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TW: eating disorders

I read a book tonight called Binary Star by Sarah Gerard. The main character was anorexic and bulimic, so it had the potential to be a little triggery for me. It wasn’t. I didn’t come away with a need to binge or starve. I ate dinner. I finished my water. I did a couple of loads of laundry. And now here we are.

I was prepared to put it down, though. It would have triggered something earlier in my life. I’m glad I didn’t have to, not only because I like to finish books when I start them but also because not getting triggered was an amazing experience. It’s one I’d like to have again.

I haven’t dabbled with consistent disordered eating or lied about my eating habits in a long time (like, the kind of long you can measure in decades). But I’ve wanted to. At some times more than others. It’s always been there, that unstable feeling like I’m standing at the edge of a canyon and need to concentrate very hard on not toppling right on in.

For a moment, it wasn’t there tonight. I saw the character’s behavior for the downward spiral it was.

Tonight I feel like I’m in my right mind, which is a new feeling for me regarding food issues.

I had a post scheduled to write today about being judged for my weight, both when I was thin and now. More accurately, I had planned to write the first of my nostalgia posts where I take old blog posts and reorganize them slightly to shed new light on the subject. I am going to take rampant liberties with this one.

The original post was about external messages that people (women, specifically) receive about weight and its ties to their perceived worth. That is a conversation I have often, and it is a conversation worth having. These messages are a plague. They’re dangerous. Particularly when they come directly from people we love. And the people who bear the heaviest burden of the effects of these messages are hardly ever the people actually responsible for them.

Tonight, however, I’m thinking more about how people in general and I in particular absorb(ed) messages about body image, process(ed) these messages, and turn(ed) that processing into behavior that’s not always healthy.

I have always suspected that problems can be alleviated but never really go away. I assumed that my history of disordered eating and all the messages that helped to lead me there would mean I’d always be stuck in doing the work of the cycle:

  1. A message is sent. It could be one of the abominable judgy messages, or it could be a message like a book with a character who has some serious eating disorders. It might even be a great message, like body positivity statements.
  2. The message sticks because I absorb it as a trigger.
  3. I reframe my internal reaction to the message. To me, reframing is different from adapting a positive attitude. For starters, the term reframing doesn’t make me want to punch the person who suggests it in the throat. To me, reframing is about getting to the truth of a situation rather than just throwing a blanket of sunshine over it, blindly hoping it will smother anything untoward that lies beneath. I filter through the message’s layers, attempting to separate them into piles of true and false, healthy and unhealthy, helpful and destructive. For the record, this doesn’t always go the way it ought to go, despite very good intentions.
  4. I react/respond with external behavior. Sometimes, I process, and the truth does set me free, and I behave with sanity and reason. More often, there’s no time for that, and the chances of making a good vs. bad choice are about 50/50. Sometimes I think it out and still make bad choices, such as eating more than my body is comfortable holding just because it’s there and I can.

Whew. Are you exhausted? I’m exhausted. If you’ve ever wondered why a person with an addiction or mental health issue can’t just get over it, this is why. Getting over it is hard work. If it weren’t, it never would have been a problem in the first place.

Tonight I caught a glimpse of what it was like to arrest the cycle at stage two. I received a message, and my gut reaction was to see the truth of it. No trigger. No exhausting process just to get through the night intact.

This must be what people with a healthy relationship with food and good body image feel like all the time. It’s incredible. I highly recommend it.

And I have no idea how it happened. I mean, I suspect it has something to do with the years and years (omg the years) of working through that cycle (with and without qualified professionals) with varying degrees of success. But even the thought of that is exhausting, so if you are reading this and it hurts you more than it helps, let me just carry that to the unhelpful pile for you.

Nor am I done. I’m not saying that I’m cured and that I’ll never struggle with food issues or the temptation to engage in disordered eating again. I have no way of knowing that for sure. I kind of doubt it, actually, although that would be really nice. I learned tonight, though, that moments of right-mind, true, gut-reaction, health are possible. And that I want a whole lot more of that.

For all of us.

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I am totally into the weather we’re having. It’s cool and fall-ish. So I’m going to ignore that it’s supposed to get to 91 degrees outside tomorrow. Not even going to mention it. I don’t know where you heard that.

This month, I was quite the joiner. I participated in Write 31 Days, of course. I was challenged to post seven days of black and white photos with no comment, but my comment is just that I loved doing that. The two above were my favorites. I also participated in Million Mile Month, although I definitely did not meet my goal.

Running is hard. And walking is slow.

Writing:

My 31 Days project was about running (specifically, how to do it and not get maimed or dead). It was fun (the writing part – not so much the running part). I love the momentum it gives me to post more regularly. To keep that spirit going, I am going to start reviving old posts from my livejournal days. I hope that you will enjoy these little nuggets of nostalgia.

For November, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, although I’m being cheaty about it and working on a current project. I’m not allowed to start any other writing projects until I finish at least one of my current ones. I’m putting my foot down. So November will be focused on (and hopefully getting close to finishing) Fishbowl.

