You’re So Vain

Do you have an eating disorder because you want to be skinny?

No.

Honestly, that might be one of the biggest misconceptions about eating disorders and I would like to debunk that myth right now.

If I go back to the very beginning of my sickness; the root, when I was a little girl, I did ask my mom how to effectively go on a diet, but at 7 I was worried about what my family thought, not if society deemed me as having a nice body.  (Um, what is a nice body for a 7-year-old anyway?!)

When my grandfather told me I needed to cut out the ice cream cones because I was getting fat, I did so because I wanted his approval, I wanted him to love me, and thought if I continued enjoying my mixed cones with sprinkles I would no longer be acceptable to the people I looked up to the most.

When I realllllly started to lose weight and get sick in my senior year of college, things started spiraling downward as I trained for races, and my wedding grew near.  Sure, I wanted to look good in my dress, but my behaviors were not driven by a desire to be a skeleton.  They were more about feeling in control as so many changes within my life occurred, or punishment for my beliefs that I was unworthy as a person, and failing miserably as an adult.

Anorexia is not a disease of vanity, and it hurts me to think there are still people out there who believe that it is.  Although I cannot give you concrete proof this statement, I can tell you when I looked in the mirror at the time when my weight was the lowest, I still saw the same girl from college that I perceived as overweight and gluttonous.

Because of that, I either a. avoided the mirror or b. just considered myself the most disgusting/lazy person in the world and tried not to draw attention to myself.

Now, I still have horrific body image, even though I don’t look like I am knocking on death’s door.  Sadly, I am not alone.  Most people in recovery, despite the fact that they look 84576746 times better than when they were frail and undernourished (you do not have to be underweight to be undernourished, BTW) will tell you they feel like a beached whale 90%+ of the time, BUT I can see things a little more clearly, and I am trying to use this to my advantage.

Vanity was not the cause or the driving force behind why I used ED behaviors, but it is now becoming my motivation to get rid of them.

Let me explain.

I spend a lot of time at clubs on the weekends.

Women at these venues are freakin’ hot.

Some of my best friends are beautifully built, wear the coolest clothes, and although have their insecurities in certain areas (who doesn’t), exude confidence I think is super sexy.

Anyway, I love fashion.  I always have, but you would never be able to tell because the body of a child is not fitting into the awesome sequined dresses I frequently admire.

Many of my friends have gorgeous flowing hair that makes them look so feminine and can be styled in ways I could only dream of.

Mine breaks off at the end and has one option other than the boring, flat, variety I normally have going on.

And all of them wear shoes that belong on the runway, which I would have proudly worn as well, if you would have seen me pre-osteopenia; when I did not have back problems or constant pain.

Me Too Flats I love you, but I miss my favorite Patent Black Leather Wedge heels.

I am not saying you NEED to have the latest styles, tiny outfits and full locks to feel good about yourself, but if we are being honest, what female, or person in general, doesn’t want to feel physically attractive sometimes?

Of course it is the inside content, and our hearts that are more important, but like I said, if I am being completely open, I would like to feel pretty again.

Pretty to me is not always about body size…because as I have explained my perception of that is definitely skewed, or non-existent, but I would love to put on a dress and have it fit me in just the right places where I am excited to show my husband.

So my motivation for today; especially after I am feeling HORRIBLE about myself for chosing a very challenging breakfast, is that I want to feel strong, sexy, and maybe have shiny, rather than course and brittle hair.

Yes, the things I have written in this post are completely vain, and I do still believe confidence and a smile are the best accessories, but it is hard to look genuinely happy when you are cru-ngry and dead tired because you ran seven miles 6 days in a row.

On that note, time to take a little nap and start the weekend off right!

Happy Thursday!

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Oh My Goodness…NEW POST!

This feels weird.

Sitting down at my computer writing a post, since it has been over a week.

I love blogging.  I have told you that a million times before, but I am learning that sometimes in life it is best to take a step back from the things we enjoy and evaluate our reasoning for what purpose they actually serve.

I don’t think I articulated that as well as I intended, but perhaps an example might provide a clearer picture.

I used to love running.

I started running because it gave Ryan and I something to do together and we competed but in a way that was good for our relationship.  We pushed each other and wanted to improve but not in a destructive sense.

It then became an obsession.

I needed to be faster, go longer, do more in order to have the same positive feelings.

I started to exclude my husband and did races on my own.

I had to do it every day or I felt like a complete loser and a failure if my times were not better than the day before.

Ultimately, it was more of an addiction than a joy.

Anyway, blogging is not like running if you think of it in terms of my physical health, but my point is similar.

