Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Purging {to save my sanity}...

As I have become more involved with Social Media it's come to my attention that, just as in "real" life, my cyber life often needs to be revisited and prioritized.  Whether it be blogs or Twitter chats, I have recently become aware of the need to place more value on my time and cull the sources of information that I either no longer benefit from or can't contribute to any more (those that I feel my input falls on deaf ears).  It's a natural process yet I still feel guilty thinking of potentially removing a couple of blogs from my already over-whelmed Google Reader.

A few of the things that I am having trouble with lately involve those blogs that have become either all-day, every-day wedding posts as well as the "I'm Pregnant" posts.  Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled to tears when I find out someone is getting married or having a baby but I just can't find the time to read post after post of "25 MORE potential wedding venues" or "Here is our list of baby names..add your favorite in the comments section and we will use RandomGenerator to pick our baby's name".  I know that's harsh, after all, my own few readers may not give a crap that I like author David Sedaris or that I'm training for another stupid marathon, but there are so many wonderful blogs out there that I am finding it difficult to find time to read the ones I can't relate to.  (Note: These are blogs that I was reading sporadically that evolved very rapidly from health/running to almost strictly wedding/baby oriented reads, I have the same 'issue' with a few blogs I thought I liked but mostly seem to lack content in favor of posting daily about random things (like traffic or an hour-by-hour recount of their day)...I haven't built a 'relationship' with any of these bloggers and mostly just cyber-stalked them.  Had they been "friends" I, of course, would be thrilled to be a part of their new life circumstances.)

But the main thing that dawned on me after a recent Twitter chat was the emphasis that many, many people (not just bloggers or twitter users) place on food.  There's the WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday) posts, which are sometimes cool because you can actually *see* what some healthy, clean eating people eat that contributes to their healthy lifestyle, but this latest chat really seemed to be bordering on obsession with questions like: "what's your favorite cheat food?", "what are your favorite sweet snacks? salty?"...I swear, halfway through it all I felt like eating half a bag of Chex Mix followed by a hunk of dark chocolate (I may or may not have actually followed through on this thought, I truly can't recall).

It seems that many of us that try to focus on healthy eating or weight loss already have, shall we say, an unhealthy obsessions with food in some way.  Whether a binge eater, emotional eater, calorie restrictor, or exercise bulimic we probably spend far too much time thinking about what we will eat at our next meal, how many calories we've already consumed and often are plotting how to make a low calorie dessert even lower calorie.  So, while I want to be able to remain supportive, I also find that I need to protect my own sanity.  I've actually found myself living more 'in the moment' lately (this is a HUGE accomplishment) and to do that I can't be worried about how many more hours until my next meal...let alone what cheat food I would like to eat when I know I will not 'allow' it anyway.

Me, age 17, getting ready for Senior Prom.
This type of thinking only reminds me of the dark days of my anorexia.  I literally spent the majority of my days making lists of foods and food combinations that would maximize a feeling of fullness with the least amount of calories.  While I was failing Chemistry (I only passed with a C because the entire school felt sorry for me) I was filling my notebook with these calculations rather than deciphering the Periodic Table.  I dropped my Pre-Calculus course (which I was doing well in) because all of those numbers interfered with what I felt were more important numbers...the calorie count in every food known to man.  Although I really wasn't eating (I survived, and I use that term loosely, on diet sodas and clear broth) I was spending an unimaginable amount of time THINKING about eating.

While I viewed my own body as grotesque and imperfect I didn't see others in the same way. My mother, who I love dearly, has struggled with her weight for most of my childhood.  During the time I was anorexic she would have been classified as obese, maybe even morbidly obese...yet I didn't 'judge' her or even feel the slightest bit of disgust at her weight that I felt towards my own.  For me, anorexia was an internal beast...I could look at a fit, healthy person and wish I looked like her although I was 30-60 pounds lighter.

