Food and exercise. Diets and workout regimes.
These ideas, these rules, these expectations from society ruled my life for years.
When I was growing up, I was always the kid who could eat anything I wanted, anytime I wanted, and as much as I wanted without worrying about my weight, my looks, my health. Food made me happy, and, at that point, didn’t hold any negative connotations for me.
Exercising in the past…
Movement – mostly in the form of exercise – was never an issue for me. I had nine years of ballet, tap, and jazz dancing under my belt. I would spend my evenings blaring music in our basement, dancing to every album I could get my hands on.
As I got older, though, and after hearing so many people around me comment on my eating habits throughout the years, things started to change. I struggled a lot with food and emotions between high school and college, denying myself food one moment, eating a bit the next, not being able to stomach some foods.
To make it even harder, much of my movement fell to the wayside. I was overcome with exhaustion as the craziness of adult life started taking control; add on the aftereffects of two pregnancies, an autoimmune disease, and general anxiety and depression, and my movement fell to near zero.
Coming out of those struggles, I soon absorbed all of the societal stigmas associated with food, exercise, weight, and emotions. I put on weight. I felt badly about myself. Fad diets and exercise programs became my norm, as I constantly tried to fit in, once again, with the expectations of society and my family.
As I’ve come to terms with my autoimmune diagnosis and have started my own journey to uncovering my true self, I’ve been able to reevaluate my relationship with food, and I’ve reconnected with gentler forms of movement to help take me out of my head and clear out the cobwebs and dust.
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Walks and hikes are my keys to fresh air, to new environments, new sights, and sounds. I’m able to breathe in new air and exhale the stresses and worries that threaten to bury my identity once again. I understand which foods support me and which foods make me feel awful or sluggish.
I allow myself to honor what my body needs, while at the same time giving my mind and emotions the processing time they need. I don’t tie myself to a mileage goal or a weight goal – I embrace what my body can do on any given day day, in any given moment, and honor myself when I can’t go any further.
How has your relationship with food and exercise evolved over the years? Share with us in the comments, or over in our community, which will always be a safe space for you to share on sensitive topics without fear.
See you over there.