Tag Archives: disorder

Shame is Not a Side Dish

This is Post Three of the 30 Days of Shamelessness Challenge—Eat. Whatever you want.

Anyone who has read this blog for more than a couple weeks (or looked at the header image of me smoking a stalk of asparagus) knows that food is something that has always had an important role in my life, for better or for worse.

Because of that, I have an issue with this prompt in the traditional sense, so I’m going to make it my own.

(Ahem…sorry, you had to know this was coming.)

By definition, “shame” is: a negative emotion, capacity to feel unworthy, state of disgrace or cause of regret. Those are powerful words to assign to something necessary for survival, but yet there’s still that association.

I eat a SunButter and banana sandwich a few times a week—no shame.

As I’ve said before, many Americans are just generally worked up about food. They’re told food can both protect them from and causes diseases, improve their minds or rot their brains, bring them pleasure or bring them pain. They are seduced by the loveliness of its aroma and multiple forms of  “food porn” and then chastised when they actually indulge in something “sinfully” delicious.

For some people, eating is a nuisance and interrupts their regularly scheduled programming of daily life. It’s unimportant and simply necessary. For others, it’s a very powerful tool.

Standard lunch or dinner because it’s delicious, not just because I think I need veggies (well, and it’s easy as heck.) No shame.

It’s taken me a long time and a lot of work, but eventually I’ve reached a point where food no longer holds such power over me. When I’m dealing with daily stress and frustrations, I try not to turn to food as the fastest, easiest path to either pleasure and gratification or restriction and punishment.

In other words, I eat what I want.

Even if it’s a whole Amy’s Pesto Pizza at 9pm on a Saturday after a day full of three meals and a snack. Yes, this is a regular occurrence—no shame.

While I do long for more freedom with my thinking, I know I don’t ever want to be ambivalent towards my choices. I will never see eating as simply a nuisance that interrupts my regularly scheduled programming of daily life.

It will always be important and I’ll always carefully consider my options and allocate the time, effort and money to eat the foods that I truly prefer. Others may question my motivation, but in the end, I’ve been through too much and worked entirely too hard to let others influence how I feel about myself and my choices.

I actually crave huge salads, but I make sure to add in whole avocados and other ingredients to bulk the things up—no shame.

This isn’t an exercise in deprivation, self-harm or righteousness. The last thing I feel is deprived or restricted. It’s simply the way that I feel the best and  it doesn’t even feel like a choice—it’s just me and how things are, how I want things to be.

So at this point, I do eat whatever I want with no shame—treats and all. While I most certainly have my moments—probably more than most people— the only time I ever regret what I’ve eaten is when I know it wasn’t what I really wanted.

I realize we all have different needs and wants, but we all also have the option to make the best choices for us—day to day and meal to meal. There should be no regret, as at that moment, it was what we wanted to eat.

No matter what,  shame is not a side dish.


30 Posts of Shamelessness Challenge

Day 1

Day 2

Chipping Away at Change

It’s said you have to hit rock bottom in order for something to change.

But just when I thought I might have been close, I would get out my chisel and start chipping away at the ground, refusing to believe I had hit a new low. So even though the chisel felt heavy and my body felt tired, I ignored it. I continued to chip, chip away, always pushing myself just a little bit more, always challenging my body to keep up with my mind.

I was my birthday seven years ago. I had finally came home for a visit, the first after moving away for a six-month internship across the state. There was cake I didn’t eat, concerned looks I didn’t see, things said I don’t remember.

Any pleasure I’d once found in food had been lost, yet it still felt like a drug, one I literally tried to run away from as I ran myself into the ground. I needed it, I wanted it, I hated it, I loved it, I was bored, I was stubborn, I was stuck.

Instead my thoughts were consumed as they usually were with the next chance I’d have to destruct, to push my broken body a little bit more in an effort to calm down my mind, to use my body to show a pain I couldn’t put into words. It was a pain I had chose to ignore.

