Looking back: Why we need to love who we were

In starting teachers college, I’ve done some looking back on my social media and internet presence to make sure that my digital self is not doing anything that a teacher ought not to do. I’m kind of the one who’s always arguing for safety first and going home from parties early, so there wasn’t too much fear that I’d find anything I need to hide.

In the process, I started to come across photos of myself over the years. One of the things I noticed was the way I would look at some pictures and want to judge my body in them. When I started to think about it, I tried to be compassionate. That girl—whether she was big or small, smiling or pretending to smile—is part of who I am today. It is hard when I look back to not be a little upset with myself—How could I starve myself? And how could I binge and purge? And what would my life be like if I hadn’t spent so long hating and abusing my body? What would I be doing? How would my body be now? The questions could go on for days.

But I know that there’s power in acceptance. I know that I cannot go back and change things. And I also know that just as I encourage my personal training clients not to look at their “before” photos and beat themselves up or feel bad about them, the person we were years ago, 6 months ago, or at the start of our journeys is the person who made us into who we are today.

remember where you come from

Anyone who has gone through a recovery process or who has undergone some kind of transformation (from an eating disorder, around their weight, through an addiction) should give some credit to who they were in the throes of their issues. It was that person who found the strength, the motivation, and the means to start the process of becoming who we are now and who we will be in the future.

suffering start

Looking back and feeling ashamed is a disservice to who you are now. We have to be okay with where we’ve been, and I argue that we have to be proud of who we were then just as much as we ought to be proud of where we are now—on whatever journey we might be on.

love yourself as if

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For feminism or for health? Why the scale sucks either way…

Today, Tracy wrote a great post about her relationship with “weight loss.” As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think, wouldn’t it be easier if we just stopped weighing ourselves? She seems to be on the same wavelength as me a lot, and she touched on this at the end of the post. Personally, I’ve tossed out my scale in defiance of my obsession with it during the earliest stages of my recovery. But since then, I have found myself weighing myself again on and off. As of late, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not really benefitting from knowing the number—so the scale’s gone again.

I would like to think that there will be a time when I could weigh myself and not use it as a tool to drive myself crazy. I am not there right now. Even now, without the scale around for daily weighings, thesporadic ones get to me. When I’ve brought the scale back into my world—either via being weighed by someone else like a doctor, or a coach—it stirs up a lot of emotion. I can feel elated if I’m lighter, but at the same time beat myself up for feeling good about losing weight since I know that weight loss is not the be-all end-all, my habits are. I can feel like a failure if I’ve gained weight, which is coupled with a reminder that weight isn’t everything. Either way, I don’t step off the thing ever feeling any happier for having done it.don't step on it.

For so long, my own focus was on weight and losing weight at all costs. I’d, like many people, gotten weight and health linked up in a way that didn’t let me see when I crossed lines and compromised my health for the sake of weight loss. As my choices became more and more extreme, I was successful at weight loss—but at the expense of my health and my happiness. It was a step by step process down this slippery slope into my eating disorder. Eating less became undereating consistently. Exercising more became overexercising on the regular. Eating better became synonymous with eating things with less calories, fat, or carbs—whatever the villain of the day in my mind was.

I know from a health perspective: weight should be the outcome or the by-product, not the focus. It’s not always “right” or perhaps a better way of putting this is that it’s not always an accurate reflection of whether or not we’ve done the “right” things. I might have eaten whole foods from great sources in appropriate quantities and have done a great job of taking care of myself, but if I just drank a bottle of water and have not gone to the washroom yet, I’ll weigh more. Do I abandon my healthy habits because they’re not “working”?

It is easier to sell weight loss than it is to sell long-term health. “Build healthy self-care habits in 3 years” doesn’t seem like it would fit on a cover of Shape quite as well as the “10 days to a flat tummy” headlines that do. People use weight loss as a goal all the time and even as personal trainers and fitness instructors we encourage folks to set SMART goals with specifics in terms of how much weight they’ll lose. I think it’s more important to think about what we will actually need to DO. You don’t wake up and just lose weight by a conscious choice. You do wake up and every day decide that you’re going to work out, or that you’re going to eat vegetables with your lunch, or that you’re going to write in a diary instead of eating a pint of ice cream when you’re stressed. Maybe it’s the allure of wanting to lose 10 pounds and be done with it, whereas deciding to build a healthy relationship with food or healthy eating habits instead would require you to keep on working on that goal for the rest of your life (I think we forget that habits get easier the more we do them).

