Saturday, September 14, 2013

Body Dysmorphia and Real Change

This week is all about my fitness goals and what prompted last week's post...

I have a double goal.  I want low body fat (19% ideally) and I want to be fast enough to run comfortably with the Arrogant Bastards.

As of Friday, my body fat % was down to 29.58%. It's the first time it's fallen below 30% in at least five years. Just three months ago it was 35.26%... that's a reduction of over 5.5%!  I should be overjoyed and celebrating the achievement!  

So why do my thoughts keep drifting back to the fact that the reduction progression has slowed down in the last month?  That it may only be 1% a month going forward and that I may actually have to stay on this specific eating plan for another 9-10 months?  The fact is I miss eating the way I used to and I don't like having to take the long hard road to real and permanent change... See how easy it is for me to focus on the negative and wallow in self-pity? 

That's why the other half of the goal is just as critical...  Getting stronger in the gym and faster on the trail. 

For me, low body fat is meaningless if my body isn't also strong and fast.  In the last seven years I've learned that what I see in the mirror is rarely real. Almost every time I look in the mirror today, I see the same body I've always seen, yet I know intellectually that my body looks different.  It's called body dysmorphia, so I've learned to just ignore the mirror and focus on the performance metrics.

Tomorrow morning I'll be running the fourth qualifier time trial in a month.  So far, I've been getting progressively faster to the gate, but giving the gains back on the return.  This weekend my focus is to hold my ground on the way out and be relentless on the return... and keep my head quiet throughout.

Enter the tricky part... For the last month Coach has had me training alone on the trail three times a week, repeating the same grueling drills over and over again.  He wants me training alone specifically to force me to push through my default negativity and self-defeating mindset.  (It's an uphill battle and the few times friends have been on the trail at the same time has been a very welcome respite from my head, even though I am rarely able to run with them.)  To keep my head quiet and prevent the negativity when I'm alone, I use music, prayer, meditation, affirmations, etc. Sometimes the tools work and sometimes they don't.  I am still trying to figure out what tools work best under what circumstances.  

Remember the onion peeling...  I always thought I just needed to fix the body and the brain would fall in to place.  I am learning the hard way now that not only is my brain harder to fix than my body, it takes a whole lot more time. By comparison, it was easy to just stop the physical behaviors of drinking, smoking and eating sugar.  But, how the hell does one stop their head from thinking?  Or force it to think only good thoughts?  My mentors say it's just going to take time and patience... and the willingness to just feel feelings without medicating them away with drink, drugs or food.  Eventually they say my brain will be retrained.  

So, while I keep learning new tools, I will keep applying the tools that have always worked so far...  I will stay on the long road, listening to my experts who know me much better than I know myself and just take it One Day at a Time letting the time pass and changes come as they will, trusting that the solutions are in the journey.

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