I have half dozen unfinished posts waiting to get polished and published on this blog, but I didn’t want National Eating Disorders Awareness Week to pass without posting a few thoughts. [And then, of course, life gets in the way anyway & I end up publishing this post late.]
I guess I can start by telling a bit of my story. I spent the first half of high school as a bean pole. Despite my “chubby cheeks”, I had no curves whatsoever. I was a swimmer, and dabbled in other sports, but certainly not someone that would be considered a jock. I went to college, gained the Freshman 15 and did the typical go-to-the-gym-when-I-can routine. My summers were fairly active, as I worked as a camp counselor and lifeguard. I was aware of my body, but not ashamed of it.
And then in 2004, I got fat. And for a long time, I didn’t even realize it. When I finally did, I took a reasonable approach to getting fit. I joined a gym and got a trainer that I saw two to three times a week. The weight came off fairly easily, as my body really wasn’t meant to be carrying that much. (It’s those last 10/15 pounds that are always so hard, isn’t it?) I was healthy. I was strong.
I moved to Boston. I got my first real job, and started spending 40+ a week sitting in front of a computer. The numbers on the scale started to creep up again. And so for the first time in my life, I tried a diet. Not watching what I ate, but a full on, calorie-counting, weighing food, lots of exercise diet. At first, that worked really well for me. I was losing weight. I was getting in a lot of activity. It was good. And then it wasn’t. My behavior with the counting of calories became obsessive. Calories in, calories out. Can I eat 7 almonds, or only 6? If I stay on this elliptical for 5 more minutes, then I can sprinkle some cheese on my salad tonight. Can I fit in a Bikram class before my meeting tomorrow morning?
I had a journal where I recorded food, exercise and my weight – morning and evening. Yes, I weighed myself twice a day. As an analytical thinker, I was addicted to collecting data points. I think that I was hoping if I collected enough data, a magical pattern would emerge & I would be able to solve my weight loss puzzle.
I wish that I could remember how I had my epiphany moment. It makes for a terrible story, but the truth is, I don’t remember how or when it happened. I just remember that I wasn’t happy anymore. I was avoiding social events because I didn’t want to be tempted by food or drinks. I was far too critical of myself, and lost sight of the fact that happiness
was more than just has nothing to do with a number on the scale.
That’s certainly not to say that I’ve got this all figured out. I still struggle with it. I see skinny women & get jealous. I see strong, muscular women and get jealous. I delete photos that I feel like I look fat in. I still own a scale and weigh myself more frequently than I should. I care too much about when number pops up. I get frustrated that during my marathon training, where I am logging 25+ miles a week plus cross-training, I have actually gained weight.
But then I remember that this is my journey. I’m in competition with no one, not even myself. I try to focus on my health and my happiness. By doing that, as simple and cliche´ as it sounds, I believe I’m becoming the healthiest version of myself. And when even that fails me, I look to Lauren Fleshman for a reality check.