From a health perspective, I think getting rid of the scale is a good choice for me. That’s my choice. It doesn’t have a lot to do with my status as a feminist or not, which is what Tracy was sort of talking about in her post. But do we have to get rid of our scales if we want to be feminists? Do we also have to get rid of our hair-brushes and makeup? I really don’t know the answer to this or where to draw a line or if there is a line of what makes something feminist or not. If weighing yourself feels good to you, fine. It feels like crap to me. I wouldn’t argue that women should stop wearing makeup if it makes them feel good, perhaps I shouldn’t argue that women need to stop weighing themselves altogether or wanting to be skinny. I just know that there are other people out there who feel compelled to keep weighing themselves and keep pursuing weight loss, and I think the issue becomes when we feel like there isn’t the option to get off the hamster wheel.

Like I said, I don’t know what the answer is here. But I do think I think arguing about it only keeps us all focused on something trivial instead of on the issues that we can all agree on. Think of the progress we might make if we weren’t so busy beating each other up for being truly feminist or not. It’s like when you stop to think about what kind of energy women might have if they didn’t have to focus on their bodies so darn much, or if they didn’t have to focus on whether or not they should be focusing on them, or…you see where I’m going with this.

So for now, I’ll be staying away from the scale, and I’ll be encouraging anyone else who is feeling crazy over it to do the same. Just like I learned in my recovery, the scale is not an accurate reflection of who you are, or how you’re doing, or of your self worth.

losing weight not your purpose

keep the focus: weight, normal eating, and keeping health at the forefront of my goals

Hello from hibernation! My last post was about focusing on the journey towards our goals, and in the journey towards my goals, I’ve learned again and again that I need to focus on what I can control. As much as it’s tempting to think, achieve at all costs, I know that focusing on how I get to my goals–and making it a process that makes me better–is important. 

Part of my current journey involves (continuing to) work on my relationship with food and my body and how it all relates to health. This week, I was pointed towards Ellyn Satter by Jennifer, the dietitian at NutritionRx, when she shared Satter’s “Definition of Normal Eating.” This definition is printed and up on my bulletin board where I can see it when I need a reminder to pump the brakes with my perfectionism.

ellyn satter

f perfection

Apologies for the language, but this one also serves as a reminder not to use food for crazy-making purposes.

 

When I was procrastinating perusing Satter’s website this morning, I found an article that really resonated with me. Given her mission of “helping adults and children be joyful and competent with eating,” it makes sense that she would provide a set of guidelines that made me think, huh, this is flexible but still makes health matter. She’s sensitive to the ways that weight is a by-product of making healthy choices, which means that we are responsible for making healthy choices but that we can take the pressure off of ourselves to lose weight at all costs. Here are some of Satter’s tips:

  • Eat well and joyfully, and trust your internal regulators to guide you in what andhow much to eat.
  • Move your body in a way that you enjoy and can sustain.
  • Let your body weigh what it will in response to your positive and consistent eating and activity.
  • Develop loyalty and respect for your body.
  • Stop postponing living until you get thin.”

Amen!

I know how to resist the media. I know that weight loss is not synonymous with health. But every day, I see people around me and on the news and in my social media sphere who are prioritizing weight loss in the name of health, often at the expense of their health. I try to do my best to remove the kind of updates that promote these kinds of perspectives from my world, or to remind myself that everyone’s journey is different and that it’s not up to me to decide what’s right for other people. But I do know what’s right for me, and I do want to—even if wanting to be smaller or wanting to be faster or wanting to feel lighter—always keep my health and what is in my control, my actions, as my priority.

I think that sharing messages like this that remind us to focus on shifting our actions towards ones that are health- and happiness-promoting instead of getting hyper-focused on the number on the scale or our body fat percentage or the tag in our jeans is important because it’s not heard enough. It’s not quite as sexy to talk about how we learned to eat more vegetables or drink a little more water as it is to go on and on about a detox or what we’re not eating this week, but in the long run, it’s the way that we relate to our bodies and take care of ourselves that will keep us happy and healthy.

focus
Are you working on any food goals right now?
What do you think of the “normal eating” guidelines?

judgement and pacemakers: checking myself

Hello from Florida! A few days ago I was flying down the side of a mountain in Vermont (I successfully learned how to have fun skiing in Vermont) and today I was biking in shorts and a short-sleeve jersey. I am pretty glad to be a grad student right now.

