Thursday, June 10, 2010


i have a confession to make.

today is the first day this week that i've not spent this hour of the morning in the gym.

it would be fine, healthy in fact, to be in the gym at this hour of the day, were i not taking a spin class from 8-8:50 right before.

as my awesome nutritionist says, Samford should be shut down (okay that's an exaggeration...but you get what i'm saying). it's known as the college capital of eating disorders, yet for a lot of majors, it still requires a concepts of fitness and health class, plus two p.e. credits on top of that.

the spin class is my final p.e. credit. and unfortunately/fortunately (this paradox is going to appear in a lot of my posts, i've realized) i have an hour-and-a-half break between my spin class and my art appreciation class, which is just enough time to get my second work out in, rinse off, and hop on a computer for a second before class.

here is the good/bad news: after three days of justifying this workout routine to myself, i'm calling it quits. if you read my last post, i'm realizing that i can't squint at the death side of the head and pick out the parts of it that are kind of alive; i either pick death or life, and today, i choose life.

it was something in my social psychology book that caught my eye and that's really fueling the fire of my 3-day-late healthy decision (is it still considered healthy if its 3 days late? i guess probably so).

(i started the above at 9 am on thursday. it's now 11:57 pm on friday)

i know i'm a total nerd for finding life inspiration in a textbook, but as it turns out, when a nerdy brain is fed the proper amount of carbohydrates, its actually really fun to think with.

anyhow, in my social psych textbook, we just covered a chapter that discusses the fact that contrary to popular belief, attitudes do not change behaviors, but behaviors actually change attitudes.

in other words, if you want to think a certain way, you're going to have to act like you think that way before you actually do.

the book gave an example of this about a study by a guy named Philip Zimbardo. Zimbardo wanted to study the effects of role-playing on people's beliefs, and so he conducted an experiment in which he placed college students in different roles in a prison setting. some were assigned as guards and others were prisoners. surprise: he called it the prison experiment.

long story short, the experiment was cut short after only a few days, because the "guards" had gotten so into their roles that they'd practically forgotten that roles was all they were. they became sadistic and abusive, and "prisoners" were either deeply depressed or disturbingly apathetic. It was no longer ethical for the experiment to continue.

morbid example, yes. but i think it illustrates really well what happens when we step in and act, even when it isn't something that feels natural to us. after a surprisingly short time, it becomes our reality.

(it's now saturday morning- 8:00 am)

this has been true for my recovery over and over. it's a little bit annoying, because i keep finding myself having to continue acting in out-and-out defiance of things that i've held as core beliefs for years.

it started with my nutritionist telling me that the weight i'd set out in my head as "not-sick-but-not-well-so-kind-of-okay-for-everyone" actually was sick.

I couldn't help that i disagreed with her. even in my months-long periods of "recovery" it'd always been *** lbs i'd found myself refusing to go over. but the real me was somewhere down in there, crying out for freedom, and so, feeling blindfolded, i let my nutritionist and my therapist lead the way.

(i was going to say i let them take the wheel, but didn't for two reasons:

1. it made me think of Carrie Underwood

2. i've still been in the driver's seat, but having them is a lot like driving a "student driver" car. i'm ultimately in control, but i've allowed them to take the passenger seat with its own brake, and i trust them to correct me when i'm doing something wrong.)

anyhow, when i decided to follow their lead, it included acting in step with what, at the time, seemed like crazy ideas. I'll never forget the first time they told me the weight they wanted me to reach. *** lbs seemed like such a happy-medium solution, but like i said, i knew i wanted freedom, and so i acted outside my belief, and followed them up to *** lbs and then well past it.

the one thing i'd feared more than anything else for nearly 5 years had happened. and i'd feared it just as much as always the entire time i was making it happen.

but somewhere along the way i found myself so in love with my newfound ability to live that *** lbs didn't seem like such an okay alternative anymore. i acted outside my belief until my belief came and joined my actions and me.

my weight is one of about a thousand examples. and every time i think, "nope. it's not going to work this time. i can never think that way," it happens, and eventually i find yet another sliver of my eating disordered mind reversed.

so here it goes for the thousand-and-first time.

right now, i find a pseudo sort of solace in multi-hour visits to the gym. i can't help that, it's something i believe. i believe that if right now, i take my running shoes out of the closet, put them on my feet, and let them hit the saturday-morning pavement for a couple of hours, that i'll feel really good about myself and about today.

but i'm taking a spin class 5 days a week, and that's all my nutritionist says i can do, and so my shoes will stay in the closet, and my sewing machine will come out instead.

already, as i sit here and type, i feel a little bit of my belief changing. sewing/designing is a gift, and as soon as i publish this post, it's a gift i'll be using, and not ignoring while i run.

have a beautiful weekend.



1 comment:

  1. I find as much inspiration in my social psychology text book too. It has really helped me think about myself, and my recovery in different ways. So I join you in geek territory there ;)
    I have to say, the exercise sounds like a lot and I guess, all you can do, is work to cut it down. Some times cold turkey is the only way. I say that from experience and it is really, after ten million tries, the think that worked. I now take one dance class a week and that is more about the social than the exercise.
    Eating Disorders are isolating, as is over exercising. Maybe that is something you could work on too.
    Much love xxxxx