From skwigg's journal:
I'm glad the recent posts have been helpful. It was like a bolt of lightening to realize that I had a thinking problem, not a food/weight/carb/calorie/math problem. The impact was incredible. Only, I guess it wasn't instant like a bolt of lighting because I'm a slow learner. It was more like a slow-burning electrical fire. What's that smell? Oh, it's my brain sizzling away the calorie math pathways. Won't need those anymore. :-)
Let's talk about exercise, because the changes there have been epic as well. I've talked before about totally uncoupling exercise from food and weight. When you link them together, it's a special kind of crazy storytelling. If I do (or don't do) this workout (hit this step goal, get these cardio minutes, beat this PR), it means _____. That's pure fantasy! Not only false, but painful usually. We project a past/future story about what it means and reward or punish ourselves accordingly, like crazy people!
What if we stay in the moment instead? What if we pay attention to how we feel right now and how we want to feel later and let that determine our activity today? Think about the difference between staying present, listening to your body, and dealing in reality versus your workouts being determined by a soap opera of accumulated diet nonsense + every unquestioned fear you've ever had. Or worse, you're not even a part of the decision-making. You're blindly following some random program from an "expert" who has never met you, someone who sold you the program by playing on those very myths and fears.
Whoa! See how it all becomes so fraught and unpleasant? That's not to say that there aren't good programs and good coaches, but they're only good if they involve you, if you have a say, if things are adjusted based on your recovery and performance, whether you do it or the coach does it. You don't just keep smashing yourself because the schedule says. If that's happening, it's only because you've told yourself a painful, untrue story about what the schedule means, what it says about you as a person, or how it will determine your fate. Question everything! When you've rooted out the crazy, all you have left is what you want to do today and how you want to feel.
For me, that means I no longer follow a strict workout schedule. I love the ZGYM schedule because it gives me ideas. There are always several alternate workouts listed for each day plus hundreds in the archive sorted by length, equipment, and intensity. I can always find one that suits me, or I can skip a formal workout altogether and rest or play instead. It was so important for me to not just consider the workout itself, but how I wanted to feel five minutes after, two hours after, the next morning. I want to feel GOOD. I want to have energy to DO stuff! I don't want that sore, ravenous, exhausted, injured, roadkill thing happening ever again. I love to move. It feels best to me to move every single day, but the movement choice and the intensity stay variable. If I've had three hours of sleep and a sore throat, a couple minutes of seated or lying down stretching is going to feel better than not moving at all. What would not feel good is plowing through whatever is scheduled regardless of my current condition. Sometimes I feel amazing! I've had plenty of sleep, plenty of food, and I'm ready to push it really hard. That's not every day though. That's like once a week. If I have seven days of activity, maybe one of those will be in killer beast mode. Two or three will be short and/or absurdly easy. Three or four will be medium intensity.
I still wear a Fitbit. I find it fun or I wouldn't. There were times in my life, deep in the diet stories, when a Fitbit was a weapon of craziness. Food-earning, fate-sealing, competition-crushing, proof of worthiness. Don't wear one if it feels that way. Or, hide anything stress-producing from your dashboard. Maybe you care about sleep and resting heart rate but don't care about calorie burn. Or you want to see steps and distance but not weight. You can do that. I hide calories in / calories left, active hours, water consumption, and I shut off reminders to move. My step/distance goals are low enough that I often hit them by 9:00am without any particular effort, or I may not hit them at all, or I may triple them. It provides the same level of amusement as any phone game. It doesn't affect my mood or food intake anymore than Bejeweled would. That level of detachment is probably key to a good experience with an activity tracker.
Any thoughts on exercise? Especially as it relates to weight and food? What stories have you told yourself? Do they feel real? Can you see how maybe they're not true or not helpful?
From skwigg's journal:
I have yet to experience the mythical appetite-suppressing effects of cardio. :-) Maybe in the 30-60 minutes after an intense workout but then hunger would always come roaring back and hits me like a freight train.
I believe that feel-good fitness absolutely contributes to a healthy body and mind, increased confidence, improved sleep, appropriate appetite, better moods, and overall wellbeing. The benefits can certainly carry over into better food choices if mindfulness and self-care are the driving forces. If exercise is only seen as the "energy out" part of a math equation, things go wrong in a hurry. It's so much more!
I've been working out for 35+ years. I've never not exercised at all but I have been more or less of a panicky jerk to myself. The more closely exercise is tied to earning food, controlling weight, or influencing what (we think) others think of us, the more it sucks and the worse the results. If you take the painful delusions out of the picture and enjoy exercise for its own sake, the positive benefits start to pile up again.