IMG_0447

My bike, in pieces.

My bike, in pieces.

For the record, my bike was sitting still. But 95km in January is pretty cool...

For the record, my bike was sitting still. But 95km in January is pretty cool…

On the news a few days ago, there was a little piece about a “pacemaker for the stomach.” You can read about it here on the Wall Street Journal’s website, but to my understanding it’s basically a device that goes into the abdomen and affects the nerve signals that are responsible for feelings of hunger and fullness. The details are not what’s important, but my reaction to it, which was initially to think that I would rather people “actually” lose the weight themselves instead of using what I sort of think is a band-aid.

But I’m not so sure.

As we were driving home from Vermont and my boyfriend mowed down on what he called a “freedom donut” (because everything in Amurrica = freedom ________), I realized that I haven’t eaten a donut in a really long time. Or French fries. Or pizza. And yeah, I don’t eat perfectly—I love me some chocolate. But I definitely pay attention to what I eat and exercise on a regular basis and still have weight on my mind—and on my thighs.

So maybe part of my resistance to weight loss surgeries or pills or quick fixes or whatever is that it frustrates me, since I am trying to “earn” my own. Of course, there’s the fears I have about compromising health and focusing on numbers at all costs, but I think it’s mostly my ideas about our bodies and “earning” them, working hard enough at it, trying…

Some women I know struggle to keep weight on. I know that some people “have it easier” when it comes to maintaining a thinner body. There are friends of mine who can eat froyo all the livelong day and who never exercise but who seem to look like they spend plenty of time at the gym. Those people don’t “earn” their bodies, either.

I think we want to believe that we absolutely earn our bodies—that we get what we put in and people get what they deserve when it comes to this stuff and to most things in our lives. And while I believe that we have a whole heck of a lot of power over our own lives, I’m not naïve enough to believe that I merit everything I have or am. I was born into a certain life and a certain body and a certain family and city and life and as much as I think I work hard, I know that there are people who started from a deficit compared to me and have had to work harder just to get even to where I am. This applies to our bodies too.

Just like there are people who are predisposed to have an easier time getting lean or getting into shape, there are people who are predisposed to have a tougher time. It’s up to each one of us to decide what we do with the bodies we are given them. I know that I want to take the best care I can of mine and I have to set the boundaries for myself and define what makes me “healthy” versus what might border on focusing too much on how I look (at the expense of health). So knowing that, I’m going to let a bit of the judgment go–anything I’m feeling towards those “cheaters” or the ones taking the “easy” route is really about myself. The more I can appreciate the body I do have and even appreciate that my “struggles” with weight have taught me so much about myself and about health, the easier that will be!

What do you think about “shortcuts?” 

 

coming clean: weight loss versus body love

Today on her blog, Sam tackled the “Do I want to lose weight?” question. As someone who takes a stand for Health and Every Size, I think it was brave of her to talk so openly about where she’s at and it was a perfect inspiration to go into the topic a bit myself.

Not too long ago, I had a big cry when I realized that I was scared to admit that I want to lose weight. I thought for sure that meant that I was a hypocrite of some sort. But I realized that wanting to lose weight is fine, as long as it doesn’t come from an unhealthy place. I’ve always thought that a healthy weight is the weight that comes out of the healthiest habits, and when I get real with myself, I’ve realized that some of my habits are not so healthy.

Even though in the past I know that I’ve been sucked into thinking that weight loss would some how solve all my problems, I’m at a place now where I feel confident about whether or not I’m taking care of myself or hurting myself when it comes to what I’m after. I’ve worked on—and will continue to plug away at—lots of my issues and know that five or ten or even twenty pounds is not what stands between us and happiness.

