The Puzzle of Movement: Becoming the Kinetic Energetic

In the final stage of starting to get active the focus is on actually starting to move. Feel free to move in any way which suits you and here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way when turning getting active into part of my permanent lifestyle.

This stage is called, Becoming the Kinetic Energetic.

Balance Ambition and Attainability

With running, it is tempting to go for straight for the big distances. A training plan says you can run a half marathon in 8 weeks, so why shouldn’t you? If you train hard you’ll get results quickly right?

Unfortunately, fitness isn’t always a direct correlative relationship of input vs results. We are human beings not machines: we can’t force out bodies to stick to a constant progressive plan as figured by an algorithm. Injuries happen. Overuse injuries and obtaining injuries from increasing your exercise load too quickly are very real – and are not something be ploughed on through in the name of ‘mind over matter’.

Our bodies do things that may not fall in line with our plans and ambitions. Being realistic with self expectations and self compassionate throughout your journey will harbour much greater results than literally beating your body up physically in order to run too far a distance in too short a time, or dead lift too many Kgs too quickly – and that’s OK.

I can however, make slow progress in line with how my body adapts. I can gain more than climbing higher grades and running faster miles from my journey. This way I maintain a level of ambition and sense of progress that becomes very enticing from exercising, whilst also respecting my body and capabilities. You can too.

Engage with Online Communities for your Activity

I don’t mean follow a bunch of Insta models with chiseled muscle definition and a body shape that requires an unhealthy level of obsession to achieve. What I mean is, if you don’t know anyone who wants to get into your activity with you, go find your people.

One way of doing this is the web – Meet Up, and local clubs and Facebook groups are a great place to start. Engaging in an ongoing conversation with others like you about your journeys, encouraging one another is a great source or virtual community. Some members may be inspiring to you, and you never know, you may yourself inspire others.  You may meet up at an event and do it together – there are hundreds of people just like you who have done just that, and for as scary as that may initially seem – you’ll meet some bloody brilliant people.

Together we’re stronger.

Make it social

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Working out alone can be a good time to clear your mind, focus on yourself and take time out from your day. For years, I ran solo, I went to the gym on my own, and I only climbed in a group because you kind of need someone to belay you – until I discovered bouldering could become a solitary activity also. I enjoy being alone, and know that not everyone likes being alone as much as I do.

For years I totally underestimated the value of working out with others, undervaluing the greater benefit of running with friends, and enjoying the company of other people in a positive space. Since this bomb has dropped, I regularly go to running crew each week.

It has become a place to forge friendships who share my passions. It has become a place to shake out the cobwebs of stagnation from a low mood in the company of others, a place to celebrate achievements of one another and a safe place of acceptance.

The benefit of human contact on a regular basis is something I never valued, until now. And as an awkward introvert who is usually immersed in swathes of social awkwardness I have found the fitness people, and the running crew to be a very non-judgmental and friendly bunch. It may not feel right with the first group you run, yogi or climb with, but keep trying – eventually a you’ll find yourself a you-shaped space to be the missing piece to a jigsaw of a crew you never even knew about before.

Embrace the Power of Post Exercise Mindfulness 

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After a work out take time to sit, breathe and be mindful about how your body and mind are feeling. Just taking a moment to do so gives you time to reflect on where you’re at, how you’re feeling physically and emotionally. Is something bothering you? Is there something you want to work on? Is there a niggle in your knee that needs attention? Or are you just feeling totally zen and absorbing as much of that as possible for a moment? Stop to smell the flowers.

Don’t Focus on Weight or Size

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Weight loss is a viable goal for many but I would definitely never advocate obtaining a certain clothes size or goal weight to be the main or only reason for incorporating physical activity into your life. It is claimed that weighing yourself regularly can help with weight loss in numerous research papers.

However, focusing on weight alone can become very disheartening and a very damaging relationship with yourself. There is no self compassion or love in weighing yourself every day. This gives the scales too much power.

Use the scales if you need to but don’t enslave yourself to them. They’re a tool and deserve no power in your life beyond that. Be real with the scales and let them be real with you – and leave it at that.

Pushing your physical boundaries can be an emotional journey. Let it.

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Pushing yourself, breaking yourself down in order to build yourself up is so much more than a physical journey. ‘Your body is capable, it’s your mind you have to convince’ and this can be a very complicated and windy path of self realisation and discovery.

Sometimes it will be a struggle, other times you’ll smash your own expectations and it’ll feel emotional. You may want to shout or cheer, or even cry – this is entirely OK. Emotions are OK, and pushing yourself in order to break self-inflicted boundaries and  achieving your fitness goals can be an emotional journey. Let yourself own it.

