What's fun got to do with it?

I always thought fun was an over-rated concept. It was doing the best that mattered. It was succeeding that mattered. I was never against fun, but I was always afraid that really enjoying what I was doing would somehow detract from the achievement. That is, the fact that I was miserable while attaining all A's in high school and college, made those grades even more impressive than if I had enjoyed myself.

Yeah, I know: it doesn't make much sense.

Fun was a privilege. I would only allow myself to relax if I had completed all of my tasks for the day. The irony is, of course, that I was a tremendous overachiever and always had far more to do on my list than could ever be done by a normal human during a 24-hour period. So fun was pretty much non-existent. The ultimate irony is that I probably would have been a lot more productive if I had done something fun and given my poor little flambeed brain a break.

Fun is also something I struggle with in all things related to eating and exercise. I mean, I loved my endorphin highs from starvation and exercise, but that's quite different from "fun." I can enjoy cooking, but I have a problem with enjoying eating. And I have equated exercise with (essentially) torture, so sometimes I feel like a lazy git even though I'm riding my bike regularly. Why? My bike is fun, ergo, it can't be exercise.

I've realized lately just how much company I have in this category. I understand that others with eating disorders would be keeping me company, but so many people I know have issues with enjoying food and exercise/movement/etc. It's the motto of "No pain, no gain." Shouldn't it be "No pain, no Ben Gay, ibuprofen, or a vodka chaser"?

I saw this video on Facebook and, to me, it just epitomizes how fun should be a part of our lives. The video was made as part of an initiative by Volkswagon called The Fun Theory, which looked to see how something as simple as fun would change people's behaviors. In this case, the people changed a stairway in Sweden to a big piano keyboard to encourage people to take the stairs.

Taking the stairs, is/was an ED thing with me- it was a rule, a must do. Seeing this video, I just want to run up the stairs and play and be goofy. One similar outcome, two very different motivations.

Anyone want to do a Chopsticks duet with me?

(As a fun but random side note, I've played the piano piece that was the background music at the end of the video.)

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FuguSushi said...

This reminds me... I'm pretty much programmed to not have fun. How can you get ahead when you're having fun? While you're having fun someone else might be studying their butt off and you'll be the loser in this race.

In any case... when I was in college, someone asked me what appears to be a rather simple question, "What's your hobby?"

... stumped! I knew what a "hobby" is. It's something you do for fun.

... so what the hell is my hobby? What do I do for fun? Does sleeping count?

It took me until this year to "decide" on a hobby, and I essentially turned what was previously work - music, into my "hobby". So... I'm still practicing piano/saxophone, nothing changed, I'm just pretending to have lots of fun practicing it.

I'm sure that's not exactly a "hobby" either but I'm still trying to familiar myself with this strange concept of "doing stuff for the fun of it."

Cathy (UK) said...

Lol - I love the video!

That said, I can totally see your point Carrie (and Fugu Sushi). I find it very difficult to have fun. Part of this is the ED mentality of not allowing myself to have fun (because in my mind fun = lazy/bad/useless person etc.), but I think there's sometimes also that issue of 'I don't know what fun is'.

My therapist advised that any exercise I do after maintaining an adequate and stable weight should be 'fun' and social - rather than a form of ritualised, exhaustive self punishment. I do have more fun nowadays, but I struggle with the idea of exercise being anything other than a ritual that 'must' be done in a certain way.

Laurel said...

It's so nice to know that what I feel and experience has so much in commone with others. Fugu Sushi, I had someone ask me too "what's your hobby"... that's so crazy. It was my boss trying to get me to step back and see what I was doing to myself. I think stepping out of the box is one of the most important ways to appreciate what ED does to us.

Anonymous said...

First of all, count me in! I play a *mean* rendition of chopsticks. Just make sure I supplement afterward b/c of all of that jumping! ;-)

I think you definitely do have a lot of company here, in the e.d. world and beyond. Especially with eating disordered people who have the perfectionist thing going on - how can you be THE BEST if you stop working for even an instant?! Plus, if you take time off, that might be (dare I say it) a form of self-care!

My therapist asked me a few months ago, "When was the last time you did something purely because you WANTED to?" I couldn't answer. So now I sometimes get "homework" assignments to do something just because I want to. lol Hopefully, in the future, I'll be able to give myself permission to do this!

I so glad you posted on this. Inspired by the fact that I left my T's office w/ a beanie baby last week, I've been trying to formulate my thoughts regarding the potential benefits of fun and "childishness" in eating disorder treatment for adults. Thanks for reminding me I need to do this!

Also, have you checked out the whole fun theory website? There's a couple of other great videos on there. :-)

Wendy said...

This is almost the opposite of what you are talking about -- but it's along the same vein.

It's interesting that my son, who also has anorexia, can't eat food now unless he thoroughly enjoys it. It hasn't always been this way. It's something that has changed throughout the course of treating his anorexia. It could be a result of intuitive eating or something else. But I think that he feels that the calories aren't worth the fat/weight unless he really loves every bite.

Last week he had a cold and was so congested that he couldn't smell anything (or consequently taste anything). I had the hardest time keeping him up on his calories for several days. In some cases he refused to eat things because he couldn't taste them. He went to great lengths to clear his congestion so he could taste again -- and then he ate more normally.

Wish I understood it all.


Crimson Wife said...

I wonder if this is one of the personality differences between those who suffer from AN and those who suffer from BN. I've never had a problem with enjoying pleasure in the moment but rather with the tremendous guilt afterward.

I've got a Lululemon yoga jacket I bought on impulse a couple years ago even though it was WAY beyond my budget. I feel obligated to wear whenever I get the chance in order to bring down the "per-wear" cost and assuage my guilt. At this point, it's irrational but I still feel guilty over the purchase.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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