The Truth

I got an e-mail the other night with a question that made me think I am not necessarily giving the WHOLE picture of what my process is like at this current moment.

She asked how I am dealing with the weight gain because that is an aspect of her recovery that is proving to be a major challenge.

Honestly, the increased body size SUCKS.

Like it, f*cking sucks.

I use the F-word here because I don’t know if I can accurately convey to you how much I HATE the FEELINGS I have about my tummy pooch and an increased number on the scale.

And if I am going to completely confess where I am today, in this moment, I am not handling the poundage well.

My two past posts have been pretty positive, and that is because I was feeling great when I wrote them.

I am not feeling completely horrible or hopeless today, but last night I would be omitting a major truth if I did not tell you I actually pounded my fist on the floor in frustration because I felt like a lazy-ass for sitting around watching Christmas movies all day, and basically sleeping most of Saturday.

As Ryan looked at me with annoyance, because my progress is not nearly as fast as it should be, I kept telling him, “If only I could gain the weight healthily!!! I just want to have muscle and stop eating junk, and have nice arms, and look nice in clothing, and not have these rolls on my stomach, and….”

The list went on and he tried and tried to reframe but my mind was made up; I was a fat load and all I would ever want to eat was cookies.

Looking back I can be a little more rational and say I do like cookies, and I do have a cookie, or another sweet item (at least) once a day.

I like to end my meal with something delicious and dessert-y, probably because in 20 years of my life, I never did so.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and this does not mean my diet is only junk food.  In fact I made a pretty healthy, balanced and delicious Chicken Tortilla Soup last night for dinner, inspired by my favorite celebrity chef, Rocco Dispirito, but at the time I was having my little temper tantrum, cookies were all I could remember, and fat was all I could feel.

On a happier note these moments of irrationality are getting less and less frequent, but I still have way more pounds than I would like to admit to go and that means there are going to be some rough days.

Can I do it?

Yes.

Will I do it?

Yes, but kicking and screaming because my brain is still pretty warped by the ED mind-set.

I don’t really have an answer to the question of how to effectively deal with the weight-gain because I still struggle with that problem myself.  Talking to someone about it helps; someone you trust who will help remind you of all you are working for, but I can’t guarantee you will see the light at that very moment, just pray it will pass and keep doing the RIGHT, HEALTHY things, you know in your heart YOU NEED to get back on track.

I know it will be worth it, because the best things in life don’t come for free, but that does not make this process any easier and I totally get that, but for those of you out there in the same boat as me, or who are dealing with something else that is equally as challenging, remember you are not alone and support is literally, your best friend.

Happy Monday, loves.

Rock-Bottom?

Eating disorders are full of paradoxes.

My thoughts and actions often contradict one another, or themselves, because my life is dictated by two voices (Ok, I sound crazy here, forgive that description), which I often personify as ED and CJ.

CJ desperately wants to be a healthy individual and always has, but the negative portion of my brain has been too loud for far too long and most times totally warps reality, obviously.

I will be completely honest here and tell you what you probably already know; I want to rid myself of this horrific lifestyle, but the thought of gaining weight and feeling out of control is terrifying.

Since we have been home I feel like I have ballooned up a gazillion pounds, and I am starting to panic.  Scientifically Ryan continues to remind me that isn’t really possible, but between it being the week before my most dreaded time of the month (meaning edema and an obsession with chocolate and nut butter…) and being back in the stressful environment I call work, my body image sucks.

I look in the mirror and see someone disgusting and expanding by the second, but paradoxically sometimes when Ryan touches me, almost wincing when he comes to a jutting bone, I know I am completely ugly and sick-looking.

I want to be the girl I was in college when I was a pretty “normal” eater, with a great appetite for food and also life, and didn’t really think about lunch beyond “man, that was good.”

I was reminded of this when one of my lovely friends at work sent me a picture she found when I was at a good point in my adult-life and pointed out how much happier I looked physically and in spirit and it made me sad because that is all I want, I am just very fearful of what it takes to get there….

