If you have been following my blog then you will know that about 6 weeks ago, I devised a plan with my psychologist, for me to try and reduce my daily 50 minute power walk by 5 minutes once a week and test how I coped with this and if I introduced any compensatory behaviours.
So, for the first time 6 weeks I picked my day of the week to walk for 45 minutes instead of 50. I chose a day when I knew I was going to be quite busy, in the hope that this would act as a distraction from the fact I was walking less. I set out in the morning for 45 minutes and agonised as the time came to an end, questioning whether I should just do that extra 5 minutes. I managed to force myself not to and then went off to London for an appointment at a university.
For the rest of the day I was majorly stressing over those five minutes; I was nervous, I was agitated, I had butterflies, my mind was in overdrive. I felt desperate to just do those last five minutes…that would make my mind so much easier to deal with, it would ease my stress and make everything seem more manageable. I kept resisting the urges and as the day passed by it was soon time for me to put my PJs on and have dinner, after which the option of going out for five minutes was no longer possible.
However, as much as I had fought the urges to go out for the final 5 minutes, the stress and anxiety was still so strong that my mind told me I had to do something. I couldn’t just decrease my walk and that be it. Even if I was capable of it, by doing so it would mean that I wasn’t anorexic and as it is at the moment, I still need to know that I have it even if it is just a small part.
So, for my evening snack I decreased my calories. Not by much…but enough to reassure myself that it compensated for not walking the final 5 minutes…and proved I still had anorexia. As this had been my first attempt, it set up the routine for the next few weeks on the days that I was due to reduce my walking. I had reduced my calories the first time so this meant I had to do it the next time…and the next…and the next. Each time it was still a very big struggle to not go out and do the final 5 minutes but then I would compensate in the evening with the reduced calories. I knew this was a bad habit I had gotten into and I knew it had to change. It’s just it is so difficult. Knowing I have done my 50 minute walk relieves my anxiety and the reduced 5 minutes set my stress levels off the scale…which reducing the calories helped with slightly. But this was not what I wanted – I didn’t want to substitute walking for calories but the anorexic voice had control of me.
For 4 weeks I reduced my walking by 5 minutes but with a compensation of fewer calories. The next time I saw my psychologist after those first 4 weeks, I explained to her what had happened and how I had felt. So, after discussion we decided to try again, acknowledging that reducing my walking was going to cause a lot of stress, was going to make me feel very uncomfortable but that the more I do it, the lighter these feelings will become and the easier it will be. But I have to be prepared to put up with those horrible feelings initially. And I am prepared to do so. Because I do want to have a less restricted, regimental routine – to walk if I want and not if I don’t. It’s a long way off but I have to start somewhere. And I have started.
These past 2 weeks after seeing my psychologist, I have picked one day a week to reduce my walking by 5 minutes and not compensate with cutting calories. And I am pleased to say that I have done it. Its’ been hard…really hard…and I have to fight the battle in my head to stop myself walking for another 5 minutes or reducing my calories but this is a battle I want to win. Yes, it makes me feel guilty, stressed and terrified but if I want my life to get a bit better, freer, less restrictive and exhausting then changing my attitude to exercise is a must. I can’t fight every aspect of anorexia at the moment – I do still feel like I need it, but I am making it slightly smaller and allowing other areas to grow. And it is small steps like this that will in time build and grow. This is a step toward anorexia becoming smaller…and life getting bigger and better.