Survivor Sunday: The Answers Lie Within Me

Does anyone else hear Destiny’s Child when they read the word “survivor”?

Mmmmmmm. Yep, I totally just did a sassy dance on my chair.  The sad thing is that this is so 1990 to 2006 (I googled (y) ).  The youth of today are probably seeing the word survivor and thinking this:

It’s a travesty.  I mean the chicken pahm and tuna fish…

But really, my boyfriend and I were talking the other day about the things that kids are totally missing out on nowadays.  Like ET!  I mean, I wasn’t a huge fan, but it blows my mind when I make an ET reference to someone and they’re all crickets.  Or fortune tellers, dunkaroos (which apparently you can still buy but they’re hard to find), MASH (the game), hackey sacks, gel pens, wall-mounted pencil sharpeners, and actually renting VHS’s at the video store (or really just having a video store).  Does anyone else remember buying a new CD and actually getting angry when the leaflet inside the front cover didn’t have the lyrics printed out?  It made it so much more work to sing along with it on my boombox to my hairbrush microphone, under the watchful eyes of my O-Town poster!

 

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I’m gonna put my dentures in now and move on with life…

Okay, back to where this started: survivor… STOP music, STOP… or specifically Survivor Sunday.  It’s a concept I’ve wanted to start up for quite some time, and have thrown around without too much pullback, but I finally decided to bite the bullet after getting a few positive responses!

One of the major issues with eating disorders is the feeling of isolation, or an inability to relate.  Either we’re stuck because the people around us in our immediate environment do not share our issues, or we feel trapped in a cycle of avoidance because we don’t trust ourselves to be around food, or not be exercising.  And while it helps to read other’s stories, and we can usually find something that resonates with us, sometimes one person’s musings just don’t fit with us.  That can leave us feeling even more alone, even more “freakish”, and even more imperfect.  The common line:

“Man, I can’t even have an eating disorder right!  I’m not doing x, y, or z, like so and so!  I don’t struggle with that, but I do struggle with ___.  Obviously I’m just stupid thought because NO ONE seems to have the same issue, even in the ED community.”

Reality: You’re still struggling, your problems are no less problematic, you are not “failing” at having an eating disorder/being in recovery, and chances are, someone somewhere has the exact same issue.

AKA: You’re not alone.

And as much as I enjoy the positive feedback I get on my words, I know that the reality is, I don’t resonate with everyone.  What has worked for me, may not work for you.  What I struggle/have struggled with, might be completely different.  What is scary for me, could be a piece of cake for you, or vice versa.  And that’s why I wanted to start this (ideally) weekly post: Survivor Sunday.

Let me start here: if you’re pursuing recovery in some way, if you’re contemplating a change, or if you’re simply just opening your mind to the possibility of another way of life, you ARE a survivor.  Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and anorexia nervosa specifically has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness – it is estimated that 10% of individuals with AN will die within 10 years of the onset of the disorder.¹  Bulimia Nervosa has an average lifetime duration of about 8.3 years.²  With numbers like that, with realities like that, it’s important to value the tremendous achievement it is to rally against it.  A choice like that literally can make a life or death difference.  It doesn’t matter if you “weren’t that sick”, or were only “kind of anorexic”, whatever that even means.  You never know what the other road travelled could have lead to, and it’s not a road that I suggest you go back and try out.  You’re a survivor.

You’re a survivor as much as someone who enters remission from cancer is a survivor.

You’re a survivor as much as someone who lived through third degree burns is a survivor.

Just because the wounds aren’t visible, doesn’t mean they’re not there.

So now that we’ve determined this, what is this whole Survivor Sunday shenanigan?

Sunday, for many, is a day of reflection, rest, replenishing, rejuvenation, and readiness for the week ahead.  It’s about examining both where you’ve been in the last seven days, and where you’re going in the next seven.  And that can get you down.  If you’ve been struggling, you might feel like you haven’t accomplished much.  If you’re nervous about something coming up, you might be more vulnerable to triggers in the days leading up to it.  And Survivor Sunday is about both of those things: where you are, and where you’re going, as well as how you’re going to get there.

Every (again, ideally!) Sunday, I’m going to be posting a contribution from another Survivor.  It brings in the other points of view that I might not reach, and a breath of fresh air to the blog space.  Plus, if you decide to contribute (hint, hint), it’s a great way to connect with others, share experiences, and promote your own blog, if you have one, a bit!

It’s a great way to show everyone how diverse eating disorders are and that we are not alone even though so often it feels as though we are. Plus, as everyone’s disorder is different, everyone has different rules, everyone has had a different experience, etc, this gives the opportunity for you to connect with someone that I potentially can’t! I hope that you’re just as excited as I am!

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So how’s it going to work?

Firstly:  There is no “I don’t know how to write… I’m not good enough… It won’t be very good… etc etc….” ED beats us up enough. Don’t do it to yourself too! This is our individual experiences, and it’s the story and the thoughts and the stuff you put into it that counts. I have no rubric… I’m not going to send it back to you and say, redo it, it’s not up to standard! I welcome everything and everyone. However there are a few ground rules. And bear with me, I’ve never done this before so whilst I get it working there may be add ins or whatever to this list as I figure out what works and what doesn’t:

RULES:

  • No numbers related specifically to you- i.e., weights, distances ran, amount of times purging, calories eaten etc, etc you get the idea.  No need to feed the comparison monster.
  • In general, keep the language clean. I can do a swear word here or there, if it’s emphasizing something in a way that no other word really can, but if it’s littered with them, it doesn’t work for me.
  • I’m not pro ana, or mia, and while this should be evident, I’ll iterate it. We’re not glorifying the ED here. I’m pro recovery.
  • Be respectful of other’s privacy. If you’re telling a story, don’t use other’s real names etc etc, because they might not want their story broadcast.

I’m blanking. It’s common sense stuff really. That being said, note I will require the submission to be sent to me no later than the Friday before the post. I will be reading over all submissions before they are posted just to check that we’re all jiving but I’m sure we will be 🙂 If things come up that pose a concern, I’ll bring it back and we’ll work it out (hence needing at least a day in between so we can edit if need be 🙂 ) . Similarly to respecting other’s privacy, I will at all times respect yours. It is an honour to have you write for the blog, and I value your opens and honesty. If you do not want to have your name posted with your submission, let me know. If you want the name changed, either do so directly in the post (but let me know too obviously so I don’t give you a byline), or tell me, and I can change the name for you. Similarly, if you want some self promo for one of your projects, note a link to your page etc, and I’ll for sure work it in!

SO WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT?

