I can feel myself getting sick again. Again! I work in a preschool, so I get sick fairly frequently because as much as I love them, children are the bringers of all the germs to the yard. No amount of hand washing and gloves can shield me against that many viruses (though it does cut the incidence of illness radically).
Something I’m sure loads of movement oriented folk can relate to is the bummer of getting sick when you’re really excited by or committed to a plan or habit of movement. I’m REALLY looking forward to my movement session tonight – I was feeling pretty pumped about the interval running and overall glow I get after a bit of huffy puffy.
So when I get sick, I’m always bitterly disappointed. But in the past, this has meant that my three days off has turned into three months off, because like most folk with disordered eating/exercise, I live in extremes. I get disheartened and I throw the baby out with the bathwater, throwing my hands up in frustration and giving up or just losing my routine. Then the accompanying guilt means I don’t get my walking shoes out for a long time.
In Mish Bridges recent mindset video about emotional eating, she talks about the importance of starting to change “all or nothing” thinking, and I really dug this. I have been with eating as I have been with exercise. Compulsive eating means all attempts at moderate, mindful, responsive experiences of food are drowned out by the harsh buzz of the disordered eating brain bees. “Well, you’re fucked now,” they buzz. And that’s it. I give up.
So learning to just calm the farm when these thoughts occur, and flow back to my centre, my solid chilled out moderate inner Sara Bareilles voice who is like “no biggie, just let it go. It happens, and tomorrow is a new day” puts a pause on the brain bees. And here Mish Bridges speaks the same words, for which I’m grateful: she encourages you to just observe thoughts and feelings without judging. To pause before acting, to move away from catastrophising. And wherever possible, temporarily divert a need to act on anxious or overwhelming thoughts, but acknowledge them – to not suppress them. That’s pretty damn emotionally useful. Good work MB!
One thing that’s not acknowledged by Mish though is that restriction and exercise bulimia are ways people suppress and control intense feelings as well. And I am glad that when she talks about using a walk to deal with feels, she also uses a non exercise based example of putting a pause – she cites driving home the long way. Because we need to be careful when encouraging people to handle feels with movement as a part of the toolkit that this tool is actually therapeutic and not promoting an exercise burn/feelings of bodily control as a way to suppress emotional feelings of being out of control.
Living in the middle is HARD but worth it.