The Many Hats of Me

Good Morning,

I realize I have, again, continued to be MIA for longer than I anticipated but I have good reason.

I was finally honest with myself and realized the bloggining community…at least the blogging community I was trying to fit in with…was hurting me more than it was helping.

Even those who write about recovery and seem so positive and uplifting, generally still have a lot of issues that need to be worked out, and were detrimental to my progress in the sense that I continued to compare myself with their photos, struggles, etc.

The people I know who are doing the best in recovery, and happiest in life in-general, are not those writing about it every day, isolated wherever their lap tops are located, but those out in the world actually LIVING.

I do not intend for the above paragraphs to be offensive in any way, just a personal observation and reason for my absense.

All that being said, why is it that I am now writing at 8:30 in the morning on a wednesday? 

Because I felt like it and I love writing.

I have written about 60 posts in the last two months that are either sitting in my documents folder or have been deleted because they didn’t fit into my old blogging “genre.”

I don’t have a genre, nor do I want to, but I do want to continue writing, whether it be publicly somewhere like this, or tucked away for only my eyes to see.

The past few months have brought about many changes in my life, and after a lot of reflection and some seriously difficult therapy, I can finally admit that the person I was most of my adult life was nothing like who I wanted to be. 

I think I, like many college and young twenty-something-year olds, I tried to wear a variety of different hats, because I had no freakin’ idea about my place in the world.

I felt lost in the shuffle because no longer did I have organized athletics, grades, part-time jobs, to fill my time and make me feel accomplished and it was now my responsibility to find a group of friends, a career and routine that worked for me as an adult, and obviously I did not handle it well.

I entered an occupation that was honestly perfect on paper, but was not meant for my talents and/or personal preferences.

I had about zero friends because all the people I spent time with in college moved out of my lame hometown. <—obviously I should have followed their lead 😉

OR I was the complete odd ball because who gets married at 21 and doesn’t want to have kids?!

Anyway, once I started getting in an isolated, depressed funk, it spiraled downward and I was not the capable of digging myself out of the hole.

I relied on my treadmill, cookbooks, and a calorie counter for entertainment and to determine my self-worth and it completely snowballed into poor health, even worse self-esteem and lonliness.

Fortunately I had Ryan by my side every step of the way and he reminded me of all I have to live for, but every day is a struggle.  (Um, or every week is a struggle if you count this one…)

I want to continue to write because I truly do enjoy it and I think my situation is pretty relatable to a lot of people; eating disordered or not, but I am going to reiterate something I have said in the past and that is that I don’t always want to write about food, exercise, etc. because there is a ton more to me than those things.

Personally I prefer Disney World to a pasta recipe, and I would rather dance my butt off to some Mark Knight than be on a treadmill, so when I do write, it could be tips on how to maximize your travel experience while minimizing the cost, or just posting an awesome podcast that is improving my mood.

It could be the fish taco recipe that Ryan raved was the best thing I ever made or it could be an incline work out that I didn’t think was totally lame and boring and that made me feel strong and empowered.

It could be about the killer deal I just snagged at H&M on glitter tights because obviously every woman should have a little sparkle in their wardrobe, or maybe even a devotional I read that really hit home that day.

Who knows, but regardless, I appreciate all the love and support you have given me through this process, variety of topics, and long periods of absence.  Without you, my husband and some very special friends, I don’t even want to think about where my life would be now.

So cheers, because today is a new day and a fresh start…and it’s only two days until the weekend 🙂

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Ice Cream Is The Answer

I have this friend, who is pretty awesome, and she and I have a saying.

Ok, well, two sayings.

“Music is the answer.”

Or, “Pizza is the answer.”

I don’t really think anyone can argue with those two statements, and I especially believe them to be true since music has pretty much been my savior during my recovery and there are many days when nothing satisfies me more than the crunchy italian specialty, BUT, yesterday I added something else to my list of “answers;” ice cream.

I have professed my love for make your own fro-yo, and of course my infatuation with Arctic Zero…and even expressed the joy that came from trying Butter Pecan ice cream for the first time when we were in Walt Disney World, but if I am being honest, despite the desires I have had for ice cream the last few weeks, they have pretty much gone ignored.

I mean, I didn’t run out to the store when my body said, “a cold novelty would taste really good right now…ice cream would feel fantastic on this pain in the ass sore throat I have had for weeks…”

I ignored all those signals my stomach was sending my brain because I was no longer on vacation and no longer deserved such an “indulgent treat.”

Well yesterday, my mom won a free room at The Borgata and treated me to a night at the Atlantic City hotel and Casino, and an outing to see Adrian Lux at Mur Mur.