Answer: Anything your little heart desires! It could be recipes, it could be aspects of recovery, it could be your ED story, how it developed, things you learned, relapse, triggers, treatment, how you’ve grown, your hopes for recovery and life beyond an ED, etc etc etc… ANYTHING. I’m all ears, as long as it is pro recovery. Traveling with an eating disorder, how to cope with stress, being in university and having an eating disorder… I don’t know. I could go on and on!!

WHAT IS THE COMMITMENT?

None. There’s no commitment… although if you want to be a regular contributor I would not object!! You can test the waters. Maybe you only write once, maybe more than once. Maybe you write once now, and then are inspired again in 2 months, and decide to write again. Feel it out. I’m feeling it out with you too!

Also, I’m toying with the idea of starting a fb group or page or something so that all of those who contribute to survivor sunday can get updates to this or whatever all in one place, and talk about ideas etc too, but obviously as anonymity could be a factor, am not sure whether or not this would be helpful. Let me know your thoughts!

Furthermore, if you know of anyone who might like to contribute to this, feel free to pass this along! Looking for as many people as possible 🙂

So, let me know your thoughts, ideas, when you’d like to write, etc and we can go from there. Feel free to leave a comment, or email me, or instagram… You can reach me at:

cookiecrumbsandcarrottops@gmail.com
https://www.instagram.com/cookiecrumbsandcarrottops/

Note: when emailing, make sure you attach a subject line, or you’ll probably get deleted without me reading it if I don’t know you 🙂

AND WITHOUT FURTHER ADO… THE FIRST CONTRIBUTION!!

Our first contributor is Emily of Em Recovers.  She is a beautiful soul that I have had the pleasure to follow on wordpress for a while, and I am totally honoured that she would take the time to write and share her unique perspective on things.  Be sure to pop by her site and give some of her awesome posts a read… with a latte, or some peanut butter and oats in hand, because you might just get hooked for a bit :).

The Answers Lie Within Me

The end “food goal” when it comes to my recovery is to be able to feed myself intuitively. Your end goal may be different, but I do not feel like being held back through the rigid barriers of a meal plan is healthy for me in the long term. Many others have this same goal and “intuitive eating” is a phrase thrown around left and right in the recovery community.

If you suffer from an eating disorder, I am sure that you know that it is “not all about the food”. It’s a coping mechanism that affects so many parts of our lives. Intuitive eating is not something that I am actively trying right now, but I am still able to practice being more intuitive in other aspects of my life. Being more intuitive and trusting my gut has helped me reconnect with my hunger/fullness cues, and I believe is putting me in a closer spot to being able to escape into the freedom from ED rules that I so strongly desire.

In IOP, on my blog, and on Instagram I see these beautiful souls asking questions right and left about what others think they “should” be doing. I’m sure you’ve seen these: How many calories did you eat to restore weight? Is it disordered it I count macros? Would it be a behavior if I went to yoga tonight? And maybe you’ve asked some of these questions too. I know I have, especially early on in my recovery. I still do ask them. I’m starting to learn, however, that the answers lie within me. Only I know if eating Arctic Zero is a behavior. Only I know if meal planning ahead of time is disordered. Because everyone’s eating disorder is different. Eating disorder rules vary SO much person to person, so naturally everyone’s recovery looks different.

The best part that I have found in trusting my intuition, is that I no longer feel like I have to worry about everyone else: I am taking care of me. Or at least, I’m trying to, because I do give into my eating disorder sometimes. And I know that when I do give in, I get this sick/guilty feeling that I went against what I know is healthy for me right now. As long as I focus on what my gut is telling me, it doesn’t matter if so-and-so is running 4 miles 6 days a week or if what’s-his-name is eating amount of macros. Regardless, I do get so jealous when I see people doing things that I know are behaviors for me.

But at the end of the day, I trust that I know what is healthy for me. I can choose to go against that, too. And I still mess up every day. I have an intuition, and I am also human.

Everyone has an intuition. It may be quiet, it may be hard to trust right now. But it is there. And it is beautiful. The next time you find yourself wanting to seek advice from others, I challenge you to stop and ask yourself first. Because chances are, you probably already know the answer.

¹: Sullivan, P. (2002). Course and outcome of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. In Fairburn, C. G. & Brownell, K. D. (Eds.). Eating Disorders and Obesity (pp. 226-232). New York, New York: Guilford.
²:Hudson, J. I., Hiripi, E., Pope, H. G. & Kessler, R. C. (2007). The Prevalence and Correlates of Eating Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Biological Psychiatry, 61(3), 348-358.

Screw it. Let’s do it.

So, it’s raining outside, and life sucks.

How many times have you heard that?

It’s something I could never understand, because, shock of shocks, I love the rain.  I am the happiest person ever when it is raining.  Like this morning, I was lying in bed I had the most amazingly restful sleep.  I didn’t wake up until 5:30, so I was dead to the world, and when I did wake up to roll over, the first sound that greeted my ears was the sound of gentle rainfall.  And the biggest smile came over my face.

Then I took a big breath in, and I could smell it.  That fresh, clean, spring-type smell that comes along with the rain… gosh I love it! I rolled over, and before going back to sleep for a couple hours, I hoped to myself that it would still be raining when I got up.

AND IT WAS!

Cue my happy dance as I prepped my oatmeal in the kitchen this morning, clad in my favourite sweatshirt (seriously, buy it and you will never be more comfortable in your whole life!), and pyjama shorts, spoon of peanut butter in hand.  Then sitting there with this delicious monstrosity:

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And a cup of tea, right by the window, listening to it pour down = bliss.

But this bliss was quickly replaced by the most nagging, annoying anger and frustration that I’ve experienced in quite some time.  I was finishing the last couple bites of oatmeal, and thinking about what I wanted to do next, and all I could think of was how much I wanted to be outside, soaking up all that glorious rain in a walk to the coffee shop to do some writing.  I mean how satisfying would that be:

A day off, that had been preceded by a restful sleep that results in waking up full of energy.  Then commenced with a delicious breakfast involving blueberries (the best berry), followed by a walk in spring rain (the second best rain to summer rain- which is so refreshing because it’s so hot!- because it’s not too cold to walk in), breathing in all those smells!  Then, THEN, a nice, warm latte in a cozy cafe while I get down to creative expressionism.

Can you beat that?!  I think not.

Except… ugh, I have an eating disorder.  But not just an eating disorder: an eating disorder with an exercise obsession. And my dietitian set goals in our session yesterday for me to do different types of movement this week instead of walking, so that I break rigidity and don’t get repetitive and obsessive.  In theory, all practical, and solid plans… except then it had to go and rain!