I even realized that not talking about this would be doing a disservice to anyone who follows my blog. I’ve always been open about things and I know that there are other people out there feeling like body love failures in the same way I am.speak

It’s just as shitty to beat ourselves up for not loving our bodies as it is for weighing too much. If we aren’t feeling comfy and happy with our bodies—or maybe more importantly, with our habits—I say give ourselves permission to work on them and to be open about the struggles. I know that there’s a lot of talk about the way that CrossFit, for instance, can help us to really appreciate our bodies and what they can do. This usually comes with a point about how it doesn’t matter what the number on the scale or the size in our jeans reads any more—but what if it does? Where does that leave the girl who doesn’t want the quads that won’t fit in normal jeans or the shoulders that make wearing a blazer next to impossible? Where does that leave the girl who doesn’t want to go to the beach because she just can’t get used to the body she has?

That girl is me. One of my the most powerful questions we can ask ourselves is, how’s that working for you? When I ask myself that in relation to trying to love my body/eating and training the way I am, I have to be honest: I’m frustrated and I’m looking for change this year.

To end things, I want to make it clear that I don’t think we should abandon our body love pursuits. Of course loving ourselves is a great thing! But self-love doesn’t happen overnight and it does not mean that we cannot want to change ourselves, to improve ourselves, or to be somewhere different than we are. Loving our bodies does not have to mean giving up on the pursuit of a healthy or even healthy looking body, but for some people it might. We can define what we want our relationships with our bodies to look like and then work on making that our reality. Maybe it doesn’t mean eating cake all the time, having cellulite, and being okay with it. Maybe it doesn’t mean eating clean, working out, and weighing ourselves. Maybe it means somewhere in between, where we take care of ourselves and put in a little work.

For me, I’ve started to make some little adjustments in my healthy, happy definition—with my weight as one of the things that fits into that health picture. I am working with a dietitian again, trying my best to tackle my health habits one at a time. I’ve joined in on the healthy weight challenge (no extremes allowed) that some of my fellow cyclists are doing this spring. I’m open to shifting my training and realizing that I need to do what makes me happy, not what I think I should be doing. And I’m being open about this in hopes that other people who have maybe gone through the same thing have some insight to offer.

 

Have you ever felt like wanting to lose weight made you a sell out to the body love crowd?

Where do you do things for your health out of “should”?

What do you think defines a healthy, happy weight? Relationship with your body?

 

 

on choosing happy

The Outward Bound trip I went on this summer was one of the most enjoyable—but difficult—things I have ever done. From rockclimbing to backpacking, there were all kinds of fun activities. Besides not having a shower or toilet for two weeks, there were also challenges I didn’t anticipate when I signed up.

fun fun

We’re on top of the world!

Near the end of our trip, we found ourselves starting on our day’s expedition at nearly 7:00pm (a cushy departure time is normally something like 9:00 or 10:00am). That day, there’d been a flooded stream raging river that separated our group holding up our start. Without going into the details, we were getting a very late start on a six mile hike—and the skies were threatening another storm.

Everything in me screamed “I want to go home.” I’m a scaredy cat by nature and while I love thunderstorms when enjoyed from the comfort of my apartment or some other safe indoor location, one of the last things I felt like doing was hiking in my yellow Helly Hansen rainsuit while worrying about being struck by lightning. As much as I was worried and thought that I should plop my butt down in lightning drill (AKA perch myself on top of my backpack on my rubber mat to keep myself safe), I was praying the storm would stay far enough away that we wouldn’t get even more held up along the way.

I was grateful for the downpour for at least one reason—it hid my tears. The rest of the night is largely a blur: we got lost, thought we got lost, argued about whether or not we were really lost, and used our headlamps to refer to the maps we carried in our bags for what felt like hundreds of times; we stopped for dinner—a spread of chex mix along with tortillas that most of us filled with salsa and cheese, afraid of the gastrointestinal ramifications of consuming questionably rehydrated black beans; we paused for a while when one of our cheeriest gals fell and hurt her leg and we had to dig out the first aid kit to patch her up; our hearts raced when our leader saw wildlife and alerted us, “Animal! Animal!” But also, eventually, in the midst of what I could definitely describe as “miserable” or “scary” and definitely “soggy” (it didn’t stop raining the whole time we were hiking), we found a rhythm. At some point, I realized that crying wasn’t helping the situation and that if I sat down nobody would carry me or come to save me I really had no option but to keep going. At that point, dwelling on all the things that sucked about the situation became pointless.  I ended up having some of the best conversations of the whole trip that night and when we strolled (ha!) into the puddle where we were supposed to find a spot to pitch our tents our campsite well past midnight, we’d experienced what became the highlight of my trip and we’d earned bragging rights to take home along with our suntans and bug bites.

