J IS FOR JUNK
Elaine Doll-Dunn, Psy.D.

Junk. We all have junk. Junk as in food, miles, thoughts, dresser drawers, and general attitude. All to be eliminated. If fit is gonna happen, junk needs to take a hike.

Start with food. Junk food is just a habit. It’s convenient…lots easier to pick up a Snicker than to pack an apple…satisfies a craving for a short while, spikes the blood sugar for a phony energy boost, and is the ultimate in comfort food. It’s a hard habit to break. Even now, when I get tired and have too much to do or hit a frustration level with whatever project I’m immersed in; my thoughts turn to Red Hots. They are so conveniently and comfortingly close to my office when the computer decides to mess up the schedule or I hit a speed bump in my lesson plan. And it would be easy when I get home after school to rationalize my need for something quick to assuage the hunger and fatigue that a day at the office can bring to anyone. (I can remember those first years of teaching when I literally ate my way into bed, convinced I had earned every empty calorie laden mouthful, and shocked when the scale or my jeans registered reality.)

It takes concerted effort and a plan to eliminate the junk food cycle from your fitness plan, but the rewards in energy, level of health, and weight control are worth a plan of action. It’s no great secret what needs to happen and how to do it, but the first line of defense is your brain. And until you make that decision, all the good intentions in the world won’t steer you away from the candy aisle…how badly do you want great health, a fit body, and a clear mind?

Then there are junk miles, those miles that are movement only. Poor posture, sloppy running, slouchy walking; that’s junk. No one has to be an Olympian to exercise, but running and walking correctly are easier that doing it wrong and the benefits are myriad. As you run or walk, monitor your posture. Is your head over your shoulders? Are your shoulders over your hips? Hips over your feet? How are you carrying your arms? Across your chest, up by your ears? Learn to be what my dad called a ‘shadow rider’ (runner in your case) check your shadow on the ground or your silhouette in the store window. Do you look like a runner? You should be relaxed and rhythmic, head up, shoulders back, and a smile on your face. Running is a natural endeavor… no more junk miles.

Next is your desk. If you take the time to clear out the detritus of the day every night, you come to a fresh work area every morning. I can remember a wise woman saying to me in my early married years, “Put your house to bed each night, and it will greet you well in the morning.” And it’s true. Leaving the dishes to soak overnight does not a pleasant cup of coffee make.
Junk thoughts? Negativity. “I can’t do that. I don’t like that. I’m not good enough. I run too slowly. I can’t stop eating…” That’s the kind of junk stuff nobody needs. Recognize the tendency and eliminate it immediately. Positive thoughts replace negatives, and it’s as good as a swipe across the counter with a clean dish cloth. Positive self-talk is a powerful tool, and readily at your disposal. Try this in a run. Chant to yourself, “I feel wonderful, I feel wonderful, I feel wonderful!” And you will, it’s quite amazing. (Best to say it to yourself; your buddies might begin to wonder.)

Ok, now the rubber hits the road. Let’s talk about my closet. Not a pretty sight. I have a tendency to hang on to clothes that used to look good, that remind me of a fun time, or that I may grow back into. It’s hard for me to make a decision about getting rid of my treasures, I’m just sure I will wear some of that finery again…so I’ll own that I have a small problem in that area, but as I write, I am making a firm commitment to myself (and to my long suffering husband) that I will take down everything I haven’t worn in two years, get rid of all the shoes that are no longer in style (but they were so pretty!), I’ll trash the leather coat that I never liked anyway (it was too expensive to give away), and, yes, George, I’ll jettison the bell bottoms that I always knew would come back in. It will be a sacrifice, and a little wrenching, but I can do it; I know I can do it.

But about the twenty pairs of running shoes…

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