Stop believing in tomorrow. Start today

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Tomorrow I’ll start running. Ok, It’s Wednesday and I didn’t go – I’ll start over on Monday. Next week is definitely the day I’m going to start going to the gym. I’ve signed up now, there’s no excuse, other than the excuse you’ll give to yourself when Monday comes.

Sound familiar?

Stop giving tomorrow so much power. The day is today. What can you do today to prepare yourself and take a step in the right direction? It might not be lacing up right now, but maybe it’s thinking of how you could start. Something may be in the way at the moment: work, study or commitments, so tomorrow may be necessary sometimes but put a deadline on it.

After a month of tomorrow’s start switching to today thinking. Tomorrow will be better from the actions you make today. Get yourself out there. Show yourself what you’re made of – and have a bloody good time doing it!

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You. Are. Enough.

Sometimes we need to remember to be rational and emotional, calculated and in touch with the incalculable. In a world full of messages bombarding us that we need to be this, that and XYZ by 25 – I’m saying, heck, life isn’t like that and that’s OK. My life didn’t turn out how I had imagined, and I’m OK for that. Let life happen. You are enough. Value is found in the incalculable, ironically.

Let’s be immeasurable.

Emotional Eating

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m starting to get symptoms of low mood. One of these includes chaotic eating habits. The start of which is always binge eating because of emotions, mainly and namely on chocolate too. Which isn’t helpful for any health goals I may have in aiming to reduce body fat % or overall weight. You see, it’s very simple.

I feel something, sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, anger, whatever it may be then I go to the Sainsbury’s across the road- sometimes ashamedly in my pyjamas – and I buy binge food amongst normal healthy food to disguise my antics. I’ll buy some bananas and strawberries that I’m not interested in, than just as I’m about to go to the self service desk, and always the self service desk, I grab loads of chocolate and biscuits and BAM! I run home as if I’ve committed a crime and I eat and eat and eat until it’s all gone.

Then, ironically after the sugar high has eased off I feel even more low than before by about 5 notches on the emotion meter. It’s ironic. It makes no sense whilst making perfect sense and this ladies and gentleman is classic emotional eating.

I can see that I do it. I’m admitting to it and it needs to stop. Therefore, I’m going to stop counting calories and eat 3 times a day with fruit for snacks again, in the hope that regular eating will nip this habit in the bud because then when I’m feeling like doing it I hopefully won’t be physically hungry so I can use distraction techniques and DBT skills in order to find out a) what is bothering me and b) control the urge. It’s like the final stages of recovering from bulimia all over again, except fortunately I’ve not been purging.

Another step I’m taking to battle this problem is to give up all chocolate for 100 days. Chocolate you see is the problem with me. I eat chocolate mousses, and chocolate sundaes, chocolate ice cream and chocolate pennies, and hot chocolate covered in chocolate everything. It’s my go to food for binging. I can’t eat it healthily or in moderation. I am finding that I have to eat it by the bucket load, and that’s not OK because it’s making me feel like crap. So in order to get out of the habit of craving chocolate I’m going cold turkey for 100 days starting today. Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

Climbing Kisses and 3 Kilometres

Yesterday I went climbing. It was great. I haven’t been for some time, so my hands had softened up- as you can see from below and I forgot my finger tape. However, it was great fun and definitely great to try out a new centre as so far in my climbing journey I have only climbed at one centre, which is a very nice centre known at The Reach, but it was good to go to The Arch in Borough too.

As usual with climbers, the competition is with yourself, and helping each other out is the name of the game as a friendly fellow leant me some tape to cover my sores so I could climb some more. Dear friendly climber, it was much appreciated.  

This morning I ran my first 3km in my 10k training plan. It went quite well and I managed to dig a bit deeper to get a 7’47” average pace instead of the usual 8’36” which I feel quite pleased about. I feel slightly stronger in myself and hope to feel stronger by the time Tough Mudder and Rat Race Dirty Weekend rock on up in a months time. I am in my final month of preparation and I feel like I’ve only just started despite knowing this was going to happen for a year and a half nearly now. I had planned to be in peak physical fitness and shape, I can only laugh at how much that didn’t happen, but despite this, I’m trying..still. I won’t give up, I refuse.

When I weighed myself this morning I miraculously gained about 5lb in two days. Obviously this is some sort of joke that my scaled are playing on me. Ha ha scales, well done, good one. Hil-arrrrr-ious! Seriously, hilarious!

