The day may come when I am not an over-the-top, self-sabotaging eejit, but it is not, apparently, this day.
Here’s what happened:
This January, as part of a positive approach to the new year, focused on more, not less, I decided that I would eat more fruit and veg and exercise more.
I already probably eat more veges than a lot of people, but I thought I’d go all out and try to get my two fruit and five veg, every day. And I can always do with upping my exercise.
So I pulled out all the stops. I bought more fruit and reminded myself to eat it. I brushed up on what constituted a serve of veges and even set up a spread sheet to keep track of progress.
Are we getting an inkling that trouble might be around the corner? Are we feeling the shadow of overdoing it? Are we?
Well I wasn’t. Not yet. I was just keen and keeping myself accountable! These are good things, right?
And it went well, I thought. I ate MORE than two pieces of fruit, some days! I kept track of the veges. I loaded our dinner plates with salad to the point that the other members of my salad-loving family couldn’t eat it all – but I stoically ploughed through.
I noticed that my weight, which has been stable or slightly reducing for several years now (which is a good thing, after a lifetime, on and off, of disordered eating) was increasing!
It couldn’t be the veges, surely? They’re healthy! So I must not be doing enough exercise! I had dropped off a bit over the summer holidays. No problem. I was going to the pool anyway. I’d just up the duration. I’d go for an hour every day, instead of half an hour and I would prioritise the endurance movement over the stop-start strength work.
But then my knee, which is still recovering from an old injury, recently aggravated, started hurting and I admit, I got a little panicky. The soundtrack in my head went something like this…
I’m doing all the right things! I’m eating so many veges I think I’ll master photosynthesis any day now! I’m exercising for an hour several days a week and pushing for more! But I’m still gaining weight! Why does the world hate me? What can I dooooo?
Can you hear the hyperventilating though the computer?
Every perfectionist, diet-scarred, self-flagellating trigger I had was being stomped on and I was at serious risk of succumbing to The Fear – and that way, madness, bingeing and depression lie.
(‘The Fear’ btw, is my shorthand for the irrational reaction that comes from having your buttons pushed and leads you to freeze up, stop thinking clearly and do things that send you in the opposite direction from your goal. I am regrettably prone to it)
I took a deep breath. Oh, let’s not kid ourselves. It was quite a few deep breaths over a couple of weeks. But they let me think. Really think, instead of letting the perfectionist panic take over the brain space.
And I realised a few things.
- In my enthusiasm to hit my fruit and vege targets, I had been ignoring the mindful eating that I have worked so hard on in recent years and which is largely responsible for the stable weight. After years of dieting, learning to get back in touch with my body’s cues about when I’ve had enough is an ongoing effort and apparently, easily forgotten, when I have another goal. And guess what? Even veges can put on weight if you eat your own body-weight in them on a daily basis!
- There was a reason why I was doing all that strength work at the pool. It’s because that’s what my POOR KNEE, STILL RECOVING FROM AN INJURY, needs. HOURS OF REPETITIVE STRAIN IS NOT HELPFUL YOU GIANT NUMPTY.
- General health advice is not applicable to every person in every situation, SOMETHING I HAVE KNOWN SINCE I WAS A TEENAGER, but apparently can forget at a moment’s notice.
- Knee-jerk (ha!) reactions and my perfectionist tendency to overdo things can still come and bite me in the bottom if I am not vigilant.
I have chilled out on the fruit and veges. I am still trying to increase the vege content of my meals and still buying more of the fruit I like. But I have stopped recording it in the spread sheet, since that seems to be setting off my extremist tendencies.
I have reminded myself about the mindful eating and have restarted the hypnosis app I use to support it subliminally. And guess what? The weight is going down again.
I gave my poor knee several days of complete rest and have started using my walking pole again. (It’s not the sort of stick you rest on, more of a bush-walking aid. It helps me stay balanced and it keeps me from favouring the knee and causing more trouble.)
And today, I am going to the pool to do my strength exercises, in the warm hydro pool, which is why I started going to the pool in the first place and which, clearly, I still need!
It’s chastening, at my age, to realise that I am still prone to the same loony-ness I’ve been battling my entire life. (If I was talking morals, I guess I could describe perfectionism as my besetting sin. 😉 )
But at the same time, it’s encouraging to discover that at least I can recognise it now, have a laugh at myself and reset, rather than hopping straight on the shame spiral that leads to self-destruction and self-hatred.
So, despite starting this with a sigh, I’m going to count this as a win. Onward and upward! Gently! And I’m going to have some gratuitous Aragorn, to remind myself that, while the day has not yet come that I am over my own craziness, nor have I given up – and that is, after all, what the quote is about.
Do you have any unhelpful behaviours that stalk you, ready to pounce if you let your guard down? Any that you’ll admit to, to help me feel less of an eejit? 😉