The Binge Eating Diaries: Springing Forward to Overcome Fitness Setbacks

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AHHH! I’m frustrated!

Let me start at the beginning…

binge eating diaries overcoming exercise obtaclesWhen Fitness Becomes Boring

Over the past couple of months, my movement routine had become a snooze fest. I wasn’t enthusiastic or excited. I was BORED. And to be perfectly honest, I could feel myself getting lazy. I was at that point where I was going to the gym just to say that I went.

“Hey everyone! Here I am! I am so not into this! How long do I have to stay here to make it count?””

I wasn’t working out to make my body feel awesome. I was exercising out of obligation – because I thought I had to… because I thought I was supposed to.

Usually, scribbling “exercise” into my agenda book helps hold me accountable to myself and reminds me that even though work, cleaning, cooking, answering emails, etc. are important – they’re not more important than my daily dose of movement. But in hindsight, for a brief period of time, I was writing it down just so I could check it off.  No, scratch that – just so I could say I checked it off.

Strategies To Get Out Of An Exercise Rut

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m a total believer that when it comes to movement, something is always better than nothing. But if you’re not enjoying yourself, the task can become daunting. And when it becomes daunting… you simply don’t want to do it. And I am so sick of living a life full of things I don’t want to do!

So, I decided to switch up my routine by not having one. I put some new options on the table and took myself out of the pressure cooker. My new objective: get my engine revving… no pattern, procedure, or regimen required.  Vrooom!

Movement Isn’t a Punishment. It’s a Gift We Give Ourselves.

Instead of going to the gym, walking on the treadmill, alternating legs, arms, and ab days (blah, blah, boring), I went out and purchased 2 at-home work out DVDs. One with 10-minute on-the-go videos for when I’m short on time and another completely out of my comfort zone: Piloxing – a combination of Pilates and boxing. It’s a hoot! It makes me feel free and I get to flail around my living room, giving my inner child a chance to dance.

Next, I signed up for my first Bubble Run – a 5K “fun run” that sprays you at each kilometer mark with brightly colored sudsy foamy goodness. Agreeing to do this with a couple of friends and my partner made me a little anxious. I haven’t jogged much (let alone run) in nearly 5 years, since my treadmill knee injury during college, when I was breaking my body running four miles a day, 6 days a week.

But instead of canceling the whole thing and telling myself that it was useless- I could never do it… I played a little game with myself. (Games, remember those? No? Ask your inner child. She’ll give you the rundown.)

movement is a gift we give ourselves

I Challenged Myself And Started To Hit My Stride

In a non-competitive way, I decided to challenge myself. I started jogging for two minutes at a time, and by the end of the first week, I got up to 10 minutes without stopping on the treadmill. I was able to jog a mile outside sans any breaks. Hoorah!

I knew that too much at first could jeopardize my knee, but I missed that runner’s high. It used to make me feel invincible. So instead of sprinting after instant gratification, I jogged toward a realistic goal. I was feeling empowered and inspired – like I could conquer the world one lunge, jab, or mile at a time.

And Then It Happened…The Setback

For four days straight, a nasty headache stole my spotlight. I still went to work and managed to function at the most basic human level, but any extra movement aside from walking and breathing were simply out of the question. SERIOUSLY!? I just back into the swing of things! Why is this happening!?

There is nothing more disheartening than being benched when you just scored 25 points in the first quarter.

So, what did part of me want to do? Crawl to the pantry, whip open the fridge, and self-soothe with food, even though the act of chewing was physically painful. But whenever something (ANYTHING) goes awry, my bingeing brain goes off like a firecracker – Feed me, I’ll fix it!

Dealing With My Binge Eating Trigger

At this point, my “go me” attitude had spoiled and was rotting in a pile of self-loathing. But the part of me that’s made of iron, diamonds, and kryptonite put up her fists and punched my “woe is me” attitude right where it counts. So, instead of:

A) Forcing myself to push through the pain and move my body in ways that would keep me out of the game longer

B) Punishing myself for something that wasn’t my fault (having a miserable, debilitating headache)

I gave myself time to recover. I practiced self-care and compassion. When I got home from work I went straight for my bed, didn’t judge myself, and scheduled a trigger point massage. After talking to myself and listening to my body, I knew that emotionally overeating or bingeing wasn’t going to help. It was literally going to hurt me. (Like I said, chewing was a task in itself.)

My body was going through enough. It didn’t need to be penalized. It needed to be respected. But before I could treat it with the kind of respect it deserved, I had to make sure that I was being honest with myself.

Answer Yourself Honestly

There are a few questions I’m sure to ask myself these days, one that I would never have asked before I started this journey. It was too scary; I didn’t want to know my answers…

Is my pain physical or is it mental?

Is it real or did I bloody well make it up?

Am I really hurting or am I scared and looking for an excuse because I’m afraid of failing?

Am I about to expedite that process and fail myself before I give myself a shot to succeed?

To test out this headache of mine, on the second day (after I decided that pounding my feet against the ground would only increase the pounding in my head) I drove home, parked my car, and started walking. The pain was tolerable at first, so I tried to jog a few steps. For a few brief moment, I became prematurely optimistic. Maybe I could push through this? Umm… no. Oh no, no, no. I needed a dark room and an ice pack, not a jog down misery lane.

This was a great “exercise” for me. (Pun intended!) In order to truly take care of my body, I had to know that I wasn’t looking for an “out” because I know myself too damn well. I can find a reason to do… or an excuse not to do anything. So, if you’re not sure if you’re stuck in a funk or if your body is begging for a warm bath and a cup of tea, ask yourself, “What’s really going on here?”

Answering yourself honestly will help you determine what you need right now, so that you can get back to achieving more of what you want tomorrow. And no matter what you decide, remember that…

A setback does not set you up for failure.

Life happens. Although parts of us are made of platinum and gold, our muscles, bones, and skin are not bulletproof or scratch-resistant. Pay attention to your body from your head to your toes – your headaches to your hangnails! (Yeah, I said it. Those suckers can keep me out of sneakers for days!)

If your routine unravels, you have not failed. If life throws you a curve ball, and you miss it, you have not failed. If you need to catch up on sleep instead of catching tonight’s Zumba class, you have not failed!

The only way to fail on your journey is by giving up on yourself.

So keep breathing, pushing, trying, listening, and loving. And remember, when the going gets tough – the tough don’t always get going. Sometimes they read a book… or get a pedicure.  😉

Until Next Time, Jace


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Jacki Monaco

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