Reading:

My favorite book I read this month – maybe this year – was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I love the characterization and the way it drove the story. I also re-read Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood PalThe library had the leather-bound version, and that was fun. Our book club from church had a lively discussion about the book.

I’m currently working through some Brene Brown (I’m on Braving the Wilderness) and reliving my childhood with The Boxcar Children. What are you reading?

Miscellaneous:

Work is in its slowest season, so I took a week off from work this month. I visited my parents and tried to rest. Yesterday was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door, and our church celebrated by participating in a Hymn Fest with three other choirs on Sunday. It was awesome. I enjoyed that a lot.

And last but not least – I know I’m late to the party on this but I am addicted to Burt Bees lipstick. My lips have been super dry lately, and this not only helps alleviate some of that but also makes me look fancy.

What are you into this month? Comment below or join us at Leigh Kramer’s link-up page.

 

 

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Roar!

This month, I have explored running and the elements that add up to doing it well. I managed a post to match every day except yesterday, which I am happy to call relative success. We have talked about hydrating properly, using food as fuel, getting sufficient rest, and staying safe. I’ve given some information, but I also learned some things myself.

I learned that I have severely fallen out of the habit of good hydration. Getting all the water I need used to be something I just did without having to think twice about it. Having actually paid attention to it this month, I see this is no longer the case. So I’m going to start tracking it again until I work it back into being a habit.

My favorite thing about running is that it makes eating well easier because eating poorly is how we end up with cramps/spasms/nausea. When I say absurd things like “I love running,” I rarely mean that I love the actual running part. Running is the worst. It’s sweaty and tiresome and hard to do indoors, which is where I like most of my life activities to occur. What I usually mean is that I love things that go with running. I love the runner’s high (it really is a thing). I love the general spike in energy I get from being active. I love the way, after a while, running makes my body remember how to move right (aligned, elongated…well, as elongated as I get).  And I love how easy it is to eat foods that fuel me well.

My rest week was illuminating. There was a disconnect between what I was writing, particularly about Sabbath rest, and what was actually happening. It is clear that I need to drop something(s). It’s not that I’m not getting done what I need to get done; I just find it hard to relax. It’s not a matter of good time management. Given all that I do, I have excellent time management, or I would be dead. In time I set aside to rest, though, I am constantly stressed out that I’m not getting anything “productive” done. As if rest itself isn’t productive and necessary. I’m not going to make any rash decisions, but I am going to take a few months to see what needs to be dropped so that when it’s time to rest, I can really rest.

Safety week also revealed some not-like-before trends. I have a real aversion to going out on my own that I didn’t really have a few years ago. Yesterday, for example, I walked by myself in the park, and I definitely had some feelings about it during the portion of the walk that was out of sight of the street. I am less confident that I could defend myself than I used to be. Last time I ran regularly, I was in good enough shape to take on someone who attacked me. Even if I couldn’t win, I could definitely maim and discourage. I don’t have that confidence now. I want it again. Now, I’m not going to add self-defense classes – that would fly in the face of my too-much-on-my-plate problem. But I am going to incorporate more variety into my already established routine to challenge myself to get stronger, and hopefully, the confidence will return along with the strength.

I hope you have learned something this month or at least have been entertained by my chatter. Here’s to running wild!

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A key ingredient to running my life

Week 4 Progress:

Miles completed this week: about 6.5
Total miles completed: 19.59 (no, I’m not going to try to go 30 more miles in the next 3 days)
Days of proper hydration: 1/7
Days of good food choices: 4/7

Clearly I am not as far along in this process as I thought I’d be. I am still surprised when I am not able to do things I used to be able to do with ease.

This week, I walked with coworkers and with a friend from one of my book clubs. I’m just going to keep roping other people into going with me.

Because I am not good at going alone. Not right now, anyway. I want to become good at it again. I’m not there, though, and it’s taken me 28 days to fully admit it. I did complete one walk in the park by myself this week, so it’s not totally impossible. There’s hope. However, there’s also difficulty, because today I definitely got completely dressed for a walk, put on shoes and picked up my keys to walk out of the house…and changed my mind.

Part of that is disappointing. I want to have wanted to go. But most of it is recognizing what I need. And I needed to stay home more than I needed to go walking this afternoon. There was no particular pressing matter, other than the looming list of things that I need to get done this weekend that I won’t have time to do tomorrow because it’s Reformation Sunday, and that was stressing me out. So I stayed home and did them at a leisurely pace instead of the more frantic pace I would have adopted if I’d spent an hour walking.

And I made mac and cheese. In the slow cooker. It was glorious. And I ate only one serving with a bucket of peas, so I enjoyed it without overdoing it.

