Can one exorcize the exercise demon?
Over the past few months I started a new workout. Because I didn’t want to chart a new outdoor 2 mile path. And I was bored with my workout video. And I hate the gym and exercising on equipment. So instead I have been walking the stairs in my apartment. And it has noticeably changed my body.
This is a nice thing. Or it should be a nice thing. But I am crazy. I am stupid and blind and can easily become weirdly obsessed with my body in a heartbeat.
And this in spite of the fact that I actively avoid things that trigger my body obsession. I actively avoid thinking of my body in terms of weight and societal beauty standards. I actively avoid thinking about my size in relation to food. I do not want to measure my life in terms of how worthy other people find me. And when I say actively I mean I have structures in place. I make sure that my social media feeds include images of all sorts of people. And I block diet ads and shapewear ads and companies and profiles that promote thinness as ideal and show heavily doctored photographs. And I don’t wear makeup most of the time so that I am used to what I look like. I enjoy my natural face and don’t think there’s anything wrong with it when it’s bare. That was not the case when I wore makeup every day.
But even after all of the ways I have changed my environment to cultivate the kind of thinking I want to have, I still have a Pavlovian reaction. A change in my body, especially *toward* societal beauty standards, can make me salivate for increased results. How can I do this but bigger, better, faster, more.
So I, in a great show of reflection and restraint, recognized my crazy, and decided that there was nothing to change. That there was no “more” to do. And if I wanted to do something more, I could add back in some push-ups and planks that I had been doing before in a different workout. OK. Good enough.
And then on Friday, at the end of my stairs workout, but before my push-ups and planks, I got a nosebleed. So I stopped. You know, to Google if I was dying. (I am not. It’s probably just dry in my apartment and the heavy breathing of exercise caused it.) But it said to stop my workout because I need my blood pressure to go down to stop the bleeding.
Friends, before I read that I was not going to stop. Because I am crazy. Because I had a plan to do this workout. Because I am constantly terrified of not doing enough. Because even after 17 years of having my eating under control and about 7 years of consistent, manageable exercise, when I get into one of these obsessive moods, I still feel like I’m never doing enough.
There is nothing to do about this but my best. There is no magic answer to solve this, or cure it. I will do my workout tomorrow, because I workout on Monday. And I will do my push-ups and planks, unless I encounter more unforeseen circumstances. And in all likelihood, this body obsessive period will pass and go dormant again. But it is a part of me and I don’t think it will ever fully go away.