5 Tips to Help You Maintain a Healthy Relationship with Exercise
On this blog, I try to help you (and myself) fix our little crazy heads and get to the truth of the matter. But sometimes the time it takes to fix our brains and really figure out how to heal can take a long time. But we don’t have to wait until the end of that part of the journey to start see some of the results.
At FoodLoveMe/FoodHateMe we are here to fix all of the pieces of ourselves that have led to our emotional overeating. Some of you already know how to lose weight , you’ve done it before but you haven’t been successful keeping it off. Others are learning for the first time. Regardless, when we finally lose it, we all want to keep it off forever. So we’re doing the hard work to make sure it sticks. I call this our “truth journey”. But while we’re getting through that journey, it’s nice to have some tips and tricks to help us along the way. Afterall, we are human and just because we have an Ah-hah moment about something doesn’t mean that we instantly change our behavior. So in a previous post, I talked about the proper role exercise should play in our lives and I warned of the danger of allowing exercise to be your “solution” to weight loss. Some of you may already be in that situation. So, if I didn’t catch you in the beginning of your exercise obsession and you’re needing some extra help to get out of the addiction or if you are in the beginning stages of exercising but you already fear what I’m telling you, here are some tips to help make sure you do not associate exercise too much with your eating and/or your weight loss. I’ve been here before and I know what the triggers are. These are the tricks that have worked for me over this past year to really fix my addiction to exercise and keep it a healthy part of my life.
5 Tips to Help You Maintain a Healthy Relationship with Exercise
- Don’t look at yourself in the mirror after a workout. It’s psychological but I notice I do that a lot and it’s like I expect some sort of transformation right after a long run. It makes sense, you feel invincible and well……..thinner. But that’s an emotion, not a reality. Head up, carry on. You will get there but that run did not make you lose 10 lbs instantaneously. Oh that it would.
- Don’t log calories burned! In your daily tracker, which I know all of you have and use diligently (Right?), DO NOT factor in calories burned from your workouts into your total daily allotment.
Let’s say you weight 180 lbs and you want to weight 130 lbs and the calculator said that to lose a safe amount of 2 lbs a week that you need to aim for a total of 1300 calories per day.
If you let it, the calculator will add to your daily allotment based on how many calories you say you burned. Don’t do that! Very slippery slope! Trust me. First of all, you won’t burn as many as you think you did no matter what device you’re using to figure that out. Second of all, it’s way too easy to see this and start playing a trading game. “Oh, if I just run another mile, then I can eat blah, blah, blah.” Stop it! Just focus on eating your allotted 1300 calories per day. Or 1500 if that’s what you decided. But do not factor in any additional calories burned. Trust me, you will thank me later.
2nd trick for those of you who use MyFitnessPal:
If you use MyFitnessPal, like I do, you can enter in your exercise by putting in minutes or distance but then – manually go into the calories burned section and force an entry of “1” that way the system will log your exercise so that you have a nice history for future reference but it will only factor in 1 calorie to your total allotment. Go ahead, You can have the 1 extra calorie. You’re welcome. (You can see mine for an example here: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/diary/FoodLoveGirl)
- Be careful about the timing of your exercise when you overeat! If you have an overeating episode as I often do on the weekend, and you eat more at a meal than you planned, DO NOT, and I repeat DO NOT exercise within, let’s say, 12 hours of that meal. This is not scientific in the least but this is my personal feeling about how much emotional distance you need to allow between the poor judgement you made at the meal and the next exercise you were planning on doing. If you don’t wait, you run the risk of associating that exercise with that last meal and then overexercising to compensate for the overeating. That is what we don’t want!
You overate, okay.
The only way to get back on the horse is at the very next meal. Eat better next time. That’s all you can do. You overeat, so eat better next time. And I’m not even suggesting that you eat way less at the next meal to compensate, honestly for overeaters, we’ve got to train ourselves over the long run how to eat appropriately at 90% of our meals for the rest of our lives! And the only way to do this is to keep aiming for it at every meal. So overcompensating too much at the next meal is no good either because you could easily say, “well I overate at lunch, so I’ll starve myself at dinner and then I’ll still hit that 1300 calorie goal”. The problem with that method is that depending on what you overate on at the previous meal it may not have given you the nutrition you needed so you might still be hungry. That’s unfortunate but you can’t starve yourself to fix it because you run the risk of being hungry and overeating at the very next meal after that and around and around we go. Stop it. No undereating and no overexercising. Just do better next time. It sucks to hear that I know, but honestly that’s all we can do. (Caution: do not confuse this advice with eating lighter in anticipation of a slightly bigger meal for a special occasion – that’ totally different – see this article for that subject).
- Maintain a lot of variety in your exercise. I find that compulsive behavior can come more readily with repletion. So if you’re only running, suddenly you’re adding more time and more miles and you’re going longer and longer and longer. But if you run one day, then do Taebo the next day, then take a walk the next day and then yoga the day after that. The variety can help break up the monotony and keep your mind more focused on the activity at hand because things are a little more random and you’re paying attention and you’re in the moment. And hey, look at that, here we are talking again about being in the moment. Living our lives as full as we can each and every day and enjoying them in the moment. This will help us to feel more satisfied from life itself and not look to food to fulfill us. So variety can help.
- Listen to your body. You guys! This one is new even for me. As of like a week ago, I just realized that I’m doing this. I’m so excited! This is tricky though because I want you to listen to your body but still push yourself. What I’m saying is if I feel like my body is up for running and wants to run but I’m just feeling lazy mentally, I’ll push myself and run. BUT if my legs are feeling weak or my body just feels wonky like I might be fighting a cold or something but I feel like I could go for a long walk, then I’ll go walk. See the difference? The old me would have run no matter what and then felt terrible and probably have gotten sick and still run again while sick. NO! Not good. Listen to your body, push yourself but do exercises that are good for you and that are appropriate for where your body is in that moment. One thing I used to love that they always said in yoga was that every day was different because your body is in a different place and you have to get used to that and accept that and know that every workout won’t feel the exactly the same. You’ll have strong days you’ll have weaker days, it’s all good. It’s part of the process. Enjoy the process.
Like I said, no one knows better than me the dangers of a love affair with exercise to try to lose weight. It’s seductive and it seems like the answer but it’s not. We’ve got to heal our relationship with food. That’s the conclusion that I’ve come to in my own weight loss journey. That’s what this blog is all about. That’s why I hope you continue to read this blog and work with me on this healthy journey of ours. Let’s keep that friendship with Exercise for all the right reasons and be mindful of its limitations.
Have you experienced an addiction to exercise? What were some things you did to disassociate your weight loss journey with working out? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment.