Thought: Oh it’s lunch time and I’m hungry. I should eat.
Disordered Thought: You had carbs for breakfast remember? So you can’t have bread for lunch. We also don’t have much food in the house. *cue panic due to decision making*
Thought: I’m home from work, it’s 9pm, I could do with a snack.
Disordered Thought: It’s way too late to eat! You won’t digest your food before going to sleep. Just don’t do it.
Thought: I’m pretty sad/ stressed/ anxious today. I should take a moment to try and work out what’s going on.
Disordered Thought: EAT. Order a take away. Don’t think, just eat.
Thought: I’m not too keen on the idea of exercising at the moment. I don’t need to go to the gym just because everyone else is.
Disordered Thought: All your muscle mass will disappear. You’ll look awful. Your health will deteriorate. You need to lift weights to look good a to be slim.
This is an example of the ongoing dialogue that clutters my brain on a daily basis. I’m constantly trying to figure out what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ with my thought process. Let’s take the gym and exercise as an example, the main subject that has been holding me hostage over the last few months.
Some of you may have read my post Quitting The Gym: Eating disorder recovery and working in the fitness industry in which I explained my current job and the fact that I was unhappy with my exercise choices. I felt that I was exercising for all the wrong reasons and forcing myself to go to the gym, when all I really wanted was a cup of coffee and some snacks.
I went from obsessing about food and how to get rid of it, to thinking that I was recovered whilst pursuing the #strongnotskinny mindset. But all I was doing was focusing my disordered thoughts to a new vice, as it turns out, all those rules for looking ‘fit and strong’ are just as narrow as the rules for being thin. But now it involved more than just counting calories, I had a whole new range of rules to abide by; counting macros, making my diet as clean as possible, starving fat and building muscle. I was allowed to gain weight but only if it was strong and sculpted, not soft, not fluid.
I like to think back to my childhood, when I used to run as fast as I possibly could, I would do handstands and cartwheels with my dress tucked up and a smile on my face, I would take dance classes with my friends and play suck in the mud just for fun.
I wasn’t trying to burn off my snacks to allow myself my next meal.
I wasn’t trying to ‘tone up’ or loose my puppy fat.
So it saddens me to think that we no longer think about movement in terms of anything other than weight loss and muscle gain.
we’ve poisoned our relationship with exercise.
So here I am, trying my hardest to switch off all the lies that I’ve been telling myself, all the lies I’ve been made to believe by society over the last few years and to realise when my thoughts are slipping into that disordered place. Every time my mind tells me that I’ve eaten too much, that my arse is too flat, that my cellulite has increased and that I must go to the gym to ‘tone back up’ or to burn off those calories. I stop and I ask myself:
why do I really want to exercise?
Is it because you enjoy it?
Is it because it will relieve your stress?
Or is it because you don’t feel worthy right now? That you don’t feel good enough the way you are at this moment?
If it’s the latter, I won’t do it. Because I need to challenge that though process.
So, If you’re ever doubting your choices, or you can’t work out whether your thoughts are tricking you, I leave you with this:
Exercise is not meant to hurt, it is meant to be fun, to be enjoyed and to make you feel wonderful. Society has this obsession with exercise and over exercising to the point of pain, don’t fall into that trap! Move in ways that are enjoyable to you and take time to listen to your body. Not feeling the gym today? Don’t go. Thinking that your planned run wouldn’t be the best idea today? Don’t go. It’s time to stop forcing your body into situations it doesn’t want to be in. It’s time to move away from the notion that exercise only exists to make us smaller, that we need to do it to punish ourselves for the dessert yesterday evening, that the only way we can been seen as worthy is if we ‘go hard or go home’. Because all those ideas are so much more detrimental to our health than simply skipping a workout. So be gentle, take your time and notice when those disordered thoughts are returning.