Flexibility Part I: Fearing Change

Howdy! It’s been a while.

Have you ever had one of those spans of time where you’re just… blah?  It’s not for a particular reason, and it’s not that you’re angry, or sad, or depressed, or scared, or feeling any one particular emotion. You’re just… blah.

That’s been me the past few weeks.  In particular, that’s been me the last week.  And in some ways, I guess it has translated over to my writing too.  I haven’t wanted to write… and I certainly didn’t know even if I did WANT to write, what to write about.

I mean, I could do a post on a particular food.  Like dates, for example, or coconut.  And I could rave about why that particular food is totally awesome, taste-wise and nutrient-wise.  The date one could definitely have been a thing, as it’s been causing me, or rather the eating disordered part of me, endless vexation.  But I was uninspired.

And I could also have done a post on some incredible macronutrient that we all love to hate and hate to love.  You know the one… that big gooey one.  That deliciously fluffy yet smooth one that just sneaks its way even into the strictest of diet plans…

FAT!

I just realized those descriptions could have also described an undercooked muffin, brownie, or cookie… and hence CARBS!  But I was really thinking about fat…

And now I really want an undercooked cookie…

Moving on!

I could have written about fat.  I will write about fat.  But again, I was uninspired.

And I could have responded to a Liebster Award nomination… which I TECHNICALLY have, but have been unable to post because I’m having a heck of a time coming up with bloggers to nominate with less than 200 followers!! Hence my lack of technical skills rears its ugly head. (Side note:  if anyone can help me find WHERE to find how many followers a blog has, this would be super helpful!)

Anyways, as you can see, I was uninspired.  And I was unmotivated.  You see, because when you go through a good two years with a thigh gap (yes, I know this is an unrealistic and unhealthy ideal, but it’s an ed thing) and then suddenly it no longer exists, as much as you want to say it doesn’t matter, it does.  And it’s a grieving process, and an acceptance process, and a depressing process.  And it leaves you unmotivated.  I’m working through it.

On another note, mirrorless Monday is becoming easier on most fronts.  I’ve decided to totally cover my bedroom mirror with a curtain of sorts, which helps a lot when you wake up at 5 in the morning and forget what day it is.  Plus, the bedroom mirror is, at least for me the most unforgiving and the cruelest.  So actually, I’ve decided to keep the curtain up and closed on this one!  Now, when I want to use it, it actually gives me the space to stop and think first:

  1. Do I really NEED to look in the mirror right now? AKA, is there spinach in my teeth?
  2. Why am I looking in the mirror right now?
  3. Is it going to help me, or is it going to harm me to look in the mirror right now?

And when you have that space to ask yourself those questions, believe it or not I’d say 80 % of the time it results in me walking away from the mirror without having opened the curtain to check at all.  Except for this morning, even though it’s mirrorless Monday.  BUT, I think it’s a legitimate cause to look in the mirror when suddenly you have blood flowing down your face and you have no idea where it’s coming from…

Side note: I apparently picked a scab while I was impatiently waiting for my oatmeal to cook.  TMI probably, but just so you all know, I’m not dying!

So, what am I actually going to talk about?

Yesterday, and I guess today, if you think of the stat holiday as a holiday, was Canadian Thanksgiving!  Or, as one of my best friends puts it: “anxiety+family+food” day!  Which pretty much sums it up.

Thanksgiving is horrendously wonderful.  Turkey day even gets its own slot on the hunger/fullness scale, with 1 being dizzy and weak, and 10 being binge full (Thanksgiving full actually is 9, just in case you were wondering).  So in terms of notoriety, it’s kind of the Madonna or MJ of the food world.

I just had a vision of a turkey, wearing a white glove, and dancing the slide to dark or white (like dark meat/white meat, instead of black or white skin…).  You kinda had to be there.

Moving on.  As such, it is one of those holidays that people with eating disorders love to hate.  I mean, it’s a holiday that celebrates food in all its glory.  It’s a holiday where it actually is normal to eat past comfortably full.  It’s a holiday that delights in fear foods (gravy, creamed sauces, probably some nuts somewhere, dessert, pie, whipping cream, ice cream, pie, alcohol perhaps, CARBS, pie…).  It’s a time of family and friends, which even in the best relationships often gets stressful.  Whether it’s people interrogating you on where your life is going, who you’re dating, offering their unsolicited opinions on what you SHOULD or SHOULDN’T be doing.  Plus, house of 30 people, roasting hot oven= heat stroke, lack of space, lack of air, and irritability.  Or at least, that’s how it usually is in my family.

