So. I gotta tell ya something:
I had a moment last week where I noticed that my stress levels were steadily rising and it was for two reasons:
1) I was rarely taking days off, or even moments to chill (my eternal struggle)
2) I was avoiding starting to tackle things that had deadlines (namely my exercise science text book, getting CPR certified so that I may personal train, preparing a talk I am slated to give in Portland, OR in early March, and figuring out how to streamline the meal delivery service I just started* (more on that at the end of this post).
When I know there are things that I need to do I’m not doing, I feel a dull and constant underlying sense of dread. This anxiety adds yet another barrier to starting the aforementioned tasks (including the rest!), and frankly it also makes me feel like I can’t have a nice time or enjoy my nice life.
I knew I wanted to try some new accountability methods for getting my shit on lock (my to-do list stopped cutting it) and so I have implemented the help of a couple new apps that I’ve loved and can’t wait to share with you.
The first new app I downloaded was HabitRPG.
HabitRPG is an app based on dealing with all the stuff you want to implement in your life, but have trouble mastering. It is essentially a game (yep, RPG stands for role playing game), where you build an avatar and program in rewards when you hit a certain number of habits nailed. Your reward can be something pre-programed in to your game (like a freaking SWORD for your avatar- WHO DOESN’T WANT THAT?!) or it can be something you add yourself (A treat from Timeless Coffee, sort of like a sword for my soul, ya know?)
The new habits I am focused on implementing via habitRPG are:
1. regular exercise. I have this down on the days on my training plan, but I have two free days where I have stated that I will run and swim respectively, and sometimes I find myself wanting to weasel my way out of one of the two, usually swimming. (For reference, I almost drowned in the ocean when I was a kid, I didn’t know how to swim until I taught myself last year, and I am NOT GOOD. Like always choose the lane by the wall so I can cling to it and gasp for breath if need be not good. I hate doing things I’m not good at! Which is probably why it’s good for my character to do them anyway.)
2. Drink 10 cups of water a day. Even as I type this I find myself thinking “No! Ten cups is not enough! You drink coffee! You sweat! You need more!” but the fact of the matter is, I wasn’t always hitting even the eight cup mark, so a ten cup of water a day goal is a fantastic start. Silly perfectionist brain! I am not your baby to boss around!
3. One chapter a day (on weekdays) of my exercise science text book. Few things strike fear in my heart like this text book. I can totally handle the information. I am extremely interested in it. But just opening it up and looking at the words makes me literally want to run away screaming. I have had said textbook since Christmas, and never read a single chapter until I got HabitRPG. Now I am reading and learning daily, and chilling the fuck out. It’s just science, y’all! NO big deal. (I am saying this to myself, not you. You are probably not intimidated by science at all, which I find extremely admirable.)
and lastly, the holy grail of shit-I-need-to-do-and-don’t-want-to-do
When I have regular practices of meditation, I am a better person. I am reminded to breathe when shit hits the fan, I remember one of the wisest sayings that totally pisses me off (“there are no big deals!”) and I believe it, I get less caught up in the stuff that seriously doesn’t matter. I KNOW I need meditation in my daily life, but I fear it because it means I have to slow down.
Headspace has given me the gift of meditation in really achievable chunks (10 minute increments, on a daily basis). It’s cute (just look at that above illustration!) the meditation leader has a soothing voice, and I really can’t find a day when I don’t have ten minutes to spare to breathe. In a very short time I can see the tangible and serious affects of a daily meditation practice, and its both humbling and exciting. I am so grateful!
What apps do you use? Enlighten me to more self help toolz, please!
(*If you live in the bay area and have interest in fresh, local, organic, vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar free meal delivery or pick up, check out my menu! Super Strength Health Menu. I currently have space foe 1-2 new meal delivery clients.)
If you’ve had an eating disorder in the past, its voice can always be waiting there, right there in the wings.
“You’re body is terribly flawed” it might say.
“You’ll never be good enough”
“I can’t believe you ate that”
“It’s time to count calories” it might suggest. “Or eat more. Or maybe starve.”
“Throw up” the voice might say. “Eat everything in the world and then throw it up.”
There are so many ways an eating disordered voice can manifest that it kind of blows my mind. Historically, my history with disordered eating has been very specifically restriction paired with compulsive exercise. But when that got better it morphed into bulimia and from there it morphed into general food freakiness. It became eating food really, really fast, like someone would catch me or like I hadn’t eaten in a long time. It became a general nasty voice in my head that told me I was unattractive and worthless.
My anorexia and bulimia mellowed into something quieter, but still painful. It became mean thoughts, and sadness when I ate anything at all. My eating disorder had made me feel very bad, but when it went away, I didn’t exactly feel better. Instead I felt quietly trapped in my body without my coping mechanism. There was enough food in my life to keep me at a stable weight, but there wasn’t enough food in the world to keep my brain feeling good.
I knew I had to find a different way.
When it turned out there wasn’t enough food in the world to make me feel happy or whole I started focusing instead on how I could be a better friend. My sickness had taken me entirely into my head, focused on my routine, my calories, my measuring cups, my exercise. I didn’t show up for my friends for years. I started showing up. The friends that forgave me for my selfishness showed up for me too. It felt perfect.
When it seemed there wasn’t enough food in the world to fill me, I asked myself a very logistical question: had I eaten enough that day? Had I gotten enough protein? Eventually I learned that I have sensitive blood sugar, and I need to eat every 2-3 hours. I made my eating schedule a habit, and then the only hungers I had to worry about were emotional.
I wrote. I wrote my fucking ass off, and I found people who liked my writing. Writing filled me up more than trying to control my body and when I finished a piece I had worked hard on, I felt like a champion.
When it seemed there wasn’t enough food in the world for me, I made a plan. My plan went like this:
“If I feel like puking, I will talk to Monica. If Monica is busy, I’ll take a shower. When the shower is over, I will think of things that make me feel good.” It was a really simple, three step plan, and once I put it in place, I stopped puking.Because I have consistently used this plan for any behavior I don’t accept (I don’t feel like puking anymore, but sometimes I do feel like mentally talking shit on my body) I am able to stay well. It’s simple, but not easy.
For the record, the things I thought of mostly when I needed a reason not to throw up were my students, young girls and how important I think they are, lifting weights, and my grandmother, mother, and sister. I stopped puking for the love of all women. I started to like myself as a result. These are specific to me, and you will probably have other excellent things to think about that will be specific to you.
What will you do when the voice of self-dissatisfaction comes up? How will you change your own mind?