*Note: There are a few responses from my previous post that haven’t made it out of moderation, because I want to address them individually. Please bear with me.
I’ve been going to Tai Chi for three weeks now. It’s been good for me. My body feels stronger. I feel more relaxed when I’m done with my lessons. I’m developing better balance (even though I did stumble last Saturday morning). My stamina is improving. All of these are wonderful things, and all things I wanted to have happen.
The problem is how the act of exercising is triggering some of my old dysfunctional behavior.
I tried to talk about it to my husband last weekend. I told him how I was having difficulty with this. Not with the exercising, but in keeping the exercise balanced. I am having trouble just doing my Tai Chi.
For the last two weeks, my thoughts stray to more exercise. After all, my body loves exercise. It responds quickly (in added strength, et al) to even a minimum amount of exercise. So if a little bit is good, then more is better, right?
Yes, I’m going back into old thought patterns.
When I was a child, besides feeding me a subsistence diet (because of how “fat” I was), my parents also insisted I do a lot of exercise. Even when my stamina ran out, I had to do more exercise. Even though I didn’t have the muscle ability (due to not having enough protein, fat, carbohydrates, or calories to support muscle growth), I still had to do exercise. And when I didn’t do enough, or didn’t “improve” fast enough, I was ridiculed.
As a teenager and young adult, I did incredible amounts of exercise, though nobody ever believed me (because by that time I really was fat). In high school I walked 2 miles round trip to school, did high impact aerobics during P.E. every day, and then did two hours of high impact aerobics at home every night. During summer vacation, I’d get up at 5am so I could walk 4 miles a day (or more).
In the past couple of weeks, I keep catching myself making plans to wake up at 6am to take the dog for a two mile walk. The plans continue with doing yoga once the dog is sleeping (after being wore out from the long walk), and then riding the exercise bike for a while (starting at 1/2 hour and working up to 1 or even 2 hours a day). All the while keeping up with my Tai Chi.
Can you see how this isn’t right?
Conall was concerned because I might be pushing it too much on the exercise, but he didn’t see how the compulsion was building. Somehow, I couldn’t put into words that it was a compulsion.
It wasn’t until talking to my psychologist today that I figured it out. Exercise was always something that was done as a punishment for me being “fat” and “ugly”. As a child, my parents told me I was so fat they had to starve me, and I had to work out endlessly to work the fat off. As a teenager I had completely bought into the “I’m too fat thought” and punished myself for being so “bad”.
As much as I have been working on accepting myself where I am, it seems there’s still some of that old programming in existence.
At this point, I don’t know what I’m going to do to counter this. I love Tai Chi. I love the strength and balance it’s giving me. I don’t want to give it up. But I also see the compulsion that’s starting back up. I don’t want to go back there. If I exercise, I want to exercise because I love it, not because I’m punishing myself.
I really thought I was over all this stuff. Guess I get to work on another layer of that onion.