I had a small breakthrough the other day when I could ride my bicycle, hold the bars, and experience no pain for 10 minutes. Albeit I had a strong tailwind--I realized this when I turned around--it was still an awesome moment. Soon after my euphoria quickly disappeared when I started to feel stiffness and twinges of pain in my lower left gut.
This has been a pattern for the last couple days. I can go a few more minutes but honestly, I don't want to push it. What's the point of completing 20 minutes versus 22 minutes in recovery zone, especially if there's a chance that I'll hurt myself.
So instead I've taken up walking. My speed is about 3.2 miles/hour. Today I walked 5 miles--totally comfortable, no stiffness, no pain. I'll still dabble on the bike just to keep my legs moving and because I like wearing Lycra...
I think that if I didn't have so many HUGE things coming up for me--like the beginning of my FIRST season as a professional cyclist--I wouldn't worry about not being able to ride the bike. But right now I have to put those mainly self-imposed pressures aside, I have to realign my goals, and not dwell on how good of shape I was in before this surgery.
When I look at my severely swollen belly and wince in pain as the muscles stretch to accommodate all the fluid, the thought creeps in "Maybe I shouldn't have had this surgery right now..." I've really been working on not giving these thoughts my energy, as it's completely pointless to worry about what's going to happen next week or what happened in the past. But damn, it's still really hard, and although I'm generally pretty positive, I want to be honest and admit that I have really tough moments, too. For me the tough moments are usually followed by moments after I've just eaten dinner and then soon after eat seven Girl Scout Samoas and a half a bar of chocolate and wonder what I might eat next.
Yep, with all the required down time, my past eating problems are creeping in as well. The ones where food consumes my thoughts and I wake up and start calculating what I'm going eat all day. Exercise usually helps with this--I eat to fuel my body. I eat when I'm not hungry to prepare my body for a ride, etc. I pay little attention to the thoughts that I might be eating too much when I burn 3000 calories a day. I eat based on a plan to fuel myself not based on my hunger because often I'm not hungry until 3 days later and at that time I haven't given my body enough protein to rebuild my muscles, so how can I trust that it knows what it wants, especially when I'm making it perform in ways that aren't natural? Um, I really don't think our bodies were designed to exercise 25 hours a week and or digest 4-5,000 calories daily. Maybe I'm wrong, but I remember some scientific study about if you want to live longer, eat less to preserve your systems. I think it's sort of like if you exercise regularly, you end up building the strength of your heart so that it only needs to pump 40 beats per minute. It seems it would break down faster if it was constantly required to pump 80 beats per minute. But like I said, I'm no doctor. These are just musings.
Anyway, now that my primary exercise is walking, my food obsessions have arisen once again, but this time, I'm taking some time to figure it out at a deeper level. I've come a long way since high school and college when I either puked or ran 10 miles in the middle of the night with my precious but also enabling roommate to compensate for my overeating or negative body image. I'm so FAR from that time and that feels really good. But I still have issues, as do many many many many athletes and non-athletes. You really don't have to be starving or puking or putting yourself in danger to have food compulsions or obsessions. But oh wouldn't it be nice to be one of those people that without even thinking about it, 90% of the time just eats till satisfaction? How freeing would that be?
Of course, I know where my obsessions stem from, but that doesn't solve my problems. My coach recommended some good books about getting to the root of compulsive eating behavior--Geneen Roth's books--one which is called "Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating." It's really interesting because it talks a lot about trusting your body. She gave some examples about looking at your watch to see if it's time to eat (I do that.) or eating at specific times during the day instead of just waiting until you're hungry. Or feeling disappointed if you miss a meal. (It feels like either an accomplishment or gives me anxiety if I miss a meal.) Anyway, the point is that really, these food thoughts shouldn't consume me so much. I'm trying to learn how to eat until satisfaction rather than eating until I've filled an emotional void, until I find something better to do, or until I've reached my caloric goal.
It's a process, just like anything else. We'll see where it takes me.