I am, and always have been, a bit of a perfectionist. I suspect this (and the usual ‘control’ issues) led to my teenage battle against anorexia. Anyone looking at me now would be surprised that I aspire to something other than frumpy middle age-dom. Nevertheless, a leopard doesn’t change his spots that easily.
Although I seem to be prone to a life of mediocrity it doesn’t mean that the A-type behaviour isn’t lurking just beneath the surface. When ‘dieting’ if I have something I shouldn’t I decide that everything is ruined. I might as well binge for the rest of the day and start again tomorrow. Then I use the same justification for the week. Well, I am not going to have a good loss this week, so I might as well throw the diet out of the window this week and start again next week. Cos then I’ll be really good. With me (like so many others) it is ‘all or nothing’ and ‘black and white’. No in-betweens. No grey.
I went to Fat Camp last year assuming that I would be one of the fittest; and that even though I was carrying a lot of extra weight, my earlier sporting prowess would stand me in good stead. As it happened, in my first fortnight I was with a bunch of freaks. I was the second biggest girl and second most unfit – AND that included a woman in her late 50s. Most of the group had been there some time and two of the other new arrivals didn’t actually fit the ‘you-must-be-20kgs overweight-to-be-here’ criteria. The third was 22 years old and though she was almost exactly 20kgs overweight, she ran and went to aerobics 4 times a week. I was doomed. The whole experience was very confronting for me. I was older than most there – which surprised me. I was bigger than most there – which surprised me. And I was far more unfit than most there – which shocked the hell out of me. The perfectionist in me, the ‘all or nothing’ thinking kicked in and I just wanted to leave. I mean, if I couldn’t be the best, then what’s the point? Right?
Though I have done it SO many times during my dieting career, quitting (Fat Camp) for me wasn’t an option. I half-heartedly toyed with the idea and worked out what I would tell family and friends, but in the end I stuck it out. Fast forward a month and 15kgs lighter, I left the place feeling quite fit. This would lead to a ‘New Me’ I decided. I would regain my fitness and that sporting prowess of my youth. I dropped another 5kgs and took up Body Jam classes (dancing my way to fitness).
But then I hurt my hip. (And it has never properly recovered.) S0 I started walking. But then (perhaps related to the hip) I started getting bad shin splints and giving me sufficient pain that walking was mostly out of the question. My Weight Watchers lecturer suggested that the shin splints (previously only experienced when walking REALLY quickly) were a result of the fact that I was heavier than I had ever been. Perhaps. But that didn’t bloody help me did it?
I ‘googled’ shin splints and received an array of help. I decided I would continue to walk, but (as recommended electronically) slowly and on soft surfaces. So I did. And this is where I get back to my original point. When I ‘walked’ for exercise in the past, I was the sort of walker who passed everyone. I strode out. Quickly. I was fast. Fat but fast. But suddenly I had to walk slowly and carefully. And I was the one passed. By everyone. Left in their wake, reeling in shame and embarrassment. Feeling (once again) like a failure.
If only I had a visible injury, I thought, so people would know that I was incapacitated and not just a slow walker.
What must they think of me, I wondered.
Argh! Why oh why is my self-worth so wrapped up in what others think of me? THAT’S what I should be analysing to death… not how quickly I can or cannot walk!
I am currently on holidays and rather than ‘stride’ (?) out along the Esplanade walking path as I have done for the last two days (essentially shin splint-free) I decided today to walk along the beach. I went barefoot, so it was about more than just the exercise. It meant I also felt less affronted when overtaken by 3 grey-haired souls clad in exercise gear. I will do a few more beach walks…. and – though exercising – I will focus on just ‘being’. Not being the fastest, or the slowest, or how many points I am using, or how guilty I feel because I binged on corn chips. I will aim to just ‘be’.