And believe it or not, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  This Thanksgiving for me… well I’ll be honest, it kind of sucked.  No, it really, really sucked.  And it wasn’t because I had to eat turkey, or gravy, or cream sauces, or deal with unending questions of how my life was going or whether I was living up to expectations.  It was because it DIDN’T have any of that.  For a girl who is used to being with family and going through the anxiety provoking yet necessary yearly rite of passage, it was a let-down.

I had to work.  AKA I had to pay bills, which means that I had to work.  Which means, that I didn’t get to drive out of town and spend the holiday with all my family.  It sucks, but it’s life.  It saved me from a lot of food anxiety, as it was a day like any other, and a lot of relationship anxiety, but it also made me feel quite down in the dumps most of the week, and especially yesterday.

I did buck up last night, get angry that I was doing NOTHING Thanksgiving-y, and decide to create a recipe for single-serving pumpkin pie.  It turned out quite tasty, but it was more of a cake because if you don’t have 6 hours to let a pumpkin pie set and cool before eating, you kind of have to go the cake route.  Plus the crust needs a bit of work… it’s not much of a looker either… basically it’s a work in progress.  And it did trigger a rather large ED meltdown afterwards.

Oh the joys of Thanksgiving!

But this Thanksgiving taught me a little lesson.  Actually this week taught me a little lesson: You have to be flexible.

Flexible.

Let’s see… the definition of flexible… ah here we go:

Flexible

  1. capable of being bent, usually without breaking (emphasis on the USUALLY for me)
  2. susceptible of modification or adaptation; adaptible
  3. willing or disposed to yield; pliable

Flexible.  It is one of those qualities that I really wish that I could add to my list of personality traits!  And it’s super funny, because on one hand I’m about as flexible as a piece of plywood, yet at the same time I am so frustrated by inflexibility (including my own) that I will go out of my way to avoid it or push against boundaries.  Hence, my tendency to change my hair quite frequently, or constant need for variety in my diet.

I’m a walking dialectical oxymoron.  Yes… I do use words like that in real life.

Side note: my dietician got a good laugh the other day.  Here I am, bearing my soul in peanut butter and chocolate, and she was stifling a laugh because I’m the first person she has heard actually use the word “whilst” in a sentence!

Double side note:  I’m not actually mad about this… it makes me happy when I amuse people.  Because I believe I am one of the most boring people ever so it shocks me when it happens.  Moving on.

Flexibility, or rather, inflexibility is a big issue in the eating disorder realm.  Our world is ruled by a set of guidelines that supposedly maintains the safety, structure, and certainty of our existence, of our diet, and most importantly of our weight, or weight loss.  We are completely convinced that if we do something the same way and it has always been safe then we will continue to stay safe doing things the same way.  I remember one therapist I once saw told me that one of the key personality traits for someone with anorexia is inflexibility/rigidity, along with high levels of harm avoidance.  So I mean it logically makes sense; why change something that isn’t broken?  Why do something differently if we don’t know what will happen when we do?  If there is a chance that we might get hurt, that the sky will fall, that the pain we fear will come to meet us?

Answer:  Because there has to be something MORE.

There has to be something more than doing the same thing over and over.  There has to be something more than eating the same meal over and over.  There has to be something more than not settling for something that you’re only kind of happy with, or maybe not happy with at all.  And maybe there isn’t something more.  Maybe there isn’t something better.  Sometimes we change something, only to find that it IS worse than before.

But guess what?  You can always go back.

Well maybe not ALWAYS.  This isn’t “Back to the Future”. But with a lot of things that we fear to change, we often forget that a change doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  It doesn’t mean switching one rut for another.  Just because you make a change does not mean you have to stick to it if it’s not working for you.  As I often have to remind myself, going backwards isn’t the same as quitting or giving up, it’s simply re-routing.

And sometimes, when we make a change, we find out that there was something MORE.  There was something BETTER.  And we luck out.  And we grow, we expand (in personality, in depth of character, not necessarily in waistline), and we become MORE than we were before.

Like when I first started with my new dietician, and I said, “I don’t want to try a new breakfast because I’m so scared that I’ll hate it and then I’ll have wasted my calories.” For someone who is starving themselves every little calorie you allow yourself to eat is precious.  You cherish it.  You plan for it.  You savour it.  Or at least I did, because I never knew when I would be able to have it again.