Borgata 041

But before we slept in the amazingly comfortable bed, or danced the night away with one of my favorite DJ’s, I had ice cream.

Which, no pun intended, caused me to have a major melt down.

Post dinner, as we were in the room relaxing and getting ready I freaked out about the two scoops of Ben and Jerry’s I decided to have for dessert. (One of Frozen Greek Banana Peanut Butter and another of the Greek Blueberry Graham, both, eating disorder thoughts aside, are freakin’ delicious.)

Anyway, all I could think about was how weighted down I felt, how bloated and fat I felt in my clothes; how I was embarrassed because of my “gluttonous” choice after I had already had enough for dinner.

Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who reminded me that two months ago seeing a world-famous DJ and dancing for a few hours was completely out of the question due to my low body weight and concern from the doctors.

…Who reminded me that I do not need to exercise hours on end to “deserve” any sort of nutrition, even ice cream that I claimed had no benefit to my body whatsoever (FYI your body can use ANY kind of nutrient in moderation so there is no such thing as a “bad” food).

After my tantrum subsided I put some deep thought into the ridiculous statements I made to my husband, and the tears I shed to my mom, I came to the realization I am obviously not challenging myself enough.

Ice cream is still a challenge for me.

Even pizza I can only justify on nights we go out, or days I am allowed to exercise.

Like I said, food/nutrition is not only needed on days of excessive movement or caloric burn and that mind-set is just going to keep me stuck.

This means I need to a. try more fear foods, b. try them more often c. reframe the thoughts that come after.

This is by no means going to be easy, but I thought I would link up with a friend who is pretty new to the blog world but has a really great thing going…

Freedom From Fear Fridays.

My new friend Jessica is doing a really cool thing by encouraging others to join her in her quest to abolish the stigmas we have around certain foods.  Of course everyone’s recovery is different, and for some people fat may be a major fear while carbs are for someone else…

The point is, challenge YOUR fears…not just in the realm of food, but for life in general because it truly is the only way to conquer them.

Cliche I know, but absolutely true.

I am already brainstorming for this Friday.

Happy Tuesday my friends.  Make it an awesome week!!

Questioning My Motives

If I am going to be totally honest about my absence from blogging, it also has to do with the fact that despite my preaching on how you should not compare yourself to others, I am completely incapable of doing that.

In the past, all my favorite blogs have been about “healthy” food, diets and exercise. Many posted work outs my body could no longer handle in its previous frail state without risking major injury or a freakin’ heart attack, and many of the portions displayed were quite triggering because my stomach demanded way more than a container of Chobani and a handful of cereal for a meal.

I am still wrestling with this problem because my body is getting bigger, I am getting comfortable with a wider range of foods and a significantly higher caloric intake, but I am not working out nearly as hard as I used to.

Long gone are the days of 8 mile runs on the treadmill and heavy weights sessions with a trainer. And especially this weekend, when I was in Philadelphia during the marathon, all I could think about was starting to train again.

But a day later I started to self-reflect about the motivation behind my desire.

Was it truly because I loved running and couldn’t wait to join the ranks of my friends who get up at 4:00 a.m. to get in their planned out distance?

Typically, two nights out of my week I am only getting home around that time, after an awesome night with my friends listening to great music, which in my opinion is way more fun than being alone on my treadmill.

There is a huge part of me who does miss the short jaunts of 2-3 miles, outside jogging around South Hills with no real goals in mind other than getting some fresh air, feeling my lungs open, and exhilarating my legs, but if I am being truthful, the internal competition that would come with training for a long-distance race seems like it would set me back.

I DO have a genuine want to race alongside Ryan again, cross the finish line together, or have him cheering me on at the end, but because it was FUN, typically for causes we supported, and part of our travel repertoire. (Yes, Disney World 5K’s, you are my favorite 😉 )

It didn’t require me to stick to any sort of schedule, or have time/distance requirements that I, or another training regiment, set for myself. It was purely for the love of one another, a charity, and a hobby that made us both feel good.

There is a fine line between running for pleasure, and it becoming an obsession, for me. Not everyone has an addictive personality and many can absolutely handle rest days without guilt, shrug it off if they don’t necessarily meet every one of their expectations, but I am not yet there.

I have confidence one day I will be able to introduce running back into my life, but for now I am happy I am being honest with myself, only partaking in exercise I truly enjoy, for reasons other than that the activities are EXERCISE, and am trying to accept that strength does not JUST come in the form of muscle.

I am getting stronger every day…even if 5 pound dumb bells in front of the TV is all I can handle right now 😉

Who Knew Traveling Could Be So Much Fun?!