…the awkward body shape before the weight redistributes, the emotions that gaining weight could invoke (I have a lot of issues with family and weight gain…comments from when I was a child that made me feel inadequate or unacceptable, etc), and the remarks people will make along that way that typically send me into a tailspin…

Of course the phase of the Buddha belly and strange looking limbs is pretty temporary, but it still sends me in reverse anytime I make progress.  So last night while laying in bed, and  crying (literally crying which is happening more lately but pretty odd for me) about how I don’t know if I can do this, Ryan asked me what it would take for a change to occur?  Would it have to be a major medical issue?  Death?  Would he have to leave and walk out the door for me to realize everything I was doing isn’t worth it?

A very scary, but valid question.

…I have to backtrack a bit and tell you about our final day of vacation…

We stayed one evening off the ship in Genoa, Italy, so we were not rushed around after disembarkation to get to our plane.  As we explored the city and enjoyed the sites, we reminisced about the past that was really quite spectacular before all the hospitalizations and crazy food rituals.  We also talked about the future and the picture-perfect Weaber life.

He has so many goals for us and really wants to go back to school next spring in order to start making them happen, but he is terrified to leave me for such an extended period of time.  He knows my history and even on night shift I tend to perform poorly on the recovery front.

“I might have to stay at my parents when I go back to school,” he said in a very small voice.

A few days earlier I told him I knew I made him put off continuing his education for a while and that I no longer wanted to be the reason he wasn’t enrolled, so he needed to go back regardless of my condition.

“I don’t think I could give school my everything when I came home to something that reminded me so much of a patient everyday….it is too preoccupying and I would worry constantly.”

I really don’t blame him for these thoughts and actually, I have been quite blessed to have someone stand by my side through these past three years of hell. 

He assured me it would only be a temporary move until he finished his studies, but that if I didn’t make a change soon, demonstrate my journey was going in an upward trend, him moving out would have to become reality.

That is the LAST thing I want.

Some of my other underlying causes of why I punish myself have to do with abandonment (I will absolutely save that topic for another post) and Ryan has really been the only person in my life to demonstrate that he unconditionally wants me for me, so why am I engaging in behaviors that push him so far away?

I have explored and discussed my beliefs of why I am the way I am in my relationship in past entries, but would him physically leaving be the only thing to inspire me to get better?

I hate to think so, but that could be my rock bottom.

I pray to God I don’t need to get there in order to do the right things, but this has been running through my mind for a week, and I am scared.

Question: If you have been through recovery or a rough time, did it take a “rock-bottom” experience to make you change your ways?

My Apologies And Asking For Advice

I am going to be honest and say I felt very conflicted about comments and e-mails I have received the last few days.

As always I am incredibly appreciative that people took the time to read, and reflect on what I wrote, and then provide their insight and opinion on my health and situation.

One of the best things about the blog world is the connections I make and when a bl-iend makes a suggestion for my recovery I try to take into careful consideration and re-evaluate what is truly going on in my world.

The first time I really had to do this was after The Healthy Living Summit when I got a pretty negative e-mail from someone saying things that were very hurtful, particularly about my denial of my problem, but ultimately helped me immensely.

From that point on my recovery efforts became way more authentic and substantial. Before and during the conference I truly thought I was doing the right things and pushing so hard, but from an outsider, or non-ED prospective, I was still pretty wrapped up in addiction.

This person helped me realize I lie to myself a lot. Not intentionally, and I would never intentionally be untruthful to any of you, but sometimes the distortions in my mind seem very real.

My perception of things is totally off and in my alternative universe I consider having a slice of pizza a major feat, even though calorically I need more. My brain says, “OK, CJ, you did great by having that super challenging food, so that is he best effort you can possibly give…who cares if you are a bit short on the meal plan?!”

Reality: it is great to challenge something scary, but that does not negate the numerical amount needed to gain.

Recovery is all-encompassing and multi-faceted, which I guess means you cannot chose to tackle one thing at a time and ignore the others.

Anyway, the reason I am bringing up the summer scenario of being told I was a “recovery-faker,” is because I am questioning if that is the case now.

Like I said…I am not a deliberate phony, but I know I can trick myself into thinking I am doing so fabulously when not much has changed, and what I mean by changed, is an increase in health, weight and happiness.

My treadmill time has decreased; awesome.

My fear food list is getting smaller; great.

My weight is not really going up; fail.

