Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day 80: Building Trust in your own Body

Trust is a funny thing. It can take years to truly build it up. Just a moment to destroy it.

For years I didn't trust my body. I didn't believe it could do the things that it's actually capable of doing. My health was so poor that I just didn't trust myself to get over-exerted. I think some of this fear can be related to people, who like me, who have suffered panic attacks before. If you've ever been through that, you don't want to do ANYTHING that makes you feel that way again. An experience that exerts your body so forcefully, so angrily, without your permission. It's a horrible feeling.

When I look back at the few months I spent working out in a gym a few years ago I now realize that one of the reasons it didn't "work" for me, was because I didn't trust my body. My trainer tried to force me to trust my body, but that just doesn't work. She knew my body could do more than I was allowing myself too, but no one can just make you have that trust. You have to learn to trust your body.

It's been 80 days since I started walking back in August. I started by walking every day of the week, but as the weather has changed and my 8-5 has become more challenging, I now average about 4 days a week. I generally walk between 2-3 miles just depending on how I feel. Some days I try to power walk and do it as quickly as I can, to help me train for upcoming 5K's. Other days however,  I just want to enjoy the walk, feel the air against my face, and watch the changing of the seasons.

What I didn't realize was slowly happening over these past 80 days was that I was building endurance and learning to trust my body. I am a creature of habit and change does not come easy for me. "Change" for me (for the most part) works best in small, manageable stages. Trust, apparently, can happen the same way. Little by little, step by step.

It wasn't until Michael and I participated in the media day at Cherry Point that I realized just how much stronger my body had become. The day was very physical from just being in a hurry going from one place to the next, to climbing up into a very small, tight helicopter space, to practically running up and down many, many flights of steps on the USS Kearsarge.

When the day was over and Michael and I were finally getting a bite to eat for dinner, it dawned on me how much I did that day. How I completely trusted my body to perform without even thinking about it. That would not have happened 3 months ago. And truly, I would not have been able to do it well. I was not in the mental or physical shape to do those activities without a second thought.

But when we signed up to do this event, it never even dawned on me how physically challenging the day would be, and that very fact... that I didn't even THINK about it... was a huge accomplishment in itself.

When you don't trust your body, you think about every single activity beforehand... from just heading to the grocery store, to driving your car, to your route from the parking lot to your office, to planning vacations around simple, easy activities with no steps, etc... You think about every physical activity your body can handle. Everything. Sometimes not even consciously, you just automatically find an easier way to work around a situation. And hear me out on this... This is NOT necessarily a bad thing, we have to be able to know what we can and cannot do physically and emotionally... but when you don't trust your body, you aren't often willing to test the limits of what your body can actually do. There's a fine line between real ability and challenging yourself to gain strength and endurance.

In the past I've been a big fan of shows like "The Biggest Loser" and "Extreme Makeover," but what those shows don't tell you is weight loss and regaining health is about so much more than just losing weight and having an exercise routine.

It's about slowly taking the time to trust your body, it's about slowly, SLOWLY changing your mindset towards food, (and much more importantly) towards how you deal with difficult situations, and how you handle life each and every day. This kind of change just doesn't happen overnight.

To change your weight permanently, means changing your entire frame-of-reference in terms of how you comfort yourself, how you handle stress, and how you face challenges. It means truly changing how you think, how to handle your feelings, and how you live every day.

  • Which is why diets in general don't work.
  • Which is why extreme makeovers rarely last. 
  • And why shows like "The Biggest Loser" often do not result in lifelong change. 

Real change takes a lot of time... not just weeks or even months...it can take years. This means it takes a lot of patience as well. True patience in your whole-self, not just your physical body. Real change means learning how to safely build trust in your body and eventually being able to accept new physical and mental challenges.

In a nutshell, it means other people can't force us to change or to trust our bodies. (At least in my personal experience!) Learning to trust your body enough to test it's limits and build endurance takes TIME. It also takes practice and the willingness to keep going... little by little... step by step!

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