Tag Archives: eating disorder

What I learned from zombies

I know I’m late to the game, but I finally saw Zombieland this weekend (and just for the record, thoroughly enjoyed it). At any rate, if you haven’t seen it, you are dropped right into Zombieland as Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) begins listing his rules to survive living among the zombies (trust me, it’s not as cheesy as it sounds.)

Zombieland-PosterOne of his opening lines is, “I survived because I followed the rules, my rules.” 

Hmmm…call me crazy, but this really struck a chord with me (and not because the undead were lurking around my neighborhood.) For me, I pretty much developed these maladaptive behaviors years ago as a way to survive, a way to cope with my situation and the world around me.

Things chaotic? I defer to overexercising, restricting or obsessing about food/numbers/etc. so I can’t focus on anything else. Making myself comfortably numb was the only way I felt (and still feel) like I can handle both the outside world and the inside turmoil. I feel like in order to just make it through, to survive, I can’t have it both ways—it’s either/or.

I survive because I follow the rules, my rules.

I have ridiculous rules about everything—if I worked out for 30 minutes last night, it can’t be 29 minutes today; I put limits on pieces of gum and tea that have nothing to do with calories; my meal rules are ridiculous and I won’t even touch on them (work in progress, most certainly.)

But how much are these rules really helping? Unless you’re new here, you’re probably thinking, “How’s that working out for ya, Abby?” and understandably rolling your eyes. My rules give me a false sense of safety, but they don’t keep me healthy in both body and mind.

So, I have decided to amuse myself by adapting a few of the rules of survival from Zombieland to my own situation, adding my own “healthy” twist to things. Once again, I feel like I have to do everything “opposite” of what we are traditionally told to do (“eat less, exercise more,” for example), but rules are made to be broken—or at least twisted to fit my purpose.

RULES FOR SURVIVAL

(Disclaimer: This is not a complete list of Zombieland Rules for Survival. If you are in need of those guidelines, I suggest you log off and report your suspicions to the authorities.)

Cardio—This one comes up a lot in Zombieland, and it makes sense. You want to be in good physical condition to outrun the undead. However, if you are trying to gain healthy weight, cardio makes no sense—especially when it becomes obsessive. You want to be in good physical condition and not look like the undead, so cardio is basically out of the picture…unless being chased by zombies, of course.

cardioBeware of Bathrooms—In the movie, the bathroom is the perfect place to corner yourself and negate any hope of escape. Similarly, the bathroom for someone in recovery can be just as unpleasant for a variety of reasons. (1) There is the shower, where one is forced to get naked in front of (2) the mirrors. There might be a (3) scale, possibly a (4) hair-clogged sink or drain and (5) the inevitable medicine cabinet that may contain laxatives, stimulants, sleeping pills or any other artificial form of “alternation” (or maybe just floss…floss is harmless). At the very least, there is (6) the toilet—a vehicle for evacuation, or countless hours spent wishing for such a, ahem…movement.

However, one must regard the bathroom as a place of comfort and not of temptation to nit-pick or obsesses over physical…stuff. We’ll move on.  

No Attachments—In the movie, it is advised not to get too attached to other people or things, as they are likely to slow you down. Similarly, with recovery from anything, you cannot be so attached to your routine and addictions that they slow you down and impede your recovery. In order for things to improve, you have to be willing to let go of the habits that grounded you where you are.

The Buddy System—But that doesn’t mean you can’t be attached to people. In the movie, you want someone watching your back, always on alert for the next attack. Similarly, those in recovery need to have someone they can talk and be accountable to. Going at it solo, listening only to what’s going on in your own head, is no smarter than trying to take on a mob of the undead alone.

When in doubt, know your way out—With zombies, nothing is worse than a poorly planned escape. Similarly, when you find yourself slipping back into unhealthy behaviors or questioning your motivations, know what you can do to find a way out. Nothing is worse than a poorly planned escape. 

Be Ruthless—Just as the weak and compassionate will not survive in the world of the undead, one cannot expect to make progress in recovery by giving in and giving up when things get tough. Things will be hard, things will be uncomfortable, things will suck. Be ruthless; show no mercy.

Enjoy the little things—Self explanatory in both Zombieland and Abbyland. Life is short—take time to appreciate the small things that make your heart happy. In actuality, they are in fact the big things.

What “rules” can you break for yourself?

and/or

What rules should you follow that you don’t?