Many times people come to me saying that they want to help others recover from their disordered eating patterns, but they aren’t fully recovered themselves and so they don’t feel confident enough to coach.
I understand this fear more than they know. In fact, I don’t believe that recovering from an eating disorder is something that happens 100%, it’s more about finding new “coping” mechanisms that give you a sense of satisfaction, a high if you will, that is longer lasting, more delicious, and ten times more fulfilling.
Yet there are old thinking patterns or emotions that can sneak up on those that have indulged in the art of inventing new and improved coping mechanisms. Even though I coach others with body image and food, I too have moments of what I call intuition fighting, where I do something simply because I feel like I’m supposed to. Not because I want to.
These kinds of moments lead me into frustration and feelings of guilt. Every single time I start to fight my intuition, I find myself adopting old thinking patterns.
Fortunately, I have learned how to snap out of these moments. I honor them, I feel what I’m feeling, and I create a plan that will help me get back on track with my intuition, and as a result, my body and mind.
Here’s a recent example.
This past year, I’ve been doing CrossFit. I’ve been enjoying the community aspect, the strength, the intensity, and the luxury of not having to create my own workout routine. With that said, the past month or so, I haven’t been feeling it. It hasn’t been that fun to me, but yet I kept telling myself, “Just push through it! You know you love this, just keep going! Don’t miss a workout!”
Why was I doing this to myself? I couldn’t figure it out at first. I realized that I wasn’t completely walking my talk, and that in itself helped me pull myself out of this mental funk and take the time to investigate other options.
Here are some of the reasons why I’m leaving CrossFit and the realizations I’ve had since making that decision.
1. I don’t like having to eat a certain way based on my activity levels.
But yet, I kept doing it. I was doing CrossFit partly because I loved the idea of being able to eat “more carbs” because I earned them. In the back of my mind, I was STILL validating some food choices! After all this time on my podcast, I was still unconsciously lifting heavy in order to eat a certain way, even though I often would second guess my “eating more carbs” theory, feeling uncertain that I wasn’t going overboard and eating too many. Or eating too less. Either way, that way of thinking isn’t healthy for me. The minute I stopped doing CrossFit, I started to eat intuitively again. I wasn’t over thinking my choices, I wasn’t eating based on the intensity of the workout, and I didn’t have any special “post workout meal” that I had to cram down my throat. I can simply eat what sounds good in the moment.
2. I don’t feel like I need to lift heavy anymore.
For a long period of time, I felt like I needed to continuously lift heavier and heavier and heavier. I realize that this is praised in the CrossFit community, and personal lifting records are admired across the globe, no matter what your sport is. In the same way that I was never lean enough during my competition days, I was starting to never feel satisfied with the amount of weight I was lifting; it was never heavy enough. The truth is: it doesn’t MATTER how much I lift. It doesn’t lead up to anything special…truth be told, it’s fairly useless past a certain level since I don’t want to compete and I don’t plan to do any heavy lifting outside of the gym.
Simultaneously, lifting super heavy weights also make me a little nervous. What if I roll it down my spine doing a squat? What if my shoulder dislocates during a jerk and I drop it on my head? In fact, the heavier I lift, the more my bones, muscles and tendons ache. With every heavy lifting session, I felt my body moving further from balance and more towards tightness. I was losing my flexibility. I understand more people can adopt a well-rounded schedule, where they stay flexible, but that wasn’t happening for me.
3. I want to embrace my femininity (more).
There is nothing wrong with being strong, period. There is nothing wrong with lifting weights, listening to alternative rock or rap, and drinking protein shakes. It is empowering when it feels right. With that said, I have wanted to be “one of the guys” for wrong reasons for most of my life. I’m not sure if being authentically feminine scares me due to stereotypes (drama, petty, PMS, insecure, etc) but it’s made me cling to my goal-oriented, ambitious, masculine self out of fear of what people may think of me. I love the driven, down to earth, thick-skinned side of myself, but I also want to explore my feminine side. I want to let her experience the life she deserves and I think CrossFit is taking me away from expressing my feminine self. I know this may not always be the case, but for now, there is something else out there that will help me feel more feminine, sexy and confident.
4. I want to make time for exploration.
Whether it’s exploration physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually, I want to make time to try new things and branch out. Taking CrossFit out of my daily schedule has given me more energy to practice meditation, morning walks, reading, writing, coaching, dancing, and playing. Not only do I have time for those things, but my mind is present. Sometimes I used to think of activity as an opportunity cost… “I could have fun taking a walk, OR I could get a ‘real’ workout in and burn a lot of calories in a WOD. Hmmm, I’ll go to with the WOD.” Taking that out of the equation has helped me to focus on fun first. Not how many ‘calories can I burn?’, or ‘how much pain can I put my body through?’, but instead, how much fun is there to be had today?!
5. I need to reduce stress wherever I can.
The intensity of a WOD is extreme, as we all know, but more than that, when I come home after a workout, I normally feel stressed out. My body doesn’t know when a WOD is over and that I need to move on with my day stress-free…it naturally thinks I’m still running away from a mountain lion, and so I feel the tension following me even as I head home. I’m exhausted, tired, sore, hungry, unfocused and uninspired most days. Typically, I still feel like I didn’t do “enough” or I didn’t lift as heavy as I should have. Hours later, the stress finally winds down and leaves me feeling flat out POOPED. I don’t want to feel pooped anymore.
I was recently listening to a podcast that was emphasizing the importance of low intensity training because it will require low recovery time, and that will lead to a longer life. Essentially, they were saying the more intense your workouts are, the shorter your life will be. This really struck a chord with me and helped me to realize that maybe, just maybe, I would be doing long-term damage to my body if I continued training as hard as I was.
I didn’t necessarily need another person’s permission to quit doing something, but it certainly didn’t hurt.
I have decided to listen to my body and not be afraid to change. That’s what all of this comes down to.
I want you to know that you do not need to be afraid to change. You may have loved running for most of your life, and you’re questioning yourself now that it doesn’t bring you the same pleasure it did before.
Just like the seasons change, so does your body. And just because you’re not loving some type of movement now, doesn’t mean you won’t later. In a year, I may be right back at CrossFit enjoying it again. That’s another reason why taking this break isn’t so scary…it’ll still be there later!
The most important thing I can do right now is honor my intuition. If my mind and body don’t love something authentically, passionately and intimately, then it is not bettering my life.
This is why I am taking a break from CrossFit and wandering into the land of exploration. Will you join me?