The hammer has been dropped.
About a week or so ago, I was determined. Determined to challenge food rules. Determined to challenge training rules. Determined to challenge the eating disorder voice that had been running the show for the last twenty-one years of my life.
It’s a week in, and I’m still alive, still going, still eating, still fighting.
My husband commented to me that I get into these spurts of “I’m ready to recover! Like, REALLY recover!” And for a week or so, I’d be extremely motivated, buying Oreos in bulk and devouring sub sandwiches laden with cheese and mayo and meat. But then, I’d start choosing the sashimi over the fried fish, the frozen yogurt over the Ben and Jerry’s, the apple over the apple pie…and then I’d be back to square one. The major cause of my backsliding to eating disordered thinking is listening to the destructive thoughts that would run through my brain. What are these thoughts?
If you eat xxxx now, then you can only eat xxx to balance out all the fat and carbs you just ate.
You can only eat xxx because you exercised beforehand.
Don’t exercise when you have a full stomach. Or if you do have to eat before exercising, don’t eat too much fat otherwise you’ll feel sluggish and gross.
Only eat half of what you really want. That way you can eat the other half later OR if the kids don’t finish their food, you can at least eat their portions and then the total amount of what you will eat will be balanced.
Eating too many carbs on a day you’re not exercising is bad. What use will that macronutrient have if you’re not using it in the gym?
And these are just SOME of the thoughts.
And they are pretty ludicrous.
In all honesty, I hear these voices (and yes, there are more of them) pretty much 24/7. It’s mentally draining and the voice only gets louder the lower weight I get. So right now, the ED voice is pretty gnarly.
Despite eating more food and a variety of food during this past week, I still heard this voice. It was/is still consistently telling me that I should weigh out my chicken and spoon my peanut butter onto a scale. But I am not doing it. I am not eating only half a serving of popcorn or subsisting on rice cakes with PB2 for breakfast. I am making a change, and the biggest change this time around has been actively saying to myself the following:
I need to eat something that I would not normally eat in quantities I wouldn’t normally eat them in. And I need to do that everyday until my menstrual cycle is normalized, I don’t obsess over food, and the ED voice does not dictate my actions.
In other treatment programs (both inpatient and outpatient), I was always given a number, a weight to aim towards reaching. 110 pounds, 115 pounds, 105 pounds, 120 pounds. The numbers varied, and every time I’d hear a certain poundage, I would internally cringe a little. Why? Because I am a black or white thinker. If someone told me 110 pounds was my set point weight, 110.5 pounds was unacceptable. I needed to be exactly a certain weight, and if not, then all was lost.
And as much as I hate to admit it, weighing myself and seeing a number pop up on a scale is terrifying. I can feel the voice saying, “Hey, you gained a pound, that means you don’t really need to push yourself with eating today. Relax.” Maybe it was the fear of gaining and gaining and not stopping, or maybe it is/was the fear that I really had no idea where my body naturally wants to be at weight-wise (because that uncertainty is still troubling to me). Whatever the case, fear of a scale number is debilitating. So I am not going to use poundage to dictate my recovery. I am going to look at behaviors and physical functionality and positive thought processes to determine whether or not I’m truly “better.”
Obviously, a physically healthy body would be one where a female gets a period consistently and without the aid of drugs or medicine. My body is not that. I have not had a reliable, consistent cycle since before giving birth to my son who is now four-years-old.
A mentally healthy body would not fantasize over what to eat for dinner that night and breakfast the next day and the ice cream sundae she wants right now. My mind will wake me up at night to think about the meals I want to eat, the food I will prepare tomorrow, the food I ate previously. Hence, I am writing this post at 1:45am because I woke up at midnight unable to go back to sleep because I was thinking about the beef tacos my husband made me for lunch today.
My body is not quite healthy (to say the least).
But it’s getting there. Slowly getting there.
This past weekend I challenged so many of my food rules (and you can check out the deliciousness I ate on my IG account, @zentaistrong), and remarkably, I didn’t die. Yes, I imagined that my stomach had inflated to the size of a third-trimester pregnant woman’s, but in actuality, I still looked pretty much like me.
I had fears and doubts about the food I ordered, and so I checked in with my husband to make sure that what I knew I needed to do was what I should do (“Eat all the rice, right? Just checking.”). And when a meal became too overwhelming for me to order or cook, my husband stepped up to the plate and batted for me by putting together dinner or picking out the best dish to eat.
Overall, the weekend was a slight win for me, as I ate foods that I never dreamed I would have been able to in quantities that thoroughly scared me.
But I know I could’ve done better.
I could have ordered myself my own ice cream instead of splitting with the husband.
I could have gotten a caloric drink instead of water.
I could have bought a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin meal rather than settling for sushi for breakfast.
But rather than look down on myself with self-loathing and the “what-ifs”, I know that there is room for improvement. I have a starting off point. I am on the move.
Onward and Upward. My stomach, mind, body, and heart are ready.