I have never been one to traverse the elusive "Middle Way", no matter what the topic is. I like black and white. I like defined and delineated. I thrive on planning, clear direction, and goal setting. Many times, professionally and otherwise, this mindset is an asset. However, it has contributed to a lot of pain and heartache in my personal life.
Being physically active and eating healthfully without being crazed; Still working on it every. damn. day.
Let me illustrate: For me, “I think I’ll go out for a run” is two quick steps from “and why don’t I just train for my first Marathon!” I have this quirky all-or-nothing mentality that has caused me a lot of trouble, anxiety, and needless stress.
Looking back at where I was a year ago, in May 2013, I can see more clearly than ever the un-healthiness of the “Healthiest I’ve Ever Been” status I’d achieved. I was at my lowest weight - a weight that left me feeling cold even in the heat of summer, and having very low-energy, even for daily activities. I was physically active for at least an hour most days- to the point of it interfering with other life stuff. I consistently tracked every calorie that went into my body, and rated each and every thing on this self-imposed scaled of whether or not it was a “good” food or a “bad” food. Of course, I was not allowed to let any “bad foods” enter my system. I had essentially turned being thin and fit into a religion, one to which I was an enthusiastic convert, diving headfirst into orthodoxy.
Now, I’m reformed my worship. I’m still practicing in the temple of Fitness, but I am fitting it in to my life where it belongs. It’s a component of a well-rounded, happy me; it’s not all-consuming, it is not ME. Throughout the last year since my "turning point", even within all these struggles with food, nutrition, feelings, cravings, sadness, and exercise, I have been building a more resilient self. Deconstructing the tough, hardened, rigid self I had created and taking pieces to form a flexible, adaptable, authentic me.
What this looks like for me: the ability to exercise frequently or even participate in races without having to train for the Olympics. The ability to eat healthfully and nourish my body without going on a Whole 30, Paleo-inspiried elimination diet. The ability to get to a place of fitness where I feel comfortable, energetic and active without feeling like I’ll be PERFECT if I just loose those last 2 lbs.
I’ve been working hard at this elusive destination- this Middle Way of health/fitness. I’m moving towards it. Heck, I guess that being on the path to the Middle Way essentially means I am already traveling the Middle Way. Now if I could only quantify where the true Middle is? ;) Just kiddin'.
In the midst of all this flailing about, there is a LOT to be proud of:
- I continue to flail. I fall and fail on a weekly basis, but I get back up. Each time, I am a bit better at picking myself up, I fall a little less far, and I can rebound more quickly.
- I’m consistently making it to the gym several times a week- I have successfully cultivated a Gym Habit- that’s a big deal!
- I’m still un-packing my eating issues. Overall, I am more relaxed with eating what sounds good to me, without a lot of restriction.
- I've continued to take whatever action is available to get my elusive menstrual period back ,and most days, I can stop myself from flipping out that I haven't had it in more than 1.5 years. Most days.
- I am working, with the support of counselors, through a lot of the emotional issues that put me in this mindset in the first place. Counseling is painful, terribly slow, and helpful. Also, sometimes it’s the worst.
- I am falling back in love with exercise, for the simple pleasure of it. I have continued to run 2-3 times a week for fun, I am getting back in to yoga, and I’m thinking about a 10k race here in a few weeks.
- I’d still REALLY love to become a Spinning Instructor, and I’m planning on registering for a certification course for the end of June.
The gift of honest self-reflection is priceless. It's a gift that I try to give myself in the toughest times, because a little stumble on the path does not equal a back-breaking tumble down the hill of the Middle Way. As the amazing Cat Stevens would say, ♫ There's so much left to know, and I'm on the road to find out ♫