One does not die from being at a desk and typing away…even if a person would do that for hours at a time, but for me personally, blogging started to become more of a detriment than an asset to my recovery, because if I didn’t do it on a regular basis I felt like I was the worst journal-er in the universe.  I felt like no one cared and once again I was a big, fat, loser.  Since negative self-talk is NOT my friend, I needed to take some time and figure out what I wanted to do.

I don’t want to give up writing, and I certainly don’t want to eliminate connecting with others; since I have made a ton of friends through this medium and absolutely love helping others by sharing my experiences, but right now I am going to set some boundaries to protect myself, and my own journey because there were aspects of Healthy, Happy, Whole that need to change in order to maintain why I actually started doing this.

So first, just like in many treatment centers, I don’t want to talk numbers.

I LOVE when readers e-mail me, and I truly appreciate the reach out, but a caloric plan that works for me, most likely will not work for you.

Everyone has different needs, various activity levels, dietary requirements and I am certainly not in the position to give advice on any of those things.  I am not a professional, nor have I succeeded at the whole weight-restoration process before.  (I am working on it now though!!!)

As I have done in the past I suggest if you do need more information on meal planning and specifics, please see someone who is licensed and qualified.  They will be able to asses you physically and give you a better idea of what your daily goals should be.

I KNOW…trusting a stranger that is telling you to break all your rules is super scary and you read all these forums that tell you about a Buddha belly and how people gain weight so fast, but I can assure you everyone’s situation is going to be different.  I know plenty of people who never got an inflated tummy…who could barely gain a pound a week…

Your body will respond to treatment and nourishment however it NEEDS to in order to survive.

I am trying to remember this, as well, so please don’t think I am being mean or harsh by stating I cannot discuss my numbers.  I am just trying to be mindful of what will help me, and what I think might help you in the long run, too.

Second, there is a TON more to me than my eating disorder.

If I could tell you the amount of interests I have outside of food and exercise you might be stunned!

Stunned because all I ever talked about on here WAS diet food and physical activity; maybe a bit about travel and my family, but not much else.

Well let me tell you what.

I also like to be-dazzle things.

Yes, I made this sweet cup! I wish you could see the bottom!!!

I like to plan parties.

I like to see my friends on a regular basis.

Watch TV.  (HOMELAND?! I can’t believe I did not watch you sooner!!!)

Read.

Pray.

Practice my faith.

Be outside.

Color.

I mean, really, the list goes on.

I am hoping you all aren’t too bored if I start discussing more of my daily ventures, but they are a huge part of me, so I am done keeping them hidden and I want to explore MORE.

Time to look at recovery as an adventure, not a chore.

I hope you all have been well.  I really have missed my bl-iends, and I am ready to be back!  Maybe not as regularly, but definitely every now and then to give you some tid-bits and tips that are helping me, maybe to share in some of my struggles when I need support, and to show you that life is something to celebrate.

Le Dolce Vita, my friends.

Life is sweet.

Get Ready!

Today was my last day of work for a while and it was CRAZY! Non-stop bill paying, money counting, depositing, dotting “i’s” and crossing “t’s,” whatever you want to say to describe the random tasks that swept through my office in my 9 hour presence.

This was a good thing in some respects because it didn’t allow me much time to acknowledge how terrified I am to start program tomorrow.

I opted to do a partial hospitalization so I could sleep at home and not, once again, be hours away from the man I love, but I have to meet some pretty strict rules and stipulations in the next few weeks for the professionals on my team to allow me to continue down that path.

Initially, they suggested me going to the Denver Eating Disorder Clinic because apparently it is one of the best in the world, but I am a firm believer that it doesn’t matter where I am, I have to put my best foot forward and kick this thing once in for all.

I can definitely admit I needed a little extra help/support, but if I am willing to make the necessary changes at home (which I am!) then I HAVE to give it a shot, because I KNOW I am strong and can conquer this disease.

How is that for confidence, right?!

Anyway, I just wanted to stop in and say hello and fully admit the fear I have about tomorrow…the lack of treadmill usage…the foreign foods that will enter my body…and a caloric amount that makes my heart beat a million miles an hour with anxiety.

So please, wish me luck, friends.  You guys have been amazingly helpful and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all your kind words 🙂

Happy Tuesday!!!

The Best Advice I Have Ever Received

I used to think asking for help was weak…pathetic…and admitting that I wasn’t an adequate human-being.

This didn’t get me very far, nor was it conducive to a healthy lifestyle, and finally my world came crashing down around me, leading to four years of hospitalizations, conflicts with my loved ones and a nearly destroyed body.

