Anyone who knows me well knows two things about me:
1. I make lists, lots of lists. I wrote about that here.
2. If I'm into a routine of doing something, or interested in something, I will give it my full attention and headspace.
This year, I've been making an effort to eat better and move more, and for the first time ever feel like I've been making some real progress, but there are still changes I want to make.
Recently, I realised one of the changes I had made was actually damaging my progression and the way I looked at myself.
I was keeping a record of what I was eating, and what exercise I was doing.
This was originally to let me keep track of what I was doing and let me notice improvements that could be made. Writing down what you're eating is also something I've heard recommended many times to hold yourself accountable, and notice any unhealthy patterns you might have fallen into.
A few weeks ago, I realised these lists were becoming a problem. Rather than using them as tools to learn from and allow me to make improvements, I was becoming fixated on them.
I absolutely had to fill in the lists at the end of the day.
I was writing everything, down to how many flights of stairs I'd climbed or what portions I was having of each food.
I wasn't using them as a useful record to learn from; I was using the lists to get frustrated at myself.
If there was a day where I hadn't done the exercise I'd planned to, I wouldn't say 'oh well, I can do better tomorrow'. I was looking at the list thinking 'I've failed'.
When it comes to food, I was just highlighting another problem area. My relationship with food, though improving, is still a very complicated one. There are a huge number of foods I still won't touch, which all relate back to things that were happening when my anxiety was at its worst.
At some point, when I'm ready, I will write about this relationship with food. For now, all that's important is that the relationship is complex, and that it means there sometimes is not the variety or speed of improvement I might want.
I carried on with these lists for a good few months, convinced I should be doing them because it works for other people.
A few weeks ago, I knew I had to stop.
Since throwing away the lists, my exercise pattern has been more consistent. I've tried harder in the workouts I do, and if I need a day off then I have one.
Since throwing away the lists, I've tried two foods I haven't touched in thee years (since pre-anxiety), and I've stopped judging myself so harshly. I've also found it easier to cut out as much of the junk food now I'm not writing down my mistakes.
I guess the point of this post is that everyone is different. Techniques that work for some are the worst solution for others. Through trial and error, you'll find what works for you.
If a method other people rave about doesn't feel right for you, just stop.
It's your life, live it your way.