Why am I telling this story now?

Because as cheesy as it is, I think there’s a lesson here: oftentimes, the things that are the most difficult are the ones that end up benefitting us the most. The most uncomfortable experiences we go through are what turn out giving us the best lessons, memories, and triumphs.

I can’t think of a time where I’ve ever felt as “legit” as I did that night in the stormy woods and like I said, I count the experience as one of the highlights of my trip.

Right now, there are a few situations in my life where the “I wish this was over!” sentiment I felt at the beginning of that soggy evening is coming up for me. I know I’m not alone—from fellow students who just want their degree already to people who want to give up yoyo dieting and find their happy weight…yesterday, it’s easy to despise where we are and just want to be done with it—whatever “it” is. It’s not fun to feel like you’re 15lbs overweight or to be in a program that’s hard (I’m speaking purely from experience here).

But what I’d offer (and what I’m trying to take from my Outward Bound fun) is that this experience—as much as it might be uncomfortable—doesn’t have to suck. What if while you’re slaving away for that degree, you find all the ways to have fun along the way instead of focusing on all the reasons it sucks? Rather than killing myself to try to get the best marks, what if I focus my energy on learning as much as possible, meeting as many people as I can to network, and building the skills I see myself using beyond academia along the way? And what if the process of giving up emotional eating and getting to your happy weight becomes a kind of adventure and opportunity instead of a struggle? Rather than beating myself up for still working on this, what if I recognize how powerful it is that I’ve put in the work and am not slapping a quick fix band-aid on the problem yet again?

positive thinking

I’m a firm believer in feeling your feelings and honouring your emotions, but I also believe that we can choose our attitude and our beliefs about our situations. Unfortunately, I lost one of my cycling friends on Thanksgiving weekend. Last weekend, there was a celebration of life for her. On the cards from the service was a quote that Kelly lived by: “Happiness is a choice.”

Kelly embodied "positive thinking" and left quite the impact on the people she met. <3

Kelly embodied “positive thinking” and left quite the impact on the people she met. ❤

At a time where I could easily start feeling sorry for myself (school is hard and I got a bad-ish mark last week, my jeans won’t zipper, whahh whahh whahh), I was reminded of the power of a positive attitude. As cheesy as it might be, there’s a reason I keep the “We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.” quote kicking around my “About” page. Life is way too short to get down on ourselves or to get sucked into thinking about giving up. Just like my hiking “fun” and the realization that I couldn’t give up–if I sat down in the middle of the trail I’d only piss off my fellow hikers and there was no helicopter that was going to come and rescue me any time soon–recognizing that being frustrated or uncomfortable isn’t a reason to give up, but actually an opportunity to find a way to take something away from this experience–is powerful. With that perspective, I have a choice between being miserable or finding a way to forge on and to find a way to be happy, even if I’m feeling soggy (or fat, frustrated, whatever).

I’ll choose happy.

we either

What is a challenging situation that’s made for a lesson, a fond memory, or something else positive in your life?
Where are you choosing an attitude that isn’t serving you? What would it be like to choose happiness instead?

food for thought: let’s talk…what an eating disorder looks like and when to speak up

I want to start things off here with a bit of a story–a snippet of my story, to be specific.

When I look back on the time I spent struggling with my eating disorder, I can think of a few “rock bottom” periods. One of those was Christmas break of my second year at university. I binged and purged nearly every day of the break, sometimes multiple times a day. I worked out for at least an hour, sometimes two, every day over the break–I even remember waking up early on Christmas to get a run on the treadmill in while my family was sleeping.

But I looked “healthy.” I weighed ~160lbs (the same amount as I do now, for the record) and according to my BMI, I was overweight and had weight to lose. According to the voice in my head (Ed was screaming), I needed to lose it–yesterday.

yes, that's my butt. It was my 20th birthday. forgive me.

yes, that’s my butt. It was my 20th birthday. forgive me.