For all my knowledge about food and making healthy choices, I don’t seem to actually make those choices often, at least not on their own. It’s only when I’m making better choices in other areas – activity level, consistent rest, good time management, etc. – that sticking to healthy eating patterns becomes consistent. Being well rested and not being rushed means that I actually follow my meal plan instead of eating whatever I feel like in the moment.

My hope is that one day (and preferably, one day soon-ish) I will be motivated to eat well no matter what manner of chaos is blowing through my life. I’m not there yet, but I see it as a possibility.

In the meantime, I guess I just need to run. That’s acceptable.

 

I’m spending 31 days running wild.

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Friday Five 4

We’ve been talking about fueling all week, and if you’re like me, you want some answers. What do I eat? What will make me a lean, mean running machine (…along with regular, vigorous training)? Here are five runner-friendly lists of snacks designed to boost energy and/or aid in recovery.

  1. Oatmeal energy balls are delicious little nuggets of energy. I like how this post not only gives variations of the basic recipe but breaks it down into guidelines for substitutions for each ingredient, giving you endless possibilities.
  2. Super easy snacks – you probably have many of these things on hand already or, if not, can stock up without blowing the whole grocery budget.
  3. Cherry gummies – this is brilliant. Not only do they help you recover, they keep you from overeating (practicing a little of that moderation we were talking about earlier).
  4. If you have a hard time getting your water intake, most fruits and vegetables help you re-hydrate as well. Here are a few that are particularly useful in that regard.
  5. Many runners find coffee useful the morning of a race day. I find it useful the morning of a day. I am in favor of anyone who tells me to drink more coffee.

What are some of your favorite snacks to boost energy and recovery?

I’m spending 31 days running wild.

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Day 26 – Moderation

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Cheese is an important thing for me to ingest moderately.

Lest the previous post swing you too far in the direction of culinary chaos, let’s dial it back a little today and remember a good rule to live by – moderation.

I have to be honest. I’m an all-or-nothing, burn-it-to-the-ground sort of gal. Moderation is not naturally in my wheelhouse. It is not my go-to resolution.

It is not my favorite.

I begrudgingly admit that it’s generally the way to go for overall health and wellness, though. I could eat three scoops of Beth Marie’s coconut ice cream with hot fudge on top, or I could have a single scoop in a cone, and that will be just as wonderful without making me want to lie down afterwards.

I still probably don’t need to do that every day, though. Probably.

The problem with using moderation as one’s only guide is that it’s super subjective. While moderation might look like a large waffle cone with coconut ice cream to one person (ahem), it might look like an actual balanced diet, heavy on vegetables and low on high-calorie foods to others who might have better judgment when it comes to eating in a way that supports good health.

Since moderation does vary so much from person to person, the guidelines in this post can be helpful. All musings about ice cream (which – full disclosure – I totally had last night…after a big ass burger and fries…and also beer. Last night’s theme was not moderation, just to be clear.) aside, I try to maintain a 80-20 ratio of healthy food to, erm, less healthy food, even when training isn’t helping me out. And when I do splurge, I wait to do so on a delicious burger and coconut ice cream. If I’m going to be bad, I might as well do it very, very well (little Mae West paraphrase for you).

What tips do you have for eating in moderation?

 

I’m spending 31 days running wild. 

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Day 25 – Decadence

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Caramel-y, creamy happiness

Lest you think that life on the run is a sad time spent avoiding my favorite foods, do not despair on my behalf. My diet right now is pretty decadent. I am limiting sugar, but I’m not eliminating it. I am watching the carb intake a little less than usual, which means saying yes to a second slice of bread.

Donuts may be a no, but a dash of caramel creamer is a yes.

I am not yet running on the level where a luxurious post-run meal is necessary for recovery after any run I complete, but I look forward to the day when it is. Running experts suggest post-run splurges after a long run or a race (like a marathon). This meal needs to be designed to get all your hormones and immunity back to normal, re-hydrate, pump yourself full of the right ratio of carbs to proteins, repair muscles, and reduce inflammation.

Your body needs recovery after normal runs, too, so go on and be a little decadent about it. A snack with carbs and protein is ideal. The easiest (and let’s just say it – best) thing? Chocolate milk. Specifically, I recommend a nice glass of Trumoo whole chocolate milk. Whole (and yes, by that I do mean full fat. Glory be!) chocolate milk has the perfect ratio of carbs to protein (3:1 or 4:1) that send your body into recovery mode. I have to take a pill to have chocolate milk, though, so I don’t necessarily keep it around.

Vegans, take heart. A beverage gem with which I do not have to take a pill that was recently brought to my attention is Silk’s Chocolate Protein Nutmilk. It has 10g of protein per serving, but only 16g of carbs. Oh, well, I guess that means I just have to turn it into a milkshake by adding a serving-sized scoop of So Delicious Snickerdoodle to balance out that ratio.

The sacrifices I make…

After a run, skip the calorie counting (if you’re into that sort of thing) and give yourself a little treat. Your body will thank you.

What’s your favorite post-workout snack?

 

I’m spending 31 days running wild.

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