As I told you in my last entry, the blogging committment I held myself to on a daily basis was becoming detrimental to my progress in recovery.

And as much as that has made me feel like a “quitter,” and somewhat guilty; as often as I have really missed connecting with others, the break has been nice.

Why?

Because I have actually been LIVING!

I  used to write about living; share my pictures of our travels, music I enjoyed, my family, and a miniscule list of other interests, but after returning home from our annual trip to Walt Disney World, and EPCOT‘s Food and Wine Festival, I realized my version of living the last few years has been completely lame.

Cognitively I knew this to some extent, but I have recently come to understand that a vacation is not truly a vacation without ice cream every day.

…If that is what you want, of course.

What I mean in a more literal sense, is that life, and actually living, is about choice.

We are faced with thousands of choices every day, and for the majority of my existence my choices were dictated by a tyrannical asshole residing between my ears. <—and most of the time my headphones 😉

CJ didn’t really have much input, and actually lost touch with her true desires (yes, I am referring to myself in the third person here…) because ED took all the control.

I couldn’t remember what it was like to “normally” order off a menu because I was the annoying girl at the table telling the wait staff that I wanted a dry piece of fish with steamed vegetables…and then reminding/reiterating  that I meant everything had to be completely separate from anything that may contain oil or butter.

And a day without the gym was completely unheard of; even when we were on vacation and I knew we would be hiking, biking, dancing, whatever, later in the day.

This past trip to Orlando was different.

It felt completely unnatural to make choices based on what my body TRULY felt and WANTED, because it was the first time I can remember ever doing so…

…2 p.m. butter pecan tasted mighty delicious in that 80 degree weather…

…Sleeping until 6:30 so I had just enough time for breakfast, a pony-tail and brushing my teeth in order to make it to Toy Story Midway Mania pre-984548764 hour line…

These things were completely foreign to our typical Disney schedule, but they gave a wonderful sense of freedom, and were actually quite awesome.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

Every day was an internal, and sometimes external, struggle.

There were moments when I wanted to crawl out of my skin or rip at my stomach and pray that the bulge I was currently feeling could be removed, but I also had many moments of bliss, wonder and the magic I remember in times when I wasn’t so distorted and sick; when memories being made with my loved ones, were way more important than the calories I consumed at breakfast.

As hard as pushing myself and stepping outside of my comfort zone our week away (and weeks prior at home) have been, the glimpses of hope have been worth it.

I am hoping to keep this in mind as reality sets in now that the happiest place on earth is a good 16 hour car ride away, because I am nowhere near past the difficulties.

Coming home from our adventure also made clear that there are other aspects in my life that need to change.

Location is an example of this.

We have no concrete plan as of right now, but Ryan and I agree a move might be exactly what we need to start over, and for me to make another major leap into COMPLETE wellness.

I am physically a little better…well enough to make a drastic decision, I guess you could say, and there seems to be no better time than the present to seriously think about what we want out of lives as individuals and a family.

Neither Ryan or I have ever lived away from our hometown for any extended period of time, and although last year when my mom said she was selling her house I was terrified to leave everything I knew, that was more because the eating disorder voice told me all change was bad.

I wasn’t ready then…for anything…for recovery…for a body bigger than an 8 year old…for a bedroom other than the one I grew up in…or to believe that God was the only savior I needed in my life; rather than the “comfort” my rituals and ED behaviors were temporarily providing.

Moving would put me out of my element, but it would also present an opportunity for growth and improvement.

Like I said, there are no firm plans, but there are ideas, and open-hearts/minds in the Weaber household, which is more than I can say was the case in the past.

For now, in the spirit of Thanksgiving and the holidays, which I am not really used to spending outside the confines of a hospital, I am going to continue working on counting my blessings rather than calories, because what the last few weeks have proven is that life is way better with friends, family, music, and fellowship.

None of which seem to care how many miles I ran in the morning, or the circumference around my waist.

Happy Thanksgiving week.  Be back sooner, rather than later 🙂

Totally Torn

So even with everything that has been going on the last few days, I still went to my nutrition appointment for the week. And again, I have made “progress.”

I left the office feeling quite torn.

I know my weight now, which surprisingly did not impact me as negatively as I would have anticipated.

Yes, it is a way higher number than I am used to allowing body to be, but I am trying to look at the positives and I am not TOO far away from the point where Ryan and I agreed I could start jogging.

I know what you all are thinking…

“CJ, give it up on the gosh darn jogging.”

But honestly, I have a much better attitude about the sport, and it is no longer about the caloric burn but the challenge for my body and the sheer boredom of walking pretty much every day.

Not to mention, I love the thrill of competing against myself. I miss that little adrenalin rush and I am seriously looking forward to getting it back.

