The Exercise Episode!: #nomiles #notime #noapps #justtunes
Hello my lovelies! Today's episode and post is the exercise episode I had been promising. In today's post I'll be sharing some personal stories on my relationship with exercise, we'll talk about role models, finding your bliss when it comes to exercising, and why my philosophy of #nomiles #notime #noapps #justtunes might help you get back into exercising for true wellness and with a big side serving of joy. It's also going to become a music party, as we get into the just tunes part of that philosophy.
If you're a long time reader of our blog, you probably know that I went from a kid who hated P.E. at school more than I hated chopped liver (and I HATED chopped liver) to becoming a person who exercises regularly and loves to.
Many moons ago when I was in high school, and I was trying to make up yet another excuse not to play volleyball, my P.E. teacher gave me a life line. He knew the problem wasn't the fact that I was a couch potato (I wasn't, and I've always loved movement and was dancing quite a bit back then), he knew I danced every day, so being active wasn't an issue. Something made him realize that the problem were the sports themselves. I've never enjoyed team sports because I have zero spacial abilities (seriously, I'm always covered in bruises because I keep running into stuff), and because I hate TEAM sports, emphasis in TEAM. Since there's no ability involved on my part, there's usually a lot of yelling at me involved, and that's just no fun.
So here's what he did. He told me: "ok, let's try something else: why don't you just run around the track for a bit". That sounded harmless enough so off I went.
I remember that first run as if it was yesterday. I remember the color of that track and the trees around it. I remember what I was wearing, the fact that I felt like I was soaring through the air and felt fearless. In one 30 minute run, I was hooked. He was relieved, my classmates who didn't have to have me in the volleyball court felt relieved, and I was flying. After graduation I didn't have my track anymore, and my hometown isn't the safest place to run outside in, so I left it behind. Carlos though, wonderful husband (then boyfriend) that he is, got me back into it when we moved into our little house in Venezuela and there was a track right next to it.
I started the first day remembering what it was like on my high school track, and so excited. I start running, and.... one minute later I was gasping for air.
I mean gasping.
I went off again.
Ok, so I'm starting to get it now, running while you're a trained dancer is no biggie, running as a mere mortal not so much.
Carlos started to teach me to slow down, and slow my pace. It worked.
Next day I gasped after 2 minutes. Next day after 5 minutes. Next day after 10 minutes.
Then I became a runner.
I say I became a runner not because I ran marathons or 5 K's or anything like that. I became a runner because I LOVED to run.
Every week, from that first 1 minute run and for about 9 years after, I ran, and I loved it.
About two years ago something happened. It was what I've described in our Bikini Revolution Series as my rock bottom moment. After almost two years of being immersed in a world of restrictive eating, disordered eating and abusing exercise, all masquerading as the quest for health, I found the tools that helped me climb out of the hole I had dug up for myself and found true health. Health that has nothing to do with what size jeans you wear, but that has to do with actual health promoting habits, which for me needed to include that missing piece of emotional health, emotional balance, emotional well-being, and body acceptance.
As you well know if you've been a long time listener of our podcast and reader of our blog, all of it, from the deep dark hole, to the bright shiny sun out in the real world that came later, ALL of it, helped me heal years of struggles I had buried behind it all. I was trying to control so that I would be busy enough not to feel, so I could be "perfect" and anchored, when I was feeling anything but that. It's the journey that I share so often here, in the midst of this cooking party we have going on, because food and our relationship with food and our bodies are so connected. Now that I've been out of that hole for a while, I can tell you that life is SO much better outside. The problem? My love of running was no longer there when I came out of it.
The months that I spent over exercising, over training and pushing myself to my limit had left me with no love for the things I had been doing. It was such a painful realization after years of loving the freedom I felt when I went for a run. I had three little saving graces at the time though, three things that kept me moving regularly in spite of now having left all the rules and shoulds behind, and those were yoga, walking, and dance.
