There comes a time where you take a step back and really think about what you’re doing. Thankfully that time finally came.
A couple weeks ago I was sitting at my aunt’s house watching I Am Jazz on TLC. I don’t know if any of you watch it, and quite frankly, it isn’t really my kind of show, but on it they were all training for the Rugged Maniac – one of the mud run obstacle courses. It showed them working out together and getting stronger as they trained harder. I realized how much I missed working out. I had been “working out” but it was just running mile after mile. I wasn’t strong enough to carry more than a small bag up the stairs with me. I wasn’t strong enough or had the energy to be standing for any more than an hour, which made work a real challenge. Anytime I sat down or laid down, I fell asleep for multiple hours at a time.
The obstacle course I did I loved! I love being challenged and proving to myself I’m stronger than I think I am. I would absolutely LOVE to do one again. But the rate I was going, there was no way that was happening. I wanted to get stronger. I wanted to be able to do it. Not only that but there are other things I would love to, but it wasn’t going to happen with an eating disorder.
After watching that episode, I went to the store and got something to eat – the first real, normal meal I’d eaten in almost 3 months. Thank goodness for 24 hour stores because this was like 11:30 at night! Yes, there were tears. Yes, there was panic afterwards. Yes, I probably weighed myself 6,000 times after out of fear I gained a literal ton. But I ate it. I was determined the next day. I ate meals with snacks in between. I was anxious before, during and after eating, but I pushed through.
Last week I was on a mission trip in Chicago with my old youth group from back home. I’m not going to lie I thought a lot about whether or not it was a good idea for me to go. I knew the food was going to be “weird” food (and by that I mean from different cultures). I also knew our breakfast was going to be bagels and cereal – straight up carbs. But overall I learned a lot over that week – specifically to my eating disorder. Breakfast was a struggle for sure. I didn’t like that I didn’t have any protein options besides peanut butter on my bagel, and I know how many calories that is. I couldn’t get myself to do that without freaking out. There also wasn’t any fruit or anything like that. But I went with it. Right after breakfast we did our devotion and left for our work site. At first the hour car ride after breakfast was rough because I spaced out and thought about what I had just eaten and how I should have picked the cereal because it’s less calories. But as the week went on, I focused more on the conversations going on around me, and I started to forget that I was anxious. Another reminder of how important it is to stay present and grounded in recovery. The mornings got easier, but then there was dinner.
Right now I have my meals and snacks for the week written out on our refrigerator. I know exactly what’s coming next and that’s perfect for me. It wasn’t like that during the mission trip. I knew what lunch was going to be, but I didn’t know what dinner was. Not only that, but I didn’t know where it was going to be from or if we were going to be eating something really random and gross. I’m happy to say I survived the week though! I learned that maybe I’m not as much of a picky eater as I thought I was. I like trying new things. I also survived not knowing days in advance, or even hours in advance, what I was going to be eating. (In all honestly, I so excited to be in air conditioning that I started forgetting I didn’t know what was coming.) Dinners slowly started getting less and less anxiety provoking. That’s not to say I ate, was 100% ok with it and moved on because that’s just not true. But because I was eating I had the energy to get through a long, non-stop week. If I hadn’t been, I couldn’t have made it.
This is probably going to be a little controversial, but in the end it’s my choice. I started Insanity yesterday (kind of like P90x, etc.). I’m fully aware that to go from where I was at to doing Insanity probably wouldn’t be supported by any dietitian. But I’ve always felt most confident with myself and my recovery when I’m working out. I love Insanity because it’s fun, but it also challenges the perfectionist in me. I can’t go through the whole thing without resting. Hell, the people that do the video with him can’t make it all the way through without stopping periodically! It’s ridiculously hard! But it forces me to listen to my body. When I’m out of breath and my legs want to die, it’s ok to take a breather and get back into it. Just because I didn’t do 100% of the exercises doesn’t mean I failed at it. I’ll get stronger. It just takes patience. I also know that because I’m burning so many calories working out, I have to eat more. I kept that in mind when I was making my meal plan. I know what time of the day I’m hungriest and plan accordingly. I have to continue listening to my body, and if I’ve completed my meal plan and I’m still hungry, it’s ok to have a snack. My body needs it. I love the challenge that Insanity brings, and I want to prove to myself I can complete it. That means I have to continue eating because I’m not going to get any stronger if I don’t. I’m tired of not being able to lift and carry what I used to be able to.
As of right now, things are good. Not perfect (hahaha), but good. There’s still the urge to skip meals, which is why I can’t let myself get too hungry. There’s still a lot of anxiety to think that I could gain weight (I’ve been maintaining a little bit under my target weight from treatment which I know because they weighed me at the doctor even though I eat quite a bit! I’m sure as time goes on I’ll gain more, but the last couple of weeks I haven’t.). But I’m trekking along through it all.