Monday, December 31, 2012

A Toast to New Beginnings

The 950' vertical climb at Jamaica's Dunns River Falls was 
a piece of cake for this 40-something.
I have always considered myself an athlete. I was a three-sport child excelling in basketball, softball and soccer. I dabbled in track & field and spent many afternoons scrambling up trees or playing football with my big brother or my bff.

As an adult, distracted by marriage and motherhood, I floundered sport-less for nearly a decade until I discovered surfing at age 30. Still, despite traveling often in pursuit of perfect waves, I wasn't particularly strong or healthy. I was skinny fat, unable to complete a single unassisted pull-up or chin-up and had no idea what a deadlift even was. Almost exactly two years ago, I made a discovery that would change my life forever and start me on a new path of self-discovery that continues to teach me new lessons almost daily.

It was Martin Berkhan's Leangains website. I couldn't tell if it was a diet or a training regimen - or a little of both? Here was a way to lose fat, gain a tremendous amount of strength all while enjoying substantial meals consisting of many of the foods traditionally considered taboo in the fitness world. Was this the holy grail of fitness? The answer to that, for me anyway, was yes...and no.

While Martin outlines quite specifically the do's and don'ts of the Leangains way - required daily intermittent fasting, large meals, carb cycling, refeed days and heavy training - I've come to two realizations:

1. These are guidelines and the specifics will vary from individual to individual; and
2. Like all other training/diet protocols out there, Leangains is also subject to continued evolution as more information and science becomes available.

Though the specifics of weights and reps and permitted foods and fasting times may vary from person to person, what will not vary is the fact that Leangains is a mindset.

People are tired of dieting. We don't want to eat mini-meals all damned day. Most of us don't have three hours a day to spend working out. And when there's a special event, we want to enjoy our grandma's homemade pie or mom's famous sour-cream whipped potatoes without guilt.

We're also not aspiring Olympians or professional athletes. We're normal people, subject to the rampages of age and we want to be able to get out of a chair with ease when we're 80. We want to have the energy to play with our kids and grandkids. When we are able to take a vacation, we'd like to be able to walk, run and play when we reach our destination of choice. We want to be able to bend, stretch, lift, jump and get through our daily lives without physical limitations. I can honestly say, as I hit the 40th year of my life a couple of weeks ago, that I will always, in one way or another, follow the Leangains mindset because it will allow me to enjoy all of the above and so much more as I take on the next 40 years of my life.
Sometimes it's important to remember life is simply 
meant to be lived.
As 2013 quickly approaches I have to remind myself that I have only just started on the road to a lifetime of better health and fitness. While I do not yet have that coveted 6-pack, I have come to the realization that I am stronger than I was at 20. I am confident, healthy, energetic and I am ready to run, jump, leap, bound, swing and surf my way through this safari called life.

The term "Holy Grail" signifies the end-all-be-all of any desire, ambition or goal. In essence; the finish line. While Leangains has changed my life forever, I have come to realize that it was not the finish line at all - in fact, it was just the beginning.

Here's to a happy, healthy, blessed New Year of new beginnings for us all!

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