Part of this is a me problem.  I never learned to ride a bike when I was little.  Plus, now I have my license (finally… stop smirking boyfriend), but I don’t yet know how to drive, and even if I did, I would have to drive WITH someone.  And the dietitian would totally support me going to the cafe to write, but then I’d have to get a ride… not that easy when the other person in your house sleeps till noon.  I don’t want to go at noon.  I want to go now.  I like to write in the morning.

Plus it’s raining, and my favourite time to to walk is when it’s raining!  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not in denial here.  For once, this is not an eating disordered behavior!  I don’t enjoy walking in the rain if it’s pouring so hard it’s bouncing off the streets, or if it’s raining in the middle of fall or winter and the water is actually freezing cold.  And I hate being wet… so if it’s going to involve me coming out on the other side looking like a drowned rodent, I’m out.  HOWEVER, if it’s above 14ºC, not bouncing off the pavement, smells like fresh heaven, and I have access to flip-flops and an umbrella, GET ME OUTSIDE AND ON THE SIDEWALK!  AKA: if it’s like this morning.

So you have the healthy version of me, throwing a hissy fit, because for once, FOR ONCE, it’s me wanting to be on that pavement, not ED, and I’m not feeling motivated by ED in the slightest (something that hasn’t happened in YEARS), and I CAN’T GO!  I can’t go, because I’m supposed to be trying out different forms of activity.  I can’t go because, once again, my eating disorder is in my way of me being my healthy self.

Cue the Googles:

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Note the search term: Ways to get around NOT walking

And what does it come up with?  Helping my baby learn to walk, how to walk around the world, and a science article that promotes walking to work.

The Googles be mocking me…

Cue more frustration.  I’m in a small town, there’s no bus, no train, ridiculously priced taxis that you’re insane to take, I’m stranded, and the cafe is a measly 20 minutes away. My creative expressions are pushing at the inside of my brain to find an outlet, which is just more annoying, and the longer I sit here, the closer the rain is to ending because I live in a desert and it only ever lasts so long and then I might not see it again for months.

Cue my brilliant idea to do lunges to the cafe.  It’s not walking!

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Then I remembered the whole point is to find different activities to do that I ACTUALLY enjoy.  I hate lunges.  I hate lunges more than I hate potatoes, which is saying something.  My hatred for lunges and the pain they bring to my crappy genetically-weak knees, is second only to my hatred for burpees and the elliptical, which also hate my knees.  It is possible that I hate my knees more than I hate lunges, but I have to live with my crappy knees.  I don’t have to live with crappy lunges.

Scratch that idea.

Idea number 2: Skipping to the cafe.

This one was more so amusing than practical.  It actually came from my conversation with the dietitian yesterday, who suggested skipping around my yard instead of walking, followed by a weights session.  But the impracticality arose from how on earth I was going to manage to skip with a laptop.  Cue the idea that someone should invent some sort of laptop transport system that literally straps it to you so it can’t bounce up and down… does this system exist?  I’m envisioning something similar to a baby carrier… although I think that if we created that we’d have some ridiculous activist group claiming that it was a comment on how screwed up our society is that we value our computers as much as we value our babies.  Kind of like the whole Starbucks red cup epidemic, or the suing of Starbucks over ice in their drinks relative to the price…

Man, Starbucks has had a rough year…

Either way, it would have been interesting.  I think people might have thought I was insane skipping up the sidewalk… the things you can get away with when you’re a kid that you definitely cannot when you’re an adult.  But then again, I really loved skipping as a kid, so maybe in the future I should just say, screw what everyone else thinks about my skipping and do it anyways.  But I have to find this laptop carrier first…

Moving on.

Frustration, anger, and annoyance all reaching a climactic level by this point, now coupled with a sense of urgency.  It was after nine, usually the point by which I have already gone, and I was feeling nervous and anxious because I didn’t want to miss the rain and I knew it was only a matter of time.  It never rains all day.  MAKE A DECISION.

My decision can be summed up in precisely two words:

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This is five words… but I was literally referring to the first two.  It was those two that I literally said to myself in that instant as I pushed myself off the chair by the window, slammed by laptop closed, and grabbed my book bag.

Now, of course, while I was walking I had a plethora of time to think.  Being the perfectionist, and non-rule-breaking-type that I am, this can backfire on me, resulting in over analysis, guilt, and anxiety.  It’s the same sort of thing that happens when I’m at work and I don’t wipe down the cupboard doors (a relatively minor thing) because I don’t have time to do them.  It’s on the closing checklist, so if I don’t do it a cornucopia of negative self talk comes up: lazy, not trying hard enough, don’t work hard enough, slacker, etc etc.  Followed by the catastrophizing (what are they going to think of me?  Will they think I take my job for granted? Will they think I don’t care? Will they fire me? Will they cut my hours?)… Needless to say the emphasis of this scenario is exactly this:  I don’t have time.  So realistically, there are many other things that it is MORE IMPORTANT to get done for closing, such as stocking, cleaning windows, etc etc, and if wiping cupboard doors doesn’t get done one day it IS NOT the end of the world, and honestly, if it’s not smattered with stuff it would probably go unnoticed.  But it’s me; chances are, I’m more likely to stay late on my own time to wipe the cupboards than to miss it for one night.

Same thing goes on here:  the rule and assignment was to find alternative ways of movement so that I’m not rigid and ruled with walking and thus redeveloping old obsessive habits.  Here I am, walking to the cafe, when I’m not supposed to, even though it is me NOT ED that is wanting to do it.  This key emphasis is important, but like the cupboards it is considered irrelevant in my mind.  The negative self talk begins as early as the point when I step outside the door: irresponsible, cheating, guilty, unimaginative, stubborn to a fault…

Followed by the catastrophizing:  What is the dietitian going to think?  Is she going to be mad (or worse, disappointed) in me for disobeying the rules?  Is she going to take some activity away (again!-this is an on and off thing, as I push limits too far or let the ED take over)?  AND MORE IMPORTANTLY:  Am I just fooling myself?  Do I only think that it’s me that wants this, but in reality it’s all ED?  Am I jeopardizing my own recovery process by doing this?  I’m walking a fine line, and is it possible I’m letting it go too much?  Is this the beginning of the end again?  I just started to let go of some of the exercise obsession, did I just ruin all I’ve achieved and put myself 10 steps back?

