Eating has often been a strategy for me when being in a stressful situation. For several years I managed to choose other strategies for handling e.g. stress and then, again, for the last six months, I am back into the destructive habit of overeating.
Since one of my best friends is a runner, I have the opportunity to reflect upon our different choices. When she is in stress, she goes to the gym or for a long intensive run. When I am in stress, I eat.
The question that thrills me the most at the moment is:
What is the crucial fact(s) that make you choose one or the other of the strategies and turn it into a habit? Is it just coincidences? A friend asks you if you want to go for a run and then you get hooked? Eating your first chocolate bar craves the next one and the next one?
Reading the book The real happy pill by Anders Hansen has made me discover a whole world of new understanding of the brain and the benefits of physical exercise.
However, my question of why you make one choice or another, is yet to be answered.
Is it maybe also a question of how you look at yourself? Exercise is achievement, a way to show oneself and others what you can accomplish (e.g. a marathon).
Eating sweets is for me connected to hiding and hiding within a body that gets bigger and bigger. Nowadays I don’t feel that much shame anymore for my eating and can look at it with more curiosity, all in the aim of finding healthier habits and with the love and compassion for myself that I once did not have.
One story about a depressed woman in Anders Hansen’s book illustrates very well the connection between physical exercise and self-confidence. One of his previous patients cured her depression with physical exercise. Not only did she get in better shape and in a better mood. Her self-confidence grew stronger as her change became a result of her own achievement.
How long does it take to change an almost lifelong strategy? How long will I need to exercise until my body prefers 30 minutes on a bike to some comforting grams of sweets?
Is physical exercise or eating sweets just a question of habit or also of identification? If I start to see myself as someone that exercises, someone who loves to move, will that change how I see myself in a more general perspective as well?
Maybe habit and identification go hand in hand and by starting (already three days ago!) with physical exercise, identification will follow.
I will make the strategy of physical exercise my own…