I ran cross country and track in high school and college. I wasn’t a fast runner and I don’t think I ever really really loved running. But I did it anyway. Why? For so long.
It was long enough to convince myself that a day off from running meant extreme guilt. I felt so shitty about myself on days I didn’t run or exercise. I fused an almost unbreakable connection between exercise and self-worth. It has taken just as long to undo that connection. And it definitely hasn’t been easy. Exercise and I still battle it out a few times a week now. I still freak out that I will gain weight if I don’t exercise. Some times it feels like the world is literally crumbling around me if I choose not to work out.
I thought I’d share some things that have helped me let go of the need to exercise and exercise’s connection to being a worthy thin person:
THE BIGGEST ONE: Not exercising — just what it looks like, not engaging in extreme physical activity or any physical activity at all. *this is a hard one because for people suffering with depression or other mental health issues, it is often recommended that you exercise. For me, it was necessary to do just the opposite. I didn’t trust my body. I thought that one cookie meant I would gain five pounds. In order to trust my body I had to let go and not exercise and see that my body wouldn’t instantly revolt and gain weight.
*This also meant not exercising to “make up” for things that I had eaten
Unfollowing fitness bloggers or instagrammers or “healthy/clean eating” accounts: I realized that looking at these blogs and instagram accounts made me feel shitty about myself on a daily basis. Instead I followed body positive bloggers and health professionals dedicated to a HAES (health at every size approach).
Rethinking how I define exercise: I used to not “count” walking as exercise. Only strenuous activity like running or hot yoga or a HIIT workout. I am trying to redefine exercise as simply moving my body in a pleasurable way.
Rethinking why I’m exercising: it used to be all about burning calories and looking a certain way but not I try to focus on how it makes me feel and my intentions surrounding the exercise.
One of my favorite cookies growing up were nutter butters! Here is a version from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook that I have been dying to try for while. If I were to make this recipe again I would sweeten them up a bit. Surprisingly this recipe just wasn’t sweet enough for me.
Nutter Butters — recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
1 3/4 sticks butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 cups oats
1/4 roasted and salted peanuts
Beat peanut butter and butter together in stand mixer or with hand mixer. The mixture should be warm to the touch and be the consistency of mayonnaise.
Add sugar and mix for 2 more minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix till just combined.
Add all dry ingredients.
Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours.
Roll out and cut into desired cookie shape.
Bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
2 sticks butter
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon water
1/4 + 1 tablespoon egg whites
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons peanut butter
pinch of salt
Combine sugar and water in medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer.
Cook until mixture reaches 230 degrees F.
As the syrup continues to cook, add egg whites and remaining sugar.
Whip using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment.
Whip until loose peaks begin to form.
When the syrup reaches 248 degrees F remove from the heat.
Turn mixer with egg whites to medium speed and slowly, slowly pour syrup into the whites letting it fall between the whisk and the side of the bowl.
Increase speed to medium high and whisk for 15 minutes until the whites hold stiff peaks.
Add butter one tablespoon at a time very slowly until mixture is incorporated and looks smooth. If buttercream starts to curdle, just keep mixing, it will come back together.
Add peanut butter and it’s ready to fill the cookies with.