Let’s be honest:  These are all good questions.  Well, actually I take it back… they’re good questions if they’re relevant and possible.  They’re not so good if they make you feel unjustifiably guilty and ashamed of yourself, or create more useless anxiety.  It’s good, especially in recovery, to think about your reasoning and motives for doing things, and the possible complications that can arise from making a particular decision.  In a sense, this is mindfulness in practice: actually being in the moment enough to think about what you’re doing in that moment, rather than mindlessly jumping into something without a second thought.  It is this differentiation that can save you from engaging in disordered behaviour without even realizing this is happening.  It’s your opportunity to interrupt the cycle of thought-emotion-behaviour, and choose what to do.

It’s a good thing.

Where it becomes mindless, is when you’re overanalyzing it.  When you step too far away from the present, and it becomes a cascade of what-if’s resulting in your ultimate destruction and the realization of the worst possible scenario.

So you have me, walking up the street, and then eventually sitting at the cafe, feeling glorious: liberated, fulfilled, satisfied, happy, and completely anger and frustration dissipated… but now shadowed by this nagging guilt and uncertainty of myself and the ramifications of my decisions.  Did I make the “right” choice?

How do we know when it’s “okay” to break the rules?

How do we know whether we’ve made the “right” decision?

Is it ever okay to go against the advice of seasoned professionals, especially in an eating disorder recovery sense, and change the plans?

Did you notice the resounding theme in all these questions?  Let’s examine again:

Okay.  Right. Wrong. Black. White.

Do you see the pattern?  In therapy, a universal practice in the management of anxiety, depression, addiction, and the like, is using knowledge of cognitive distortions to recognize and interrupt toxic thinking patterns.  I’ve mentioned some of these in previous posts, and a few in this one (catastrophizing and overgeneralization, labelling, as well as filtering [I did one thing, and therefore it ruined everything], plus mind reading [she will think/do x]), and now to all be lumped together resulting in one of the patriarchal distortions: all-or-nothing/black-and-white thinking.

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Once again, even in the pursuit of recovery, we become wrapped up in the idea of good vs bad, right vs wrong, success vs failure.  We try so hard to achieve a “perfect” recovery, or if not “perfect” at least striving to always be in pursuit of recovery, that we don’t even realize that we’re putting the same limitations and boundaries on ourselves that got ourselves into this mess in the first place.

It’s something I, as well as many others, come up against on a daily basis.  We become hyper-vigilant, and we transfer our food related anxieties to other aspects, just as when the other aspects of our life became too difficult to handle we transferred the anxiety to food.  I remember when I was in the hospital, the doctor had me hooked up to a heart monitor constantly because they were so terrified that my heart that was going down to 20 something beats per minute in my sleep, and 30-40 something when I was awake,  was just going to give up.  One day I had a scare.

I woke up early in the morning, and went to the bathroom to pee before my weigh in.  I had just sat down on the toilet when suddenly a frantic beating on the door was heard.  It was the head nurse, her voice in a panic, calling my name.

“Tiffany!  What are you doing?”

“I’m… peeing?” I answered, uncomfortable and bewildered.

“Peeing?  That’s it?”

“Yes… would you like me to unlock the door so you can see?”

I guess the calmness of my voice, as well as my bewilderment was enough to convince her, and she told me to just finish and get back to bed.  I finished, opened the door, and she watched me walk back and climb in, at which point she grabbed my wrist checking my pulse.  Worry was evident on her face, but after hanging on for some time, she seemed to calm, and reminded me to stay in bed before she left again.

It was only days after the fact that I found out my heart rate upon standing had skyrocketed to 180 beats per minute, AKA danger zone, and TOTALLY NOT NORMAL for someone just standing up at a toilet.  The minute I laid back down in bed it climbed down to a low 50-ish.

Later that afternoon, I was playing a dice game with a friend that came to visit when suddenly a nurse popped her head in the room and told my friend in a worried voice she had to leave.  The panic in her voice was enough to get me scared.  What was happening?  Why was she making her leave?  What was going on?

Not even two minutes later, people were rushing in with a portable ECG machine, and I was suddenly surrounded by people stripping off my clothes and poking me with electrodes.  They were quick moving, serious, and answered none of my questions when I asked what was going on.  They just told me to lay still, relax, and keep quiet.  “Breathe, they said, “Slowly, calmly, in and out.  Relax.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I found it incredibly difficult to relax in this scenario!

And without more than the reminder to lay still, keep calm, and DON’T get out of bed, they ran off.  And I was left, alone, terrified, unsure what was going on, struggling to breathe because my panic had escalated to a point of terror, in a hospital bed.  At least half an hour passed, and I remember calling my mom on my phone, sobbing, begging her to come up, telling her I was so scared, that I didn’t know what was going on, and that I thought I was dying or something.

It was only after my mom made the half hour drive to the hospital and badgered the nurses for a solid twenty minutes that someone finally told us what was going on.  The heart monitor was showing irregular beats at 216 BPM, and they were scared my heart was stopping and I was having a heart attack, so they had to do an ECG.  Turned out that the machine was glitching, which apparently was common, because the ECG came back totally fine.  They just forgot to come and tell me that everything was good.

Thank you for leaving me alone in a bed panicking for two hours.

Moral of this story: As a result of this day, this episode, I have since developed horrible white coat syndrome.  I PANIC when someone has to take my pulse.  Blood pressure, fine, needles, fine, sew up my gaping hole I made when I sliced my hand at work, totally fine.  But you try to take those two fingers and press them to my wrist or throat… NOT OKAY!  PANIC.  TERROR. Fear that they’re going to find 180, or 216 again, and we’ll have a repeat, except this time it won’t be a false alarm.  It has taken years, literally years, to get a little better.  I don’t turn into a complete basket case.  But I still freak out.

Anyways, the day after that episode, the heart rate monitor that had caused me so much torment, the thing I’d been begging to get taken off for weeks because I was allergic to the tape and it was giving me the most painful welts, became my best friend.  His name was Herbie, and I was chained to him.  I was so scared I was going to have a heart attack and die, that I wanted to keep it on forever, so someone could always be monitoring me.  So I wouldn’t die without anyone realizing I was going before it was too late.  A few days before I was transferred to a bigger specialized center in Vancouver, my doctor wanted to remove the monitor.  He was convinced I was now eating enough and had passed the risk point for refeeding syndrome and that my heart would no longer stop.