Slowly but surely I started to love exercise and bring it back to my routine, and was actually able to do it for joy instead of as a tool to change my body. It was great and it felt great. I loved the stretching, I loved the fast paced moving to the beat and the jumping, I loved the flows in yoga, and I loved the long walks in the woods which were so incredibly healing for me.
Here's the thing about me though, I need variety, and a few weeks ago I was feeling like I was in a bit of a rut (which is usually what happens when I need to spice things up and change things up). Every day I would wake up with this feeling of wanting to be outside now that the weather had changed. I didn't feel like biking, I didn't feel like walking.
I felt like going for a run.
I felt like going for a run and then stretching in my terrace with a quick fix of yoga.
I felt like listening to music and experiencing the wonderful feeling of the pace, one foot in front of the other.
I felt like going for a run.
The problem with that whole scenario is I kept thinking of running as synonymous to the gruelling workouts I used to do, the minimum time and miles I would set for myself, always higher than the previous ones. Always more if I had eaten something on the "bad" list the night before and I had many foods in my "bad list". I didn't like that anymore, and I'm not that person anymore.
So here's what I did, it's called #nomiles #notime #noapps #justtunes, and in just a few weeks it has taught me so much about our relationship with exercise. Before we get to that though, let me explain:
I headed out for my first run in a very long time, and decided there would be no miles, no kilometers counted or tallied. There was no minimum score to keep. There was just me, enjoying my run, and stopping when I was tired to rest, and stopping when I wanted to head home.
There were no miles to reach so there would also be no time. Before I used to run and set a minimum amount of time (and of miles), meaning if I had done all my miles, and the time hadn't been reached (meaning I had run faster... and still..), then I would run around the block one more time. I don't want to say what amount of time I used to run for so as not to trigger anyone who might be going through this but it was a lot.
This time, there was no time I had to reach. There was just running for the fun and the freedom I feel when I'm there in the moment with the rhythm and the pavement and my songs. It's running for fun, without any rules. It's a thing people!
If I have a time restraint like having to go somewhere at a certain time, I set my timer to about half the time I have available, that way I can't go over (I can always go under of course!). When the timer rings I turn around and head back home. Since both routes aren't exactly the same, I never know how much I've run, but I don't miss my dentist's appointment! I can of course turn around at any point, rest at any point, stop running and start walking at any point, change my mind at any point and head back home. When there's no time restraint there's just me, running until I feel like going back, #notime.
Since there would be #nomiles, and #notime, there would be no need for my running app of choice which used to have more power over me than The Goblin King in Laberynth.
I had such a love hate relationship with that app. I would log in every day and feel such a rush with the accomplishment of a workout. I was also glued to the hip to it, meaning that runs or bike rides or walks with my family didn't count if I didn't have it turned on.
Now there would be #noapps.
There would be tunes. Tunes and my running shoes and the nice weather, and the birds singing and the freedom of running again as a completely new person, and the first time I headed out, it was heaven. I felt exactly like that 16 year old girl on my high school track feeling so free and so happy because I had the excitement of being 16 again, but the first hand wisdom of what exercise can't mean to me anymore, and where I never want to be again.
There's more to the tunes part, but we'll get to that in a second.
"Who'll be my role model, now that my role model is gone"
This is a line from one of the corniest trumpet bearing 80s songs ever, which also happens to make me smile and dance and laugh and remember my family and my childhood all in one. I'm talking about the very famous "You can call me Al" Paul Simon song. Paul Simon I love you and you're a wise gorgeous man.
On that first run back, this song came through my headphones, and I remembered everything from dancing on the couches with my family as a kid to this song, to that very special line in the lyrics that says:
"Who will be my role model, now that my role model is gone".