And as much as kicking an ED is not about weight gain or the food, initially, a lot of times it is, because for our loved ones, and medical professionals, it is the only actual gauge they have to measure progress.

So many of you seemed frustrated with me in the recent past and I get it. I am the student I got so upset with during my days in CLIIP; the one that made excuses, wanted everyone to do the work for them, constantly making identical mistakes even though they preached things would be different this time.

Well as Ryan said to me this morning; the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over, expecting different results, and perhaps that is why eating disorders are such mental conditions, because I cannot seem to get out of this rut.

For those of you who have had trouble altering a bad habit but then became successful…do you have any good tips on how to stay motivated, accountable or implement a lasting change?

I seem to stay strong for short periods of time and then get a bit lackadaisical, so although I do have a relatively good arsenal of knowledge as far as what I SHOULD do, maybe ideas on how to “talk myself into” actually doing those things, and sticking with them, could be helpful.

Thanks for always being honest, and encouraging, even if I am incredibly difficult to read.

Guilt-Gut

Oh guilt.

Guilt, guilt, guilt, I hate you so much.

I get a lot of e-mails from others who feel the same way, because one of the worst aspects that comes with attempting to recover (actually, it happens during the ED too) is the feelings that come up from not engaging in the rituals and rules I wrote about yesterday.

I have explained this before but when you are in a program or hospital, you are being told what to do. You have a specific meal plan, menus are prepared days in advance and when the tray arrives you eat it, or there is some sort of consequence.

Do you still feel guilty after eating the food that is given, and not being able to exercise or have other comforting outlets?

Absolutely!

My journals from pretty much everywhere I have ever been would fully explain the horrific feelings that do still happen, even though you are being “forced” to comply with non-ED rules.

BUT, the guilt is a little different from what I feel when I CHOOSE to do the “right” thing on my own.

For some reason I can justify a “challenge carb” more in a program than I can in my own kitchen and it makes it super difficult to make progress.

There are fewer options in a hospital, you are being watched, others patients, your friends, are they’re doing the same exact thing, and being supportive just by being there; you are not completely defying the weight-loss crazed society that at home, I just can’t escape.

In the Weaber household, it is me plating my food. I have the control and if I deviate from what I have always considered “acceptable” there is mental hell to pay.

Like I said, you aren’t completely free of this, even when someone else is taking care of the decisions and making up your meals, but it is at least somewhat calming to know it was not all you.

Maybe this makes no sense at all, but I am hoping some of you can relate.

Anyway, where does that leave me?

I can’t ask Ryan to be with me every single meal, dictate what I MUST eat and enforce negative consequences if I elect to defy. It is not feasible with our schedules and more importantly, it wouldn’t be fair to him because I am pretty much a nightmare when I feel out of control.

Little side note: I actually threw a butter packet at a staff member when I was in the hospital…not a very proud moment, at all.

He doesn’t deserve the screaming, the yelling of “I hate you,” as I have done in the past. He is already working his hardest to keep me focused on recovery, and this is not how a marriage should be. My husband did not sign up to be my babysitter and it would be even more exhausting for him than it is living with me now. (Is that even possible?!)

So I guess that means it is up to me.

I have an outpatient team, and a program is really not an option for me right now, nor would it work.

Like I said, clinics do help alleviate some guilt, but they haven’t worked for me in the past. I have been to four different places and I am almost back at square one…so in my opinion they just eat up time, money, and mental capacity.

So, IT IS UP TO ME.

I really have to be proactive.

I have to defy all the conventional beliefs of the media, and our world in general, that gaining weight is such a horrific thing.

Honestly, I am scared.

Scared that I can’t do it.

I am scared that I will hate myself and my body even more than I already do and be so miserable I won’t be able to stand it.

I am scared people will make comments and think I am an unworthy person with a weirdly shaped, fat body.

I am just plain scared.

But I am also scared of losing the ones I love, so I guess I need to weigh the options.

Which would you chose?

P.S. Sorry for so many similar posts lately, it just seems like I am so wishy-washy in my mind. One minute I am gung-ho, NEED to get healthy for me and my family to survive, and the next I am petrified and hesitant, half-assing my effort. I hope it isn’t as annoying for you, as it is for me.

