Disordered Thinking

There have been a few times in my journey to healthy living where I recognized that I was having disordered thinking. The first time was when I was 250 pounds and I had given up on the idea of ever losing weight. I had resigned myself to always being obese, but part of me always thought “I’d be happy if I was skinny.” Of course, losing weight in itself didn’t make me “happy” but getting healthy certainly did.

Another time I recognized this disordered thinking pattern was when I was about 30 pounds away from reaching my goal weight. I had all this extra energy that I’d never had before and I hated to just sit still. If I had free time, I’d go work out. I was also sooo stuck. The scale was not budging. I hit a plateau that stuck around for so long it made me crazy. My solution? To work out every day. For 28 days straight, I worked out in some fashion–gym, swimming, running, walking. This was most definitely disordered thinking! Rest days are important for the body and the mind and I was clearly overtraining. This experience was the birth of my “two rest days a week no matter what” edict.

Fast forward to reaching my goal weight. I was happy, I felt accomplished and satisfied that I’d reached the goal of losing 100 pounds–and kept going! 110 pounds! I was so proud. Then I made the classic mistake: I stopped doing what worked to the lose the weight and thought I could maintain without counting my calories. Add a medication that causes weight gain to the mix and the scale steadily crept up. This time the disordered thinking was denial. I blamed the 15+ pounds on muscles, on training for Hood to Coast, on everything BUT my own behaviors.

Last year about this time I was getting a little obsessed with the scale. Too focused on what that number was. Thinking too much about those stupid ounces or pounds. Weighing too much. STOP. This is disordered. Walk away from the scale. Thus began my Scale-Free Summer which released me from the unhealthy patterns. It broke the habit of the scale, it made me more comfortable in my body and released me from the chains of unhealthy thinking.

I do not have this disordered thinking pattern 100% beat. If I had to guess I’d say it’s about 80%. Most of the time I am comfortable in my own skin, I am happy and content with my body as I maintain my weight loss, I am proud of losing 110 pounds. But every once in awhile, that disordered thinking starts to creep back into my brain…that little voice that says “I feel so fat.” (Note: Fat is NOT a feeling. I need to remind myself of this!)

Lately I’ve been looking at some photos of myself and thinking, “I don’t like how I look in that picture” or “I wish I didn’t have a muffin top.” I weigh the same as I’ve weighed for a long time now. So why is my brain playing tricks on me? Maybe it’s a control thing…there are things in my life that have happened recently that I cannot control and it sucks feeling like you can’t make decisions or go for your goals because you are waiting…waiting…limbo…But controlling food and exercise is not the area to remedy that.

Maybe I will never be 100% over it. But the most important thing to take away from this lesson is this:

I recognize when my thinking is disordered

and I put a stop to it.

Walk away from the scale, stop obsessing, think of something else, change the behavior when you recognize it happening. I need to celebrate my victories, recognize my non-scale victories, remind myself of what I have accomplished and the amazing things my fit body can do! It’s hard, it takes work and positive thinking, but it can work.

QUESTION: Can you recognize when you are slipping into disordered thinking and change it?

My Mind is Playing Tricks on Me

This week is when I would normally do my monthly weigh-in. Since I’m going Scale Free for the Summer, I am skipping the weigh in. I have to say, this process has been a lot harder than I thought it would be. I thought not having the scale dictate how I feel about myself would be an enlightening, liberating experience. So far? I’m having the opposite reaction to going scale free. Instead, I feel like the scale has MORE power over me and my moods than ever.

I thought I was just going crazy. Then Lori said: “You know, I was finding all kinds of ‘flaws’ with my body when I stayed off the scale. It’s almost like we need to find something else to focus on.” It was nice to hear that she went through something similar, and that maybe it isn’t all in my head.

My mind can play tricks on me. During that time of the month I can feel like I’ve gained 10 pounds. Have I? Most likely not, but the mind can trick us. Most of what gets in my way is what goes on in my head. I never thought I’d want to try to swim 2 miles. I knew I could do it physically, but when it came to the mental part of doing something like that I hit a wall. I struggled mentally to complete it. My mind wandered, I talked myself out of doing it, I talked down about my abilities. Why would I sabotage myself? Why would I keep myself from trying something new?

“Limits are most often all in your head.”
— Gary Allen via @RunToWin

I think the Portland Century bike ride this August will be a challenge for me in a lot of ways. Sure there will be a physical challenge because no matter how GREAT in shape you are, 100 miles sitting on a bike is gonna hurt. But I think the biggest challenge for me will be the mental wall I have.

A few weekends ago I biked 40 miles and felt great. I was able to sit on the bike for hours, my legs felt good, but my mind started to weaken towards the end. We were probably 8 miles from home but I was DONE. I was ready to be home, ready to get out of the saddle, ready to just stop. Those last few miles were the hardest of the 40 miles because mentally I had checked out.

I never had a mental block when I was trying to lose weight. I was focused. I was GOING TO LOSE 100 POUNDS! I was determined and there were no other options. So how do I get over the mental barriers I keep setting for myself? And why is the scale holding so much power over me even though I haven’t stepped on it in a month?

I wish I had some answers. The only thing I can tell myself is to be persistent: if there’s a challenge facing me, tackle it head-on and stop procrastinating!

QUESTION: What mental barriers are keeping you from doing something?