So I decided to start taking measurements using My Fitness Pal, which I use for nothing anymore other than recording my weight and measurements on charts – fun, I know. So here we go – for I am yet to be brave enough to do a before shot my measurements go as follows:

Hips: 37.3″
Bicep: 11″
Thigh: 25.2″
Waist: 32″
Weight: Late April Fools but usually 162lb.

I don’t know what measurements I would like to aim for, this I need to give some thought. I have a goal weight, but not goal measurements, but it would be nice to be a size 10-12 again so maybe a 28″ waist would be a good goal to aim for. Which isn’t unachievable, and the rest of the measurements will follow.

The Diet Update

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My weight loss journey so far has been steady and slow. I’ve lost a few pounds, which I’m happy about despite totally falling off the banwagon with calorie counting this week – which proved a better diea when I was calorie counting because without counting calories old ED thoughts crop up of, “isn’t that a bit too much?” and “Right, I won’t eat for the rest of the day now” and “Do you deserve that, you should be hungry”

For some in my position calorie counting may seem counterproductive but I have a fitbit which tells me how many extra calories I’ve earned in a day, therefore telling me how much extra I can eat. Which I find helpful in maintaining my goals and limits, and in not getting ED thoughts. Therefore, as of tomorrow I’m going to calorie count again, which means eating a lot of packaged foods, and not really cooking but it’s ok because I choose the healthy options meals which satisfy me and are healthy enough until I feel ready within myself since my breakdown to start cooking again. I’ve barely been cooking you see, because it feels like too much of a task for me. It overwhelms me. I don’t know how people do it, shower, wash, eat, clean AND work. I barely manage to do the precursors to my AND, and I’m unemployed with a minimal amount of activities happening for me each week.

I am pleased with my progress though, especially as I’ve had quite a nasty cold which has prevented me from exercising. I am going to start exercising either tonight or tomorrow though, as I have a climbing workshop for 4 hours, and I’m thinking of going for a swim tonight. I found it very peaceful and relaxing last time. I’ll see how I’m feeling as I’m feeling quite run down again, or rather still, but think I will be better by tomorrow. Mind you I’ve been saying that all week and it keeps coming on back but we’ll see. I’m going to have to take it one step at a time until I’m ready to start exercising again, but as for my weight loss, I’m happy with my progress although it is nothing to shout home about just yet. I’m excited to finally reach my goal weight so I can fit back into my clothes and feel nice about myself again.

Songs of My Journey: 2011, Struggling On

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I finished my second year in 2011. I remember spending evening after evening in the library trying to finish and move on with my studies. It was difficult for me, and I had mastered not eating for days on end resulting in a steep decline in my weight. I would listen to songs on repeat that resonated with my struggles at the time. I was no longer in denial with myself: I knew I was ill and had realised that I was starting to lose control. I had accepted a referral to the Maudsley for relapse prevention, but my relapse had become suffocating – and I no longer wanted ripping from my comfortable starvation, despite being scared at how low my weight had dropped in the Dr’s office.

“Boys Don’t Get Eating Disorders…”: Myths, The Second Third, DEBUNKED!

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Battling a mental health condition of any form can be an isolating challenge. However, with some illnesses in particular there is more stigma and myth surrounding the illness than kindness and compassion. I was firmly reminded of this whilst on the night bus home the other week.

My friend and I met through our mental health difficulties. Our paths crossed in support groups and forums alike. Over time, we managed to build a healthy friendship from the foundations of having ill mental health: in particular an experience of bulimia in common.

It feels like a very positive friendship for me as we have both recovered from our eating disorders. Within our relationship though, there is a friendship within which it is perfectly fine and comfortable to talk about one of the most taboo aspects of our lives: my mental health.

However, I realised when we were talking on the bus how rife mental health stigma is. During our conversation the two men behind us found something hilarious in us talking about our mental health, whilst another two women took it upon themselves to shout negative remarks and something along the lines of, “the fucking anorexic at the back of the bus”. As if having had eating disorders touch our lives in one form or another was something to be ashamed of, and derogatory. I can firmly say: it is not.

So here is a continuation from my previous post about eating disorder myths, for the second third of my ‘Myths Debunked’ series:

11. Only teenagers get eating disorders
It is commonly believed that an eating disorder is mainly an illness of the adolescents and early adulthood years. Although it is the third most common chronic illness amongst teenagers, they are not the only ones that can be affected my eating disorders.