I don’t think people looked at me and thought “eating disorder” even though I was totally consumed with exercising, obsessing over what I was eating, bingeing, and purging and then doing it all over again. Like I said, this was one of my rock bottom moments.

My point there is that you really cannot judge an eating disorder book by its cover. Assuming that if someone is struggling, you’ll be able to tell by looking at them is misguided at best. Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes, suck regardless of whether or not they meet “official criteria” or fit into a box of anorexia, bulimia, or EDNOS, and are all serious. I can remember not thinking I had a real problem because I wasn’t skinny enough to meet the criteria and feeling like I had to convince my doctor and the people around me that I was going through something serious–because I didn’t feel like I looked the part.

Even if someone is overweight or obese, if their habits are disordered, that’s the issue–not their weight. It can be easy for someone who is on a weight loss journey to have justifiably f*cked up relationships with food and/or exercise when we are so busy focusing on fixing the weight problem instead of building healthy habits that will therefore lead to a healthy weight. Weight loss at all costs and getting fixated on a number without giving serious consideration to the means by which a person gets to that goal number misses the point. No wonder there are so many weight loss successes who regain all the weight, plus more. No wonder there are so many miserable newly thin people. No wonder eating disorders are everywhere.

Getting your mind sorted out–in terms of how you think about food, about exercise, about your body and about yourself–isn’t the sexy “get in shape fast” or “bikini body by Friday” kind of crap that we’re sold and that it’s so easy to get caught up in, but it is the recipe for long term happiness, health, and sanity. If you have a healthy mindset, you will get to a healthy weight. If you don’t sort this stuff out, you’re doomed to ride the diet and weight loss rollercoaster forever more. If you’re not willing to do the hard work to shift your thoughts and your beliefs, you’ll be just as unhappy regardless of where your weight falls: disordered is disordered, no matter what kind of a package it comes in.

Now that that’s off my chest, I can get to the real reason behind this post: a couple of tough conversations and some thinking about what’s the right thing to do when you’re concerned about someone who may or may not be struggling with disordered eating, whether because of how they look (not the only indication, as I pointed out above) or because of the things they say (regarding food, exercise, their bodies, weight loss, whatever).

Since it’s not easy to tell, this is automatically a touchy subject. It’s also really easy to piss someone off and/or to feed an obsession. If you comment on how small someone obsessed with getting small is getting, even if you mean it out of a “I’m scared for your life” kind of place, it can be a celebration of them achieving their goal and can reinforce their unhealthy habits and thinking. If someone isn’t ready for it, your comment can wreck a relationship.

But it can save a life.

I make my decisions off of this: I stand for health and for happiness. For everyone.  

The conversations I mentioned both touched on the issue of a person not being underweight or looking sick, hence the rant that started this post off.

In response to that and whether or not having that crucial conversation that could save a life is appropriate if someone isn’t visibly disordered or is even overweight, I say it’s not just appropriate, it’s essential.

No one deserves to have an eating disorder. Whether you’re 20lbs overweight or 20lbs underweight or right at that weight that someone or something tells you is ideal, health and happiness require a healthy mindset. I say screw the scale, screw the criteria, screw the ideal. What’s important? What you’re doing, how you’re thinking, and how you’re feeling and functioning. If these things aren’t what you’re focused on making as healthy as possible, something needs to change.

So what do you say to that person? How do you address it without supporting bad behaviours or pissing someone off?

My advice: speak from the heart and be as honest as possible.

The conversation could still go poorly, but what do you give up if you don’t enter the conversation? What are you not honouring if you keep quiet?

If you stand for your friendship, you’ll have that conversation.

If you stand for health and happiness, you’ll have that conversation.

I remember vividly two conversations–one with a friend, and one with my sister–that left me upset. I sometimes wonder if other people who knew what was going on (I don’t think I was hiding it seamlessly) held back for whatever reason–whether because I didn’t look the part or they were scared of making me mad. The conversations that I did may have upset me but they also indicated to me that I mattered and people cared about me. 

The sooner we’re willing to talk about this–and to get busy focusing on a new solution, the better. I’m sick of eating disorders, especially the socially acceptable ones. Let’s get back to what’s important and start taking care of ourselves, regardless of what we weigh. 

have you ever brought up a concern with someone around an eating disorder? how did it go?
has anyone ever brought up a concern with you? what was it like?