Side note: A wikipedia definition for those of you who don’t know about refeeding:

Refeeding syndrome is a syndrome consisting of metabolic disturbances that occur as a result of reinstitution of nutrition to patients who are starved or severely malnourished…Patients can develop fluid and electrolyte disorders, especially hypophosphatemia, along with neurologic, pulmonary, cardiac, neuromuscular, and hematologic complications…

Refeeding increases the basal metabolic rate. Intracellular movement of electrolytes occurs along with a fall in the serum electrolytes, including calcium and magnesium. Levels of serum glucose may rise and the B1 vitamin thiamine may fall. Cardiac arrhythmias are the most common cause of death from refeeding syndrome, with other significant risks including confusion, coma and convulsions and cardiac failure.[citation needed]

This syndrome can occur at the beginning of treatment for anorexia nervosa when patients have an increase in calorie intake and can be lethal.[3] The shifting of electrolytes and fluid balance increases cardiac workload and heart rate. This can lead to acute heart failure. Oxygen consumption is also decreased which strains the respiratory system and can make weaning from ventilation more difficult.

And I freaked out!  I begged and pleaded with him to leave it on.  My anxiety over it being gone when he insisted that it be removed was so high I compulsively checked my pulse almost every minute for almost a whole year, and they had to medicate me with benzodiazepines.  And then I was left on them, became addicted, and then had to eventually wean off of them and go through med withdrawals.  But that’s another story.

“There’s a reason why it has to come off,” he said to me while I was shaking and begging in my bed, “You don’t need it any more.  This is a transference.  You are transferring your anxiety about food, which you can no longer control, to something else.  You have to cope with your anxiety, not just move it around.”

And (tada, roundabout point!  I bet you were wondering where I was going with this!), this less lethal, but anxiety and guilt provoking situation is the same thing.  In the pursuit of recovery, we become just as hyper-vigilant of doing the “right” thing, as I was with monitoring my heart rate, or as we all were when we were vigilantly monitoring /restricting our caloric intake.  We still feel the need to be perfect, so we try to have a perfect recovery.  We over-analyze things, and apply black and white thinking to our recovery mindset too.

I made the choice this morning to ignore the plan, set by a professional, and do an activity that for me has in the past been a known ED behaviour.  Does this mean I did the “wrong” thing?

I don’t think so.

How do we know we did the “right” thing?

First, acknowledge/admit that there is the vast possibility that there is no such thing as a “right” or “wrong” choice.  You didn’t do the “right” thing, anymore than you did the “wrong” thing.  Recovery, just like the rest of life, is not black and white.  In therapy we are taught to stop thinking in ultimatums.  The same thing applies to this process.

Second, is it “okay” to go against the advice of a professional?

Of course.  It’s your life.  Your life, your rules.  HOWEVER, this comes at a cost.  I would say you can ONLY go against the advice of a professional if you are solid in your frame of mind and are completely aware of what your motivations and reasonings are for making a different choice.  Stop making rules for yourself.  You don’t have rules about brownies or burgers anymore, so stop telling yourself you need to make rules about everything.  Everything we are told in recovery is a CHOICE.  No one can force you to do anything.  But you need to be aware of the choices you’re making, and you have to be just as aware of where they’re coming from, as you are of where they’re going to lead you as a result of making it.

There is a point in recovery where you are not aware of where your motives are coming from.  You’re not yet at the point where you can separate that ED voice from your own.  AND sometimes even those who usually can separate it, can’t.  You need to be honest with yourself there.  If you can differentiate, you can choose.  If you can’t differentiate, it’s probably a better idea to stick to the plan.

For me, I knew this morning that it was me, and I was 100% sure of it.  I made a choice, and it was one based on a message that my body was sending me from my HEALTHY SELF.  This was even more evident to me when it was over, because I felt HAPPY, LIBERATED, and STRONG.  Not guilty, conniving, anxious, or ashamed.

Did I question it?  Of course.  Did that questioning result in anxiety and second guessing?  Yes.  And this is where we need to draw the line.  No ruminating.  You made a choice, stick to it.  Don’t rehash it if it doesn’t need to be rehashed.  Chances are, what you’re rehashing is distorted.

What will they think?

Why does it matter?  Screw it, let’s do it.

If you were solid in your decision making, there’s nothing to question.

Screw it, let’s do it.

Will it appease the ED?  Maybe.  But that’s not black and white either.  Just because the eating disorder is happy, doesn’t necessarily mean it was the wrong choice.  It just means that you have to be extra (but not hyper) vigilant in the decisions you make in the near future, because chances are ED will try to needle its way in because it’s active.  You have to be able to once again analyze your motives before you make future choices.

Jenni Schaefer writes in her book Life Without ED that we have three selves: ED, anti-ED (always rebelling against ED), and our intelligent self.  You could also look at this as black, white, and grey.  Sometimes you got extremes, but almost always it’s some kind of mix (AKA, your intelligent self).  Chances are a choice you make will have a ramification, and often times that choice will impact ED, but the more choices you make, and just because that happens doesn’t mean it’s wrong.  We don’t want ED, and we don’t ALWAYS want anti-ED, sometimes we need the grey.

So if you find yourself questioning, if you need to make a decision, if you’re finding yourself frustrated, unsure, and trapped, sometimes you need to take a step out of the box.  And sometimes, that step is unconventional.  Sometimes, that choice breaks the “rules”, and sometimes it doesn’t.  You do you.

And when it all comes down to it, sometimes you just gotta say:

“Screw it.  Let’s do it.”

Exercise or Exorcise?

Hello from a rather comfortable table in a very crowded cafe!

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So I’m feeling kind of guilty.

I mean I haven’t written in a while, which is an issue of itself. But it isn’t for lack of attempts… if you could log on to my laptop you would find at least 15 or 20 partially written and scrapped blog posts. I just didn’t know what to say, what to write, what I wanted to focus on. Two hours of work… then two seconds to the trash can. Nothing was coming together.

I recently got back from two days of travelling, eating out, and drinking enough Starbucks to get my fix before we headed back home to the blasphemous land lacking the famous green siren.

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Aw, yeah.

Yeah, we have no Starbucks at home…  and a bunch of coffee shops that literally sell the most disgusting coffee (as in brand of coffee) known to man.  And the ones that don’t use the most disgusting coffee, use the most disgusting soy milk.  It’s a real struggle.  Anyone who is bound to the land of non-dairy milk knows the issues.

Reality: 98% of non dairy milk tastes like the inside of a garbage disposal.  Or a spoiled can of refried beans.  And most coffee shops elect to use the cheapest soy milk because they want to maximize profit.

The cheapest soy milk tastes about as good as my dog’s breath smells.

Just so you know, my dog has had ongoing dental issues and almost all of his teeth pulled out.  Aka: his breath is NOT pleasant.

I mean come on, you already charge an additional 50-75 cents for the soy milk in the first place.  Which means that after anywhere from 5-10 lattes you’ve paid for the cost of the milk.  Perhaps even less if you’re using the cheap stuff.  At least give us something that tastes good.