The battles that go on the minds of the binger and the anorexic are often the same...it's about control and the stifling of emotions.  Both generally suffer body dismorphia (distorted body image) and use food to 'penalize' their disappointment in the self.  Anorexics punish themselves by withholding food (and sometimes water) while bingers

I'm beginning to think that if I could just release the obsession...maybe spend 15% of my day concerned with food...that everything would fall into place naturally because no matter how obsessed, no matter what weight I've been (too thin, too fat) I have not found that 'happy place' for my self-image.  Obviously, if THINKING about food and calories could get me my dream body I'd be a successful fitness model by now.  I've read countless diet books...way more books on this one subject than is required for any university level degree program for almost ANY profession yet I STILL scan through new diet books and read about the latest and greatest diets that seem to spring up almost daily.  I've come to the realization that this isn't working...and it isn't healthy, for me.

Source: I highly recommend reading this article by the above artist.
So goes another Tough Love episode in my life.  Rather than focusing on trimming the fat off of my mid-section I am going to trim it off of the daily bombardment of food obsessed, diet obsessed, reading material in an effort to get me back to living in the present.  Please don't get me wrong...there are many 'weight-loss' and 'healthy-living' blogs that I adore and will continue to read, and I understand that it does help some people to talk out their food battles on their blogs while getting support from this community.  I will always be a supporter of these blogs/friends, people who delve into the emotional side of their eating disorders and can offer the kind of insight I have {hopefully} just gained.  And I hope to do the same for someone else.

Monday, August 15, 2011

When Finding the Motivation is Harder Than the Work Out...

I was catching up on a few blogs that I follow when I came across one in particular that "spoke" to me today.  Josie, over at Yum Yucky, is hosting a "Finish What You Started" Challenge and posted about her own struggles with staying motivated when sometimes, what she'd rather do, is sit on the couch (read her full post here).  As I've alluded to before, I also struggle with motivation, sometimes so severe that I am SURE there is something wrong with me (read: you are a quitter, Lynn).

The example I used when commenting on her post was this: "I confirmed plans last night at 10:30 pm to meet a friend for a run today after work...about an hour ago I started wondering how I can get out it. Get this...I even wondered if eating my cottage cheese (a new "dairy" food for me) might make my tummy hurt enough to HAVE to cancel our run.  How pathetic is that?!?!? 

I would be ashamed but it's important for me to share these things because many of us are so hard on ourselves and often throw in the towel when it APPEARS that willpower comes easy to some people.  It is a struggle (for me) sometimes to do what I know needs to be done.  Just because I do a HARD workout almost every single day doesn't mean it comes easily...more often than not there has been some cussing, bribing and pride issues involved to 'getter dun'."

Reflecting on this it seems to me that some people may actually react negatively to fitness posts if they don't know everything that goes into accomplishing these activities.  Sometimes, what isn't known to the reader, is the HUGE amount of self-motivation that goes into those workouts.  I've had a few friends who have made comments regarding my 'will power' and others who have expressed a kind of resignation to their own workouts by saying they would never have the resolve to workout so much (or eat vegetarian/give up {most} junk food/stick to a clean eating plan).  As I've stated before in a prior blog, it takes a LOT for me to follow through on my workouts (and clean eating).

I'd even venture to say that some of the things I do to get through my workouts can be down right ridiculous. 
Sometimes it's not this easy. (source)

Things I've tried or still do for 'motivation':

~pouting (not very attractive for a 40 year old)

~foot stomping (see pouting above)

~self-talk (yes, out loud)

~hand-clapping (cheerleader style)

~talking to the dog and/or cats (usually I try to reason with them "I can do this right?  I mean, it's only 40 minutes and all I WAS doing was catching up on Twitter posts. And I can quit after 20 minutes if I'm just not feeling it...can't I??")

