Wednesday, February 24, 2016

My Relationship with Food (including a miracle -- only two pictures in this entire post!)

Ah.  We're going to get a little really serious on the bloggie today, so I thought I'd open with a giggle.  And thanks to Shakespeare, "There's many a true word spoken in jest."


So.

I needed to talk to you about some real stuff.  This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week, and I feel good enough about the subject to share my story here.

Several years ago, circa 2007-2009, I decided that my athleticism would be best utilized in the world of bodybuilding.

I lifted -------- HEAVY -------

I went through a couple of bulking cycles, putting on roughly eight pounds of muscle (yes, muscle) in a year (which is much tougher than you'd think:)

I began cutting for my first show (the Texas Shredder) 12 weeks before the competition.

My family was totally in with me, and were as supportive as they knew to be.  My Mom even helped place crystals on one of my Figure competition suits.

With several (like six) weeks left in the cut (99% clean eating, carb cutoffs, low calories, ketosis, etc.)/out from show, I began to melt down.  The counting of calories and macronutrients, the daily double workouts, the high, low, medium days of calories (a "high" day was 1200 calories), on top of personal training and full-time school, really began to wear on me.  I was down to 11% body fat, which was ideal for comp, but I didn't know which way to look, which way to go, how to deal with feelings of hunger I'd never dealt with before in my life.  I ended up pleading with my sports nutritionist (who was just as scared as I was) for more calories.  I remember one evening finally saying "eff this" and opening up a jar of peanut butter for three huge spoonfuls.  It made me feel better for that evening.

A very dear friend of mine, who worked in the Kinesiology lab on our University's campus, had been weighing me and calculating my body fat % for months at this point.  I ended up in the lab one day, bawling and telling him everything I was going through.  All he could do was hug me and tell me that if I needed to take time off, then to do it.  He listened, he cared, he helped more than he'll ever know.  He'd never seen me that way, ever, and we'd known each other for several years.  I felt like I was letting him down.  I felt like I was letting a lot of people down.

I'm not going to tell you that I was starving myself.  What I will tell you is that I was so obsessed with numbers AND food; I couldn't think about anything else.  I actually remember at one point, sitting outside of one of my classes with a friend of mine (we were always early to class, so we'd crash and study for a while until class started), starring at my watch, waiting for MINUTES until my next meal.  I was in a very dark place for a very long time.  I pulled out from the competition, and I had no idea how to eat.

I know.  That sounds reaaaaaaaaaaaally dumb.  Let me explain.

In my mind, I had this new freedom.  No pressure.  I didn't HAVE to be cut and muscular in X amount of time in front of judges.  And with that, I had no idea what to do.  I felt like I NEEDED to have food all of the time.  I was never full.  Just when I didn't think I could get lower, I was kicked once more with a rotator cuff muscle tear, which seriously, will make you feel like you can't do anything.  And I didn't for a while.  I didn't care any longer.  Lifting and training felt like a chore.

But oh wait...I was still a personal trainer.

Well, forget about "no pressure".  How was I supposed to be a successful motivator for my clients if I couldn't even take care of myself?  And this began a true cycle of disordered eating.

I refuse to go into details.  The binge and purging happened.  That's all I want to say.

I turned to running in late 2008.  "Hey...those people get to eat...!"  I still had disordered eating, at least for a few more years.

After all this time, I have re-learned how to "be full".  I owe a lot to several friends who shared their stories with me; opening up their hearts (and ears) to me, allowing me to work out my abnormal feelings about food.  I've re-learned how to love food, enjoy it on every level, and be able to put it away when I'm done.  It's not about control any longer, or lack thereof.  Now, it's fuel and nourishment for my muscles, bones, and organs.  Now, it's the stuff that tastes, smells, looks, sounds, and feels wonderful -- it's ultimate art!  It's something I enJOY with other people, and don't feel the need to punish myself for enJOYing it.

I feel like I can be myself with food.  Maybe that's why I post so much of it, why I can joke about it, the reason why I can gleefully eat a bowl of ice cream and be done.  Sometimes I'm not done.  All I know is that we have a better relationship than ever, me and food.  It doesn't make me happy -- I already have that -- it just enhances things a bit.:)

What messed with me in those darkest of moments was that this isn't a drug that I had an addiction to; it wasn't a material and certainly not something I could live without.  Why was it such a huge deal?  Why did it run my life?  I can't tell you how happy I am to understand those questions, and to have answers for myself.

If you have these questions and can't find answers, just know that I'm here.  I'm here, and I'll help you find what you need for yourself.  For more help, SEEK IT OUT.  You might think that no one will understand, but believe me --------> I WILL.  Recovery is possible, friend.



You'll notice that I labeled this post, using the word "relationship".  Yup.  Food and I have a relationship.  We've had ups and downs (and if I can make a joke -- outs), and I've worked very hard on it.  I am dependent on it, but no longer emotionally or mentally or abnormally.  We've come a long way.  I purposefully used that word.  In an awesome way.

I really hope that you have a wonderful day.  I shared this with you, only because I really know that there are others out there that have similar challenges.  Also, it's my blog.  So there's that.:D
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So, how are you?:)

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing, my love. I hate that so many of us have developed complex relationships with food because of the active lives that we live and the circles that we run in. I feel like social media has only exacerbated the problem (well, actually, we all know this). And now, there is a culture of fitting macros and cults of diets. Sadly, if feels almost like it is a rite of passage now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You summed that up perfectly, friend, regarding the "rite of passage". It's like we've all been there, no matter the path we took. Interesting stuff.

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  2. You have NO idea how many people you will help with this post. People you will never, ever hear from, but you will change their lives.

    I've actually heard very, very similar stories from many women who decide to do bikini competitions.

    I'm talking about food pretty much all this week, too, and while I used to binge -- many, many years ago, thankfully I never purged.

    I have a good relationship with food, but I'm still not where I want to be with it. I'll admit that sometimes going out to eat, not knowing what's really in the food, knowing what I WANT vs what I SHOULD . . . yeah, it can still make me anxious. I am a work in progress, and it's about progress, not perfection, after all.

    And I really struggle with how to try to nudge my husband towards more healthy eating habits. He has terrible eating habits, and while he was underweight when we married, now he's gotten quite heavy. I also know that he's got to want to do it, and I definitely set a good example for him, but it makes me afraid on so many levels -- because it's not just what he eats, it's his lack of exercise, the heavy breathing from walking up the stairs, being tired from just walking Lola, and most especially the fact that his Dad had dementia. It's really, really scary.

    And OTOH, he has supported & loved me no matter what my weight. I try to do the same, but sometimes I just can't help myself because I want so badly for him to feel better, and for us to be able to enjoy his retirement.

    Okay, I need to get off my soapbox . . .

    ReplyDelete

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