Where the F is the rainbow?

I’ve been in outpatient treatment for my disorder for over a year now.

Am I better?

Sure – on the outside I’m sure I appear to be cured. I’ve gained weight, I no longer look skeleton like… if anything I probably look like I could stand to loose a few pounds.

So all cured right? WRONG.

On the outside you’d never tell, but on the inside it almost feels worse. I still have the negative talk, the controlling drill sergeant and I feel uncomfortable in my own skin. I don’t like how things fit and I don’t trust my body to do what it needs to do… or whatever it’s trying to do.

I fight the urge to quit treatment everyday. I fight the urge to quit the trudge towards healthier life long choices and fight the urge to revert to the disordered behaviors just to feel a little more comfortable.

So where the F is the rainbow at the end of all of this? Not sure… just trying to trust that it really, truly is there…

I guess this applies to so many other times in our life. We can’t always see the rainbow through the storm, the finish line or the celebration. We have to trust and let it happen.

Stay strong!

TRUE Strength

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Two women. One story.

IMG_7017Sometimes I get very angry that anorexia and excessive/compulsive exercising stole almost a decade of my life and that daunting negative thoughts still slip into my days surrounding the simple act of eating, taking care of myself and acknowledging my own worth.

Then I have moments of clarity and hope that shine through the darkness and fill me with motivation and strength, such as Monday night with survivor, warrior and my  amazingly resilient and driven friend, Meggie Sexton. 

I’m pretty sure our paths would not have crossed if we both hadn’t struggled with this demon. And for that I’m thankful for the struggles we’ve had.

We had an incredible opportunity to share our stories and our fights for recovery and life with 300 students at the University of Dayton for NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association Awareness Week 2016.

We feel our message might have touched some lives… Some who were on the verge of the slippery slope; some who had been living the horrific battle already; some who were searching for a solution as they watched their best friends, girl friends, roommates shrink to skeletons.

We were scared to get up on stage and I was scared to be so exposed. But we realized our disorders no longer have control over us and can’t stop us from sharing our battle and our strength to others.

We are winning, we are stronger, more determined. We have a job to do.

In the end… I’m thankful for this fight for my life. It has taught me resiliency and priorities, it’s taught me how much more capable I am than ever thought and it’s introduced me to some of the toughest people I’ve ever met…. Myself included.

TRUE Strength

Mean girls

My drill sergeant (aka my disorder) often acts like the mean girl in school… the one who, for whatever reason has all the attention and still treats everyone like shit.

The mean girl in my life is my disorder, sitting on my shoulder, telling me I’m not as good looking, not in good shape, don’t deserve to eat this or need to do another workout to feel good. This mean girl used to get ALL my attention.

As with most mean girls, as the attention starts to fade the voice gets louder, trying to regain power and control. Often it is hard to hear above the noise and after constant digs, sometimes the knocks starts to feel like truths. When you’re constantly bombarded with these cut downs it is hard to hear anything else.

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The movie Mean Girls came out in 2004  

Mean girls are only as powerful as the power you give them. The drill sergeant and this disorder are powerful – sometimes crushing – because I give it power.

Lately I’ve had brief moments or flits of a kinder, gentler voice saying… you’re doing great – keep it up. Often the mean girl bats that away quickly but the fact that this voice is poking through is encouraging.

Do you have these competing voices and influences?  Real or just swirling in your mind – they are valid and real to you. Who would you rather choose to spend time with… the mean girl group… who usually peak in high school or the friend who lifts you up?

It is not as easy as simply kicking the meal girl to the curb but it has helped me realize I no longer have to continue to give the mean girl all my attention and power. Slowly but surely she’ll peak and and go away… now I’m just actively helping move that along!

Stay strong, be kind to yourself, and honor your TRUE Strength.

H.A.L.T.

SSA_HaltIt happened again…

Mid, very strenuous workout I had to shake off the tears.

It was a mix of thinking of my mom and a mix of the message the workout instructor was screaming at us.  Let me explain… she was screaming over the pounding music in a spin class – encouraging us to push harder, let go and even “get pissed” at times. Her music sound track was planned out to give us a killer workout AND a message.  She weaved her message into our class which boiled down to letting go of regrets, sadness, and self doubt and negative talk. It does us no good she kept saying.

