Sunday, June 5, 2011

Resistance Training

I just wanted to let you know that despite my progress in attacking my reluctance to relax (I spent an entire afternoon doing nothing but reading in the sun yesterday and it was sinfully good great), traces of my Type A tendencies are still alive and well.

I still feel the need to accomplish things ("strong acheivement-orientation" - check!). I'm still competitive (Brother #3 ran and lifted yesterday so I felt compelled to do a double workout too) and I still berate myself when I take it easy. I still find myself creating deadlines (nevermind that I don't have any papers due - I must find the perfect pair of earrings for the wedding ASAP and I must look up things to see in Acadia National Park before we leave on Tuesday). I still feel myself hurrying - to the bank, to the grocery store, and to the library. And yes, I still catch myself getting three, four, and five blogs ahead.

Mom's New To-Do List - I Want One Too!

The niggling little voice in the back of my head seizes any hint of anxiety and happily adds fuel to the fire: What if you like being lazy? What if you never feel driven ever again? It's this voice that drives me to exercise like a madwoman, often for weeks at a time. Every workout must be a maximum-effort endeavor. If I'm not ready to keel over by the end of a run or a lift, I feel like a slacker. Immediately the workout slides into the "bad" column.

Now that I'm not working, it seems especially important to maintain a rigid control over my diet and exercise. Running myself into the ground seems to give me a sense of the suffering and punishment that I crave. To an extent, it allows me to feel like I deserve an hour on a towel in the sun and a handful of chocolate chips* in my yogurt at night.

*When did this become "dessert"? I miss homemade cookies, slabs of dark chocolate, and scoops of ice cream...

I really struggle on "off" days - days with no workout at all. I delay taking them for as long as possible - until the quality of my workouts has noticeably declined. I've been on a self-induced crash course to injury for over six months because I'm scared of taking time off. When I do rest, I feel terribly guilty for not being active. I feel like I haven't earned the right to add a slice of cheese to my sandwich or to have a snack at 3pm. And this is when the restrictive and borderline disordered eating flares up.

Keeping my expectations reasonable as far as exercising goes and not depriving myself food-wise is obviously an every day wrestling match. To keep myself in check, I read as much as I can about other people that are grappling with similiar demons and I gather as much knowledge as I can from people that aren't blinded by the perfectionism bug.

I stumbled upon a great article on Runner's World about "why you have to back off in order to push hard." It's an informative yet approachable piece that explains the science behind rest and recovery much better than I could - and it'll help me leave my running shoes on the shelf and my watch on its hook in my closet at least once a week from here on out.

Amanda over at Running with Spoons also recently published a refreshingly honest post (with bits of humor throughout) that addresses a novel idea: we must learn to listen and trust our bodies. Well, perhaps I have heard that one before...from Brother #2, quoting Dr. George Sheehan:

"Listen to your body. Do not be a blind and deaf tenant."

Do you struggle with guilt on the days you don't exercise? Do you find yourself eating differently on those days?


  1. oh you are SO not alone! I cannot take a "complete" rest day. I feel COMPELLED to go for a stroll or if someone else goes to the gym I feel like I have to go or even want to go. Everything you talked about is exactly how I feel as well.
    I don't work and right now I'm on summer break. I feel like I have to workout in order feel "accomplished"
    I also know that sense of punishment. I feel it as well. I feel like I have to suffer with my emotions and I'm not allowed to be happy or not allowed to just be lazy at home all day.
    What I try to do on my "rest" days is plan doctors appointments, clean, make collages, shop. I do something to take my mind off of the fact that I really do need a rest. Blogging has been helping as well :)
    If you're ever in need of support email me or leave me a comment!

  2. You are so sweet! I've found the same thing about having lots of plans on off-days - distractions work wonders! I love to clean, make collages, and shop too :)