Good with Cheese reminded me at exactly the right time that the “health” part of HAES means a lot more than just eating well and moving my body regularly.
See, I came down with a nasty cold Monday. One of those where you feel fine all day, and then suddenly, after dinner, WHAMMO! Sore throat, stuffy head, general ick. I’ve been coughing, blowing my nose nonstop, have a fever on and off, have been trying to come up with a way to make the insides of my ears stop itching, and generally being a sickie.
Here’s the thing: having this cold has been making me have long, INSANE conversations with myself (no, the conversations aren’t insane just by virtue of the fact that I’m talking to myself; THAT’S completely normal) about how I need to get to the gym to keep up my pattern of exercising 3x a week (sometimes even 4x a week, if the dogs can con me into a W-A-L-K).
I feel strong and clearheaded when I exercise regularly, and I love the endorphin rush. And since I couldn’t work out for most of November, all of December, and all of January because of a sprained ankle, when I got back to the gym in February, I vowed to make it a regular part of my schedule. Not to lose weight, but because it makes me FEEL GOOD.
After not working out for almost 3 months, and then getting back into the habit of regular exercise for the past 3 months, my lizard brain keeps zipping around, yelling “Must…work…out!!! Get to the gym!!! Go go go!!! Can’t miss a week!!!” I even said in my comment to Good with Cheese’s post that I’ve “been good” by working out 3x a week for the past 3 months.
Yup. I fell into the trap of the good/bad mindset, where exercise = good and not exercising = bad. I didn’t mean to, but I think that’s the whole point — it’s still ingrained in me that some behavior is “good” and other behavior is “bad,” and if I don’t stop once in a while to check my brain, I can be hip-deep in self-congratulation for my exercise streak.
You know what IS “bad”? Pushing myself to work out when I can hardly breathe because I have an icky cough. Convincing myself that I can go to the gym and “just walk around the track slowly” when I hardly have the energy to read a book.
I said in my comment to Good with Cheese’s post that my “row of gold stars” is broken. But, hell, who deserves a gold star for pushing herself too hard and maybe getting sicker, for exposing lots of other people to her cold, for NOT listening to her body? No gold star there.
I needed the reminder in Good with Cheese’s post that the “health” part of HAES comes from listening to my body to find out what it truly needs, and then giving that to my body. Some days my body does need to move, and I try to honor that. But this week, today? My body just needs to rest and get better. Anything else doesn’t qualify as “health” and damn well doesn’t earn me a gold star.