Posts Tagged ‘health’

Giving up meat, sort of.

At a party on Saturday, after hearing that I work at a Catholic church, a girl asked me what I gave up for Lent. Not feeling up to the discussion, I quickly said “I’m still thinking about it.” Not really caring, she walked away. The encounter got me thinking that I probably should give something up for Lent. I know myself well enough to know that any major change, like not using the internet or driving, would be futile. I eventually decided on a good option: no meat, at my house.

My new policy results from a guilt that always lurks in the back of my mine, primarily about the environmental impact of eating meat. Animals bred for consumption require massive amounts of food and water resources, take up unnatural amounts of space, and produce massive amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Between that and reading The New American Diet, a book that introduced a generation to vegetarianism in the 1980’s, I decided I should give it a try.

So while I ideologically should be a vegetarian, I have never been good at sudden change, so I thought this no meat in the apartment policy would be a good place to start. I do not eat out very much, so I will not be able to eat meat very much during most meals. It works both ways too, because I know I should not eat very much meat, I will not eat out as much as well.

And when I do eat out, I will be able to eat meat to reward myself for not eating meat. I learned in the new American diet that pets train faster when they are rewarded for doing good behavior than scolded for bad.

I will occasionally update readers on this new endeavor throughout the semester. I will keep track of any health benefits, if I feel different emotionally, whether energy levels are impacted, the amount of money I save, and anything else worth noting.

The most difficult temptation is living a thirty second walk away from the Crown and Anchor Pub, where you can get a delicious cheeseburger and fries for $4.75, how I loathe it.

Small goals = big confidence

The trails along Town Lake are a great place to start running in Austin.
photo by: Donnie Hogan

I am not a running expert. I don’t have a decorated race resume and I don’t consider myself or my daily habits to be models of what a prototypical runner should be. I’m just a regular guy.

That being said, I have come across several strategies to running that have helped me hate it less and boost my confidence level after every run.

Today I want to suggest setting small goals.

Running is not the easiest hobby to pick up. Too many people make a conscious effort to get in shape by running, but try to do too much too quickly, burning out themselves and their bodies. Rather than spontaneously attempting to train for a marathon by running randomly until your legs fall off, start slow. Time yourself and set modest goals for each run.

Start with one mile, 2-3 times a week. Very quickly, you’ll see your finish times decrease as you build up strength and stamina. Then you can increase your runs to two miles, three miles, etc. Town Lake is a great place to start because there are mileage markers to help you track your progress (bottom right).

Take advantage of the mileage markers around Town Lake to monitor your progress.

For example, my fiance and I decided to run together in this year’s Statesman Capitol 10K (discussed by Hannah in a previous post). In order to train, we started slow, running from Auditorium Shores to the Lamar Bridge and back, about 1.5 miles. Then we increased our run to the Mopac bridge and back, about 4.5 miles and yesterday for the first time ran from I-35 to Mopac and back, a distance of 7.12 miles.

The point is you don’t have to be a phenomenal athlete to participate in runs like the Capitol 10K. Start slow. Set modest goals. Gain confidence when you meet your goals and gradually increase the bar you set for each run.

If you do this, I promise running will become more gratifying and you’ll begin to hate it less while gaining confidence with each run.