❤ you all!

Why Wait?

In college I remember sitting in my American President’s class, listening to a lecture about John F. Kennedy, shocked that he often joked about his office, “why do today, what I can put off until tomorrow.”

Interesting considering he had a pretty important job at the time…

Even though my career is nowhere near as significant as the Executive of the U.S., I don’t operate like that.

I don’t like to end my day in the middle of a task, and prefer to accomplish as much as I can, in case something comes up that would prevent me from staying on my exact schedule, or meeting deadlines.

Let me stress that I am like this AT WORK.

In my personal life, I am a different story.

Actually I should say, my recovery efforts, are a different story.

My dietician from the residential facility I was in a few summers ago was nice enough to send me a meal plan and sample menus that were designed a bit differently than my current one, because as the past few weeks have demonstrated, the current one is no longer working.

It is too focused on calorie counting and that has proven to be more of a harm than a help, as of late.

Since I really trusted my Tennessee nutritionist, and I still consider her a very good friend, she was the one I called when I started to slip and Ryan began to panic.

I was excited and rejuvenated by her ideas, and daily calendars of entrée and snack ideas…until I was actually supposed to start implementing them.

It was going to be so great, counting nutrients, eating foods I remember loving when I was in their program, being on the right track to getting healthy…

…and then breakfast came and I sat down to the same thing I always choose.

“No big deal, I will make up for it at snack.”

“Oh darn I have a nail appointment, so I will add extra at lunch…”

“I am kind of in a hurry, so this afternoon I will make sure to get everything I need…”

9:00 PM and I still hadn’t necessary accomplished my new goal.

“Oh shoot, I will do better tomorrow…”

Did I?

Yes, but not by much.

So much for jumping right in and putting forth my best effort to get healthy.

Why is it that I want to excel at my career? In athletics? As a wife, sister and friend? But I don’t care about doing something that will ultimately better myself, and allow me to improve at the things I just listed?

I wish I had an answer.

I know a lot of it has to do with fear, but being scared of the unknown, and a life without comforting unhealthy coping mechanisms, is not going to go away overnight, so why I believe putting off my recovery plan is a good idea, or that the process will somehow miraculously get easier in a matter of 24 hours, is simply illogical. In fact, I can attest to the fact that the deeper and longer you venture down the distorted path, it gets more difficult to dig yourself out.

Do I think that Ryan and the rest of my family will somehow forget that I need to gain weight? Or just give up on their quest to help me return back to the spouse and family member they once knew?

I can assure you that wont happen, so really I am just prolonging what HAS to happen in order for me to LIVE.

I have argued that I can easily sustain myself the way I am now…

I mean I am not my lowest weight ever and I can function in society pretty well…

But really, do I want to go through my days worrying about every single thing I put in my mouth, berating myself for a lack of control if I don’t remain within the parameters of my sick meal plan, or exercise what my twisted brain deems as enough?

Not really.

Some times I might say I do, when I am really stressed and I get five minutes of sanity from my unhealthy habits, but 99% of the time, the dialogue in my mind, is hell, and I just want it to stop!

No one I have talked to that is recovered, ever tells me they miss their old ways.

So what is taking me so long?

Why wait for tomorrow, when I can start today?

From the Best to the Worst

So last week I shared with you the absolute best part of recovery; making friends and getting your life back (obviously), but from a few e-mails and comments I have gotten, I think it might be a good idea to talk about the very WORST parts of recovery, and maybe a little of what you could expect if you are just starting the process.

Sometimes I feel like getting the terrifying portions out in the open makes people feel like they aren’t alone.

I, for one, sat in my first hospital, silent and angry in my introductory group, and was amazed that the others around me had the exact same thoughts I did.

Oh my goodness, maybe I was not as crazy as I thought!!!

Of course I wasn’t. In the ED world I was totally “normal,” which just goes to prove, there is no such thing as normal, right?

Anyway, back to the road bumps you may hit along the way.

I don’t care if you are one day into recovery, or years, these little snafus will occur, but you MUST remember that it can/will pass and it is how you react to the thoughts/feelings/urges, etc. that really counts.