It made me think of how our relationship with role models has changed so drastically over the years. With social media, insta celebrities and all the "influencers" out there, we've gotten into the habit to look outwards for our inspiration and "the steps in life". It was precisely following some influencers a few years ago that led me down a very self-destructive path, not their fault alone, it definitely takes two to tango, but this got me thinking. We used to admire someone, watch a documentary on them, read their book, hear them speak, feel motivated and inspired and then headed home to be present in our own life, having a source of inspiration, but living wholly and fully making up the steps as we went along, with our rules, our intuition and all the knowledge and wisdom we already have.
Things are different now.
We grab our phones every few minutes to see what these "role models" are doing, what the latest trend is, whether others are doing it better and how we can tweak to get there faster.
So what happens when you go through a journey like the one I went through, in which you forget about the external rules, the shoulds, the programs, and "motivational" airbrushed photos on instagram. Who'll be my role model now that my role model is gone?
I will decide what's good for me. I will use all my experiences, understand my limits and decide what's good for me. Then I'll go on the gruelling journey of deleting the previous habits and beliefs that don't serve me anymore, and the way you do that is by living in the new way, and taking actions in the new way, the first day, then the second day, then the third day.
As the wonderful registered dietitian nutritionist Taylor Wolfram says, we can start by doing the opposite of what we're feeling triggered to do. Do that enough times, and in your own way, with "role model you" steering the ship, and that will become the new normal.
Of course, when it comes to food and exercise related topics, or anything that is seriously threatening your mental health and well being, we often need a qualified professional to help us find our inner wisdom once again, because many of those voices that tell us to do more, be better, and perfect more, which are so common in eating disorders for example, do need external support until you learn how to get back in tune with a voice that is more protective and that will keep you safe. If you've been struggling, please seek help through the NEDA hotline, see a therapist or find support today.
In this lovely new way of #nomiles #notime #noapps #justtunes, your can be your own role model. Your inspiration can be a new relationship with exercise and your body that stems from fun, enjoyment and love. One that has no shoulds attached, because you are the one that decides. It also means that what works today might feel old or boring tomorrow and you might need a change. This happens to me every few months and I need a change and I listen and make it. This is also ok. This means I have periods in which I'm doing lots of yoga, periods in which I'm dancing a ton, periods in which all I feel like doing is walking, periods in which I like to lift weights, periods in which a run is bliss, and others in which that doesn't feel great, and I always listen and change accordingly. Movement (and this doesn't necessarily mean vigorous exercise), is great for good health, so what if you found a way to finally make movement a part of your life not because you HAVE to, but because you LIKE to.
Some of the reasons why I exercise now are the fact that it helps give me energy. You heard that right, when I exercise doing what I love, and in a way that feels good with no body change expectations behind it, my energy is soaring afterwards. My body image improves. My confidence improves. My ability to be mindful and practice mindful eating improves because I'm more present in my body as opposed to over-worrying in my head. My anxiety gets lowered. My stress gets lowered. I feel happy. I feel free. I get fresh air. I spend time with myself. I listen to my tunes.
The tunes in #just tunes
You know I'm a music lover. Music is basically another family member in our household, that's how big it is. It was big when I was growing up (there was ALWAYS music playing in my house and everyone in my family was a musician on the side except for me because I was the dancer), and that was reinforced when I married Carlos who is a total music lover and a musician among his many talents. So you bet I have a running playlist, and yes, I'm going to share it with you now.
My running playlist includes lots of tunes because I love to hit that shuffle button and be surprised, and please remember that I'm a rock and roll chic at heart, although you'll find lots of cool alternative and even embarrassing pop and folk stuff in here too:
- There She Goes Version by Sixpence none the Richer · One of my favorite songs ever! It's on every playlist I've ever created, usually in the original version by The LAs, but this version is my fave for running.
- When I Come Around by Green Day · You should never go out for a run without this song. Never. Ever. Ever.
- Pedestrian at Best by Courtney Barnett · Possibly one of the best song lyrics ever created. If you drive by my neighbourhood you'll see me pick up the pace and maybe start singing. It would make a good boxing song too.