But what I couldn’t ignore was the pain in her eyes when my mom broke down sobbing that day.

We were sitting on the deck talking about nothing of note, or at least nothing I can recall now. What I can recall is the hard wooden chair digging into my back and the scent of the freshly cut grass, a smell I had missed living in a concrete city for the past few months.

I rested my eyes on the view from the deck, but the weight of her gaze drew me back.  She was crying, and then she was sobbing.

She let it all out, a flood of emotion, a mother both scared and confused. I had no clue what I had done, what had caused this sudden outburst of words and tears, concerns and fears. Not sure what to do I just kind of stood by, still numb to the fact I was sick.

But I listened.

I acknowledged the fact that things weren’t quite right, that my pain was no longer just mine. I acknowledged that something was wrong. My 5’ 8” frame suddenly held more than just my double-digit weight; it held the weight of the worry she felt, the gravity of a situation I had tried to ignore.

That chisel I used to keep digging the hole was put away just for that night. It wasn’t a fix and it wasn’t the end, but it would be the start of a very long journey.

It would be the start of some change.

This post was in response to this week’s RemebeRED prompt:

rememberedbutton

This week we’d like you to write about a moment in your life when you knew something had to change drastically. Really explore the moment.

Even though I’m not ashamed of where I’ve been, this post was still hard to publish. I feel weird, like it’s something I just want to forget, but it’s the first thing that came to my mind.

However, my next post will be day one of the 30 Days of Shamelessness. Let the freak flag fly!

Tick Tock

This is kind of an offshoot of my last post, so if you are just joining us, I’ll give you a minute to catch up and leave an insightful comment…moving on.

One of the comments from that post really hit home for me, and after freaking out on poor Eden about how it was “exactly” how I felt, I decided to throw it out there for the world to read.

“I was once asked why I over exercised or ate the way I did, and they were expecting me to say, “to lose weight or maintain the low weight I was at,” but really, it was to kill time. My eating disorder is something to do, to kill the hour. Eating takes up time, eating rituals, exercising, even food shopping (which sometimes just consisted of me going to Whole Foods and browsing for an hour to come out with nothing in my basket!) It kills time beautifully. Without it, I’m so incredibly bored. I had to start to think of things that did not involve any ED things. And for a while, I found no pleasure it them.”

In all honesty, I’ve known this is a huge part of my issues from the start, but I guess I was embarrassed to admit it. I was embarrassed to say that I don’t have enough “other stuff” going on to keep me busy, so I wander grocery stores or exercise. Now granted there’s much more to it than that, but it is a small part of the puzzle.

I’m always watching the clock, waiting until I can eat again, hungry or not. I’ll go for a walk, go to the gym, etc. to at least kill and hour. I’ll wander grocery stores to kill time, not really needing things but simply overstocking supplies—or leaving with nothing at all. Even reading blogs is a way for me to spend time until I can either a) go for a walk/yoga b) eat again or c) sleep.

I don’t know what I would do with all that time if I didn’t fill it with these routines.

And I think that’s part of why I question being “idle” a lot of the time, as exercise and restriction at least give me a feeling of accomplishment, even if it’s not the healthiest form of achievement. I would love to just “be” much more often, and be OK with it, but I’m saddled by a feeling that I should be doing more.

The obvious reply to this is to switch my priorities and fill my time with other things, but the tricky part is that none of those options are ever as appealing to me in the moment (which would be a 24-hours-a-day moment.) My focus isn’t really there and the obsessive thoughts don’t just go away by magically wishing them gone. Even though it sounds sick, I do actually get some sort of pleasure out of food/exercise stuff that I haven’t really found with anything else.

So, in an ironic twist, I end up turning down other things just to do the same exact habits I’m trying to kill time with.

As embarrassing as it is to admit, my days are planned around my food, as that does give me something to think about and plan. The three to four hour gaps in between are simply time to fill, time to distract me and keep me semi-busy for at least a little while.