*Please note, these are MY experiences, and they are the only ones I can really speak to, so if you disagree, or your process did not mirror mine, that is FINE. Everyone is different and the most important thing is that in the end, we are all healthy, happy and whole. (ß Yes, I am a cheese ball)

1. The first time you experience REAL hunger.

There are people who say they were never hungry when they restricted.

Me, I wasn’t one of them.

There were nights I would go to bed and be so famished I could barely sleep. I drank so much hot tea, diet soda, seltzer and water, to try to make my stomach at least a little bit full but nothing could ever ward off that gnawing feeling my stomach would have pretty much all damn day.

And then I started following a meal plan in program, eating some-what normally, and the hunger really began.

I was amazed at how much food I could consume and still my stomach wouldn’t be in pain from being overly stuffed.

For the first few days, as my little tummy expanded it was uncomfortable (more mentally than anything) but then after a week or so my body could actually keep up with the increasing amount of food, and it WANTED it.

(Side Note: the frustrating part for me now, is even if I wanted to restrict I couldn’t because my body is used to a healthy amount of food and can’t concentrate properly if I am not nourished…which then leads to a lot of negative self-talk and feelings of weakness…so be prepared for this, as well)

And then panic set in because I had my first weigh check and I was up more than I felt was necessary.

(ANOTHER Side Note: You may gain a bunch of water weight in the beginning, which can sometimes skew the accurate measure.)

WHAT WERE THESE PEOPLE TRYING TO DO?!

Then I got mad and felt like the entire world was against me, because my negative voice would tell me so.

“See, you are the exception to the rule. Your body is going to blow up overnight and they are going to keep you here forever. Everyone wants to see you fat and miserable. My gosh you are ugly. Look at those arms and how the bones in your chest are disappearing right this very second. FAT FAT FAT!!!”

I wish I could share some of the ridiculously hateful journal entries I wrote last winter at Brandywine. I think I used the F word more in a few pages than I have in my whole life…

Which brings me to point two…

2. Feelings WILL be a bit overwhelming.

Who am I kidding? That is an absolute understatement.

Feelings and emotions will smack you like a ton of bricks.

Just like the weight gain, I feared the tears, the anger, and the meanness would never stop.

No wonder I wanted to numb out before because this was HORRIBLE.

After a few weeks the excessive emotional outbursts calmed, and I was very apologetic to the poor nurses, who I said some very out of character things to, but I was completely unprepared for the emotions that came up.

When you bury things deep inside for so long, and finally they come to the surface, it is as if a volcano is erupting, but it does feel better once things come out in the open, just know, it will eventually turn into a healthy expression, it just might take some time.

3. The new body.

Body image is typically my arch nemesis anyway, but when you refeed your biological-self does not trust you.

You are putting foreign substances into your system (appropriate amounts of food) and it is saying “omg hold on to the nutrients and protect us from dying because she may starve us again!!!” which physically translates into the “food baby,” or “Buddha Belly.”

I am a pretty average size person, nearly 5’7 and pre-ed was relatively, athletically built, so I thought perhaps my weight gain would be tolerable and re-build a bit of muscle and make me look proportionate.

I was oh so very wrong. My stomach got the bulk of the weight and I felt bloated all the time, which lead to incessant self-criticism and internal hatred.

I felt like I was being punished for being such a selfish, horrible person.

This is definitely not true at all, my body was just trying to do what it does best, keep me alive.

4. The guilt.

First your mind makes you feel guilty for eating anything, not exercising, and being “lazy…”

Internally I heard what a blob I was every hour of every day, especially when programs added the dreaded fear foods a week or so into the meal plan.

And of course they add them to ALL meals so the guilt just never went away.

Then you are considered medically stable and feel so fat and disgusting you can barely stand it, so you start to feel guilty for even attempting to recover.

“I am the biggest person here, I don’t deserve or NEED recovery anymore. I am just like every other person on the street except I have no job, sit around all day, eating all this food I don’t deserve.”

Again, I must to EMPHASIZE that this is completely distorted and wrong. No matter what kind of eating disorder you have, your body needs to repair all the damage you have done, which requires proper nutrition.

(Visit this site if you need more clarification, because Gwyneth does a fabulous job explaining…)

I was not being a bump on a log or gluttonous with my meals, I was nourishing myself and trying to heal.