But if I hadn’t tried something new, I never would have discovered baked oatmeal, overnight oats, or the wonderful thing that happens when you blend an avocado into a smoothie, or slap some scrambled eggs on a waffle (if you haven’t tried either of these ideas, stop reading NOW, and go do it!  I can wait!  Preferably at the same time, because you can have a smoothie and a waffle and an egg (and cheese) at the same time (with some spinach and milk and banana and almond butter thrown in, hint hint), preferably for lunch, because there are NO RULES, and it is DELICIOUS!) And my body would never have learned how to digest food properly again.  Okay maybe that last part was more along the lines with just eating properly again and not just the breakfast shift, but you get the point.  The change was good!

Or this past week.  I had to go in for weigh in, but my doctor called me the day before and said that he had to move my appointment from 11 am to 1 pm.  And this was my face:

And I had to be flexible.  I had to adapt.  Why was this a big deal you ask?  Because I MUST get weighed at the same time of day, wearing the same clothes, after having eating at the same exact times I do every weigh in day!  It must be consistent or the world will END!  My weight won’t be accurate, I’ll blow up 10 extra pounds because I ate lunch first, I’ll retain some fluid…

So I planned to skip lunch… or rather not skip it, but wait until after 2 to eat.  At least, until my dietician reminded me not only how ridiculous my reasoning sounded, but how impractical this plan was since I still had a snack to fit in before dinner.  So I had to adapt, and I had to be okay with eating lunch before a weigh in.  I had to be okay with the possible water retention (that is NORMAL), and the possible fluctuation of weight (that is also NORMAL).  And I had to be okay when I finally decided to eat lunch on the way and what I was going to order had something I was allergic to in in and I had to pick something else in the spur of the moment.  Pressure + me = RUN!

IMG_1278

Except nothing happened.  Nothing.  The world didn’t end.  And assuming that no one is lying to me, my weight increased the same amount as usual… the same amount that it’s supposed to be increasing by.

I had to be flexible when I realized I couldn’t spend the holiday with my family.

I had to push my boundaries.  And yes, it created a ridiculous amount of anxiety!  Yes, I wanted to panic, yes I wanted to run away, yes I wanted to restrict, yes I wanted to jump on a treadmill, yes I wanted to physically cut the fat that suddenly seemed to appear when I did look in the mirror off my body.  Yes it was uncomfortable.  Yes it hurt.

Yes, there was something more.  Yes, I did survive.

And there will be more surviving.  This morning my meal plan changed, and needless to say I am terrified.  We went from avidly counting calories to food exchanges… and now that that has just turned into another set of rules like calories we have to switch it up again.  Once again, this lack of structure cued my face:

It’s more of a “flex plan”, that gives me room to play and try to identify my hunger and fullness cues.  There is a basic structure, but I have wiggle room.

In my mind, this could result in either massive restriction or me blowing up like a balloon.  Of course this is black or white (dark meat or white?), and completely illogical, but thats just how it feels.  But what is the alternative?  Staying the same.  And there has to be something MORE.

I want more.

So I have to be flexible.

And because this is getting long, I’ll call this part I, and end it here.  Actually no, I’ll end it here, because I’m all Thanksgiving-y and pumpkin-y and it’s necessary to have a killer oatmeal recipe in your arsenal for those mornings where you just can’t wait a half an hour for your breakfast to bake.  I might have made it this morning…

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5 thoughts on “Flexibility Part I: Fearing Change

  1. I am grateful that you posted this – I related. It is nice to relate. Flexibility is so important and so difficult. I try to be very ‘go-with-the-flow’ when it comes to plans with my friends, but I really like to know the who, what, where when why of everything. I want to have my own car so I can leave whenever I want. I want to know the food choices before I go anywhere. What I am learning, just as you are it seems, is that life is anything but predictable, or rigid. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured. I was enduring life for a very long time. Today, I have days were I enjoy it. Sometimes, I share both sentiments in the same day. But, progress is progress.

    Good luck with your new flex plan – I’m thinking of ya.

    Like

  2. Oh holy moly guacamole, yes, yes, yes! I can relate to basically this whole post (and I’m totally going to stop “whilst!”)

    Sidenote: You can see followers by pushing a blog post, than pushing the blog name, and you will see a list of all their posts. On the top, just under their tag line, is the number of followers they have. This would be mine: https://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/96101431
    (No idea if that made ANY sense, ha ha!)

    Like

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