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Recovering Jogaholic: Overcoming Perfectionistic Thinking

I jogged on a treadmill 2-3 times a week in college. I would go about 2-3 miles each time. Then the summer after college I had to stop jogging since I pulled a muscle. I hadn’t given myself enough time to cool down and stretch properly over the previous several months and my body started to talk back!

The truth is, my inability to slow down and stretch wasn’t the only issue I was having. There was a very addictive quality to my jogging. I HAD to jog on my schedule and I would be disproportionately disappointed and depressed if I didn’t get to jog. I had black-and-white thinking to the point that if I missed a jog I feared I would gain weight. I was also overall very hard on myself for having missed this exercise session. I will never forget that time I was running late in the gym and my friend was at my childhood home visiting me. I made her wait because I “just had” to complete my jog.

After I got injured, I had to replace my jogs with going on walks (often, in nature!). During this transition I realized that in the future when I would be a mother, jogging would not be sustainable since I would need to be flexible, not rigid. I imagined myself feeing that urge to stay on the treadmill when my children needed me and getting really stressed out when I’d have to cut a workout short. With my overuse injury I had learned the hard way that I couldn’t skip over the cool down and stretching post-jog. Shutting my children out wouldn’t be an option, so I would likely end up with another overuse injury, as well as a lot of frustration over “unfinished” workouts.

Flash forward to today: I am married with a seven-week-old baby girl. I would like to go on jogs some days. But it isn’t jogging that is the question, rather it's the mode in which I do it. As long as I am honest with myself and realistic and flexible about time management, as well as compassionate with myself when I can’t jog as far as I expected, jogging can be a great part of my workout repertoire. It has more to do with my way of thinking than jogging itself. Even if I walk for exercise, if I maintain my black-and-white thinking, it will not be sustainable. No matter what type of exercise I do, or no matter in what area of life, the main thing is to work on my outlook and my mode of thinking—because in any area of life, black-and-white, perfectionistic thinking will inevitably cause distress.

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