The thing that always helps me when I feel weird about food, exercise and my body
If you're a dieter or an ex-dieter or a woman or literally just any human walking through this world with its bullshit diet culture and cult of thinness and 'syns', points and step-counters, you've probably spent a good long time battling with disordered thoughts.
I mean the ones that make you feel guilty. The ones that make you worry about fitting in a gym session or calculate the calories in your Boots Meal Deal or that fixate on how your skirt fits that day. They are unhelpful and they are disordered and they are so, so exhausting.
Those types of thoughts used to buzz around my head on a loop. Round and round and round would go panic about calories consumed and when I could next get in a work out. I would sit at my desk at work and worry that I'd put on weight whilst trying to grapple with a spreadsheet. I'd be at dinner with friends and would nod along to the conversation whilst I was really panicking about how I could run off the glasses of prosecco. It got to the point where that was just my normal. It was just my default setting. My name was Cait and I didn't think about anything other than weight loss.
After I let go of the suffocating control that I had on my diet and my body, the thoughts stayed for a while, of course, but slowly and surely became fewer and further apart. I'm not talking about the psychological agony that comes with a clinical eating disorder, because I don't mean to minimise how important it is to seek professional help for that. Rather I'm writing in reference to the minor annoyances that mount up to a tired old brain that whizzes with calorie counts and gym routines when you just don't want it to. Because sometimes those thoughts still crop up for me, particularly when I'm anxious or tired or having a bit of a bad body image day. When I'm really in dire straights, I'll apply the techniques that I wrote about here but just for those tiny, annoying doubts and questions and unhelpful, disordered thoughts that crop up unexpectedly, I have one sure fire way of getting rid of them.
I tell myself I'm being boring.
Boring, to me, is a huge insult. I wouldn't mind so much being called annoying or stupid or lazy or messy (mainly because I am a bit of all the above) but boring is what I would consider to be one of the worst things you call someone. I like to ask questions, I like to tell stories, I like to make jokes: I don't like to be thought of as a bore.
And even though I know that I am not my thoughts, those thoughts, as well as being annoying and unhelpful and exhausting are
And you know what? I don't want to be a boring person. I don't want to be a person who is only interested in my own body and whose main preoccupation is getting a set of abs and whose brain is not filled with ideas or knowledge or analysis but with the nutritional composition of scrambled eggs. If that's someone else's vibe, then fine! No judgement! Good for them, not good for me. I like minor American celebrities and cheesecake and samba music. All those things are interesting to me, not dieting: I want my brain more full of the former, not the latter. I've never met a person who I thought was genuinely interesting and fun and nice to be around who constantly droning on about dieting- so why would I uphold this as a standard in my own brain?
So if I feel momentary guilt about eating an extra chocolate digestive or panic that I won't be able to cram in a run that weekend, I quickly bat those thoughts away with a yawn. It's boring. I don't want to waste the brain space. It's not worth the energy. And I hope that, slowly but surely, my brain becomes accustomed to associating those thoughts with being boring. It's extremely rare that I think about VAT or soil composition or the football transfer window or other things that don't excite me, so I hope dieting soon falls into that category too.