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The Great Affair with Health

Guest blog written by Summit Athlete Mallory Cross

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been chasing my idea of ‘fit’ for a long time. I’ve been the yo-yo dieter and worker-outer for years. I swing back and forth between obsessed with working out, and not having the will to extricate myself from the couch. I’ve counted macros, cut out carbs, and cut out booze. I’m a walking inconsistency.

Like most people, I was busy in high school, so what I ate wasn’t all that important. I had a pretty solid metabolism that made up for my late night McDonalds runs and all the soda I consumed. It was probably halfway into my freshman year in college that I noticed that my figure was changing, and that I couldn’t eat sugary cereal in the mornings and ramen noodles for dinner like my roommates. My jeans were getting progressively tighter, my face rounder, and my insecurities bigger.

It was around this time that I would get on the elliptical for a half hour and hit up the Trim and Tone class on campus. Because in my mind, I thought those things were obviously going to mediate drinking bottles of moscato and beer bonging on the weekends. Surprise! They didn’t. I then started eating Lean Cuisines for every meal and got into yoga a couple times per week, thinking that combo would be the answer for getting my teenage body back. Yet again, a no go.

The summer of 2011 brought me to the door of a crossfit gym, and really changed my idea of fitness. Up until this point, weightlifting was only something I’d been forced to do for track in high school, and I’d never taken that seriously. So when someone asked me to a pull up, and put a barbell in my hands, I was quite skeptical. Doesn’t lifting weights make you bulky? Because I already felt insecure about my hips and butt that kept expanding. And won’t I rip my hands doing this? How will a manicure last?

All of these preconceived notions went away within a few weeks. I went from looking cute for the gym to looking functional. I gave up on the idea of nail polish. I became more confident in my newly toned arms, and muscular legs. I got excited putting more weight on the bar and challenging myself. I then accepted a new diet in the form of paleo, that I dabbled in with varying intensity until 2014 or so. I was hitting impressive numbers in the gym, crushing running PRs, and feeling like a million bucks in my clothes. 

But little by little I became obsessive I suppose. I sacrificed going out with friends to avoid having the pressure to drink alcohol. I took bread off of every sandwich or burger I was presented with. I felt legitimately bad for thinking about eating ice cream or chips and queso.

It only makes sense that I next experienced a personal and emotional problem that knocked me off my high horse. This was right around graduation from undergrad. I dumped the paleo and opted for alcohol most nights a week. I drank most of my calories that way, and wasn’t consuming a whole lot of food at all. My willingness to go to the gym was minimal. I was 100% depressed and my outlook was cluttered by my inability to get out of my own head.

For the next couple years, I went to the gym often, but also let my diet hit rock bottom again. I legitimized chicken wings and ice cream multiple times a week. I ate out quite a bit, and drank too much on the weekends. I worked between 2-3 jobs at this time and was stumbling around on my first go at adulthood, unsure of my next step. And when I found out what and where that was, I showed up to grad school roughly 15lbs over what I was comfortable weighing.

The next couple years brought ebbs and flows of consistency of both my diet and working out. I loved crossfit but didn’t have a whole lot of time for it. I added in trail runs and basement home workouts when I could. I went back to not having a whole lot of time to eat, and quickly lost about 10lbs. I balanced that with the stress relief of alcohol on the weekends until I graduated.

Then, whether it from being pent up for so long, or because I felt like celebrating, I drank and partied my way through the summer after graduate school well into the fall, and got most of my exercise by running through the airport or doing bicep curls with 12oz beers. And when I wasn’t in party mode, I was one with the couch cushions, watching episode after episode of Breaking Bad with a bag of chips near by.

It has been almost two years since that summer, and here I am feeling like I’m approaching a peak again. We food prep on the weekends, and eat at home and healthily during the week by doing so. I drink alcohol maybe once or twice per week. I bust my butt to make it to crossfit at least three times a week, and go out and walk/run or hit a yoga class on the other days. If I’m working, I’m hitting thousands of steps running around. My clothes don’t fit exactly like I’d like, and my summer bod is a work in progress, but I feel like I’m on the cusp of an upswing.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, we can’t have it all together, all of the time. If you’re kicking ass and taking names at work, your diet or exercise or sleep is probably taking a hit. If you’re putting all your time and energy to being chiseled, you’re probably missing out on patio beers with your friends. If you’re traveling a lot and celebrating with booze on every day that ends in ‘y’, you’re probably cultivating that muffin top. 

And IMO, all of these ebbs and flows are important! If you want to live big and have it all, you deserve to. Granted there will always be a couple things that take precedence, being well rounded makes you happy. Now I’m not ragging on you if you’re Ms. Consistent, but rather extending a hand to all those out there that need a nudge right now. And I’m asking for your nudge too. Please encourage me to get off the couch as I will encourage you to put down your 10th beer. Or honestly it’s probably vice versa. Either way, this whole life is cyclical. So just because you fall down, doesn’t mean you have to be down forever. I’m here to chase balance with you. I’m here to tell you when your obsession overshadows the things you used to love. I’m here for you whether you’re up or down, as I hope you will be with me. 

Cheers to resilience and perpetual improvement. And to doing at least enough yoga to do Utthita Hasta Padangustasana (extended hand-to-big-toe pose) on a tree stump in the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand.

– Mallory | Rising

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