Many men and women in their 50s are suffering from eating disorders, however we don’t seem to recognise them as easily. “You have a neighbor in her 50s who’s slim and running all the time, and you don’t know she’s purging and exercising four to five hours a day. She falls over dead, and it gets charted as sudden cardiac death when the real problem was an eating disorder,” says Kathryn Zerbe, professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University. Kathryn Zerbe (2012)

There are many factors that can lead to post mid-life eating disorders developing such as grief, divorce, an awareness of ageing, or physical illnesses could trigger someone into unhealthy eating behaviours and patterns such as fasting, bingeing and purging.

There is also a pressure to age gracefully if one cannot quite manage to be forever youthful. The media and societal messages of being a perfect beauty in perfect shape to not only target the younger generations, but as studies suggest, older generations of people are affected also. “In a 2010 study at the Oregon Health & Science University, women ages 65 to 80 were just as likely as young adult women to feel fat or concerned about their body shape.” Harvard Women’s Health Watch (2012)

12. Boys and Men don’t get eating disorders
There is a stigma around men getting eating disorders, even within treatment communities. However, many studies have illustrated that an estimated 10% of sufferers are male. “The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on eating disorders showed that 1.6million people in the UK were affected by eating disorders in 2004 and 180,000 (11 per cent) of them were men.” Mengetedstoo.co.uk (2014)

There is now more understanding within health organisations and healthcare reducing the stigma around males getting eating disorders. Some celebrity figures have disclosed about their weight difficulties: Dr. Christian Jessen and Gok Wan, for example. You are equally worthy of care and treatment. Here are some helpful links:

NationalEatingDisorders.org

The National Association for Males with Eating Disorders

13. It is an illness reserved for the white people of a higher socioeconomic status.
Just as mental illnesses don’t discriminate, nor do eating disorders. Either gender of any race are vulnerable to developing an eating disorder. Providing the environmental, emotional and mental circumstances permit, people of any race can experience an eating disorder. That is not to say that cultural differences don’t play a role, but a black woman, Asian woman, white man, Hispanic teen may all well develop an eating disorder. We all have mental health.

“While more research is needed in this area, we do know that the prevalence of eating disorders is similar among Non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asians in the United States.” National Eating Disorders (2014)

14. An eating disorder is a cry for attention and is just a phase that will pass.
Many of those who develop an eating disorder do so by their teens or early twenties. However, an eating disorder is never just a “cry for help”, it is a serious illness. Eating disorders are the most fatal of all mental illnesses and cannot be palmed off as a phase.

“Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, from medical complications associated with the illness as well as suicide.”[reference citation from: http://www.b-eat.co.uk/about-beat/media-centre/facts-and-figures/] However, “Reviews of the research into recovery suggest that around 46% of anorexia nervosa patients fully recover, with a third improving, and 20% remaining chronically ill (Steinhausen, 2002). Similar research into bulimia suggests that around 45% of sufferers make a full recovery, 27% improve considerably, and 23% suffer chronically (Steinhausen & Weber, 2009).” B-eat (n.d.)

It is never a good idea to “see how severe it will get”. Prognosis for full recovery is highest if an eating disorder is treated earlier into development. As if stopping it in its tracks so’s to speak.

“The longer an eating disorder remains undiagnosed and untreated, the harder it is on the body and the more difficult to overcome, so urge your loved one to see a doctor right away.” Smith (2014)

The truth is that eating disorders often fester in secrecy; “People with eating disorders are not seeking attention. In fact, due to the nature of an eating disorder a person may go to great lengths to hide, disguise or deny their behaviour, or may not recognise that there is anything wrong.” National Eating Disorder Collaboration (2014)

15. Eating disorders are entirely about vanity and wanting to be pretty.
Yes, poor body image plays a role in eating disorders, but this is not to be taken at face value. Alongside poor body image lies a dwindling self-esteem at a deeper level in regards to many aspects of the self: self-doubt and a lagging confidence that leave many sufferers questioning many aspects of their selves, and enduring a very harsh self-critic. “Eating disorder patients are often very critical about themselves. This self-criticism already starts in the period before they start to diet, but increases when they have developed an eating disorder. Noordenbos (2013)

16. It is not possible to recover from an eating disorder.
Recovery is most definitely possible. It is a hard, long, winding road. From personal experience I have met many people who have managed to overcome, contain or recover fully from their eating disorders. I, myself am an example of how recovery is possible. As with male sufferers coming forward to talk about their experiences with eating disorders, there have also been many more celebrities who have spoken out: K$sha, Demi Lovato, Mel B, Gok Wan, Dr Christian Jessen, Portia de Rossi. 

