For today’s Thinking Out Loud, hosted by the lovely Amanda, I’m devoting it to one subject that has been on my mind a lot lately. On May 16th, I made a promise as part of an anniversary gift to my parents, that for a period of 30 days, I’d eat breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, following my meal plan, and would also work to incorporate snacks into my day as well. I also talked about my desire to go 30 nights without binging. I happily have hit every single meal since May 16 and have also (most times) added my morning snack, afternoon snack and evening snack to my day. I have had a few occasions of still giving into a binge at night, but have severely reduced my binges. I find that it will often happen when a change in routine happens or when I’m more active during the day and fail to add more food to my meals and snacks to account for the extra physical activity. But, I expected it wouldn’t be easy just to go cold turkey after binging almost every night for quite a long, long time.
Regardless, I have noticed a few things since starting this “challenge”…
1) Eating regularly makes me feel better about myself and confident in myself and my progress. There was a time where I thought I would never be able to do it, never be able to eat regularly and not have negative thoughts surrounding every meal. But, I have had the opposite effect. It has given me more confidence because I’ve been able to eat regularly without the negative thoughts surrounding my meals.
2) It is much easier to eat regular meals than I thought it would be. I thought it would take a while for my body to get used to eating regular meals and for the hunger cues to start occurring normally, but it’s amazing just how quickly my body responded and got used to eating regular meals, which included proteins, fats, carbs, fruits and veggies. My body called for food when it needed it and felt satisfied when I ate a balanced meal.
3) I feel healthier. This could be solely psychological, but I feel much better. I feel happier. I feel healthier. I feel more energized. Who would have thought that eating actual real meals with real nutritious value (instead of all the snick-snacking and binging on candy and sugary junk) would do a person some good?! I have just enjoyed eating so much more. I no longer view it as a stressful or anxiety-provoking experience. It’s now pleasurable (but in a normal way, not how binging was “enjoyable” for me)
4) I don’t over-think about food, my weight or exercising anymore. Every now and then I will still think about food and calories, etc. but it has lessened so much! Plus, when I’m eating full, well-balanced meals that incorporate fats, proteins, and carbs, I eat a meal and feel satisfied and no longer desire more food. I eat and am satisfied. Exercise has even taken a much healthier and balanced place in my life. I still like to be active, especially when it’s something I can do outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. But I’ve been really taking it easy on my body, running if and when my body feels up to it. I’ve been including many more walks in place of runs and that is just fine by me. I also never weigh myself anymore. I have been doing great with this for a long long lonnnnggg time now. I have a scale at home, in my own bathroom, but I never step on it. I just really don’t care. Because now I realize and know that this stuff has nothing to do with my weight or the number on the scale. My main goal has been to normalize my eating habits (i.e. eating regular meals during the day and reducing the binging at night) and not about the weight or numbers anymore. So the only time I really plan on getting weighed going forward is when I go to the doctor. Otherwise, there really simply is no need to know the number. I’m not afraid of it, but don’t see the need to give myself any reason to entertain a number that means nothing as far as my worth is concerned.
5) I am much happier. MUCH HAPPIER. I don’t feel controlled by my eating disorder anymore. Each day I make a good choice, a choice for me, my health and recovery, I gain back more and more of my life from my ED. I become freer each day. I used to feel like things were hopeless and as if I would never make progress. But I am. And it feels so dang good. I am able to be present with my family and friends. I am able to laugh…really, truly laugh and feel it instead of faking happiness. I am able to fully enjoy experiences and be in the moment, instead of being distracted or thinking about food or eating or calories.
Speaking of weight, I have also been at a pretty steady, healthy weight for a while now. I don’t really know if and when any changes really take place or when my weight goes up or down, but I know that its been pretty steady for a while and I’ve been at a healthy weight. But, I believe my inconsistencies with eating and lack of proper, balanced nutrition left me at an unhealthy place. I had not had a period since January of 2013 and was waiting for it to return because then I knew that my body finally reached a healthy place, where it could operate as a normal, 24-year old female body should. Last week, I had a much anticipated “visitor” return! Not to be too graphic but I expected my first one in over a year and a half to be a little lighter than normal, but instead it was just the opposite, a healthy normal period. This made me so happy (and grumpy and irritable, and feeling pretty icky) because I now knew that I really had reached a good place.
