5 things I don’t miss about my disordered eating and exercise.
Alternatively titled, “30570493985 things I don’t miss about my disordered eating and exercise”, but that post would’ve been too long. So here we are with 5 things…
1. Having to move my body every morning.
When I was in my compulsive exercise days, I spent 8 years where I had to move every morning. If I didn’t move I would end up spending the rest of the day thinking about how I hadn’t exercise and I couldn’t relax.
There are still times now when I’m enjoying a slow morning that I think, “i’m so glad I don’t have to spend every morning exercising.” Earlier this week I woke up and the weather was gorgeous outside. I knew I wanted to sit outside and eat. I decided donuts + kolaches sounded good for breakfast, so I went around the corner and picked them up and sat in my backyard and ate them with a homemade latte while planning out some blog content. It was wonderful and felt so fulfilling. Running never fulfilled me. It only fulfilled my eating disorder.
I still think tolerating the discomfort of not running was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. That isn’t an exaggeration. I spent 8 years so fixated on getting up and having to move my body that it took some time for the automatic thought (read: automatic brain-yelling-at-me-to-go-move-or-else) to be quieted and eventually completely go away. The brain is very effective at sticking with habits you did for 8 years…so I recommend being patient with your brain when you’re retraining it. It takes time to get away from compulsive exercise but it’s worth it for the peace that comes when the compulsion isn’t there.
2. Never having anything to say (aka “being boring”).
I’m still a person who enjoys hearing other people talk and listening to their ideas. I don’t feel the need to always be talking and don’t feel the need to talk unless I have something interesting to say. But in my disordered days, the things I knew best were overexercising, undereating, and overeating. But those aren’t conversation points I was willing to bring up because I didn’t want to let anyone in because then they would see how disordered my behaviors were (or maybe they wouldn’t have noticed since we live in this annoying society where overexercising and undereating are praised), so I was left with nothing to contribute to conversations because my mind was flooded with food and exercise thoughts.
One of the things I love about Andrew is that he knows something about everything (not in an annoying i-know-everything kind of way). To me, he’s just interesting. No matter what the conversation topic is, he somehow has heard something about the topic and has something interesting to contribute.
At some point I choose to make less room for my restrictive eating, overeating and overexercising by choosing to focus on becoming a more interesting person. I honestly felt like I didn’t have room for my ED when I set my intention (and reminded myself of that intention often) on becoming a more interesting person. For me, becoming a more interesting person involved stopping running so I had time to explore other things, going to therapy when I need(ed) to, starting a blog, attending conferences on blogging, listening to entrepreneurial podcasts, and getting Audible so I could listen to books on different topics. Basically, I chose to try out some hobbies that had nothing to do with exercise. I created a life I wanted to be a part of that was more fulfilling than my eating disorder.
When you keep your eyes on your eating disorder or your diet, you miss so much of what is around you. You see what your eating disorder or diet chooses to let you see – calorie counts on menus, the cellulite on your legs, the number on the scale, etc. Your brain can only take in so much information and if your ED or your diet is controlling your thoughts, you will miss so many wonderful things. If you can’t stop looking at the cellulite on your legs, the number on the scale, the calorie counts on menus…go out and find a hobby and begin to force your brain to focus on something new.
3. Believing I couldn’t tolerate uncomfortable thoughts or emotions.
I once heard someone say, “to paint a picture that is beautiful, sometimes you have to use dark colors.” In my eating disorder I felt like every uncomfortable thought or emotion should be avoided and I would choose to go to ED behaviors rather than feel anything negative. My absolute favorite thing about yoga is it can teach people to tolerate uncomfortable feelings. It teaches one to be still and breathe through sometimes uncomfortable poses and choose not to try to change anything. This is extremely helpful in allowing uncomfortable thoughts and emotions to not lead to unproductive behaviors (i.e. overeating, undereating, overexercising, other ED behaviors). With my knee and back pain I haven’t done yoga in about 9 months and I do miss it a lot. I’m grateful for the couple of years I practiced yoga and for what it taught me.
For a long time I accepted thoughts as true and feelings as facts. Now I realize my thoughts are just things my brain is offering up. I get to decide if that thought is in line with who I’m working towards becoming and choose if I want to believe it. I talked about that idea some in this post on you don’t have to believe what your think.
I still get overwhelmed, but I know I can tolerate any thought or emotion without going to harmful/unhelpful coping mechanisms.
4. Only feeling safe around micronutrients.
The only foods that weren’t villianized by my eating disorder were vegetables, aka foods that contain micronutrients, which are vitamins and minerals. Now looking back I realize how ignorant the disordered part of my brain was. Like, my eating disorder wasn’t educated…he was really idiotic.
They are called “micro”nutrients because you need them in micro (read: smaller) amounts. My ED was scared of pretty much all macronutrients –> carbs, fat and protein. Yet those are the ones your body actually needs in “macro” (read: LARGER) amounts. My ED brain liked to make me think I needed micronutrients in large amounts and macronutrients in small amounts. Lies.
5. Never feeling comfortable in my body size.
I’m going to keep this one short. The only way to accept your natural body size and be comfortable in it is to FIRST be willing to find your natural body size. Intuitive eating is an approach that helps you find your natural body size. Here are some more posts on body size / body image.
I would love to hear what you don’t miss about your disordered eating or disordered exercise days. I think the comments section of this post will end up being very motivating for helping people who are stuck change away from their disordered behaviors. Excited for you to contribute what you don’t miss!