I believe in routine. It makes me feel safe, and it makes me feel productive. I also believe it’s one of the best things I can do to assist in my continued eating disorder recovery.
Not that you asked, but here is my morning routine:
4:30 to 5:30 am: Wake up. Make coffee in mini Italian percolator while concurrently frothing milk (start the coffee then the milk and they time out perfectly). Pour into pint-style glass and top with milk. Read book and check horoscope.
6:00 am: Leave the house for yoga. If the weather is good, ride bike or walk.
6:00 to 6:30 am: 2.5 mile bike ride. On the way, enjoy the sights of the early morning, such as:
Coffee shop employees loading the pastry case before they open
Union workers in neon green-yellow shirts headed to work
Bakery bread deliveries waiting on doorsteps…I’m always amazed that not more of these are stolen.
The city skyline from Washington Avenue
6:30 til 8 am or so: Mysore style Ashtanga yoga.
8:00 to 9:00am: Work way back home. Almost always see the Mambo Movers truck parked by Whole Foods.
My routine might sound odd to you.
You might think “Jesus Christ what time do you wake up?” (plenty of people do. I just wake up naturally at these times. Even on weekends. It’s a blessing and a curse.)
But I love my routine.
A better use of routine.
It used to be that my routines revolved around food.
Food had to be eaten at certain times. On certain plates. In certain quantities. Then, I’d have an extra special routine of counting how many calories I’d eaten, over and over. Once one meal was over, the planning would commence for the next time I’d eat.
I was extremely controlling about my consumption, and it consumed my life.
My eating disorder gave me a lot of busy work. It required planning my day around food, and the routines it required took up a lot of time.
These were unhealthy routines. They were not serving me.
My current morning routine is one of the ways I challenge my eating disorder.
I don’t think that having a routine is a problem. In fact, I think it can be a very good thing. However, the routines involved in an eating disorder are totally unhealthy.
So rather than try to remove routines altogether, what I’m trying to do is replace them with positive routines that serve me in bigger ways.
My morning routine revolves around yoga.
The routine I detailed above is centered around my Ashtanga yoga practice. I had gotten into Ashtanga led classes in Asheville, but lapsed when I moved to Philadelphia.
I revived my passion when I began doing Mysore style Ashtanga. To the uninitiated, this practice may sound kind of strange.
It’s self led and it follows the same set sequences. Why pay to do yoga that’s self led, you ask? Well, there are some compelling reasons why. For instance: the teacher knows the sequence inside and out and has expertise on every pose. They can watch and give you very specific feedback, really deepening your practice. So you get a lot more one on one attention.
Additionally, there’s something magically meditative about that room. It’s warm and like some sort of church but where you can people breathing loudly and with purpose. It sounds weird but the energy hits you like a wall. Not in a bad way.
Ashtanga is a vigorous practice. There’s actually quite a bit of literature out there about how Ashtanga is not a good thing for recovering anorexics, because it can be triggering. In some cases the recovering anorexic might be deluding themselves, claiming they have a “healthy” routine where really, they’re secretly using Ashtanga for some sort of compulsive exercise and as a mode of weight management.
I think that this is a very valid concern. I see the logic. And I do feel the compulsion to practice NO MATTER WHAT sometimes. But I try to keep myself in check: if I have a day where I feel under the weather but have that voice that says “but you HAVE TO,” I try to question it. Would yoga really serve me today?
However, I think that the rewards far outweigh the risk. Overall, this routine has allowed me to invest in things that are serving my mind and body, rather than spending my time engaging in food routines that go nowhere and give me nothing. The peace that I feel when drinking coffee and reading in the early AM hours, the joy that I feel on my early morning bike rides…these are such small but special moments.
I have felt extremely rewarded by establishing a routine that makes me feel so good and vital. It makes me wonder: what other negative routines could I eradicate, and what goodness could I replace them with?