Runners out there, I know you know what I am talking about.

Anyway, so here is my “dilemma.”

I have to gain weight regardless of how fast it happens. My nutritionist, Ryan and myself all “agreed” upon a healthy place, where my body will function properly and it pretty much stands as non-negotiable. Scratch that, it is absolutely NON-NEGOTIABLE.

Right now I am chosing to gain a the slowest rate any professional would probably allow, and I was doing so because I felt I couldn’t handle a faster progression, but lately, there have been things that made me question whether or not I should try to speed up the process?

Obviously not at a ridiculously fast pace, but a more reasonable outpatient rate that would possibly get me to my goals; health, running, FREEDOM, etc. in a more timely fashion that next June.

I have to admit, my motive is not one hundred percent pure. I would LOVE to be able to participate in the Disney Princess Half Marathon. That is setting my sites super-duper high and the likelihood of it happening are pretty slim, but I am the kind of person that needs tangible motivation.

I can’t really see the internal benefits that are occurring from my weight gain. I certainly feel them and am very happy, but it’s not really a measurable way to determine progress.

I get sick of people focusing on a scale number, but in reality it is a way to help gauge the status of one’s health (please do not mistake this for being the ONLY way).

But I need a goal, and success should be rewarded in some sense. A race, and obviously a mini-getaway since I am totally ambitious to run another Disney race, seems like a pretty awesome prize.

So I am torn as far as if I should increase my meal plan and shoot for such a lofty goal….any thoughts?

Similarly, I mentioned my outlook on running has changed. And it has, immensely.

A few months ago I did not believe in walk breaks.

No way. Walk breaks were weak in my silly eating disordered brain, but after reading a bunch of article and the training plan published by Jeff Galloway, i realized how silly that notion was.

Walking is awesome! Yes I get bored doing it every single day, but your body does need rest! 13 miles is an incredible distance for your body to endure. I am sure there are plenty of people who can run the entire thing and for that I commend them, because that is quite a feat! But if I am lucky enough to participate in a half, ever in my lifetime, walk breaks are totally appropriate.

In fact, if the Princess half was in my future, I would not really have a time in mind for when I would like to finish. I have put my body through a tremendous amount of stress in the last few years and I should celebrate the fact that it still allows me to incorporate physical activity into my life. I would be proud just to say I finished, healthily, happily and wholly.

What are your thoughts on both these subjects?

Is there shame in walking during a race?

Activity Addiction And the Downward Spiral

Lets talk about exercise!

This is a topic I haven’t discussed much, probably because it is one thing I am still very much struggling with in my recovery process. I can say this pretty definitively because on Sunday, when we were out of power for a good portion of the day, all I could think was “oh my gosh I hope the generator turned on the upstairs so my treadmill works!”

Sounds pretty crazy right? I didn’t think “Oh no I hope the basement doesn’t flood, or trees don’t come down,” or worry about what to make for dinner when our ovens weren’t working. Instead, my first thoughts went to my upstairs treadmill and lack of exercise TV.

How can a person be this crazed about exercise?! Most people would love an excuse to miss a day, but for me, that would mean a near mental-breakdown!

Let me just take you back to nearly two decades ago, and my introduction to fitness…

When I was a little girl my family owned a gym, so I have been around them/activity pretty much my entire existence. I was on my first team at 4, and played organized sports until the end of college, and when I was in high school my dad put an elliptical and a treadmill in our basement because he wanted to get into shape.

I can remember going downstairs after school jumping on the elliptical and being dead tired in twenty minutes. I wasn’t used to this kind of equipment and it was totally different than chasing after a ball or running laps with friends. After a few weeks it got easier, and I didn’t mind the machine, but I thought the treadmill might be a good option to alternate on my non-elliptical days. I set up a little tv, turned up the incline and started to walk. Every day I would get home, have a snack and walk for a television program or two. I didn’t really keep track, just did it because it felt good and I could see a little more definition in my legs. What sixteen year old girl wouldn’t want that?

And then senior year I was dating the same guy I had since the summer going into being a sophomore. We had been in a long distance relationship for over a year, and I was really starting to get lonely. Being bored at night turned into another opportunity to get on the treadmill and watch tv.

*side note: I am not good at sitting. I have mentioned this before I know, but some people have asked, “Why do you need a treadmill to watch tv?” Well the answer is, I don’t but I preferred to watch it that way…maybe that should have been the first sign of the slippery slope I was falling down?