I’ve tried to figure out exactly what it is that always brings me back to the food. Do I get extreme pleasure out of each and every meal? Not really, as it’s usually the same food and tastes the same each time. Even when it’s something different, I am actually rather detached to the tastes themselves. It’s almost more like I feel a sense of relief when I’ve eaten what I think I should have had, not a sense of pleasure from the taste.

Check that one off the list and look ahead to the next meal, what I can plan so that it gives me that sense of balance. Most of the time I’m already thinking about the next meal while eating the one on my plate. (I don’t consider myself an adulteress, but I guess I cheated on lunch with dinner.)

My disorder keeps me busy.

My disorder also makes me question my motivations. Am I exercising because I want to or because I’m bored and feel I have to? Is there something else I would rather be doing that I’m not? It goes back to just “being” and being OK with whatever I decide I truly want to do with my time, as long as it’s my motivation and not that of my disorder.

But have no fear! I don’t want to write a post that isn’t helpful to me — even just to get things off my pancake chest — so I’ll kind of try to tie in the last post with this one in some cohesive way.

My disorder keeps me busy, as we’ve established, but maybe the energy that I devote to it doesn’t have to automatically transfer into something else “productive.” I think I worry that if I don’t do this, then what the hell will I do? How will I fill time? Maybe instead of looking at the time as boredom, something to be wasted, I should look at is as potential.

The problem is that I really don’t know what I would do with my time, with that potential, as you know I question the “idle” time I actually enjoy quite a bit. There are many times I’m walking and would rather be reading or watering the garden, but instead feel compelled to walk. Not because I want to, but because I feel I have to kill time before I can eat.

But this week—partly due to the 90-degree temps—I have limited myself to a half hour of activity a day. That’s all, a half-hour to spend as I see fit—a walk, yoga, etc. Now how to spend the other 23 ½? Maybe just “being?”

I realize this post addresses a rather specific issue, so the next one hopefully won’t be as food/exercise related. I just had to throw it out there…

Home Sweet Home

Well, I’m home.

Let’s just say that all in all, there were more negatives than positives—and I don’t just mean food related. No one wants to hear me complain about everything or detail every morsel of food that passed through my lips, so I will spare you that. There are a couple things I want to address, but not today. Plus, most of my pictures are on my work camera, so that might come later.

Anyway, here’s the high/low lights:

I was without e-mail—personal and professional—the whole time, as the hotel had a firewall that no one could explain to me. This shouldn’t be a big deal, but it was. While I hate being so connected all the time, I at least like the option. I hated knowing that I had e-mails waiting for me that I couldn’t read and respond to, and it really put a huge kink in the whole “work” thing, needless to say.

The first day there I lost my favorite zip-up hooded sweatshirt walking back from lunch (I think). This seriously bummed me out, as a) I wear it all the time and b) it was my “jacket” while I was down there.

Oy.

However, on that first day I also entered my hotel room to find this thoughtful thank-you basket from one of our clients and the host of the convention.

pioneer

Nuts, chocolates and wine—after the first 24 hours there, I was ready to take on the bottle myself, but I refrained.

More on the food stuff later, but I did OK. I had to mix in some of my own things I brought with buying quite a bit, needless to say. There were times I finally had the damn fruit when I normally would have had veggies (breakfast, for example) and did it with no problem (this is a weird hang-up of mine).

bananaBut then there were times I know that I tried to compensate in other meals/snacks, ignored urges or hunger/craving cues and played it entirely too safe. Like I said, I’ll get into this later.

So still on the first day, I had the breakfast above at the “mall” the hotel was connected to and took advantage of healthy food court options until the weekend, when all the restaurants were closed. Boo to that. There was a ‘60s theme party that night, so I took a picture of myself in the hotel mirror for proof.

hippie(Dork, yes, but I travel alone and do what I can.) 

