Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Honesty Hour: Why Getting Better Has Been Worth It

Guess what? It's honesty time again! I think I might have unintentionally turned this into a little random mini-series but we're just gonna keep going with it and see how it turns out.

I had a bad body image day today. I've been feeling a little bloated, less energetic, I had a couple bad workouts, and just kinda moody. Probably hormonal since it's getting to be around that time, I think you ladies know what I mean and sorry if that's too much information but that's not the point. 

The point is that I had a bad day and when that happens my guard is usually down. I found myself thinking that I wanted to be back at my old weight, to be "thin" again. I wasn't feeling all that confident so I was being a little hard on myself. 

However, instead of letting those negative thoughts run rampant and get to me, I decided to make a list of pros about getting better. This is in no particular order, and some might seem silly or random but hey it's all about looking at the positives, right?  

1. I can eat Oreos now. And frozen yogurt, dark chocolate, peanut butter, pasta, pizza, carbs and fats of all sorts, and pretty much whatever fits my macros that I wouldn't allow myself before. To have that kind of freedom is truly liberating and this time last year I wouldn't have been able to even imagine that I'd be at this point. 

2. I love running again. It's no longer a form of punishment to my body. I look forward to my runs and I use them for prayer time or reflecting on life. Not beating myself up, warning myself I'd get fat if I didn't run an extra 3 miles, or feeling guilty for having a binge the day before. There came a time when I dreaded my runs because I looked at them as a means of having to do it, as punishing myself. I grew to hate them and completely lost my passion for running. 

3. I now get back massages. This might seem completely random but before I lost all that weight, my mom would give me back massages. I was running over 35 miles a week and my back would get pretty knotted and tight so she would be the best mommy ever and rub them out for me. Once I started to lose weight, though, she got really concerned because she could feel more of my bones. I remember one time during the winter when I was getting really bad, she got so worried because she could count every single one of my ribs even through my thick sweatshirt. After that I stopped asking for them because I didn't want her to be able to tell that I was losing more weight. I was afraid that she would send me to get help for real this time and I'd be forced to gain more weight back. But now that I'm better I ask for them again especially since it counts as occupational therapy for her :)

4. I feel closer to God. I think this one is pretty self-explanatory since He's the one who heals me and has been guiding me through the whole process. There's no way I could have done everything on my own and my strength comes from Him. 

5. I have more confidence. I've struggled each and every day but I'm proud of where I am now. I feel so much stronger mentally that I've never been in this good of a place for the past two and a half years. It's a long and slow process but totally and completely worth it. To be able to actually walk in a room and not automatically start comparing myself to others is something I never thought I could begin achieving. Again, I'm not perfect at it but I used to obsess over how I didn't look like the models in magazines, fitness girls on Pinterest, or any other woman that I thought had a much better body than me. Nowadays I've learned to appreciate my body for being my own. 

6. I got into lifting. Back when I was restricting there was absolutely no way that I would allow myself to pick up heavy weights to build muscle. Because building muscle would have been directly counterproductive to my goal of making myself be as small and fragile as possible. The thought of having muscles and looking healthily strong would have both terrified and disgusted me. I thought that I wanted to, or more accurately thought that I "should" look like a thin-stick rail. Having strong sculpted muscles would have been out of the question. Now, lifting is one of my passions along with running and I'm thankful that I got the opportunity to find that out. 

7. My hormones are now balanced. My periods stopped immediately as soon as I dropped the weight. I didn't get one from February 2012 until October 2013. I'll be honest yes it was nice not having to always deal with that but it's not natural and it wasn't a good sign. I went to multiple doctors at my mom's request just to check my bloodwork and a couple of them put me on some hormone medicines to try and kick start me into getting one. None of them worked, though, and I went to a doctor in December 2012 who flat out told me that I didn't have enough fat and wasn't producing enough fat. She said that my estrogen levels were too low because of my weight and my diet. She referred me to a nutritionist but I wouldn't go. My mom was getting increasingly worried but I brushed it all off. 

8. My blog. If I hadn't gone through what I did and started recovering then there wouldn't be much for me to write here, would there? I love blogging and creating and sharing recipes with you guys! 

9. I'm more myself. I remember last summer I got a text from my aunt saying "I miss your smiling face." It hit me like a ton of bricks because that's when I was still in the thick of restricting and binging. She didn't know that because I was hiding it but she could tell I was stressed and different. There was still a lot going on with my mom as she remained in the hospital so I always attributed my off behavior to that. It was a pretty iron-clad alibi for acting weird when your mom was in the hospital recovering after a massive brain injury so my behavior largely went unnoticed. But the truth was, I wasn't myself during those times. I was anxious, moody, stressed, and unhappy. Of course a lot of it had to do with my mom but I was like that for even the year before that. I was so obsessed with my weight and eating habits that I was slowly closing myself off from my family and friends without even realizing it.

10. I'm not cold ALL THE TIME. When I was at my lowest weight I legitimately lost the ability to stay warm. It didn't matter if it was 70 degrees or 12 degrees out, I was freezing. In the winter, I still ran in the mornings and all I remember is not being able to get warm again once I came home. I would blast scalding hot water in the shower until I was a lobster, dress in my warmest wool socks, wear heavy sweaters and sweatshirts, walk around in my snuggie, and drink hot tea constantly just to not freeze my buns off. One morning my mom forgot to warm up the car when she was giving me a ride to class. It was a typical winter morning so not completely freezing (unlike this past winter with the polar vortex!). Anyway, I got in the car and my teeth were chattering. I had all my warm clothes on plus my thick jacket and for the life of me I could not warm up. I started yelling at my mom to hurry up and get the heat on but there was nothing she could do since the car wasn't warm yet, the cold air blasting on me only made it worse. I had a meltdown because I was freezing, anxious, moody, and it really took very little to set me off those days. She thought I was being dramatic but 10 minutes later, my teeth were still chattering uncontrollably and my lips were blue. I remember her look of concern and she said: "You're not kidding, you really can't get warm". Even in the summer I would have to use all my blankets and comforter since I got so cold at night. Now, I can sleep with just a thin sheet or not even that. That also might have something to do with the fact that I have a fluffy hot water bottle (Layla) smack up against me all night but regardless, I don't have any trouble with getting or staying warm now.

Forcing myself to create this list and really think things through proves to me just how much getting better has been worth it. Every step, every tear, every doubt, every feeling of wanting to give up has shaped my path and led me to where I am now. By no means has it been easy or pleasant or fun but it's made me grow. It's challenged me, changed me, and creates me to be the person I'm meant to be.

I'm no longer ashamed of my past or what I did because I see now that it's done me good. That sounds backwards but I've learned from my mistakes. It's like a buffer that keeps me from going back because now that I'm on the other side of it, I can clearly see how bad things were back then.

So the next time I begin doubting myself or the process, I'll force myself to look back to those times again. With the one simple question: is it worth sacrificing everything I've done up to this point just to go back to square one?

Simple questions usually only require simple answers. And in this case the answer is simply no. 

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