Fro yo fosters deep insight

I’m skipping yoga for this so you know it must be good.

Where to start?

Right with the good stuff?

Or maybe with a quote?

Yeah…

This quote means a lot to me. Not just because it keeps turning up in my life — remember how last week I watched Cinderella Story…

Creepy!

Anyways, it reminds me of an epiphany I had. Today’s session with my therapist brought up the ideal of beliefs. In particular, false beliefs. And after the session, where we worked through some of the things I tell myself that are just downright wrong but that form so much of how I treat myself, how I view the world, and all that good stuff, I had a couple of other realizations. Good session, much?

Now I’ll dive right into it–what does fear have to do with fro yo?

…well. Tonight I was going to meet some friends for fro yo. I had in my mind that I would be A OK and that I just wouldn’t have any since I am trying to lose weight.

Logical enough, right?

Wait, W T F Cheryl?!

Something’s up when I’m telling myself I need to lose weight and accepting it at face value….

As recovered as I am, as much as I want my weight to be “happy” and to take care of itself, I still have a belief about myself that says I need to lose weight. And regardless of whether or not this is true, it informs everything I do. Yes, I am free from ED, but I am not free from this belief and I have a feeling that the belief has been around longer than ED and that it’s something I need to work through if I really want to live the life of my dreams—and since I’m not ready to settle for anything less than that, here goes! It’s like if I give up this belief, if I start to trust that I really AM awesome already, I’ll be doing something wrong. But that’s wrong–there’s nothing great about settling.

One thing my therapist did to help me bust through my beliefs was to ask me what it would look like if I still believed them in 5 years. So with this one, how will my life look in five years if I still think I need to lose weight? What might I miss out on? It’s kind of sad. Maybe I’ll get a job, maybe I’ll get through nutrition, maybe I’ll feel like a phoney because shouldn’t dietitians have this weight stuff under control, maybe ED will still be lurking around the corner, maybe I’ll still feel unattractive, maybe I’ll still be single, maybe I’ll still devote my energy to managing my weight instead of finding and pursuing my purpose, maybe it will be just okay.

And today/in my current life, the belief that I need to lose weight is dangerous. It keeps me on the edge of relapse, wanting to restrict, saying that it’s okay to skip a meal here or there and eat frozen yogurt instead (and then questioning how it’s ever possible to allow myself to have it on top of dinner?), adding extra training into an already solid training plan, working out through injuries, not giving my body the fuel it needs, leaves me feeling unattractive, sets me to self sabotage when I do eat something I think is “bad” or won’t help me “lose weight”, saying no to invites and thus missing out on experiences etc. etc. etc.

In short, it leaves me living a half assed life.

Conversely, how awesome might my life look if I decide that I am perfect the way I am and start really walking the walk (not just talking the talk). In five years, I might be a dietician with a successful practice working with athletes who struggle with their own body image, I might have written a book about all of this, I might be a regular contributor to magazines out my whazoo, I might be qualifying for Kona, I might have a boyfriend, I might love my body and think of myself as beautiful, I might be the person I want to be! …yeah, I dream big. Change those “mights” to I will, and I think I have a plan.

And in the short term, it’s not might. It’s will. I’m changing the belief. So tonight instead of believing that I need to go to yoga because it’s exercise and I should exercise more because I need to change my body, I am going to believe that I need to listen to my body, recognize that I’ve already worked out a lot today, and save the yoga for when I’m fresh. I’m going to take the time to write this blog post and then I’m going to meet up with friends and eat fro yo even though I had dinner. I’m going to wear my clothes that fit right now and make myself look good in them instead of wearing gym clothes and telling myself I’ll wear my “real clothes” when my smaller stuff fits. I am giving myself permission to be happy regardless of my weight and am going to really take to heart that advice that I like to give: if you are healthy in your actions, your weight will end up where it needs to be.

Basically, what if I change my belief so that I truly believe that I am exactly the weight I need to be? Instead of whining about feeling like I “deserve” to look fitter or to be smaller, what if I accept that this is what my body wants to weigh and give myself credit for running, swimming, biking, and doing yoga like a boss (shout out to Kate on that one). And if I treat myself differently for it — allow myself the rest/recovery I need, give myself healthy meals, have room for frozen yogurt and treats, and exude happy cuz that’s what I am — isn’t that kind of more important than being a size 4? If I go out with friends, sleep in, go on road trips, and smile the whole time — isn’t that kind of the point of life? What if I already deserve all that?

