I used to be a master of stillness. I could lay down for hours watching TV or sit forever playing The Sims. Stillness was something I was good at. But it was something that I was a little too good at. Before I discovered exercising and before I became a champion for active living- I was pretty lazy. Let’s be real and call a spade a spade.
But then it didn’t take me long to swing far to the other side of the spectrum. As soon as I became fitter and discovered the joys of moving more- I saw stillness as a bad thing. I could never be sitting. I always had to be moving. I always had to be standing, walking, running, and doing something. Rest became the enemy and anytime I found myself doing it- I would become angry with myself, think that I was being lethargic, and would make myself get up. Stillness- something that I used to win the gold medal in- became something that terrified me.
As long as I was moving- I was burning calories, I was keeping my mind too busy to think straight, and I was preventing myself from addressing mental health needs on purpose. My constant flurry of activity was a way to distract myself from bigger things going on in my life. I couldn’t sit down to read a book. I couldn’t focus or concentrate if it involved me sitting down. It became pure agony to try and get through one episode of a TV show (and God forbid, a full length movie).
My addiction to exercise and movement grew stronger in line with my disordered eating issues. My food problems only exacerbated my need to move and inability to focus or relax. Undereating and not getting enough fat in my diet only made my brain a more complicated minefield. Turns out your mind doesn’t operate too well when its in starvation mode half the time. And again, I distracted myself from dealing with what was going on with taking walks, just going to the gym, and constant preoccupation.
When I started seeing my RD and she had me eating more, I would convince myself that “it was alright” because I was still constantly exercising a lot and hardly ever taking a second to rest. I had to be burning off whatever extra food I was consuming. Working through my feelings of need to exercise and need to move was one of the hardest things I had to work on with my RD and with my counselor.
Through forced rest days and mental exercises in being kind to myself- I slowly became better at taking it easy again. And its obviously become a lot easier for me to understand the need for rest and relaxation now that I’m nourishing my body and mind properly. To this day, complete stillness is a little uncomfortable. I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t. I feel that twitch in my bones to get up and do something after I’ve been sitting longer than ten minutes. Off days from exercise are sometimes a struggle and really mess with my relationship with food.
BUT I’m still trying. I’m making progress everyday in my ability to embrace complete stillness and not see it as a bad thing. I might feel that need to get up and move- but I don’t always listen because I know its coming from that scary part of my mind. I do my best to ignore it and continue to do whatever it is I’m doing. Rest days used to be borderline impossible- now they might not be easy but they’re doable and I understand the need for them. TV watching was practically forbidden for a little while- and now I can’t understand how I ever lived that way.
A true life of balance includes a balance between go go go and rest rest rest. I don’t need to fear becoming completely sedentary like I used to be- that’s just not realistic whatsoever. I don’t need to earn my food or earn my rest. I deserve to give my body moments to be quiet. I know I need a balance between being always on and turning things down a couple notches from time to time.
There is beauty in stillness. It’s not a bad thing. And I think I’m smart enough to know that now.
When I forget, a yoga class, like the one I took last night, is there to remind me that there is peace and clarity in stillness. There is bravery and courage and strength in stillness. And with time, I know I’m becoming more peaceful. I’m becoming braver and I’m certainly becoming stronger both physically and mentally.
Keep it wicked healthy xoxo