Finding Strength on a Monday

I really feel honored to be able to tell parts of my story, thank you for reading. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this is a good place to start- a look down my path, 12 years ago…

Send me a message or comment on what you’d like to read more about or any questions you might have. Today I wanted to look at, well, today. And maybe you can relate it to someone you may know, or habits you have noticed…

Mondays, specifically, have always been difficult for me, but not in the dreaded I-have-to-go-to-work-and-wake-up-early type of way. Having struggled with body image, an eating disorder, and an exercise compulsion, most of my days were a challenge, but the weekend and Monday were my worst days.

My weekends as a high schooler were spent with all eyes on me. My parents weren’t working on the weekends so their time was freed up to watch and “help” me. Weekends included to-go food and dining out at restaurants – a dream to me today, and most people would agree that not cooking for the seventh day in a row is greater than cooking another chicken meal at home. But then, I hated dining out.

I really struggled with trying to act cool and calm and give in to indulgences, but I cared too much about how cooks prepared the food, how many calories were in something, what the serving sizes were, and if I would be able to exercise that day. I read articles about how restaurant portions were out of control, so I made a rule to only eat half, no matter how hungry or how small the serving was.

I struggled with these things, and I struggled with wanting to not care while it completely tore me up inside. I was dishonest with myself and everyone around me.

When Monday rolled around, I felt safe. I liked the routine of the week. I liked knowing when I would have a break to eat, partake in exercise, and have excuses to do or not do these things. And, even if I didn’t overeat or underexercise based on my own standards, I felt like weekends MEANT indulgences and I would have to “make up” for it on Monday.

I’d have to eat less and work out more on Monday. “Never miss a Monday?” For me, it was more like, “Never miss a Monday to punish yourself for Saturday’s fun.” Mondays meant the start of exhaustion while weekends were a bitter-sweet excuse for rest.

There are many (many!) right-minded people in my life who have casually mentioned that they will just not eat the day after a big eating day. After not exercising and eating sweets, maybe they would ban carbs for a week or month. They have to do a cardio day at the gym now, or they’re doing a cleanse…

This whole exercise and food quotient is important to feel good, no doubt… but that’s why our body feels tired or energized; that’s why we feel full and then hungry… Have we forgotten to learn our bodies? Luckily for me, I was forced to, and am constantly learning my body daily. I also know what definitely doesn’t work, and what’s unique about that to me.

This weekend, my husband’s parents came to visit us and we had a great time showing them what there is to offer here. That included going out for a few meals, staying in to hang out, and tailgating at the football game. It didn’t include many salads or workouts, to be honest, and I don’t feel guilty about that because I know I’m active and choose so-called “healthy” food options.

Over the weekend, I had a pulled pork sandwich, a stadium hot dog, French toast, chips and dip, cookies, bacon, and cheesy bread, to name a few things. I don’t eat these things on the regular and it tasted good. What was even better was that I could sit with our guests and enjoy how the food tasted as well as their company, instead of calculating how many calories I just consumed.

Oh, and I don’t fear these things – we should fear to lose our basic human rights, Freddie Kruger, and natural disasters… not food.

Usually, that would spin me in a tizzy for days trying to readjust to my normal habits and body weight. I would imagine that my body had gained a massive amount of weight and my toned legs were now flabby within two days of enjoying food and company… as if that was the worst thing in the world (hint: it’s not!). It would be all that my mind could think about, so I’d be inefficient and distracted all day.

I don’t know the science behind it exactly, but I know from experience that our bodies don’t change simply because you ate differently for a couple of days. Our bodies take (unscientifically) an “average” of what you’ve been feeding it and how you’ve been moving it, and adjust accordingly. If today I ate 1,000 calories more today than what I need in order to maintain my weight, for example, I would have tried to eat 1,000 calories less than I would need tomorrow… But these days, if I go back to my regular routine, then over time I know I’ll adjust just fine.

Today was a fantastic example. I was feeling a little bloated from the weekend’s activities and my late night sweet treat last night on top of my snacks listed above. My body felt like it needed to move for my mental health just as much as my physical after a busy weekend. My first thought was to go for a run in the morning and do a high-intensity training session at night, and have a light lunch only… double up and adjust my food, I thought. Please note that I’m not training for anything and yes, I still have these thoughts.

The difference today, though, is that I am able to recognize the thoughts as damaging. It’s not normal for me to want to exercise intensely twice a day and not refuel my body. It’s not healthy for me to try it, especially when I know my body will even out. And for goodness sake, do not step on a scale!

What did I do instead?

I ate breakfast – I actually couldn’t believe I was hungry, but my body knows better than me. I drank a lot of water. I did some work, and when I was ready for a break, I exercised. I knew I needed to do it and then get it out of my mind. Because it’s been cold and rainy here, it was easy for me to stay in my home garage gym, crank up the music, and go. Then I had lunch and got back to work.

My garage gym isn’t fancy. I have some weights, a yoga mat, a kettlebell, some sliders, and recently picked up a fold-up treadmill off the side of the road that goes no faster than 5.0 MPH. I wanted it so I could do sprints and not look like a lunatic running in my neighborhood, but nope. I also don’t look like a lunatic in a gym, and I don’t have to worry about what the dude next to me is doing.

It’s all part of doing what’s best for me, whether it’s comfortable or not.

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