As she encouraged us to let go of baggage I felt my legs peddling faster, my mind focusing and letting go of the constant dialog… the constant “to-do” list, constant disorded battles, the constant second guessing.  Just as I felt my legs flying I also felt the tears welling.  I was thinking of my mom, I was feeling the release of the disorder’s control (even though temporarily), I just felt a release.

Shaking off the tears I focused, pedaled faster.  I realized some of excessive exercise is simply me running away from feeling.  Even though I was pedaling faster, I was focused on feeling the emotions and release… not just running away.

As she encouraged us to leave the baggage behind and to treat ourselves with kindness and care she said… never be too H.A.L.T. 

Never be too:

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Tired

She said… a little H.A.L.T. is good… keeps your fire burning – but if you’re too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired you can’t function to the best of your ability and you can’t be the person you’ve been destined to be.  For me – if I’m too H.A.L.T. I can’t be the wife, mother, professional, woman, role model or citizen I need … I strive to be.

This can be a very literal thing… don’t let yourself function in a constant state of hunger, don’t hold on to anger, don’t let yourself wallow in loneliness, and don’t try to get through barely rested.  In the abstract… have a hunger for life – don’t starve yourself from adventure and life; anger can keep you motivated but too much can crush you; you don’t need someone necessarily next to you every minute to not be lonely – instead find comfort and camaraderie in yourself and with others who lift you up; and if you’re tired of what you’re doing… change it!

As I type this I know I am often functioning too H.A.L.T. but I can change and I can continue to dedicate myself to getting healthier.

Join me – TRUE Strength 

Be present

Something I continually try to remember is to be present.  imgres-1

Be where you are and be engaged.

All too often I find myself thinking two miles down the road… what do I have to get done, what is stressing me, what do I need to accomplish.  OR I’m left thinking in the past… did I exercise enough, eat too much, say the right thing.

What happens when you’re always living in the past or future… you miss the gift of the present.  <— Too corny?  Yes, maybe, but it is true.  Each moment is a gift that can be taken away so quickly.

My personal eating disorder thrives on “fortune telling” it’s the what ifs and the very unrealistic cause and effect thinking.  An example… if I can’t workout today and didn’t workout yesterday and actually eat everything on my meal plan I’m going to gain weight… This type of thinking takes me away from the present and causes me to miss the great gifts all around me.

Recently I was instructed to just breath.  The instructor said… the beauty about breathing is that you cannot breath in the past or in the future – you can only breath in the present.  It reminds me of a comment my mom once made to me in the middle of a very stressful situation.  She said… “Take three deeps breaths, splash water on your face three times, and then keep breathing.” Much later I asked – why three times…she laughed and said she had no clue why it just came out. The point is it brought me back to the present. I could handle the situation if I was in the present but only then.

I am learning, I can battle the disorder, be a better wife and a better mom and a better professional if I’m in the present… but only if I am.  

Take a few deep breaths and BE PRESENT.

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TRUE Strength

Practicing non-violence against yourself

Yesterday I took my first real yoga class.  I’ve done a class here or there in the past but never with the intention of really trying yoga.  It was more because the instructor was a friend and it sounded nice to do for a class.

I’ve been searching for something… something different… something maybe kinder on my body…. something.

I’ve also been talking a lot with my counselor that I’m seeing that I’m healthier and stronger but I don’t feel comfortable feeling so thick.  **NOW remember – this is a disordered perception but the question came out… well maybe it’s time to change something.

Ever heard this?  “The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Well… yes – time for a change.  

I’ve been doing CrossFit for over six years now.  As my story on TRUE Strength has shared – I’ve been a competitive athlete and no just focus on having fun and working hard. I don’t think I have a desire to stop CrossFitting but I do have a desire to challenge myself in different ways and try new things.

