Has the stress of life right now made you turn to food to self-soothe? Maybe, you just find the lack of movement, because you are home more, is making your clothes fit a bit more snug?… And why are some fitness trainers telling you “hit the pause button” and NOT work out right now? Maybe you know you should work out but lack the energy.
Those are some of the things that this David-Covid meme bring up for me.
Have you seen that provocative David- Covid meme below? If you identify with it, you will want to pay close attention, because I’m going to give you 5 steps to break this pattern right now!
When I have asked people what they are doing to cope with the stress that this virus has brought with it and the anxiety of not knowing if you will catch it or if your business will be ok or if or if.. people have said they are coping by moving less and eating more which is supposedly the recipe for a larger waistline..and obesity is one of the largest risk factors for a poor outcome if one does contract COVID-19. So why then is it not obvious and EASY for us to do the things which are healthy… Or is it? Maybe you are ALREADY doing just that.
Why is it hardly anyone is saying man I am so stressed out that I am totally over-training. I run around the block so much Im gonna give myself an over-use injury?
Let’s be honest, when the stuff hits the fan, so can a lot of our habits./
And that is… OKAY! Seriously. I still like you. You still got this!
Coping mechanisms like overeating, bringing, drinking, smoking, staying up all night playing video games, over-sleeping, have a purpose. They offer comfort, distraction and emotional anesthesia.
Whatever crazy lazy or seemingly dysfunctional thing you are doing is a sign that your body is trying to help you feel better. How awesome and brilliant is THAT! Our brain has a way built in to help us relieve pain.
Long term, it is not ideal, but short term, hey, it works on some level. It serves a function. So treat yourself with the compassion that your body is saying it needs.
Consider for a moment (despite every fitness challenge you see on social media) your body is likely in a state of fight or flight- especially if you have been listening to the news too much. Extreme stress causes inflammation and oxidative stress. High intensity exercise also creates oxidative stress.
Know what’s also stressful?
When the body is stressed out, it then over indulges in coping behaviors to self soothe.. and THEN we beat ourselves up emotionally for having tried to soothe ourselves. That’s more stress. Which then begins the whole cycle yet again…
So what’s the answer?
When you see yourself going for the fridge.. Ask:
Am I Hungry or am I thirsty- maybe you’re just dehydrated?
Am I Angry?
Am I Lonely?
And I Tired?
And then treat your body with compassion. Honor what it is asking of you.
Speaking of compassion…
Well I have seen a lot of fit pros say that its time to “HIT the Pause button on exercise”.
I’m like WHAT? No.
When I hear the word pause. I hear Pregnant pause. I hear stop. Like I’ll come back to this when the world is less crazy.
Does that make sense?
Physical activity has such a broad array of psychological/emotional and physical benefits. Why would I hit the pause button on that when self-care is what I need most right now -when I’m in an elevated state of anxiety?
Doesn’t make sense to me.
Okay, this may not be the best time to have a transformational body.. to go hard and stay home.. to go hard at home. Something like that. But I digress
What this is, …is time to cultivate resilience. This is the time to show your body Love, not to beat it into submission.
This may not be a time to make major life changes: ie. change my eating habbits, throw out all the junk, go under the knife, cold turkey on sweets and get totally jacked in the gym. This is the time to acknowledge and validate: “I’m eating because..” Reflect here…..WITHOUT JUDGEMENT.
Maybe its because I’m stressed, so I’m clenching my jaw, so I’m getting headaches, so I’m not sleeping well, so then I’m eating. It’s a fact, not a judgement about what kind of person you are. Once you know the facts, see if you can figure out what the underlying feeling is: anxiety, depression, fear, loneliness?
Then recognize this is normal
Take ONE small step… Very Small…Almost imperceptible. Fly under the radar.
Because its like this: The Yetzer Hara…the evil inclination that lives within each person, is gonna rise up and try to derail you if the goal gets too big n’ lofty. You will find the challenges it presents are overwhelming. Like the minute you say I’m not eating sugar, your temptation for sugar will go through the roof.
Can you think of something small right now that would move you in the right direction?
For instance, Walk out the door for 10 minutes and come back?
Once you find that small thing,
Ask yourself: Is it self care or self harm?
Eating Cheetos can be self care but it could also be self- harm! How would we know the difference? What would self-harm with Cheetos look like?
“I’m a fat pig I’ll never get a date. I look like crap. I deserve to eat Cheetos. These things have MSG and will probably kill me and who wants to live if I have to live my life?”
Or, “I’m amazing. I feel good. I like Cheetos. They taste nice and salty, and I’m craving salt. I can have Cheetos. How do I feel now that I ate the Cheetos? Am I enjoying it? Is it satisfying me? Can I eat the Cheetos and savor them, or am I eating them and pushing them into my mouth as I do 20 other things? I can enjoy them!” Sounds like self-care.
Exercise also can be self-care or self-harm.
Make it something joyful…That’s self-care. Something that makes you feel good that is good for you. That’s self care.
Then celebrate it! Do it again… something small
I don’t want anyone hitting the pause button on exercise unless they are bed-ridden and even then maybe just some small movements or breathing.
Start with something small like joyful movement whatever that is to you. Start with celery this time not forever and a day from now. Avoid deprivation. Deprivation can easily slide into self- harm.
There’s a reason why we are doing unhealthy behaviors: we are trying to self-soothe.
Validate yourself and show yourself compassion
Trace it and face it- know what you are feeling. Figure out that underlying emotion.
Use HALT method..(hungry or thirsty/ angry/ lonely or tired)
- Don’t go whole hog… Take a small step in the direction you mean to go.
- Celebrate that small step and make it one of self care.
Bonus: Celebration not deprivation. If you are feeling deprived maybe its time to re-examine.. Or not. You are in the driver’s seat just know if you are flying above or below the radar of the Yetzer Hara.
Here is one small step. This week, consider for yourself if it is self care or self harm to take a workout class. Some folks’ self care is to work out alone. For me, self-care is to treat myself to a class.
I may not want to go initially but once I hear the music and someone is there watching me/ yelling at me/ interacting with me and I see other people I know doing it and I feel less alone. I’m less likely to quit in a class and by the end of it, I’m in a better mood.
For my full schedule of online classes click here