... and letting go of punishment in favor of practice
Want to share that I did a bike ride after I sent this out -- it truly is one step at a time, and letting those steps be enough. Thanks for reading as always. 🤍
Thank you for speaking to the importance of this. I am often trying to discern between hyper vigilance and discipline. Am I making choices from a fear-based perspective or from a loving-kindness perspective? It’s hard to suss out most of the time.
Beautiful piece - thank you. I have found Internal Family Systems to be so helpful in making sense of these gaps between ought & actuality (I have many of them) - knowing that I'm an ecosystem in delicate balance and that my 'do exercise' parts and my 'don't do exercise' parts are both trying to help me is so liberating. PS this post has made me buy your book!
I can be an all-or-nothing thinker much of the time. Recently, I was struggling with my own morning routine. I wanted to integrate daily writing, but I already do so much- reading, meditation, a walk. They all feel so essential, and I was lamenting to my partner that I really didn’t want to give up any of it. I want the “perfect” morning routine.
He said, “Why not just write a couple times a week instead of every day?” This compromise literally had not even occurred to me. I thought that if I couldn’t make it a daily habit, it wouldn’t even be worth doing. I had a fixed idea in my mind of what things should look like, and it really took some outside perspective to see that there were other, less-than-perfect but still quite reasonable approaches.
I will be coming back to this post again and often. Thanks for saying what’s been rolling around in my mind for what feels like too long. I’m sure writing this was healing for you, but it’s healing for those reading it too. I feel a little lighter having read it. I’m also just reminded the most personal is often the most universal... thank you for sharing 🌾
“I find myself not wanting anyone to know what I’m struggling with until I can turn that struggle into medicine for others to consume” -- sometimes being blatantly honest about what we are struggling with IS the best medicine, knowing that another being shares similar struggles, knowing that I’m not the only one in the thick of it. I’ve been struggling with the act of doing too. Thank you for your insight Lisa 🌿🤍
This is just what I needed, Lisa. I’ve been struggling with the same thing. With knowing the importance of exercise yet resisting it with everything I’ve got. It’s a cycle I can’t seem to break, and it’s been frustrating. I know part of it stems from the trauma of being the fat kid, but the healing from this wounding has been elusive. I’m going to look into Internal Family Systems and see if I can find some help there.
wow, the pain of starting anything at all really! i’m learning to acknowledge my fear and let go of even needing to understand it perfectly before taking action which is so hard. intentional movement is one of those things that brings up so much for me...it’s stirring up all the stagnant parts of ourselves. thank you for sharing this while being in the midst.
This spoke to me in SO many ways. (Many of your newsletters do, but this one hit a very tender spot that I've been intimately working through, myself). I am on (mostly) the other side of a duo of eating disorders--orthorexia (hyperfixation on restriction and counting), and Anorexia athletica (excessive and compulsive exercise). Both in tandem did a number on me...or I guess, I did a number on myself through them. I never received a "formal" diagnosis of either, since my BMI wasn't technically low enough to qualify. But a health coach made the very astute suggestion that eating 1100 calories per day, and biking for 45 mins 7 days a week was likely not healthy. It took her telling me this to own-up to what I'd been doing...trying to take control of the only thing I felt like I COULD control: my body. I got help with the orthorexia through Intuitive Eating and therapy, but for the exercise part...I forced myself to stop cold turkey. I didn't trust that I could just pull back on the intensity without compulsively still longing to do more, and more, and more.
This was almost two years ago. My body has changed a lot since then. Like you mentioned, it feels different. Like I am constantly having to relearn it, reintroduce myself to its shape, its texture, its appearance. I have a much healthier relationship to food now, but I still struggle with the relationship to my body. I WANT to start moving my body again, in more supportive ways. I'll take up yoga for a few weeks, but then fall off. I'll start doing pushups and lifting weights, but then question my intent: am I trying to control my body again, or simply trying to move in a healthy way?
The only movement that I've been able to consistently maintain over these last two-ish years is walking. I walk with my dog around our neighborhood every morning. We stop to look at (and sniff) flowers. I listen to podcasts. Sometimes I have conversations with my dad, who passed away three-and-a-half years ago. Walking is good for me. But I also remember how powerful and energized I felt after biking, how the sweat was like a reminder that I put in the effort, that my body was strong. I want to feel that again, but I don't know how to tiptoe back into the waters instead of diving-in head first.
I want to be able to make my yoga practice stick, instead. When I actually do it, I like the sense of ease, of flow, the focus on breathing. But there's a voice in my head that still says "it's not exercise unless you push it. Unless you sweat. Unless you're out of breath." I don't know if that's the voice that's keeping me from making yoga, or weights, or pushups, a routine, but there's a blocker somewhere.