And while that was fun and a highlight, I only lasted until 8pm when all the sudden I felt extremely queasy, ran back to my room and was halfway into my pj’s when I started dry heaving into the hotel toilet. WTF? Was it the food?  A migraine? Exhaustion? This was proceeded by a killer headache and a sleepless night of nausea and annoyance.

Lovely. No, that sucked.

However, the day I soldiered on and came back to my room to find this welcome package from another company.

hotelbskt Wine, fruit, crackers, funky chocolate creations and the tools for manipulation.

hotel2While I don’t do much fruit when I’m home, when I do, I make sure I buy organic—especially when it comes to berries. However, the next morning I added those juicy buggers into my breakfast—taking advantage of something different (and free)—and lived to tell the tale. 

The rest of the trip was up and down, including the fact that when I went to e-register and get my boarding pass for Sunday’s flight, I found out I had made my reservations for MAY 18 and not APRIL 18.

Hysteria ensued, but the wine remained in tact.

Long story (and frantic conversation with the airline) short, it cost my company quite a bit of money to change my ticket (as in, quite a bit of money) but I got home today and I still have a job. My boss was actually really cool about it, but I think that’s mostly because he’s spent the last week in Vegas for “work” and can’t be that hypocritical. I don’t care why, but he was very cool.

Eventually I was too, but I felt like a total douche. The first time I picked my itinerary, it was for the correct dates. I had to wait for approval, and once I got it, I went back and secured my reservation. I suppose I hit the “May” map instead of “April” and never noticed the error.

If I haven’t mentioned it, I feel like a huge douche.

My mom, while sympathetic, replied with, “I’m not surprised. You always have a lot on your mind and don’t always focus that great.” This was cushioned by the fact that “shit happens” and I’m only human, etc., but she had a point. I didn’t tell her that, but she had a point.

I’m good at my job and can tie my shoes, but I miss so many details with so many basic things, in general. Why? Either my mind is somewhere else—guess where—or my mind is just blank and I don’t think about things. There are times that I feel like I’m an eight year old in mentality, with basic things puzzling me to no end. Then there are times I know I think too deep and philosophically, exploring the emotional and not so much the cognitive.

But it all comes back to being distracted and never really present, never really focused. This time it was an expensive mistake financially, but it has proven to be an expensive mistake in so many other ways in the past. No doubt that it will continue to be an expensive mistake in the future if stuff doesn’t change.

Anyway, that’s a quick recap. I will talk a bit more about things in the coming days, but for now it’s the rest of the hockey game, baseball game and some laundry.

It’s good to be home!

Were you able to challenge yourself at all this weekend?

or

Any special plans this week that you’re looking forward to (or dreading)?

Abby Does Dallas

Thursday morning I will be hopping on a ridiculously early flight—5:50 am—and heading to Dallas until Sunday afternoon. Although I would like to say I’m going on a fun long weekend romp with my mystery boy toy, alas, I’m actually going to a conference for work for the long weekend.

dallas_texas_1 Oh well…moving on. 

I’ve talked about how I hate traveling many times before—the break in routine, relying on spontaneous restaurant meals and snacks brought from home, hotel germs, etc. Needless to say, it’s not my favorite thing in the world. While I did survive Houston earlier this year, it kicked my ass and I did have my usual amount of anxiety before and during the five day, 13-hour work day excursion.

I don’t know why, but so far this time is different.

Even though I still don’t want to go (I’m not a fan of flying and am freaking over all the ridiculous fees—a toilet fee?), I’m OK with it. Looking past the 3am wake-up call, I just figure it’s a little mini adventure and heck, I’ll be home Sunday afternoon. The convention will require comparatively minimal effort in comparison to other trips, and it’s actually looking like it could be fun, or at least interesting (it’s always more fun when you don’t have to do all the work).

Plus, there’s a ‘70s retro “welcoming” party Thursday night and a black tie affair Saturday night, so there will be dancing—if even by myself.