I’ve read a lot about how letting go of your need to lose weight will set you free and you will find your happy weight. I really thought I was doing it, but I kind of had the realization that I was just faking it. Maybe half-assing it. And I don’t believe in that! Already I’ve noticed the ways that this belief plays out in my life: telling me that I should  go to yoga and that I should just meet my friends at the yogurt place but not have any. And that’s huge–consciousness has to come first! And I’m ready to take action, because to be honest, this belief hasn’t gotten me anywhere in the past except frustrated and unhappy regardless of what the scale says. That’s the kicker. When your whole belief system says you need to be lighter or that you are somehow wrong, how could you ever be happy, regardless of how small or big your butt is? When you shift that belief and really believe that your body is perfectly perfect the way it is, I am guessing you find that blissful happiness and confidence that has been so elusive for so long.

And I’m rambling. But I’m letting it all out because I’m dedicating myself to actually changing this belief. It’s not really easy to change something that I’ve believed for as long as I can remember (recall diaries from when I was 9 talking about how I was going to lose weight), but I kind of feel like I’ve stumbled onto a huge realization here that’s going to just catapult me into awesomeness.


But NEWS FLASH: we are meant to be awesome, happy, and to love ourselves! I’m done holding myself back and keeping myself miserable. It’s time to get happier. 🙂

It all reminds me of, Life Doesn’t Begin 5 Pounds From Now, a book I read a long time ago that I think might need to come off my bookshelf now. And of a whole bunch of quotes about seizing the day, living your life, and all that good cheesy stuff.

Here goes…

And sigh*

What kinds of beliefs do you have about yourself that might be limiting?
Did you follow this post at all or was it too much word vomit? 

What feels right

Morning!

When my alarm went off this morning at 5, I woke up no problem! I had plans to go to a spin class at the gym for 6 (aka in 7 minutes), but I found myself laying in bed instead. It’s not that I wasn’t wide awake—I was—but I just wasn’t feelin’ it. When I get up and go to the gym too many days in a row for 6am, I feel drained. I might not need to be at home, and I do still have to get to campus for 8:30 class, but there’s something recharging about being able to sit at my table and eat my breakfast out of a bowl instead of a tupperware, watch the Today show, and get ready at home every once in a while! I love morning workouts, but not every single day—and I’ll still love an afternoon workout too!

So getting up for my morning workout but postponing it til later just feels right. 🙂

I get the exact opposite feeling when I read all the news about the article in Vogue where a mom talks about putting her seven year old daughter on a diet, doing things like denying her dinner or publicly humiliating her at Starbucks (I want to read the real article, but from the GMA and Today show segments I saw, it seems like a pretty troubling story). What became apparent is that the mom seems to have food issues. I have this feeling that her daughter would have grown into the weight and ended up at a healthy and happy weight rather than having been subject to a year of her mother controlling what she eats and planting a whole bunch of ideas about “good vs. bad” food and needing to control eating in order to be “healthy.” If, on the other hand, the girl did need to lose weight, which I really doubt was the case, there’s a reason why. Why not figure out why she was carrying extra weight in the first place and deal with the issues instead of making weight the issue? ‘Cuz weight’s never the issue.

I thought that some of the backlash was tough on the mom, who must have issues herself (and even admits it in the article) that it’s the worst article in Vogue ever, according to Jezebel. At first I felt a little bad for her, but then I realized she was putting pictures of her and her daughter in Vogue, something she and her friends would read—even if I bought that she was trying to help her daughter, publicizing it in the name of earning herself a modelling opportunity in vogue seems a bit selfish, doesn’t it? And then I heard about a book deal she signed, and I just sighed and decided to blog about it instead. I also came across Charlotte @ The Great Fitness Experiment’s take on it — she’s got a good summary and take on things too!

How do you feel about morning workouts every day?
Did you get caught up in this story from Vogue?
What do you think about the diet itself/putting a kid on a diet? How about putting the story in Vogue or using it for a book deal?