~putting on my workout clothes so as to feel silly reading or watching TV while wearing my sports bra, running shoes and iPod strapped to my arm

~hiding my computer and telling myself I'll disclose it's location AFTER my run

~Bribing myself with some form of food/drink reward.  It used to be a 1/2 a glass of wine after a run but now it's more likely to be a Shakeology shake ONLY after a workout (otherwise I'd drink them ALL the time)

About 99% of the time I feel better after I work out or run, as do most people.  So, I don't know why I have to continue to go through this routine to stay on-track with my training plan.  I've also thought that through repetition it would become a habit and my mind & body would just go with the flow.  But it's really not that simple...not for me.  

I apologize but this is both adorable AND hilarious.
I guess what I am trying to say is that just because you may not feel like working out doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong.  It takes effort to accomplish great things and I believe that's why we feel so good after a work out. For some of us, comparing our work out schedule with others can be counter-productive...they may have different goals, a different style, and may even have too aggressive of a plan resulting in injury and/or burn out.  It can make us feel like we aren't doing enough or are lazy because we really don't want to go for a run...not even a short one.  But maybe we are all more alike in that regard than what we think.  (Even the profession athlete struggles with motivation at some point.)  

Okay, THIS might actually work...or kill me.
Many of us (myself surely included) tend to compare ourselves, our workouts, and our results to one another and although it may not be with a 'jealous' eye, it can still add to the stress of simply working out.  Don't get discouraged, try not to compare, figure out some ways to self-motivate and at least get started on your goals.  One of the best ways for me to stay focused is to actually plan my work outs.  I schedule them in my planner and even load them into my Google calendar.  When my reminder alarm goes off I TRY to treat my work out the same way that I do when my alarm goes off for work.  I get up and do it.  Even on my worst days I usually snap out of my funk within a few minutes and before I know it, my work out is over.

Are you a good self-motivator?  What have you found that works for you?  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I didn't go to runner's jail because I walked...

Thank goodness I just got my new glasses!

I've been a little distracted from blogging lately...squirrel =).  Honestly, the real reason behind it has been the many racing thoughts and ideas I've had that have basically paralyzed me from writing.  This is something I do quite often, and it's something I am trying to overcome.  Slowly I am learning that it's okay to jump right in to things without first perfecting them {well, I may not feel this way about parachuting or bungie jumping}. 

I am an expert at creating this type of thing.
I've done this all of my life...put off doing things until I feel I am truly prepared.  I've refused to sign up for 5K fun runs because I was afraid I wasn't training properly, put so much pressure on myself to ensure I could run the entire distance at what I felt was a decent pace, and got myself so psyched out that there was no possible way I could run in a a race just for fun.  Luckily, I was able to overcome some of this behavior this year when I registered with Team in Training.  Something about running for a cause much bigger than myself made me realize that it's not all about me...that sometimes it's the experience in it's entirety that matters...not the final time that's posted. 

I wonder if these guys got caught walking??
I've learned that I'm not a failure (nor did I get kicked off of the marathon course) because I had to take a walk break {I STILL completed a marathon and you can suck it if you think otherwise}, that it's ok at run slower than a 10 minute mile if necessary {I did it and lived to tell about it}, and it IS possible to laugh and have a great time with other runners while in the middle of a 26 mile race when your feet feel like they are bleeding and your mind is telling you to just lay down and take a quick nap {okay, so that MAY have been delirium, whatever, it was hysterical, as was downing that Bloody Mary at mile 20, FYI: I wasn't going to win the race anyway} .

However, even with this revelation, I find myself falling back into this trap in other areas of my life.  Particularly blogging (being distracted at work doesn't really count anyway).  Perhaps it's also because I want to write about a few things that are very personal...my dad and my eating disorder.  Both things have contributed to who I am today and how I deal with things (good or bad).  They are things I can not change, things I don't want to place blame upon, and things that I feel are important to talk about to get off my chest.  Doing so will help me grow...and at age 40 I realize that growth never ends.

So, over the next few days I am going to gather my wits, toss in a bit of focused concentration and write.  I'll be off camping for a couple of these days so I am hoping that it will allow me some down time to reflect and at least do justice to these tender topics.   
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