Hint: You’d probably sell more of the soy lattes if they didn’t taste like underpants.

#petpeeve.

Moving on.

The aforementioned coffee shop I am sitting at now is an exception to this generality.  They make a better ICED latte than Starbucks.  Win.

Get me out of this town.

Or buy me a Starbucks.  A personal one that makes me lattes and double smoked bacon breakfast sandwiches, but doesn’t charge me a dime.

I’d be fine with that.

So, back to this guilt thing.  I’m trying this new thing with my dietitian to address my sitting issues, mainly being my inability to do it.  And combining the sitting issues with my food issues, and my exercise issues, to like hit the trifecta of my issues.

I totally used trifecta in the wrong sense of the word… but I get tired of using words like plethora and gamut.  So I no longer care.  It sounded cool.

So I have to walk to the coffee shop, once a week, and walk home, which assuming I don’t take detours is somewhere between 20-30 min each way, unless I’m doing my speed demon old tempos.  And I’m trying not to do that… minus the first time.

So the amount of exercise is contained. Check.

And since my old exercise routine was incredibly predictable I have to keep changing it up. I can do one walk a week.  That’s it.  Add one yoga session a week, maximum half hour.  That’s it.  Add another random exercise session, maximum half hour, that is neither a walk nor a yoga session.  And that is not running, HIIT, or pilates because, guess what, those are my old obsessions and 7 hours a day in a nutshell.  There you have my weekly exercise regime: three times a week, three different activities, maximum 30 minutes a session.  And if any component is not met, the alternative is doing nothing.  AKA, that regime is my maximum, not my minimum.

Cue me this week, trying to come up with a third activity when I don’t know how to bike, swim, roller-skate, skateboard, completely lack hand-eye coordination (or just coordination in general), and don’t have money for a fitness class, but damn it, I’m going to come up with something because the part of me that is still obsessed has to maximize on exercise time not minimize it.

Perhaps one day I won’t feel that urge.

Perhaps one day I’ll discover my inner Michael Jordan instead of my blatant Jim Carrey/Snooki sans alcohol klutziness.

Don’t crush my dreams.

And then there’s the whole food=exercise=calories=food=exercise=calories=… you get the idea, thing.  So when we exercise, or do activity, we make up for it.  I add food to the meal plan.  So I walk to the coffee shop, and I have a snack.  Latte, muffin, loaf, lunch, whatever it may be.  As long as it has an additional component to what I normally have.

And the third component of the trifecta: that sitting.  I have to sit, in the cafe, until lunch working on the blog.  Which is important because I really do love to blog.  And that’s one thing I really struggle to do standing up: it’s hard to concentrate.

But after all of my travelling the past couple days, I wasn’t feeling coffee-y.  But I still wanted to do my coffee shop, blog, and walk day yesterday, because it was gorgeous out and I actually was feeling inspired to write.  Carpe diem and all that jazz.

But what do you do when you’re craving just tea and a pear for snack, but you have to go to a cafe that doesn’t sell fresh fruit?

Answer:  You sneak a pear in, buy a tea, and most stealthily eat it in the corner facing away from the cashier.

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Cue the guilt.

You’re so not supposed to bring outside food into a restaurant.  But I did buy a tea!

It wasn’t exactly the most mindful of practices… every time someone came near my table, I threw the pear into my lap on a napkin.  Don’t do as I do.

Anyways, moving on.

You all know about my sitting problems, right? As in I can’t do it. As in I found ways to knit standing up, almost figured out knitting on a treadmill, figured out how to mount a laptop to my treadmill so I could watch Netflix without guilt, and will purposely do the laundry in as many trips to the basement as possible to maximize walking and standing time. As in, I have rules about what time of day I’m allowed to sit, how long for, and if you try to get me to deviate from this I’m an inconsolable ball of nerves ready to bite your head off. As in people have had to wrestle me to the ground mid-afternoon. Seriously.

I have issues.

And it’s an issue I haven’t been too keen to address, because the very thought of sitting for extended periods of time, as relaxing as it sounds in some distant corner of my mind, fills me with as much dread as eating Chinese food… no. It fills me with more dread than eating chinese food. Yep, sitting is potentially more terrifying than eating at this point. That kind of says something. Unless you combine sitting and eating. Mind blown.

I see dead people.

Okay no, I don’t. But it’s like the equivalent level of fear. Where is that line from anyways? Some horror movie…

The Hills Have Eyes?

Moving on.

So anyways, this issue pervaded through hospitalization. I finally was well enough that they were convinced I literally wasn’t going to just drop dead on the floor at a moments notice, so they started to give me passes from the hospital for a snack, or a meal, or to get a coffee, or to simply move beyond the jail-barred (literally) eating disorder ward door. And there’s a bus stop right outside the door. And I’m supposed to take the bus.

Yeah… that never happened.

I walked. I maximized time. I had half an hour, or two hours, or whatever it might have been. I knew I needed to do the food related task they assigned, and perfectionist that I am, I would do it. But I would order the coffee, the sandwich, the scone, etc to go. And I’d wind along side streets. I’d google-map my trip in advance, add 5 min to the walking times in case I happened to be slow (which let’s get serious… maximizing time here. I wasn’t slow.) and then when I got close to the hospital again, I’d pace back and forth along a nearby street until it was time to return. Food eaten, and hopefully appropriately compensated for. As much as possible anyways.

Then I went to residential. And they took away my movement. Completely. Bed to chair to table to chair to bed. That was it. For a week. And I was going stir crazy. But I hid it well… so well that after the first week was up, I could claim that my bowels were not working (which was somewhat true… when you starve yourself they stop working. Before I was hospitalized I hadn’t had a bowel movement in at least a month… I can’t remember. I mean, there’s nothing in there to process. TMI? Perhaps, but it’s the truth. No shame.), and that I needed to go on “poo-walks” to get them moving. I appeared solid, I appeared resolute, and I appeared outwardly calm. And those bowels weren’t working, so it was a half truth as opposed to a whole lie. One week of nothing, but then that was done. Back to the movement, to the lack of sitting. Check.

I left residential, four months later, completely entrenched in the movement and obsessive exercise portion of my eating disorder, but oblivious even to myself that this was a problem. This was “healthy”! Movement, moving, is “healthy”! And all the way through I never gave it up. Outpatient: sure, I was eating enough, but I was exercising again for hours (or hour if it was extremely high intensity… really I had a minimal supposed “calorie burn” which was a ridiculously high number… that was the amount of formal exercise I had to have) And then in addition, I had my time rules that allowed me to sit at certain hours of the day. All the time in between, I was ate least standing, ideally walking. I developed ways to incorporate otherwise relaxing activities into the activity grind so that I no longer actually had to relax while doing them. Because that would be the worst, laziest thing in the world. Obviously.

