For months my alarm would go off at 4:15am during the week and 6am on the weekends. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I would spring out of bed and put on clothes that I had set out the night before. My workouts were my escape from reality because I had control of what I was doing. I could either run or lift weights or walk. I was the one making the decision and that was important because I knew the second I left the gym, things were going to happen whether I decided them to or not.
The food I ate was raw and fresh and boring. Oatmeal, chicken, spinach; you name a healthy food and it was in my pantry or in my stomach. With a strict, “clean” diet, came episodes of intense sugar cravings and a need to shut them up. That meant an embarrassing amount of M&M trail mix at 10pm followed by a morning of regret, anger, and self-talk that would be heard for most of the day.
I would look in the mirror and be confused. How was I still looking the same even though I was working out 6 days a week and eating like a rabbit? I was tracking my calories and following a workout plan and drinking more water because apparently you need to consume a lake in one day. I was saying no when a student would offer me a Tootsie Roll and would walk that extra .23 of a mile so my calories burned were at a certain number.
“Carrie, you need to stop living this way. You may think you are doing all the right things but your body is clearly signaling that it needs a break. While your labs are being run and we look further into your current situation, you have to cut your workouts in half and find alternative activities to de-stress you.”
I hated that it took seeing a specialist to make me realize that I needed to change and stop living in a way that was putting way too much pressure on my thoughts, body, and overall way of life. But it did and it was time to put her words into action.
Finding balance when handling essential, daily occurrences – exercise, food, a social life – took a while to figure out but when I did, there is no other word to describe it other than freeing. I found that taking a walk amongst the fresh, crisp air felt equally as good, if not better, than waking up before the roosters and stressing over running a certain distance or lifting a challenging amount of weight. I now savor every bite of a cookie when given one and thank God soon after for providing us with sugar and flour. I am becoming more of a “yes” person when it comes to my social life but I also know when I need some time to myself to regroup and recharge..and binge watch shows on Netflix.
Do I still catch myself obsessing over calories? Yes.
Do I still have three too many handfuls of anything with sugar as an ingredient? Yes.
Do I still have to talk myself out of running more than I should? Yes.
Do I know how to accept these things and continue to work on them? Yes.
We are always going to be a work in progress and we must take it upon ourselves to see what it is in us that needs tweaking, sprucing up, or getting rid of altogether. The wonderful thing about our “construction zone” is that we are not alone. There are friends and family and strangers whom we haven’t met yet that are just waiting to help us reconstruct, rebuild, and make a little stronger.
Maybe what you need more of is actually doing less of what you are doing now...