Adventures in spontaneity

This Wednesday, I had a chance to practice being spontaneous. A friend from my now twice-weekly knit/crochet group texted me saying "Feeling knitty? Wanna meet at XX Deli for dinner and yarn?"

Wednesday is, of course, my Zumba class. I had been planning to go and shake my thang. But this girl had come to our newest group up near my place the night before, so I thought I should probably return the favor and drive down to hear get-together. So I rode my bike instead of shaking my bootie, and went to the deli.

It was really fun, but let me tell you, it stressed me out to no end. I had to navigate changes to my eating and my exercise routines (oh, the horrors!) on the same day with basically no warning.

I got to the deli--I had never heard of the place before, but apparently it's some sort of a chain--and had another freakout. The menu was huge. I had no idea what to pick. To make things even more interesting, they had a "Light 'N Healthy!" menu. Not ordering the so-called "healthy" or low-cal, low-fat items still stirs tremendous guilt and anxiety. I mean, what are the people behind the counter going to think of me when I order something from a different section?!? If one section of the menu is "healthy," then the other is (presumably) not healthy. Or less healthful. Or whatever.

I was anxious to begin with, and then I had to figure out what to order and all of a sudden, I found myself at the front of the line. So I ordered off the "Light 'N Healthy!" menu. I was literally like a deer in the headlights. I froze. The one little section of the menu at least narrowed down my choices to something manageable. By the time I got the sandwich, the side, and the free frozen yogurt (free froyo? Why yes, I think I will), it was probably equivalent to a "normal" dinner. The sandwich was pretty good, all things considered.

I have mixed feelings about how the evening went. On the whole, it was probably positive. I did something spontaneous. And social. I switched things up. The anxiety, however, was a pretty big sticking point. I know I shouldn't have ordered off the diet menu. That the decision (to go to the event, or what to order off the menu) shouldn't have sent me into panic mode.

I hate that things like this are still so stinking hard. I'm doing better, so much better, in a lot of ways. But having to make snap decisions and do things outside the norm still cause ridiculous amounts of anxiety.


Kate said...

It is funny how easily we adapt though it seems insurmountable when we commence. You are actually a lot further along the path than you realise. Having spent the last three weeks cathcing up on all your old posts, it appears to me that you have made considerable movement forward of recent times. It is only when you reflect you seem to be having those delayed reactions that once would have come sooner in, or even before, the event. The fact they come some time after is huge, Carrie. Huge!

hm said...

People have a million thoughts and feelings coursing through them all day long... I think that's normal... but people like us have difficulty regulating all those many thoughts and feelings. That's what causes anxiety for me- the inability to self-regulate. I think living healthfully is learning how to not act on dysfunctional self-regulating behaviors. So you had a great day, in my book- "light and healthy" doesn't mean "diet"- it just means not heavy and greasy and causing constipation- stop beating yourself up for it! Pat yourself on the back for a job well done, a day healthfully executed. Sounds like maybe your mind is still feeling "shaken" by all the changes that took place that day- and you are berating yourself to compensate for the anxiety you still feel. Instead, allow your mind to feel shaken, anxious, however it feels, but separate from the anxiety and tell yourself that you did good. (Forgive me if I'm completely off here!)

Gina said...

As my therapist (one of them, once upon a time) said, "Don't should on yourself." Maybe it would have been more "recovery oriented" to not order off the diet menu, and certainly it would have been nice to not have the anxiety bit, but you still went out to a NEW place, with people, messed with your normal eating and exercise routine and still had a mostly normal dinner. Eating disorder aside, as someone with general anxiety issues, that's a lot of disrupting routines. Pat yourself on the back, please.

Abby said...

Gina took the words right out of my mouth. In the past your night might have been spent restricting food over guilt in not being social and then going to Zumba to work off the meager calories you did eat (and the guilt.)

Was your night perfect? Nope. Did you slightly default? Maybe, but you still ate and knew you could supplement at home. But did you step out of your comfort zone? Yes, and that's huge. Next time--no diet menu, and there will be a next time ;)

Cathy (UK) said...

Well done Carrie :) I have big problems with spontaneity too. I like to have things planned, otherwise I feel that everything in my life is chaos.

I have worked out that what freaks me most is not the food at a social event (although I do have horrendous OCD and fear that food I am eating may be contaminated by people's hands, or it is not fresh unless I have bought and made it myself...), but the social event per se. I get anxious meeting people I don't know, and navigating a social situation that I don't know how will pan out.

Emily said...

Way to rock the 'going with the flow' approach to each day! I'm working on that too. Plans can change, and the world won't come crashing down. Thanks for sharing this experience. I'll remember it next time someone asks me out to coffee or something!


Emma said...

Don't be so hard on yourself, you did great. It's a huge step just being able to accept these spontaneous invitations. Anxiety is inevitable but the more you challenge yourself to do these spur of the moment things the easier it will get :)

AnaMia said...

Oh I have just started a blog about my struggles with ED, I completely relate to everything about your post. The mind games that take place when food and/or exercise plans must be changed...the fear, the "chatter" I call it--that goes on saying "I am lazy" and "fat" and completely undeserving of food and relaxation with a friend...I am in the same predicament today. I was planning on a zumba class, but an old old friend invited me out to dinner after our finals today. So my head is going nuts. As I have already given up my running shoes, and that was HUGE...I am here if you ever want to talk

j.m.r. said...

I'm about 2 months out of an intensive outpatient program - where I spent about 2 1/2 months - and one of my biggest struggles is still eating out and the spontaneity it requires. It's both comforting and unsettling to know you struggle still. Comforting in that I'm not alone. Unsettling in that you've been in recovery far longer than I. But, given what I know about how these go - the anxiety that comes with spontaneity - I'd say you are still doing quite well. You're sticking to your meal plan, I presume, and you're doing it with items that aren't always on your list of safe foods. Well done, Carrie. And thanks for sharing. Thanks for admitting that you are human.

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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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