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It’s okay to change around your routine.
It just means you’re in a healthy space to try new things.
I’m not sure what came over me. It was an odd feeling…one that I hadn’t experienced in a really, really long time. I was in bed on Sunday night, reading my book, and it just hit me.
I’m going to go for a run in the morning.
It was strange. I turned the thought over and over in my head. Why did I, the woman who has denounced being a runner, suddenly decide that I wanted to go for a run?
Maybe I wasn’t feeling well. Maybe I just wasn’t right in the head. But the next morning, I put on my workout clothes, and I ran a mile.
It was…not easy. My first run in over eight years. My thighs were burning. My hips were screaming. My knees were protesting.
But my soul said…that was amazing. I’m doing it again tomorrow.
So I did. I ran the next morning, then the next morning, then the next. By Friday, I was able to run a mile and a half without stopping.
And now I find myself making lofty new running goals…and I feel like I don’t know who I am anymore.
It’s okay to change up your routine.
It’s been such a weird juxtaposition I’ve been dealing with all week: The fact that I don’t identify as a runner, but also the fact that I absolutely loved running every morning.
You see, I’ve been following the same ol’ workout routine for a while. I have my usual workout videos I like to do at home, the corner of our living room complete dedicated to my at-home gym. I joined a yoga studio last year, and I even enjoy biking around Brooklyn. I’ve got weight lifting, stretching, and cardio. I was essentially all set.
So when I decided to go for a run, I almost felt like I was betraying myself. Like I shouldn’t be doing it because I’ve defined myself as a non-runner for so long. I’ve even written essays about why I hate it.
And yet…here I am.
I admit, I’ve felt this way about a lot of things when it comes to my healthy routine— like going through phases of not drinking, but then recently dabbling with alcohol again and finding myself feeling all kinds of guilty because of it.
But…why? Why do I allow myself to feel so guilty for wanting to change things up? The more I reflected on this question, the more I realized that my resistance to change is likely due to the fact that I was so quick to change up everything about my life when I was caught in the constant cycle of dieting.
My resistance to change stems from my resistance to yo-yo dieting and exercising.
When I was in my prime dieting era—where I was listening to every toxic diet culture lie online and believing it as truth—I was all about changing up my life. I always thought that the next big change would be what would really make a difference, whether it be a new workout program or dieting regimen or wellness program pyramid scheme. I would make all of these severe changes to fix my life, and after three or four weeks I would feel great, up until it wasn’t sustainable anymore and I would give up again.
Yo-yo dieting is the phrase that is usually used for this, where someone goes through cycles of losing weight and gaining it back from dieting. But I definitely think exercise can be applicable here as well (maybe we call it yo-yo exercising), given the ways I would exercise in spurts then give up when it would just get too hard or inconvenient…until I felt too fat and start all over again.
When I realized I was stuck in such vicious cycles a few years ago, I gave it up entirely. I started following a path of healing, allowing myself to learn about how to take care of my body without trying to change or alter it. And in order to allow myself to get to the healthiest it could be, that would mean creating lifestyle changes for the long term; routines that I could keep up with for years and years to come.
I’m proud of the routines that I’ve established. I properly feed my body and no longer have nasty sugar and carb cravings from restriction. Working out feels like a joy and privilege instead of a burden. And I thoroughly enjoy cooking and eating deliciously nutritious food, as well as a greasy cheeseburger and fries.
And so…when it comes to making any kind of change to my rock solid routine, I bristle. I worry that I’m just going to do it again, to fall back into my habit of constantly yo-yo dieting and exercising.
So maybe that’s why I feel guilty when I make a change, like incorporating alcohol back into my diet (I still drink about 95% less than I used to), or going for a run in the morning. But instead of seeing this as another healthy “fad,” I’m allowing myself the freedom to try new things…whether I end up hating them or loving them.
I stopped running because I found no joy in it. It was a burden, it wasn’t fun, it was a crutch to keep myself skinny.
But now, as I tie my shoes up for another morning run, I find it is no longer a burden. It’s something I love, something that motivates me and excites me in the morning.
And hey, maybe that will change. Maybe I won’t love it in a month and I’ll decide to try something new.
At least now I know that it’s all going to be okay, and just because I stop doing it, doesn’t mean I’m still stuck in the same habits of striving for particular outcomes in the future…instead of just focusing on taking care of who I am now.
So, I guess this is where I say I’m a runner now…and I would love all of your recommendations.