- You are Killing Me by The Dandy Warhols · One of my favorite bands on this planet, this is an even better song in a biking playlist, but it's in ALL my playlists, so here it is too.
- Closer to Free by The BoDeans · Every run should include this one because it was the opening song to Party of Five. No need to explain any further.
- Alright by Supergrass · Fun and peppy and it was in the movie Clueless, a soundtrack you can always dance or run to by the way.
- Mujeres Bellas y Fuertes by El Mató a un Policía Motorizado · This song is called Strong Beautiful Women, enough said.
- Sticks 'n' Stones by Jamie T · Oh-my-God, this song was designed for running, and it reminds me of the first summer we ever spent in Spain.
- Committed by Jenny and Johnny · You'll jump, you'll skip, you'll thank me later!
- Name for You by The Shins · My favorite band-ON-THE-PLANET, sometimes I run with just one of their records and it's just as fun.
- Times Like These by Foo Fighters · Always include the Foos in anything you do, it makes it instantly more fun.
- Closing Time by Semisonic · It takes me back what can I say...
- Pork and Beans by Weezer · The lyrics just speak to the little rebel in me, and it's awesome if it coincides with a little hill on my run.
- I Feel it All by Feist · The name of this song alone...
- 1234 by Feist · I love her and so many of her songs are great for running
- Hey Julie by Fountains of Wayne · Another one of my fave bands, and this one is such a happy tune!
- Breathless by The Corrs · Don't judge rock and roll friends (aka Carlos), this song reminds me of being 16 and running on that track for the very first time.
- Lake Michigan by Rogue Wave · The claps just hit my running pace and it's the most awesome feeling!
- Run-Around by Blues Traveler · Ahh my life as a late teenager. It transports me to trips to the beach with lots of non age appropriate bottles of rum and tequila.
- Free Fallin' by Stevie Nicks · A great cool down song, and one of my top 5 favorite songs of all time.
- Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town by Pearl Jam · A song that makes me happy every time I listen to it, another great cool down song or awesome for taking a break and slowing down.
- All the Way by Pearl Jam · The song they wrote about being a fan of the Chicago Cubs, the lyrics can apply to so many life circumstances and talks about how the journey to achieving something great is such a part of the destination itself. How the long journeys and the patience make the wins so much sweeter. It gives me goosebumps EVERY time, in spite of the fact that I'm a huge Pearl Jam fan and could have included 20 or 50 of their songs in my running playlists. This one always hits home.
- Such Great Heights by The Postal Service · Great little pace for a run, and it has the line "everything looks perfect from far away, come down now..." I mean... yeah...
- Where'd You Go? by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones · A little ska mid-run never hurt anybody.
- Creature Comfort by Arcade Fire · Perfect song for going uphill, this band is just too much and you can listen to anything by them and feel empowered to do it all!
- All the Young Dudes by David Bowie · This song is just too cool. Works with anything. The end.
- The Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks · The sweetest most smile provoking song. It makes me feel my mom is right next to me even though she never ran, nor did she ever listen to The Kinks. Oh yeah and it has a line that says "God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties"... I mean...
- Little Bit of You in Everything by The Rentals · Another one of my favorite bands, and a song that screams summer, clear skies and fun in the sun, so it's always perfect for running outside.
- Left Alone by Blink 182 · It's amazing. It even includes the words "Left alone. We're only halfway home" which are so powerful, they make me think of how home, the place where we're safe and ok is always right around the corner.
- Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da by The Beatles · The ultimate feel good song and with the perfect beat for a fun run where you don't take yourself too seriously. If there was ever a time to pull a Phoebe run, this is the tune to do it with.
- You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon · Now you know why...
- The Only Living Boy in New York by Paul Simon
I can't always listen to this last song because it means too much to me and it breaks my heart and uplifts me at the same time, every time, but sometimes I need to go there, to the people that are no longer with me. When I finally decided to look in that place I had been hiding from, that's when all my healing started,