All my favourite activities suddenly became a part of my prison. Drawing? Either at certain hours of the day or not at all. Netflix/television? Only on the treadmill. Knitting? Standing up at the kitchen counter. Reading a book? Between my toes as I did crunches. Piano? No bench required. Everything that used to remotely bring me any kind of joy I found a way to make torturous. I found a way to suck the happiness out of every simple pleasure constantly, and the only thing that made this existence bearable was the anticipation of the incredible high that denial, restriction, rules, and following them to a T gave me. Somehow you can tolerate a lot of physical pain, a lot of emotional turmoil, and the incredibly quick deterioration of relationships if in the end you know you’re going to get the greatest high. Unfortunately, the high lasts as long as it takes to realize that you’re denying yourself something. Which is literally as long as it takes to read that sentence.

So what… three seconds? Maximum.

And then you’re on to planning the next denial, awaiting the wave of the next high, and the literal second of relief you experience when you realize that in that moment, literal moment, you have done enough to stop the whirlwind of thoughts, emotions, and pain, and simply exist for a second. You’ve done enough to stop and feel yourself inhale, or exhale, before moving on to the next thing. The next skipped meal, the next set of 30 reps, the next light-headed footstep.

There were of course the other times where I just existed for a second.  Where all the thoughts stopped.  Where my world for a second was silent.  I imagine they would have been somewhat relaxing had I been awake for them…

Oh, right.  I forgot to mention those times were the times I blacked out.

Once it was mid run on the treadmill.  I fell forward and slid back, waking up in a crumpled pile between the the door and the edge of the still-running treadmill, a pile of blood on the floor coming equally from my completely skinned chin, and even moreso from my gauged kneecap that almost cut through to the bone.  I still have rather evident scars from both of those, and I don’t expect them to ever disappear.

Fun fact: I started my current job about four or five days after this.  I remember going to the interview, my chin shredded, and being asked, “Did you fall off your bike?  That’s an impressive case of road rash!”  I went with whatever anyone said to avoid admitting the truth.  “Actually, I’m close to death and I passed out while exercising on my treadmill because my body can no longer handle the physical exertion and it’s just trying to preserve itself by FORCING me to stop.  But please hire me for a job where I’m walking around and on my feet for eight hours a day!”  Yeah, I knew that wouldn’t fly.  Plus, I totally didn’t have a problem…

Another time it was mid walk with my dog on Main Street.  I tore up my exercise hoody and skinned my hand and elbow as I fell forward against a cement garbage can.  Or at least that’s what I gathered from when I came to the realization of the cold cement against my blistered skin.  The crowd of onlookers who were very concerned thought I had tripped over my dog’s leash.

I’m fairly sure that’s not what happened, but then again I don’t remember it too clearly.

And the third time was simply getting up from my couch in the living room.  I got up, felt instantly light headed, and staggered forward into the television, slicing all four fingers on one hand on the sharp underside, and permanently giving our flatscreen a leftward tilt.

It’s funny how you wake up, and you kind of know how you got there.  It’s like you remember the start of the fall, and then next thing you know you’re in a pile on the floor.  But those few seconds after you wake up are remarkably calm too.  Calm and shaky.

But you know, it’s like another three second thing.  And then you’re back to planning your denials.

I remember the pain, vaguely.  When you’re that sick, it’s almost as if your body doesn’t have the energy to really allow your nerves to react to pain.  Either that, or you become so used to being in pain that you don’t recognize it for what it is, and it just becomes normal. But I do remember pain.  I remember the dread that came before every exercise session.  I remember my body screaming at me as I laced up my shoes:

Please, please, please don’t do this to me.

I’m so tired.

I’m begging you… I really don’t want to do this.  I really don’t know if I can.

I hurt.

And going anyway.  Every day.  Hours a day.  Pounding the pavement, and swearing, literally swearing out loud every time someone smiled at me, or said hello, or looked at me with any trace of happiness as they passed me on the street as soon as they were out of ear shot.  Swearing at any car or truck that was loud because it hurt my ears, distracted me, gave me more discomfort.  As if the noise was shredding me as much as the physical activity was.

Fuck you.

That was my favourite.  Every time they were out of ear shot, I’d utter it.  How dare you be happy when life is hell?  What is there to be happy about? This is hell.

I remember coming home from a session and going to the bathroom, gingerly peeling off my socks and applying a new bandage to my feet.  My feet were a mess of callouses, blisters, and gashes just from the wear and tear of constant exertion and bone on skin contact with no adipose tissue to cushion them.  Every single toe was swollen and tomato red, and eventually they were all covered in white bandages.  I ended up with pinprick pressure point sores that felt like bee stings every time you put weight on them along the soles of my feet.  They were so painful I even went to the doctor with them.  I remember the look on his face when I removed my shoes and he saw my almost completely bandaged feet, and then when he looked underneath and saw the bloody, blistered mess that lay beneath the surface.  I asked him what I could do to get rid of the pinprick sores.

“Stop exercising,” he said, simply but seriously. “That’s the only thing that will make them go away.  I know it’s hard, and I know you don’t want to, but it’s the only way to get rid of them.”

That wasn’t happening.  I resolved that clearly I was doomed to have to endure the pain.  Price you have to pay for being “healthy”.  “No pain, no gain.”

When you look back on it in your mind’s eye, everything is in this soft fog.  On some level, you realize how sick you were.  As you write it out, without all the frills, and just stick to the cold, hard, undiluted facts, you see how many times that blackout could have turned into a blackhole.  How many times could I have fallen and never gotten up?  How many mornings did I start my day trying to avoid sitting, when I should have been thinking, perhaps if I don’t sit, this might be the last time I ever do?  And then the fog comes in and softens that reality, smoothes it over and glazes it so it doesn’t seem that bad.

Even the memory of my doctor looking at me, tears in his eyes, saying “If you don’t get off the treadmill, you are going to die.”, is soft, fluffy, like a movie.  Somehow detached from my life.  Okay, maybe I’ll die, but then I can just reinsert the DVD and I’ll be alive again.

I can still hear his words in my head, “Yesterday I was with my other anorexic patient.  I saw her two days before and she was okay.  Yesterday she woke up in the morning and started her treadmill, and 20 minutes into the workout she collapsed.  Her heart gave out.  She had a heart attack.  And now she’s dead.  She was 16.”

