by Erin Fergus
I recently attended the ACSM Health & Fitness Summit, a national fitness conference, in Atlanta, GA. One of the lectures discussed the increasing prevalence of diabetes in our country, and I sat in a room with hundreds of other fitness professionals. I looked around, I shook my head, and I was saddened by the charts and graphs I was seeing. Then I got angry, and my immediate thought was, “Come on, people, you have a choice every damn day…”
We don’t only have one choice a day; we have constant choices. People who are on the path to diabetes often make the wrong choice, or the easy choice, over and over. Even when they have a choice to stop making the wrong choice, they don’t necessarily take that one.
I worked as the fitness director for a YMCA for several years, and the question that shocked me most from people during the January rush was, “How long is this going to take?” after I discussed an exercise prescription with them. I responded in the nicest way possible, “Well, what are you going to do when you get there? Stop? This is a lifestyle.” I think sometimes people forget that healthy people don’t magically wake up in that state of health, and the same goes for unhealthy people. It isn’t one choice that keeps you from getting sick or allows you to achieve your fitness goals, and it definitely isn’t one choice that develops a chronic disease. It’s a pattern of choices in the long haul that will keep you healthy or unravel you.
The good news IS that there is always a choice. We are in control of our actions and reactions; we can be victims or victorious. Even if you do make the wrong choice (because it will happen at some point), you can choose to wallow in it and give up, or you can choose to get yourself back on track. It applies to everyone, from someone who is currently sedentary but wanting to change to a competitor during contest prep. Take it one choice at a time, make the best one, and celebrate the success. Create some momentum.
I recently transitioned from unstructured, undisciplined eating to a contest prep meal plan. I have to make a choice to follow it for every meal, six meals a day. I also have a love/hate relationship with stretching, but I am making a choice to incorporate it into my routine more often. Sure, there’s times I want to add in an extra spoonful of peanut butter or a handful of carob chips because no one is watching, but I know the satisfaction of making the right choice is more powerful than sugar or fat. I know that by feeding my body only what it needs and by stretching and foam rolling that I am not only making a choice, I am making an investment.