This was a hot power yoga.  I enjoyed the sweat and the challenge of a brand new routine, method and flow.  I was physically challenged and mentally challenged. I am not very good at quieting my mind but can see how in yoga it’s not just an aspect of the practice but is a principle of the practice. The importance of feeling the breath and whatever is released within when you do the moves is a challenge.  As I’ve shared, a large part of my disorder is an ability to NOT feel and block out feelings, needs, or desires.  Yoga may just help open that guarded door.

I enjoyed that I wasn’t competing with anyone else… which was surprising because I like the competition side of CrossFit.

But above all of this, the thing that stuck with me was a comment the instructor made.

She said…

“Yoga is about the practice of non-violence against yourself.”  

WOW.  

What is my disorder if not violence against myself? 

The instructor encouraged us to try different poses and binds but said… if it doesn’t feel right … don’t do it. “In yoga… pain NO gain.”  Coming from a workout like CrossFit where you train yourself to not feel pain and to just push through this was so refreshing AND uncomfortable!

At the end of class I’m learning that it is typical to have several minutes just being still on the floor.  Someone more experienced in yoga could tell you the name for what we did but I can tell you that afterwards I found it almost sad that it took someone else telling me and leaving me with no other option than to lay down and be still to actually do this.  It wasn’t like I could get up and fold laundry… I had to just BE.  My body felt heavy with satisfaction and almost as if I blended with the floor.

As I lay there all of a sudden my eyes welled up and I cried.  I was thinking of my mom.  Thinking about how she wasn’t very kind to herself until much later in life. She always ran herself ragged, she did everything for everyone else… and herself was left folding laundry.

Let’s all try to practice non-violence against ourselves.  No matter our struggles or if we are battling a disorder or not… non-violence… be kind to ourselves. 

TRUE Strength

Getting through… not thriving

Our minds are amazing animals…

Mine works in overdrive most days and for many years has operated almost as a separate entity – separate from many feelings, creating it’s own reality and truth, putting on a strong smile and a “power through” face.

After realizing that I was just simply getting through – instead of thriving – I started seeking help for a long standing disordered relationship with food and exercise… to be brutally honest the technical term is exercise anorexia.  Although I’ve bounced a bit in and out of healthier stages I’ve never truly been in a state where my mind is quiet and I’m not obsessed with what I eat and how much I exercise.  After my daughters were born I was determined to stop the cycle and set a positive example for them.  I would not wish this constant battle on even my worst enemy and I will spend my days making sure I don’t let my daughters model my disordered behavior.

SO… why put this all out in such a public way? For me… saying it out loud makes it real.  My mind is REALLY good at separating my reality from real reality.  It can tell me I’ve eaten SO much or that I’m getting really flabby… it can tell me that I’m not tired and that if I stop to relax I’m being lazy.  But saying it out loud brings in logic and truth… and I can’t hide once it’s out there.  For a long time I have been … “ok” I’ve not been sick per se, I haven’t been too under weight… but I haven’t been right or healthy.  I was getting through but certainly wasn’t thriving.

When I started seeking help one of my counselors talked about the constant dialog in my mind.  If you have experience with disorders you understand this concept, if not… imagine a drill sergeant in your mind constantly questioning every thought and action, every bit of food you’ve even THOUGHT about eating, every bit of exercise or every moment of rest… constantly.  From the precise moment you wake to the point you finally, finally fall asleep.  It is exhausting.

This counselor said that not everyone has that constant dialog… I still am in disbelief but I’m dedicated to seeing for myself if this can stop.  Part of that process is being brutally honest to myself and part of that is putting it out there in public.

This blog has served as a motivational device, a place for snarky fun, and as a way to share real life challenges and successes.  I’ve heard from some of you that some of my experiences have helped you and I’d like to ask that I have a shot of doing that again.  I’ll be sharing some real truths about the process to become healthy – for real.  And not just become healthy but THRIVE.  I have two beautiful little girls who are my biggest motivation and an amazing support system around me.  I hope if even for one other person, I can help add to your support system.  It’s a long and challenging journey… but one that is worth taking.  Who wants to just simply get through?

If any of this rings true to you… I hope my future sharing and messages can help give you TRUE Strength.