“She wasn’t me,” I said, dark circles under my eyes, wiggling my feet on the bench to move something because I was forced to sit in his office.  “She wasn’t trying to get better.  She was probably eating nothing.  I’m still eating.  I’m trying to get better.”

“She WAS you,” he said. “She was exactly like you.  She was in recovery.  She was eating, probably around the same amount that you are.  She was trying to get better.  But she couldn’t stop moving.  She couldn’t stop running.  She couldn’t stop walking.  And she wasn’t eating ENOUGH.  Just like you’re not eating ENOUGH.  Her body weight was too low.  Her organs were failing.  Eventually, they gave up.”

He slid his chair forward, looking me directly in the eyes.  “If you can’t stop moving… if you can’t stop getting on the treadmill… if you keep doing what you’re doing, you WILL die.  I don’t know when… it could be a month from now, or it could be tomorrow.  But you will.  And that would be a tremendous loss.  I don’t want to bury another patient.”

That was last August.

Soon after I started working with my current dietitian.  That choice changed, and saved my life.  That choice, as well as the choice to stop getting on the treadmill, and it wasn’t an easy choice to make.  But eventually you get so tired, and I don’t mean physically, I mean emotionally.  Mentally.  You enjoy the highs, but you get tired of the unbearable pain and torture of the incredible lows for only 3 seconds of bliss.

So I stopped exercising.  Even now, just starting to add back in exercise after being off of it since August, I still have sores on my feet. The pinprick sores are still there, as well as a couple blisters that haven’t yet totally healed. That’s eight months. You know how bad it was, if after eight months it’s almost, but not completely healed.

I stopped exercising… but that didn’t mean I was sitting.  I was still standing.  For everything.  My rules about time were, and are still in place.  I can sit until 9 am, at which point I must be up.  Now, months and months later, I’m allowed to sit for lunch, and as long as it takes me to drink a cup of tea afterwards.  Then I must be standing again until 6 pm at the earliest.  If I work until 8, all the better.

Where does this come from?

Does it come only from the eating disorder?  Is it just a symptom and complication of the overall problem?

I’d love to say yes.  But no, it doesn’t.

How many times have you sat and ate a brownie, and felt guilty about it?

How many restaurants have you gone to with the girls, and then lamented how many hours on the treadmill you would have to do to make up for whatever you ate or drank?

Have you seen the episode of “That’s So Raven” where they decide to lose weight and walk to the mall?

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How many joggers have you seen on the streets and then immediately felt guilty because you weren’t doing the same thing?

Society hails exercise and movement as the be all that ends all.  With our society being habitually and epidemically fat-phobic, not just in nutritional content, but also from a physical perspective, we are now groomed from a young age to look at movement and exercise as a black or white concept.

Movement/Exercise= Good.  Important. A+.

And inversely: Resting/Inactivity= Bad. Hazardous.  Fail.

Treadmills and other exercise equipment are branded with giant, innaccurate displays of calories burned with no option to turn off the display.

Exercise is no longer about the joy of moving your body.  It’s no longer about being outside, breathing fresh air, and allowing your body to carry you physically through life and relationships.  That is secondary.

These positive and simple benefits of exercise and activity, the real reason we move- to relieve stress, to interact with people and the world around us, and to encourage mind and body connection and mental health- is downplayed as additional benefits to a much more “important” picture:

The Bowflex ad tells me I can go from a size 14 to a size 4 if I use their equipment.

The trainer tells me that I can add 6 inches in muscle size if I do these exercises.

And if I supplement this regime with the paleo, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Vegan, Vegetarian, or what have you diet, I’m guaranteed to be beach body ready by summer.

And my doctor supports this because exercise is always good.  Weight must always fall in the BMI charts.  And because all the diet pills don’t work, exercise is the new magic bean.

Exercise is viewed by society at large as the optimal definition of health.  And by health, I mean weight and shape.  In other words, the main reason we exercise is to control our weight and shape.  And thanks to all the calorie counters out there (MyFitnessPal, exercise equipment, CalorieKing, etc), not only is exercise a means to control our weight and shape, it is also a way to justify or “allow” us to eat.

Suddenly our whole existence is consumed by our consumption and our calisthenics.  If I want to look like x, I have to eat y, and in order to eat y, I must do z.  The whole theory of eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re full is shot out the window, and replaced by a simple mathematical equation.  And mindfulness goes with it.

And because we are all so fat-phobic, and so consumed with this “healthy” way of life, the idea of NOT exercising, NOT moving your body, and NOT following this Nirvana-esque equation is mind boggling to many, not just those with an eating disorder.

When I was forced to stop exercising, even at my lowest weight, when I was a walking skeleton and passing out, I was met with resistance.  Resistance in my own head, but even more frustratingly from those around me.  Family, friends, even health care professionals.

“Well, the dietitian has taken away exercise.  I can’t do anything.”

“Not even walk?”

“No.”

“But… that’s so unhealthy!”

“But… that can’t be right!”

“Maybe you should get a second opinion!”

“But… that’s not balanced.  You HAVE to exercise!”

“But… you don’t want to get FAT though do you?”

“If you stop you’ll get fat, and you want to be toned!  You should still exercise so it doesn’t all come back as fat!”

As if that was the WORST THING IN THE WORLD!?

Let me remind you all:  My heart rate is 40 something lying down, 150 something when standing, and I’ve passed out just trying to get up off the couch.  In what world is it still considered a good idea to strap on your sneakers when you’re like this?!

In what world is a pregnant woman praised in a yoga class for staying thin when they’re trying to bring another life into this world?!

In what world is it considered healthy when my feet are bruised, bleeding, and covered in bandages because of the extent of abuse they have suffered, in the name of “health” and “fitness”?

In what world am I praised for literally running to my deathbed?

In what world do I go to the doctors two weeks after stopping exercise, still totally entrenched and medically unstable, to be met with plans by the same doctor who begged me to stop, to reincorporate exercise again?  Albeit, it was in the distant future, but still.  It should not have even been on the table yet.

Something needs to change.

Movement/Exercise DOES NOT ALWAYS = Good. Important. A+.

And inversely: Resting/InactivityDOES NOT ALWAYS = Bad. Hazardous. Fail.

Exercise does not mean exorcism, and it doesn’t equal health or happiness.  It’s time to start shifting our perspectives as a whole.  Not just as an eating disorder sufferer, survivor, recovery warrior, or support person, but as a society.  It’s time to come back to the basics.

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Why do we do what we do?

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Why do we move our bodies?

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Why are we strapping on our shoes and pounding the pavement?

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Are we exercising, or exorcising?

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If it’s to influence our shape or size, why is that so important?

 

And if it is that important:

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Is it worth digging our own graves?