Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Unexpected Dangers of the Scale

If you're like me, you let the narrative in your head about your weight play too often, whether or not your weight is actually an issue you ought to be thinking about at all. This is not a good thing. We all know that, right? The narrative in our head is very unlikely to be helpful, even if we are trying to lose weight. Because mostly it's going to be sending us undermining negative messages.

In my own case, I recently had cause to see just how damaging my own internal monologue could be.

Just back from 9 weeks of no running and fantastic cross country skiing instead, I was feeling fit and good. Got up for my first run in more than two months, and decided (why, why, why?) that I'd get on the scale before I headed out. Where did those extra 4 pounds I didn't want come from? And why hadn't I noticed them? My clothes all fit the same. I felt strong. And so on. My mood slid off a cliff. Now my run wasn't about running, it was about, "I need to do this to get rid of wherever this weight I don't want came from." Even if, as my partner and friends pointed out, it may have come from the extra muscle I built during the xc ski season.

No matter, my internal monologue was loudly proclaiming about all sorts of things I shouldn't have done in the weeks previous, distracting me from the gorgeous sunny morning and how happy I ought to have been back in Central Park after months away.

Out the door, not one mile gone, I tripped, fell, gashed open my knee almost to the bone, went to the hospital, got stitches, couldn't run for 3 more weeks.

Would this have happened if I hadn't been battling with the internal voice? I can't say for sure. Yet...a piece of me knows that the accident would have been far, far less likely had I been focused on the run at hand.

I'm back to running finally, and being very careful. Not so much about the rocks and roots in my path (since I try to run on any strip of dirt I can), but about what the voice in my head is going on about. If I feel it edging into anything the least bit negative, I start telling myself positive things, out loud (okay, under my breath so people don't think I'm crazy running girl). Double bonus--the positive messages take hold on and off the road, and running feels like a privilege and a joy, after the voluntary and involuntary time off.