When someone told me the strongest thing I could possibly do WAS ask for assistance with my struggles, I partially laughed because it seemed so ridiculous, but at the same time felt immense relief because all I wanted at that moment was a hug and someone to aid in lifting me back up to the happy life I once knew.

For months people have been encouraging me to seek help; go to professionals who could dig me out of the hole I, and ED, have put me in, but I truly thought I could do it all on my own.

Lately, as much as I have been challenging myself and doing better, it just isn’t enough.

This morning I went to my specialist and am beginning a program immediately.

I want to continue blogging through this journey because the connections I have made with people in the virtual universe are very special to me and I think this can be a great forum for support.

I just had to be honest today and let you know that even though I fooled myself and truly believed I was strong enough to defeat my demons; it was just another mask ED put up to keep me sick.

Don’t wait as long as I did.

Get your life back today, and ask for help when you need it.  I wish I would have followed that fabulous advice.

But since I didn’t, happy monday, friends…what better time than now, for a fresh start?

Volcanic Eruption: Emotional Overload!

I have been an emotional nut bag lately.

Its kind of weird because before I never cried, rarely got mad, and kind of kept to myself when any sort of feelings got uncomfortable, but now they just sort of emerge and I have trouble keeping them at bay.

After my snack the other night I had a bit of a freak out, put my head in my hands, knees to my chest, and just cried.

That is not normal in the non-ED world, and as I refused to talk to my husband, since to be honest, I didn’t really know what the hell was going through my mind; he just went upstairs and waited for me to come to bed to chat when I was ready.

No one likes to see their loved ones struggle, especially when there isn’t much they can say or do that will help, so I do feel bad when my family has to deal with these awkward times when I can’t really articulate why I am physically displaying emotions they aren’t used to.

The truth of the matter is, I think this is a good sign.

Using ED behaviors was a way for me to numb and suppress all the things I had inside. Typically when those coping strategies are taken away, the rawness is revealed and my true self starts to emerge. This tends to be a bit chaotic at first; almost like an explosion since I don’t really know the healthy way to express feelings that are so unfamiliar, BUT, what I explained to Ryan and what I have to keep in mind is that this is totally temporary.

I wont have mood swings like a pregnant lady forever…it is just until I form a healthy relationship and eliminate the negative thinking I used to relate with crying and anger, that everything will start to level out.

I look at it like my meal plan.

If you ever talk to someone who throws themselves into recovery and commits completely to eating what they are supposed to, their metabolisms can rev and appetite shoots through the roof.

When I was in the hospital and they actually started feeding me thousands of calories a day, despite the hefty portions at breakfast, I was always ready for lunch when it came around because my body thought I would soon starve it again so it needed to store up on nutrition.

Fortunately I was in a safe environment and had professionals around to support me as I truly believed my body was rebelling and providing some mean form of torture by WANTING the 6,000 calories it was consuming.

A good bit later, when I got home and my weight was MORE normal, the cravings kind of subsided and I ate meals similar to my husband.

The point is, our bodies know us pretty well.

It is absolutely natural for a person to HAVE and SHOW their feelings and is actually quite appropriate in many situations. That is just a difficult concept to grasp for someone who is obsessed with being in control of their lives, and when these uncommon tears and rage start coming, you kind of feel like the Hulk.

So similar to the scenario described with the food, emotional expression means a person is positively responding to the recovery process; no longer completely anesthetized to the world.

As soon as you start to acquire an “insane” desire for more food…as soon as the flood gates open or you start stamping your feet like a five-year old just because you are mad your husband asks you to have another serving….as soon as those things start to happen, you can rest assured you are on the right track.

Just don’t be like me in the past who starts experiencing these things and runs in the opposite direction, because I promise you are actually re-gaining the control over your life despite what ED tells you, and your support system will understand.

…Afterall, you are on your way to becoming the you they have wanted back all along, red-nose and screaming fits aside.

We Only Have One Life

Healthy Living Summit was awesome last year for so many reasons but mostly because I met some of the most wonderful women in the world.

One of those fabulous females actually lives less than an hour from me and we try to get together as often as we can….even though it not nearly as much as I would like, but this past Tuesday Lauren and I had a date for a casual dinner at Wegmans, a little catch-up session and fro-yo from one of my favorite places in the world, Sweet Frog.

As excited as I was for my beloved fro-yo, I was so thankful to finally get to see my friend.

This might sound weird but the second I met her last year I felt an instant connection, and honestly every time we get together it doesn’t feel like much time has passed since our previous encounter. Those are the signs of a true friendship and I am really grateful to have her in my life.

