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MOULTON: Keep your breaks under control

Health & Fitness

Michele Moulton

Michele Moulton

A few weeks ago I received a Facebook message from a good friend of mine, John Devereaux. John had a story that he thought I might want to share with people who came to me for guidance about exercise. I was immediately intrigued and, as his words rolled across my computer screen, I knew that I wanted to share his story in my next column.

I met John several years ago on a group bike ride. He is a 48-year-old USPS employee who was always a strong rider. I learned that he also loved to run. He had always been very competitive and seemed to always be training for something as he has a pretty impressive resume … five sprint triathlons, two half-marathons, two marathons, a few century bike rides and a pile of 5-, 10- and 15-k races.

John ran the 2013 Snickers Marathon in March and posted a personal record of 3:56. After the months of strenuous training, he felt a “break” was in order. He took the following week off, and his strict diet went on break, too. He broke habits that had taken years to establish.

After that first week, his mind wanted just a little more time before the discipline came back to order. But a week turned into two … and then a month had passed.

He started exercising again, but was still in “break” mode. He didn’t ride his bike very often, and his runs were the easy ones. Before he knew it, August rolled around, and he had gained 30 pounds! He said at that point he felt worse than he has ever felt in his life.

John’s life “pre-break” went something like this … “My daily routine was normal to me — vitamin/protein shake for breakfast — sub sandwich and apples for lunch — whatever I wanted for supper, but in very moderate portions — after work was a 40 mile ride 3-4 times a week and a couple of runs per week ranging 8-10 miles each.” I’d say he had a pretty good routine.

During his healthy time, John’s weight had been a steady 165 pounds. He is currently at 197 pounds and is trying to get back on the right path. He has been most discouraged at the fact that he cannot perform at a level that was so simple just a few months ago. I told him that he should not get discouraged because he knew what to do, but it would take time.

His response to that statement is what inspired today’s article, “Yes!!! But it’s why I wanted to contact you. Maybe you can catch someone BEFORE they go through this. It’s NOT worth the break … when I get back to where I want to be this will NEVER happen again.”

How many of you can relate to John Devereaux’s disgust with himself? I believe all of us can. We’ve made that decision to take a “break” from our healthy eating and exercise routines. We enjoy a cheat meal or cheat day with every intention of getting back on track “tomorrow” and then tomorrow we say “tomorrow” and the downward spiral begins. Our routine is no longer routine and excuses to cheat on our diet and miss exercise become easier to live with.

This reminded me of one of Nike’s many fitness sayings: “Yesterday You Said Tomorrow. Just Do It.”

John created a weight loss/fitness group on Facebook over a year ago. He has used it to post his fitness journey and to encourage others to lead a healthy lifestyle. I was proud to see his post on Aug. 16: “Time to get busy again — this year has been a struggle so far — the only way to get back to my ideal shape is to start with putting one foot ahead of the other — today begins a new ME … Anyone else feel the same?”

Don’t be ashamed to admit that you have taken too long of a “break” from your healthy lifestyle. Everything is good in moderation, especially those much needed breaks after weeks of wearing down our bodies like John did training for a marathon. But have the dedication and willpower to jump back into your healthy lifestyle.

John needed a break after his marathon. I often need one after a long season of bike racing. Sometimes life forces us to take a break … a divorce, a death in the family, the birth of a new baby, a job change. Exercise isn’t the only thing in life that can wear us down. Life wears us down.

Like John said, start putting one foot ahead of the other and begin a new ME. Find a group fitness class; go for a run; throw all of the junk food out of your kitchen; throw some weights around; sweat; plan your meals for this week and prepare them the night before; find a workout partner; get serious; don’t be a quitter.

Don’t end up like my friend John … out of shape and 30 pounds heavier than you were before you realize that you need to do something. If you’ve taken a “break” from your diet or exercise routine and need to get back on track, start today. Not tomorrow. Remember, Yesterday You Said Tomorrow.

Michele Moulton is a certified group fitness, boot camp and Spinning instructor with more than 23 years of experience in the health and fitness industry. She operates Bodystrong Fitness offering group fitness classes at the Stardust Skating Rink facility. She is a Category 1 cyclist and the PCP Race Team Director. She is also a state auditor and the mother of two boys, Austin and Harrison.