So now I started measuring mileage. I needed to do at least 3 miles a day to feel like I had done “enough.”
Then my eating changed. I didn’t have a scheduled lunch at school because I was a student assistant, so I always packed something easy to nibble during that period. Typically I would bring a bagel with jam and a piece of fruit, with yogurt and pretzels…anything I could find that wouldn’t bother anyone if I was consuming (I brought a sandwich once, and apparently no one appreciated onions). But when I started researching more about health and diets, and picked up some trendy fitness magazines, it said to eat more salads, have egg whites instead of cereal, chose this type of fruit over a more starchy fruit, etc. And so now I would pack a salad with vinegar (because it didn’t smell that bad!) some kind of fruit and maybe yogurt or pretzels, but the word bagel was no where to be found on my grocery list.

I also stopped eating waffles for breakfast. My mom and I had a tradition that she made me Mickey waffles every morning (a Disney freak like me has a few waffle irons in the shapes of different Disney characters! Cool, right?) and she would sit on my bed as I would be getting ready. This was our time to talk, and catch up, and totally be just the two of us. When I asked her to stop making me breakfast I think I hurt her feelings. But I didn’t care. I didn’t care if my salad was more difficult to eat than a bagel, or that I ruined a tradition that I had since as long as I could remember. I was going to be “healthier” and I needed to do it my way.

But back to the exercise…At that point in my life I didn’t know anything about competitive running, or obsessive calorie counting. All I knew was my daily walk filled my time and gave me a sense of stability and accomplishment, when as a senior, I was missing my boyfriend, trying to figure out where to go to school, juggling clubs, activities, and school work, and dealing with some family stuff that I apparently could not handle. I needed my treadmill and I needed it daily.

Then one weekend my boyfriend came home to visit, and although we only saw each other once a month, I still could not take time away from that damn treadmill to spend time with him. He actually accused me of putting exercise before him! Can you believe that?! Now I can and it wouldn’t be the last time I heard that in my lifetime.

Whenever I would visit him I would have a minor anxiety attack because there was no treadmill! I would beg him to take me for walks outside just so I could feel the sensation of movement.

Well the exercise, and judgment if there wasn’t exercise, led to more negative self-talk about other things, “You aren’t going to get into the school you want…your boyfriend is too good for you…you’re not pretty enough…” It went on and on and on. (Can you see how ED can seriously take over every aspect of life?)

I don’t know what helped me snap out of it. Maybe it was going to college, getting busier, and feeling like a productive, contributive member of society. I don’t know why I didn’t feel like that in high school? Or at least during my senior year, but the point is, the treadmill became my mechanism of coping with stress.

Four years later I apparently forgot the downside to obsessive activity because I reverted back to that same method my senior year of college. I continued my daily workouts the entire duration of school, but it wasn’t until my final year that I upped the anty. I switched from walking to running and got so competitive with myself, not feeling good enough, or stable enough in other areas of life, that I needed something that was constant, and a numerical way to measure a form of progress. And what was that…that would be the treadmill.

I’m posting about this today because I still have a long way to go in loosening up my relationship with exercise. I confirmed this this morning as I was getting super bored at mile 3, about 42 minutes into my walk but I couldn’t make myself stop. 

My physical activity today may not seem excessive, and for most people it wouldn’t be.   Four miles isn’t that far of a distance, and I wasn’t sprinting or anything, but it was the fact that even though I walk EVERYDAY, I could not give myself a day without reaching that mile mark.  Its the fact that I don’t grant myself days for rest regardless of my schedule, health, or physical need.

Is one day of walking 3 miles going to make or break your life? No, and maybe I should even consider taking a day where I don’t walk at all.  As a matter of fact, most professionals recommend those who are in recovery and have had past issues with exercise, to abstain from forced or excessive activity at all; not necessarily for the extra energy burned, but more so the obligation most feel to do it regardless of circumstance.

I was also thinking today about our upcoming mini-vacay to Disney’s Food and Wine Festival. I have never gone away and missed a day of exercise. When the gym was closed on my cruise ship because it was the day of disembarkation, I ran up and down the 17 decks of stairs that were accessible, for an hour. Keep in mind you have to be off the ship by like 8:00 a.m. so this was at 5.

There have been many times where we have been away, especially to places like Disney or Mohonk, where we are already racking up the physical activity with walking and cross country skiing but I still have to go to a gym, and see my distance on a machine. This is one of the two areas I have barely scratched the surface in working on when it comes to recovery, and I need to start setting some major goals to overcome these behaviors. Of the many things I have learned in my journey, and I have said this before, if you let ED in one part of your life, it allows him a hole to penetrate into others…I need to address balance and physical activity as soon as possible…maybe starting with that rest day I mentioned above?

Do you think exercise is addicting?

Any tips of tricks to creating a balanced relationship with physical activity?