Reading your story about being compassionate in these tender places feels like meeting another version of myself. Maybe it's not that I haven't been focusing on movement because I'm scared of it (although I am), but because I've been focusing on other things instead. My daughter. My marriage. Reading. Writing. Spirituality.
It's hard to hold space for the parts that wish I could do it all. to treat them with self-compassion instead of guilt, or shame.
Thank you for sharing your story, because it allows others to share ours. Maybe we can hold space for each other.
This, so much this. The bafflement of why won’t I do what I know I need to do to make me feel better, physically & mentally stronger… the double whammy of guilt & shame for both the not doing it and the not receiving the benefit of having done it. And then still… not doing it. Such a brain scramble! And the thing I am not, but know I should be, doing gets a laser-like attention that can eliminate any noticing of anything I do do that bring the strength, recovery & joy.
Sending love x
Wow, thank you for putting words to how I’ve felt, I am here too. A knee injury kept me from movement until it healed and now fear keeps me from returning alongside the knowledge of how hard it is to start again… until now. I joined my local gym yesterday and moved my body, in a way that felt good enough. I noticed the judgement and comparison of myself, wishing to already be there. I’m noticing that I want to do it anyway, to feel like my body is my own. So I’m trying to practice compassion alongside slow patience and showing up for myself. Thanks Lisa, this really resonated with me x
You write things so beautifully, purposefully, and genuinely. I envy your writing style. I often shame myself for not having discipline and not following through with what I said I would do. I need to read the comments more often, because I haven’t heard of internal family systems and I’m very interested in learning what they are.
Thanking you for sharing your vulnerability. You make my Sundays more meaningful and help me not feel so alone.
I recently thought I was prepared and ready to take a new step that would drastically change my daily routine and the course of my life for at least the next decade, but when the reality of the change started to seep in, I panicked and backed out. I wasn't "ready" for the change, even though I knew it would logically be good for me and improve my quality of life. I couldn't help but focus on the losses more than the gains.
This section especially spoke to me: "You will forever need to practice starting over the long list of things you accidentally let go, let fall to the wayside, quit before you’re actually ready to quit, stop doing out of fear or shame or guilt or lack of time or (I could go on). Maybe starting over, having to go back to the beginning, having to stand at the bottom of the mountain looking up, legs wobbly, with no idea how you’ll get to the top… maybe none of this means you’re broken or incapable or lazy."
Thank you, Lisa! Your Sunday letters are one of the biggest highlights of my week. I always look forward to them.
After working doing a house remodel in 2020 and accidentally losing about 50 pounds, I have spent the past 2...now 3, jeez...years being excruciatingly stagnant. And I feel like shit a good percentage of the time. I'm societally acceptable weight wise so it's not really something I think about but I've really been coming to terms with the fact that I am 40 now and need to be more aware and proactive about my physical health. But STARTING...I just cannot seem to make myself. I also skew towards all or nothing thinking and I am working on finding little ways to incorporate movement instead of sitting on my ass all day, and letting that be enough right now. I do want to go to the gym, I do want to get stronger and healthier, but I also don't want to waste money.
Thank you for this post. It, and all the comments, reminds me I'm not alone 💜
That's cool you took a ride after you "sent this out" :-) Like you gave in to admitting it openly, so the torment wasn't keeping your spirit down or something like that. I struggle there too.
I also want to say how I kept remembering while reading your letter this week - that you are a Mom. You gave birth to a new human being. "Gave Birth" means a huge gift. Huger, I think, than I will ever be able to give, as a man... and an important one because it is like the definition of selfless love. When my wife Robin gave birth to our children, it changed my perspective about what every mother has given to this world by the act of giving birth. I cannot help but think each of you are goddesses.
So, don't forget the unending gratitude you can receive from yourself, from others, and from the cosmos. I find gratitude to be a healer - it breaks down fear and lifts the heart. It gets to come from anywhere, including the inside. Gratitude doesn't require success or awards. It just exists as a revelation of wonder and appreciation.
And, hey!... more power to you for taking your sweet time to get back to some "routine." More power to you for letting the joy of self-care slowly and beautifully slip back into your life. You've got the power!
Beautiful piece of writing Lisa 💗
I feel like there is so much pressure on mothers to “bounce back” into the body they had pre-pregnancy and it seems like so much of it is societal. I remember hearing someone say once that we grew a baby in our bodies and that that is indeed magical and our bodies will never be exactly how they were because that body was a different body, one that hadn’t nourished and had a baby grow inside of it. We have to give ourselves grace. I too am a fellow c-section mama and things are definitely different with my body and I have a tummy that won’t quite go down to what society says it should but that’s okay. I have found that a change in my perspective helped so much. I just wanted to say Lisa, that you got this! Whatever you choose to do, however you choose to feel, whether you roll out the yoga mat or not, it’s all okay. Much love to you! 🥰