when talking to some friends at a conference about two years ago, they mentioned that they were getting a taxi together to fly out of berlin the next morning. i wanted in on this deal, but they were all flying a few hours earlier than i was. they asked why my flight was so late in the morning, and i answered simply: umm, because i want to have time to run and do yoga in the morning. they looked at me with a little shock on their faces; one woman said, "it has never occurred to me to book my flights around exercise."
what's funny is that it doesn't sound at all crazy to me. i'm booking flights today to go away this weekend, and my routine is OF COURSE part of the planning. (don't tell my friends that i'm going to visit--sometimes i lie and say that there aren't morning flights available. ahem.) part of this attitude was learned through modelling: my father would never let us leave on our semi-annual car trips to florida until he had run and finished all the things he wanted to do that morning. forget the traffic; we left when dad was ready.
in our overweight society, we've been taught that exercise is good. it's positive. it's something great to do for your body. so most people say "awesome!" when they hear that i'm going for a long run. or "you're so dedicated!" when i do a long yoga practice. they tend to make little allowances for this type of behavior.
but my (not-so-secret) secret is that this is not a positive behavior in my life. when a therapist suggests that i "go for a run" when i feel like binging and purging, i look at her like she's freaking crazy: she's fucking feeding into my disorder, not helping it. obsessive exercise is a real problem. i recently read a great article that is trying to shed a little more light on the disorder. here's an excerpt:
Kristina Saffran, co-founder of Project HEAL, a nonprofit that helps provide treatment for teen girls suffering from eating disorders, says, "They will find time to exercise at any cost, often skipping out on social events or extracurricular activities to get in their daily run. They feel anxious or guilty if they are unable to exercise or if a routine is unexpectedly cut short." The key here, though, is the motivation behind it: As Saffran says, "They exercise primarily to control their weight or 'make up' for calories they have already eaten or are about to eat.”ummm, yeah. that's me. just yesterday i bailed on going to birthday drinks with a good friend (who's only in australia for a few more days) because i thought i hadn't worked out enough yet. i ended up meeting him later, but i actually was carrying this intense guilt for allowing myself to choose an additional workout over the social situation.
when i hear other people joke about needing to "burn off" something they ate, or when trainers say that people need to "earn" their dessert while working out at the gym, it hurts me. we really don't need to "deserve" to eat our food. we have to eat to live. this attitude that food is something to be balanced out through exercise is harmful; everything balances everything if we approach everything in moderation. i know this. but i have to tell myself that over. and over. and over.
the meditation i read this morning in gabby's new #miraclesnow book was "peace begins with me." i love this because i know that if i practice this peacefulness inside, it can radiate out. gabby says that all relationships in our lives offer that opportunity, and i think that is so beautiful. the relationship i have with myself is where i need the most practice, but this challenging relationship also offers me the most opportunity for growth, change, and healing.
[my amazing cousin that i love oh-so-much shared this pic on fb this morning. i'm stealing it as a reminder here. i'm so happy that he's been inspired and that he's looking to inspire others. you rock, travis. xo]