In addition to finally eating normal, balanced meals, and the return of my long-lost “friend”, I have also had a change in how I see myself. I have gained some weight, which was much needed as I am now realizing, and as a result my body is changing. My waist and stomach is getting a bit pudgier, my legs are getting a bit bigger and dimplier, my arms are getting bigger. (Pros: my chest is also getting a bit bigger, too! ;)) Clothes that once fit very loosely, now fit comfortably but snugly. Shorts and jeans that once fit comfortably, no longer fit at all. Tops that once hung loosely on me and around my arms, now sit a bit more snugly to my body. Changes. But the changes aren’t anywhere near as scary as they were in the past. I have gone through this process before, but sadly I let it derail me because I didn’t accept it and I ended up losing much of the weight I had gained. This time, however, I’m feeling much more comfortable in my new skin. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t really love (at least not yet!) my body and everything I see, but I’m steadily learning to accept it. Acceptance is a huge accomplishment. I no longer look at my body and point out the things that I need to work on or change. I have accepted that my body, at a healthy place, will never be toned and trim. For me to be healthy, I will need to have a little extra cushion on me. My stomach will not be flat, my legs will not be free of cellulite and my arms may jiggle a little bit when I wave, but you know what? That is OK.
I have spent too much time trying to chase this ideal of what I think I should look like, or what others expect me to look like. It’s stupid and exhausting. I know being thin does not equate to happiness or contentment or satisfaction. In fact, when I was thinner, I didn’t like my body, but hated it. My mind was so distorted from lack of proper nutrition from starving myself that I still saw all the “fat” and imperfections on my body. But now, I have a much better view of myself and my body. I have reached a point of acceptance and I even have moments where I actually feel love for my body and like what I see in the mirror. I have had more than a few occasions when I’ve looked at my stomach, with a little extra fluff and pudge, and felt content with how it looked, if not satisfied with how it looked. I’ve got curves and an actual frame, instead of being curve-less. I look like a grown, 24-year-old woman, instead of a 13 year old girl. Yes, there are the crappy, down days here and there, too…and that is to be expected. But they are becoming fewer and fewer as time goes by.
I’ve been able to rock some outfits that I normally would have run far, far away from because I would have been embarrassed to show certain areas of my body. Not only have I worn them, but I have felt beautiful and sexy and proud of my body in them. That is uncharted territory for me! But it is such a wonderful and exciting feeling. I remember thinking a couple months ago that come summer, I would NOT be comfortable wearing shorts, unless they were more capri-like and came no higher than the knee because of my upper thighs and the cellulite and loose skin I have from my initial weight loss years ago. But, I’ve been rocking the short shorts. I don’t like being hot and uncomfortable. I like it much less than I care about what people think of how my legs look. I want to be comfortable, I want to wear what I want to wear, and I am entitled to do so. I am no longer letting my body hold me back from being me.
I also feel much more feminine and sexy than I ever have before. (Not to mention, the hubby finds me extremely attractive with a little extra weight on me) I am slowly but surely distancing myself more and more from my eating disorder, challenging a lot of those last few remaining behaviors or thoughts that have kept me stuck. I’m feeling freer by the day, week and month. It’s a wonderful way to feel.
So while I have become more comfortable with wearing outfits that I normally wouldn’t wear or would have felt extremely self conscious in, I have not sported a swimsuit yet this season so I’m not entirely sure how I’ll feel in that, strutting it around at the beach, but I guess we’ll see. I will take it a day at a time and keep working to make progress. I’m happy with how I’ve been able to move forward and I am hopeful that it will only continue.