Anyway, from reading my posts, and because I think she knows me pretty well, she picked up on the fact that I am struggling right now.

Granted I have been doing significantly better the past week or so at keeping up with my exchanges and listening to my body when it screams, “TAKE A NAP,” there is still a tremendous amount of mental turmoil that comes with doing the “right” thing and feeling like my body is expanding at an exponential rate.

So as we started talking and I tried to pretend everything was fine, I finally just thought, who am I kidding?

What do I have to hide right now?! I am a visible disaster.

I feel horrible because I probably monopolized the whole entire evening asking her advice, giving her my sob story, etc. but she made me feel so much better.

“You only have this one life….”

As she said those words and told me of all the things she was currently doing I couldn’t help but feel a bit jealous; not in a bad way, but in a form of motivation because everything she is doing I could only ever dream of if I was healthy.

Unfortunately the reality of staying sick means I will also be stuck.

I will be trapped forever in a place of loneliness, depression, anxiety, fear and essentially adolescence.

As much as I like to believe I can take care of myself, I have proved that that is certainly not the case.

I owe Ryan the world because without him these past three years, I could easily be dead.

That is a sad truth to face, but if we are being honest, an eating disorder is no joke and is extremely life threatening.

I didn’t sit across the table from Lauren worried about the box of food I was eating, or the amount of toppings I selected for my dessert.

I sat across from her thinking, “omg she is right, and time is too precious to waste.”

I am 25 now and I swear the years go faster the older I get.

I would prefer the second half of my twenties to be better than the first; for me and my loved ones, and how that can happen starts with a bite.

Sounds weird, right?

Something as simple and as necessary as food is the initial step into regaining ME, but that is where I have to start.

And I will do it one Clif Mojo at a time, because I only have one life.

Since it is Friday, please tell me what you are doing to celebrate your LIFE today, this weekend, daily?!

We all deserve to be fulfilled, and I am worth every calorie. (Yes, I need to repeat that to myself multiple times to get through the day, but at least for now its working 🙂 )

Happy Weekend!

Distortions Other Than With The Body and Food

I felt kind of guilty last night as I was reflecting back on yesterday’s post when I said Ryan was the only person in my life to display unconditional love, because that is not entirely true.

I haven’t really discussed my relationship with my uncle on here, partly because he sometimes reads it and I don’t necessarily know how comfortable he is being talked about in a public journal, but he is someone who is very significant in my life and there has been something weighing on my mind a lot concerning our recent lack of connection.

My mom and biological father (John) did not end up working out and up until I was in my early twenties I had never heard from, met or spoken with the man.

He  and I made personal contact twice and that was about it so obviously that wasn’t meant to be, but it didn’t really matter to me considering I already had two men I looked to as dads; my Poppy and my uncle.

Since my Poppy didn’t really come into my life until I was a teenager, I have to give a lot of my upbringing credit to the second man on that list who I love more than I can say.   

He was kind of like my world because we lived under the same roof for a while and I have bagillion awesome memories of playing games, watching my favorite Disney Afternoon, overall just having a blast, but more importantly of him being my rock during some very difficult times in my life.

We were extremely close for many years and I honestly couldn’t have pictured my life without him.

But lately things have changed.

In fact, in the past year things have been drastically different from the Uncle Dirt and C Mouse J (yes we have corny names for each other) that I so fondly remember, but I know there is a reason.

…it just took Ryan helping bring me back to reality to understand that.

You see after writing yesterday’s post, I discussed with Ryan my appreciation for his patience and presence throughout these amazingly strenuous years and expressed how I felt deserted by almost everyone else in my life.

ED loves to bring up my deep rooted issues of abandonment and how it confirms in my mind that I am completely unworthy as an individual, and so now that it is basically just me and Ryan in this fight, I feel that the rest of my kin have deemed me the loser who will never get better and has given up hope.

Here is the thing:

I don’t really ever ask for help, other than from my poor husband, and I am the master of pushing people away.

Eating disorders and addiction are diseases of isolation.  They absolutely thrive on rituals, habits, and destructive behaviors that are most easily performed without the interruptions of others, and I have engaged in those things for so long it has given the signal to just leave me the hell alone.

…And that is the LAST thing I want sometimes.

Sometimes I just want to be and feel loved, and that can only be achieved by me being open and willing to change.

The distortion that my uncle has abandoned me is just about as ridiculous as my thoughts that my thighs expand at the table.

My family still loves me, they just don’t know how to help and hate watching me hurt myself, and only I can bring them back.

It is all up to me.