace for the afternoon.

4.13 miles, 39:21. About a 9:30 pace per mile which qualifies as a “fast” run for me. I was definitely pleased with time and distance and pace and it really feels good to go out into the bracing cold and get some work done. I don’t know if I’m going to repeat last year’s distance. I don’t know if I’m going to keep improving on my achievements. But I’m going to go out and run.

Today I talk with my personal trainer about my fitness goals for the year. I’m thinking, run 1000 miles, bike 1000 miles. I like round numbers and those are some big round numbers. I’d like to run another marathon. At least three half marathons, maybe four or five if I can find the time.

I’d really also like to take better control of my diet. I gained back about four pounds over the winter holidays and I’d like to actually drop down below 180 this year if I can. That’s all down to eating. I eat good healthy foods on a regular basis. But I eat too much of them, and then I eat too much in the way of baked goods and sweetened dairy. I am capable of making good choices. It just requires that I take and enlightened view of it.

When I feel more spiritual about my body, I make better decisions about what I put into it. I have many atheist and skeptical friends who think that that’s absurd, and that I should be able to just look at the science of health and make rational choices based on the best available evidence. The problem is, even in the relatively well-understood world of nutrition and exercise, there’s no consensus at all about what’s “healthy” among scientists. There are broad guidelines but no specific solutions.

And that’s a general problem of using epidemiological evidence for individual decision making anyway: we’re all different, and while general guidelines are good for most people (if they’re well-constructed), we each respond to our diet in idiosyncratic ways.

And so the best way for me to be effective in my health decision making is to adopt a more holistic, spiritual view about it. I know that I feel better and feel more connected to myself and my surroundings when I am making positive choices about my food. For me that means a lot of vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and milk. And it means not depriving myself of sweets but attempting them in small doses. A half a chocolate bar after dinner.

Then, if I add in some meditation and exercise, I generally feel pretty good about myself, and I’ve lost weight and been healthy doing that. I think spirituality has deep usefulness in my life, and I don’t need to understand how it works to accept that.

So I think those are my goals. Run 1000 miles. Bike 1000 miles. And try to lose about 10 pounds by adopting a healthier and more spiritual outlook towards food again. I’ll see if I can. I’m confident that the effort will itself be worthwhile.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Aimee permalink
    5 January 2016 12:00

    I got a giggle thinking about your atheist friends getting all huffy about “spiritual” eating choices. Shouldn’t they be able to rationally accept the evidence that your creating a particular emotional/linguistic construct within which to make decisions leads to healthier outcomes?

  2. pyrope permalink
    11 January 2016 16:09

    Mmm…I have a spiritual relationship with chocolate cake.

    If you haven’t already, check out some phone apps that log calories. Most are really easy these days, and I find that logging what I eat keeps me honest.

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