Cycles of comfort #mentalhealth #exercise


I talk about comfort a lot. But there are different kinds of comfort. There is mental or emotional comfort, that is the one that most often comes into play. There is social comfort, something I am not always familiar with. But this post is about physical comfort. About a month or so ago I wrote a post on a different blog where I basically announced that I was done with obsessing about fitness. That I had realized that it really wasn’t good for me to spend so much mental and emotional strength on the cycle of diet, exercise, fail to diet, kick myself for failure, and so on. And this post is about addressing that.

Recently I have begun to realize that I am not comfortable with my physical condition. That doing the things I want to do were taking a toll. And even ordinary things were beginning to bother me more. And that it was time to start listening to my body more.

About 6 or 7 years ago I was in poor shape. My weight was higher than would be considered healthy. I ate way too much as a rule. And I balked at doing a lot of physical things. Then something triggered for me. To this day I really don’t know what really happened (because if I could capture it and bottle it I would be a zillionaire.) But my appetite just went down dramatically, and as a result I lost a significant amount of weight.

In the momentum from that loss I began running regularly for the first time in my life. And if you follow my blogs you will realize that I became pretty obsessed with running. And with my weight loss and overall condition. I fought through a lot of mental discomfort to push myself to places I never would have expected (completing 3 Half Marathons.) I admit that all felt good, at least the completion part. And it felt good to have people marvel at my condition, to have my Doctor be so happy to see me.

But somewhere in the last 2 years that trigger went away. Again I don’t really know what happened, where the motivation came from to fight through decades of habit to reduce my appetites. Which meant I had no idea how to recapture it. Then age caught up to me in the form of arthritic toes, slowing down my running. And then that frustration led to a mental downward spiral that bottomed out last summer.

Now here I am, in a far better mental place. Having and exerting better control over the various triggers that create my mental problems. I have my medication, I get more sleep, and I have retrained my mind to get better at accepting negative things and disruptions.

But, my physical condition has gone downhill some. It is not as terrible as it was before. But I am not as physically comfortable as I would like to be. And I realized this week that the only way to correct that is going to take some discomfort of it’s own. I am being smart, starting with walking again, before trying to run. And there will be some element of mental discomfort in saying No to eating whatever I want. But the important thing is that I am coming at this from a different place. My motivation is less external, no Doctor orders. It is simply about knowing that there are things I want to be comfortable doing, and that won’t happen unless I put some effort into it.

As a creature of habit I know that it will take time to establish the healthier habits. And I also know that it will take some effort to keep from losing control over that cycle of effort, regret, self punishment. Which is why I am taking it slow, letting the habits take over. I know from past experience that what I am looking to do is a lifestyle change. But this time the goal is not just physical change, in the hope that the mind will catch up. Instead I am focusing my effort on changing my mind as much as the body.

Realizing that if I want time to myself, a walk or run (or bike ride) are a solution to that, and better than going and spending that time in a restaurant. Accepting (and knowing) that I don’t have to be constantly monitoring the kids, and it is okay to be selfish about my time. And last, finding things that divert my attention away from the negative habits of just sitting and eating unconsciously, like planning a game, or painting a miniature. Those are much better things to spend my time on.

To be honest there are a few things I have already done that help with this. I have virtually knocked sports off my mental map, at least as far as televised time. The last sporting activity I actively watched was the Broncos playoff game, the basketball season was more of a mental exercise and something to read about. Turning my mind back to gaming has helped, as it always has, being actively involved with games, especially role playing, has always played a big part in keeping me happy and busy.

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