I’m starting with a joke on a topic that’s no laughing matter. But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t see the lighter side of the issue.
I’ve been taking a step back from the blog world lately. There’s a few people whose antics I miss reading about daily, but it’s hard for me to start and not stop-hey, I own my impulse control issues. And inevitably if I start reading blogs, I’ll follow an unhealthy path. I’ll start checking in on people who I read as a barometer to how healthy, in shape, a runner I was. The comparison game starts. And it leads me down a strange path.
So on one side of me, I’ve got the acknowledged comparison trap. And on the other side, I’ve got some friends and family who care about me. One of whom periodically sends me articles about people with anorexia “for my blog”. Like this article about a girl’s strange relationship with running. Or this article about a girl relying on fruits and vegetables to keep her alive. And it sends me a message. Are you sure this isn’t you?
I logged on today to write about another frustrating issue I’m facing, but I saw a friend’s post and remembered that it’s NEDA.
I so much as put that logo into my post, and I want to start denying it. “I care about these issues, but it’s not ME”. But isn’t it? I don’t think someone without some level of disorder would have the most finely tuned mental calorie rolodex known to man. Nor would they obsessively worry about missed workouts when they’ve got the flu or a cold. And they probably wouldn’t spend their time on the exercise equipment at the gym with a make it or die calorie burn goal in mind.
I was talking to some girls I know at the gym in our changing room the other day. I mentioned that my husband and a friend and I started having a weekly “Orphan Black” viewing party. Last week, while watching the show, I had the realization that there’s “healthy for your age/weight/height”, there’s “in-shape”, and then there’s that other degree of skinny. The one where your legs get really thin. And your arms. Your facial structure changes. And I realized I’d never make it to that “other degree” and it made me sad-but still not sad enough to give up the occasional (fine, fine-weekly) slice of pizza. And that actress is definitely that stage of thin. Anyway, as I’m conveying my dismay at not being that skinny, the other girls gave me a weird look. “Well, yeah, but who wants to be that skinny? I just want to be mobile when I’m older.” or “I don’t want to be skinny, I want to be strong”. These aren’t girls who live or die by the calorie count on the machine. And they gave each other the look while we were talking-the “this girl is crazy” look.
I talk a lot about trying to change my mindset. I don’t want to wake up every morning and jump on a scale to see what kind of day I am going to have. Did I gain weight? Do I need to have a longer workout to try and “fix” things? Am I at that arbitrary number that equates to perfect in my mind? But, I do. I know objectively that I’m so much more than X pounds, X height, X BMI, and X body fat. I have a sharp wit, a competitive spirit, and a fierce love for my friends and family. I can’t see me the way a friend would see me.
Today I went to the gym to work out over lunch like always. I ran yesterday-and I’m trying to build back up my endurance. I ran 4.5 miles and walked .5 over the course of the workout for a total of 5 miles. Today’s workout wasn’t so hot. I missed my goal by 150 calories-and there it is again. A workout not to feel better or be stronger, but to reduce myself to a calories in/calories out robot. And you know my first thoughts when I was heading to the locker room? Who can I turn to to voice my frustrations? My Mom? My Husband? My BFF? My Aunt? No, because all of them will provide logical explanations for why it didn’t go so well. And what I want is to validate the shame filled self talk I’m giving myself. And if those closest to me don’t think that, why do I?
I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know if I’ll ever be “fixed”. It’s tough for me to reconcile-my ED if I had to diagnose myself would probably be exercise bulimia. I hate feeling hungry-it gives me a migraine. But eating something and then turning to exercise to negate what I perceive as bad? That I’ll do. This isn’t like being an alcoholic or a heroin addict-you’re supposed to work out, just not to excess. For the “right” reasons. So it’s something I need to have a relationship with all of my life. How do you make sure you’re not abusing the privilege?
This isn’t an easy story to share. It’s something I’ve dealt with on and off, and I’m sure people are sick of reading about it. But given the timeliness of my experience with the awareness week, I felt compelled to share it. I’m sorry for beating a dead horse, but it’s just something I struggle with so much. Thanks for reading my ramblings.