It isn’t easy, but it is possible. Keep fighting. You can win.

17. Anorexia is the only eating disorder that can be life threatening, so others aren’t so serious.
Although Anorexia is the eating disorder most commonly related to fatality, that is not to disregard the effects of eating disorders such as Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder. Each, in their own right, can incur an individual set of long-term medically complications, some of which can be life threatening. In those who purge for example, electrolyte imbalances can prove fatal. “In the case of bulimia nervosa, electrolyte disturbances are the main origin of sudden death by means of purging behaviours.” Jàuregui-Garrido and Jàuregui-Garrido (2012)

“Bulimia is also associated with severe medical complications, and binge eating disorder sufferers often experience the medical complications associated with obesity.” B-eat (n.d.)

18. Purging is an effective weight loss method.
There have been a number of studies concluding that purging is an ineffective method of removing calories from the body. Initially, there is likely to be some weight loss. However, once the binge purge cycle gains momentum alongside the body’s survival mechanisms in times of perceived famine then many people with bulimia gain weight – often times getting to their highest weights whilst in the woes of bulimia.

From personal experience I can conclude that this is true. At the time of my highest weight I was very bulimic. Only once I was into recovery from my bulimia did I lose that extra weight, and finally returning my natural weight.

19. Eating disorders are a result of heavy Photoshop use in the fashion and media industries.
Although these pressures do nothing to help with developing a culturally healthy perspective upon health, weight, shape and size: imagery does not cause an eating disorder. Eating disorders are a complex psychological illness.

The underlying factors that contribute to the development of an eating disorder are low self-esteem, a lack of control in one’s life, a perfectionistic personality, and an inability to cope with life’s current circumstances. After all, an eating disorder is a coping mechanism. There are many, many more factors that affect the development of an eating disorder, and although media imagery is not necessarily helpful and can add fuel to the fire, they do not directly cause eating disorders.

“While these unfortunate elements of our society CAN contribute to widespread negative body image and promote an internalization of the “thin ideal”, they cannot be blamed outright for the development of the serious and complex illnesses such as anorexiabulimia,  binge eating disorder and EDNOS or OSFED.” The Centre For Eating Disorders (2014)

20. You have to be underweight to have an eating disorder.
Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. In order to be diagnosed with Anorexia then there is a weight measurement aspect in the DSM, however, a sufferer of bulimia can be underweight or overweight. Each is as likely as the other. Someone suffering from binge eating disorder is most likely to be overweight, where as someone suffering from eating disorder – not otherwise specified may also be at a size or shape. It is not a clothes size in the shop. It is not the number on the scale. It is not a certain number of inches around the waist, hips and thighs. An eating disorder is a pervasive pattern of disordered eating. It is a psychological disorder.


 

Resources:

The Body Betrayed: A Deeper Understanding of Women, Eating Disorders, and Treatment , by Kathryn J. Zerbe, M.D. (G�rze Books, 1993)

Disordered Eating in Midlife and Beyond, by Harvard Women’s Health Watch, February 2012

Men Get Eating Disorders Too. n.d. The Facts. [Online]. [Accessed 14th November 2014] Available from: http://mengetedstoo.co.uk/information/the-facts

National Eating Disorders. n.d. Race Ethnicity and Culture. [Online]. [Accessed 14th November 2014] Available from: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/race-ethnicity-and-culture

B-eat. n.d. Facts and Figures. [Online]. [Accessed 14th November 2014] Available from: http://www.b-eat.co.uk/about-beat/media-centre/facts-and-figures/

Smith, M. 2014. Helping Someone with an Eating Disorder. [Online]. [Accessed 14th November 2014] Available from: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/eating-disorders/helping-someone-with-an-eating-disorder.htm

National Eating Disorder Collaboration. 2014. Common Myths About Eating Disorders. [Online]. [Accessed 14th November 2014] Available from: http://www.nedc.com.au/myths

Noordenbos, G. 2013. Recovery From Eating Disorders: A Guide for Clinicians and their Clients. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Jàuregui-Garrido, B and Jàuregui-Garrido, I. 2012. Sudden Death in Eating Disorders. Vascular Health and Risk Management. 8, pp. 91-98

Clemmer, K. 2014. Photoshop Does Not Cause Eating Disorders – Media & Body Image. [Online]. [Accessed 14th November 2014] Available from: http://eatingdisorder.org/blog/2014/02/photoshop-does-not-cause-eating-disorders-media-body-image/