When you’re really into something, it’s hard to imagine not being into that thing. You feel like you’re going to love that something forever- it becomes not just a part of your daily routine, but your identity. If someone were to come up to you and tell you: a year from now, your feelings about that thing are going to be different… you’d get really defensive and tell them the million reasons why they’re wrong.
And that devotion to a new thing isn’t bad- it’s pretty normal. It’s fun to get swept up in a new interest, hobby, way of life- whatever it may be. But its important to recognize how your relationship with that new thing may change over time- and find a way to be okay with that. That’s where I am right now- with my old beloved ways of exercising.
I recently said to a friend, if it’s not fun- then I’m not doing it. life is too short to do things that I don’t enjoy for no reason. And truth be told, loooong runs and hour long sessions at the gym aren’t enjoyable for me right now.When I was caught up in the throws of a new relationship with an active body, I couldn’t stop moving. I was addicting to sweating and spending at least an hour at the gym 5-6 days a week. For so much of my life I was the overweight girl who couldn’t jog for one minute without feeling like she was going to pass out. And I just felt like, now look what I can do! I can anything and everything!
Anything that stood in the way of me working out was quickly villainized. Part of this extreme dedication was wrapped in my warped connection between thinness, food, disordered eating, orthorexia. But part of the dedication came from how happy I was that I could finally move- I was simply amazed that I had become an athletic person- someone who could run and lift and do all these things I never thought I could do. I wanted to live up every moment in this new body and not waste my new found athleticism for a second. It was liberating and freeing and it made me feel good about myself.
But now, just as my relationship with food has changed tenfold over the past two years, my relationship with exercise has changed too. Just as I came to know how I needed to change my habits with food and the way I was eating to better fit my life and needs- I now am coming to the same terms with all the ways that I move.
What I’ve been doing isn’t working and I need to change. And by not working I mean- it’s not fun, it’s not benefiting me in the ways that it should, and it doesn’t make me feel good. The workouts I’ve been doing these days (which are about the same as they’ve been for the past two years) have been leaving me feeling more stressed, fatigued, and even sad. They only feel good when they don’t feel forced. Working out in the traditional sense only feels good when I’m doing it out of joy and not because I feel like I have to in order to maintain my image and appearance.
It’s something I haven’t wanted to admit to myself or say out loud- but enough is enough. I can’t keep forcing myself into this mold of the person I’ve been for the past two years. What worked for 22 year old Allison- or 23 year old Allison- isn’t working for 24 year old Allison. And instead of feeling ashamed of that- or frustrated that I need to change up my routine, do something new, and let old habits dies- I need to fully embrace everything my body is screaming at me and just… listen. Like really listen. Not just acknowledge, but listen, absorb, and act.Instead of focusing on the types of exercise and movements that don’t feel right at the moment, I want to focus on what does feel right: walking, workouts not super early in the morning, shorter workouts, shorter runs (2-3 miles max), sprinting type workouts (5-6 sprints with some body weight exercises in between), spin with my favorite instructor (and not pushing myself like a crazy person but actually rocking out to the music and enjoying my time in class), slow weight sessions, tabata strength workouts, workouts utilizing the rowing machine, and did I mention walking? Walking is the best.
Getting into these movement habits and exercise routines that will feel better for me doesn’t make me a lesser person- it doesn’t make me less fit- it doesn’t take away my healthy card- I’m doing what my body wants and needs for this stage in my life.
The weight that sits on my abdomen, my ongoing digestive issues, and period that has been missing for over a year are clear signs that there is internal stress in my body going on that I need to address. I need to do my best to minimize this stress by reducing mental stress, being easier on myself, not doing intensive exercises 5 times a week, sleeping more, eating as best as I can, and relaxing more. I need to seriously prioritize sleep (sorry super early morning workouts), my work/life balance, and my true happiness (not doing things I feel like I’m supposed to do, but things I want to do).
This time last year I was coming off the high of running my first half marathon. Nothing will ever take away from that pride and sense of accomplishment. It’s just crazy how much things can change in 365 days. I’m at a completely different place than I was then. Things change. And I’m forever learning to be okay with that.
This blog post was a good first start.
As I find myself the most at peace with food as I’ve ever been- and certainly as balanced as I’ve ever been in terms of wellness- I’m ready to tackle this next step and rethink how I’m moving.
I say it to other people and I’m saying it to myself: you have to be honest with yourself, check yourself before you wreck yourself, and do what’s best for you. Every body is different and you can’t compete with anyone else- and that includes former versions of yourself. Be the best you that you can be right NOW and make informed decisions that will help get you to the place you want to be. Don’t be afraid of change. And if you’re working toward something really positive that you want- don’t let your fear of negative consequences of the changes you’re making hold you back.
Keep it wicked healthy xoxo