Anyway, I’m not even letting myself pack ridiculous amounts of food and plastic utensils and I haven’t spent hours researching every single restaurant within a 20mile radius for something “safe” like I usually do.

roomstuffDon’t get me wrong—I am still bringing my usual supply of Larabars, oatmeal packets, dried fruit and almonds—but in reasonable quantities, as in, not having security question what the hell I’m doing with measuring cups and plastic cutlery.

My hotel is near a shopping center and connected to the convention hall, so I assume there will be plenty of options. In fact, I kind of want to challenge myself and try not to go to the one place I feel content enough to continually return to…meal after expensed meal.

There also won’t be as much physical activity this trip, and the weather forecast is calling for rain all weekend, so I won’t be walking and crazy manic busy the whole time. However, I am not bringing workout shorts or paying the $10 to ride a damn bike in the hotel health club for a half hour.

Lofty goals for little neurotic me.

However, I’m traveling by myself, so I don’t have to be “on” or go by anyone’s schedule for a majority of the trip—bonus. And considering I have no choice but to go, I might as well look at it as an adventure instead of a chore. No use planning things out of my control (I guess I can’t fly the plane either, huh?)

Am I gung-ho and excited about it? No, but it’s a good opportunity to break some of my own rules again and try a few new things—not just food and routine, but physically and socially.

Plus, I’m getting paid for it and again, I have no choice.

Anyway, I have to “tweet” from the convention so I’ll be paying the $12/day hotel Internet fee, ensuring that I can still get my sports scores, e-mails and Facebook stalk.

Humor me and tell me the most ridiculous amount of money you’ve paid for a food item on a trip, just because you wanted it. I’ve done the $2 piece of fresh fruit, an $8 container of limp veggies and $5 water too many times to count…

or

Tell me how you can challenge yourself this weekend!

Before the After

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then maybe I won’t ramble on so much this post. Maybe being the operative word, of course.

 

I feel like I might be posting a bit negatively lately, and although I realize that I own no one an explanation, it is because I am still stuck in between where I am, where I was and where I want to be. I read other people’s posts and don’t compare myself, never really have, but rather get so pissed that I can relate to their “before” recovery feelings so much more than the “after.” That I’m see how stuck I still am in comparison to where I need (and want) to be. But we’ll save that for another day…

 

Anyway, I know that people often have a “goal” picture when embarking on a diet—usually to lose weight, but in my case, to gain it back—so I’m doing the same. I know that I’ve posted a few unflattering  current shots on here from time to time, so I thought I would give you a point of reference to my “before” shots (these were taken right at the start of my disorder.)

 

Graduation Day 1999 with stepdad

 Keep in mind that it was 1999 and these are just a couple I came across — that’s over 10 years ago and we all look different 10 years ago — but you get the idea.

 

I think this was my 19th birthday.

Please remember that I’m not posting these as a, “Whee! Look at me!” type thing. In fact, I really hesitated to post them at all, as they really just make me sad. They remind me of how much I’ve lost–time, fun, looks, health–and kind of just depress me more. (OK. Really just depress me more.)

Senior Prom 1999-about 40 lbs heavier than now.

But you know what? You can’t go back.  I came across these shots accidentally and I can’t pretend the pictures don’t exist. And despite that smiling face from 10 years ago, I know now how much pain was bottled inside. I know how unhappy I was–not necessarily with myself, but with my situation.

I can only use the pictures as motivation, as even though I still struggle, I haven’t given up. Much like this expert fisherman here…

Does this need a caption?

And I guess I didn’t always have an aversion to cake–or paper crowns.

Tank tops and paper crowns were all the rage.

Anyway, everything that’s a “before” can be turned into an “after” if you work hard enough, and I don’t mean the negative “after” that my shots kind of reflect. A few months or a year from now, hopefully I can post one of my unflattering shots from the last year as my new “before”–before actual full recovery this time–and a new shot more reminiscent of 1999 as my “after.”

*Disclaimer–this was written away from my home computer, so I apologize for the funky spacing.