5. The non-linear progression…

They don’t tell you when you first commit to getting healthy, that even though the professionals may give you a nice little roadmap for success, i.e. a meal plan, treatment plan, etc. there is not sure fire way of predicting how your journey will go.

Since I am a planner jumping into the unknown was absolutely petrifying to begin with, so then when my body started doing all sorts of weird things, and one day I would feel absolutely fabulous and high on life, and the next feel like I was ready to jump off a bridge, I decided the best thing for me to do was quit.

Forget recovery. Who needs it anyway?!

Well, if I wanted to live, I DID.

But I am a control freak and for those of us who like control, living without exact science, proof and a schedule, did not sound appealing at all.

It still doesn’t; but that’s where acceptance comes in.

My dietician cannot tell me the exact gain I will make on a weekly basis, because my body might respond differently each week.

My doctor cant tell me when the swelling in my legs will stop even though I am doing the “right” things.

Ryan can’t assume that today I will be happy, cheery and totally on board with our process…

Because not every day, week, minute, or second is the same.

You are gaining your health back.

Nothing in life worth doing, is ever easy.

Attempting Acceptace

Raise your hand if you are a control freak.

Obviously you can’t see me but my hand is all the way up in the air, waving around like an over-eager first grader who totally knows the answer.

I do not like being, or feeling, out of control.

Who does, right?

But anyway, two days ago I had a nutrition appointment, and my lovely dietician asked what I would like to get out of our session.

Now I am an old hat at meal planning, our half hours are a little non-traditional.

I can recite the caloric content of pretty much any food in the entire universe, and know a rough estimate of what I am eating at any given time. I also know that it takes 3500 calories MORE than what your body “needs” to gain one pound a week, so that stuff, we kind of skip.

I also know am pretty active, but since my metabolism is still relatively suppressed, anywhere between 2400-2700 will cause a .5 lb a week weight gain.

Since I have not really deviated from that plan, why the heck was my weight up one pound?!?!?!?

Before you go thinking I am crazy (although you probably already do) you have to understand that a person, like me, whose mind is very regimented, and needs to have predictability in their days in order to maintain sanity, I was not understanding how this was possible.

There had to be some sort of explanation.

Maybe it was the two pots of tea and two glasses of water I had at lunch?

Maybe I was miscalculating and eating a whole ton more than I thought?

Maybe, maybe, maybe!!!!

I was pleading with my dietician for answers.

“Please, tell my why this happened. I told you I didn’t need all those calories. How could you do this to me! My body is rebelling against me!!!!”

After I finished my frantic inquisition, she asked if I was done.

“CJ, why does there have to be an explanation?…why can’t you just accept that this is what happened this week and maybe next week will be different. Our bodies know what they need and you need to gain the weight anyway.”

Um, excuse me?!

One pound was not in the plan!!!!

Two weeks worth of gain was NOT in my plan!!!

It is too fast and I could not possibly accept that this was happening because scientifically and biologically it just didn’t make sense.

After a few hours of crying because I honestly believed this was God’s way of punishing me, or something ridiculous (please excuse those irrational thoughts) I started to process what my poor nutritional therapist was saying to me.

Sometimes there is no explanation as to why things happen. Sometimes we just need to face that they are happening and learn how to cope in a healthy way.

Gaining a pound is not necessarily a bad thing.

It certainly is not a tragedy of the world, and when Ryan weighed me the very next day, the weight gain was much less “drastic.” <— (perhaps drinking 50 ounces of water half an hour before an appointment is not the best idea.)

But anyway, the point is not about an increase on the scale.

…The point is that I have issues with acceptance, especially when things are beyond my manipulative powers, so this week, instead of challenging myself with a specific food, or eating behavior goal, I am going to work on embracing change and a lack of control.

Life does not run on a schedule.

My body is not, and will not be, the same as a photo-shopped Victoria’s Secret model.

I was blessed with legs that work, a heart that pumps, color-changing eyes, and a few imperfections that make me, me.

As the serenity prayer wisely states;

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I haven’t recited that since I left Focus Center For Recovery nearly a year and a half ago, but maybe today is the day to start that daily ritual again.

It certainly is worth a shot.

Have a fantastic Thursday!