Day 255

6PM:

Barely enough energy to see straight or piss straight, let alone think or act straight.  No Tao of Pooh – will get there some day (as rivers know).  Sorry, best I’ve got are random thoughts (and bad metaphors)…

Three days = three successful days of reclaiming breakfast, lunch, dinner – never eating too much and never eating too little.  Today wasn’t so great, which we knew it wouldn’t be.  But as my lunch from the gorgeous Gorilla Food demonstrated…

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…just because it looks fucked up, doesn’t mean it is (damn, did that Great Gorilla Salad ever taste good!).

On day three, didn’t over-drink = just had one and that was all – could be attributed to…

That being said, feel like crap – bloated (yesterday’s ill), tired, sleepless, restless, senseless, fatigued beyond belief.  Blackness little louder than is tolerable as a result.  Good news though = didn’t have to cram a bunch of food into me to “fill the numbers” – could skirt on yesterday and my body/nature would figure it out.

Still worry about eating too much/too little at each meal.  Just finished some fruit and chocolate as a snack and worried a shit-ton about the chocolate – maybe this is about realizing that physical signs of hunger (tummy grumbling) are not the only ones of note.  There is also (as today and yesterday have shown, since more than coffee or alcohol, fatigue kills my physical signs of appetite), other signs of hunger: being a dick, distractability and lack of concentration, over-thinking about food or counting or if it’s enough (like the fruit-chocolate demonstrated), light-headedness (shouldn’t get to this) and falling asleep or excessive fatigue.  Still learning…

Got a few more days of running on fumes, then I get to rest for 48 hours (long enough to get sick), before I’m back “on.”  Mom appreciated me being there though.  Mom needed me there though.  So fatigued or not, I am happy to be stuck in an airport waiting to go home to my girl and glad I got to be the swiss army knife again.

Day 254

5:30AM:

In light of this spirit of kindness and self-love, here’s the current perspective/point-of-view/slant…

  • On each of the last two days, I have eaten breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner
    • Albeit, the snack is a bottle of wine (but hey, you should meet the selfish, ruthlessly cruel fucktards that I have to work with all day out here, THEN JUDGE!)
    • Albeit, dinner is a little unconventional (but who dictates that?)
  • On each of the last two days, I have woken up not famished and not bloated/full, but hungry enough to “break the fast” as it were, which is kind of the place I would like to be in the mornings – not too hungry, but not still tasting the midnight “meal”
  • On each of the last two days, I have eaten roughly two components at every meal (two at breakfast, two at lunch, one at snack and three at dinner) and respected the four out of six food groups, one of which is a healthy fat
  • On each of the last two days, I have beaten myself up at first flinch about counting portions in my head (however, I haven’t woken up in the middle of the night with visions of them, as I was experiencing on the two days before this trip that I almost fell back into counting), but reminded myself about self-love and kindness at the second flinch

This new way will allow me to be more social, will allow me to not feel hungry or bloated at any point of the day, will give my head a rest from constantly drilling calories and portions from ear to ear – there is a small reclamation of social and emotional comfort, physical comfort, psychological and mental comfort.  Not peace, not quiet, but definitely a step on the path of recovery.

Day 249

11:30PM:

Why am I afraid of putting on weight?  Why am I so concerned about the person in the mirror as opposed to the person inside?  Why did that voice creep into my head?

I never really had weight-related issues, nothing totally out of the ordinary: feeling self-conscious as a pre-teen and wearing a T-shirt in the swimming pool, hearing Grade 9 girls talk about the best body parts of other people in our classes.  I remember these things because I am me, not necessarily because they were scarring.  In fact, I only started having weight-related issues, thinking about the abs in the mirror or the definition on my chest when I started losing weight.  Like the weight loss triggered some abnormal, never-reverseable (at least that what it feels like now) switch in my head, that the blackness turned on and uses against me, uses to cloud the me version of me.  I read an interesting article from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders a while ago about this, about weight loss triggering an eating disorder – not sure if it is me, but it is interesting nonetheless:

“The role of genetics on eating disorders is of particular interest to researchers. Our knowledge at this point indicates that genes load the gun and the environment pulls the trigger. We are far from knowing specific genes that cause eating disorders. There are a number of genes that work with environmental triggers. Dieting and loss of weight may influence the development of anorexia by turning on a gene that may influence an eating disorder. There are many cases of transgenerational eating disorder and twin studies which make this connection. There is probably a 5-6 greater chance of developing an eating disorder if an immediate relative has an eating disorder” (http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/general-information/).

But again, I am not sure if this was my case.  Chicken or the egg?  Trying to understand the roots of an eating disorder, of this arm of the blackness, is troublesome.  At a certain point, who the fuck cares?  Some things I will never be able to understand, some puzzles will never by put together and for perfectionists that’s a hard thing (also for me, who tries to find patterns and parallels in a lot more than I should).  However, to a certain point, it is important to care about the causes, in so much as it enables an understanding of triggers, potential pitfalls and warning signs.

Here is that certain point.  As such, this is what I know:

  • I have spent the majority of the day worrying about my bloated stomach, about the food I’ve consumed (it is weird to be hungry – actually hungry, as the impatience and “watching-the-clock” demonstrates – and worrying about bloat at the EXACT SAME TIME).
  • It is a tool of the blackness, that is what I know.  The rest of it, after this long, I cannot understand.
  • I also know that it doesn’t seem to matter (yet) how many times my wife tells me that weight gain might be good, that it might actually be my set-point weight, that my body might be telling me that I’ve spent most of the last eight years starving it of nourishment, of health, of happiness.
  • It just seems permanent, but that is too far ahead.  Right now, I know that the blackness is screaming louder than ever about my bloat, about my definition, about my appearance.  Right now, I need hope that it won’t do that forever…

The inspiration for this post was a page I came across from Greatist, about Neghar Fonooni from Eat, Lift and Be Happy.  I have included that article at the end of this post because it is what will give that hope…

“This is my ‘reverse progress’ photo. In 2009 I was 120 lbs, 12% body fat. I was ripped out of my mind, and also ACTUALLY out of my mind.
I counted every last calorie and worked out about 2 hours/day. I was in an abusive relationship, lacked confidence, and only felt good about myself when I was lean. I weighed myself every single day and allowed that number to dictate how I felt about myself.

Today, I weigh roughly 134 lbs, and probably am about 17-18% body fat. I don’t actually know, to be honest. I workout 15-30 minutes per day, and once a week I do a longer strength only session, allotting more time for rest. I enjoy red wine on the regs, and while I eat a nourishing diet, I don’t stress out over food. When I travel, I indulge in local cuisine. I am active, strong, and fit. I’m not RIPPED and I honestly DO NOT care.

Why? Because any time I want to get shredded again, I know what to do. I know that I’ll need to tighten up my diet, and I know that I’ll need to be patient; leaning out will take a significant amount of time. I just don’t WANT to do that right now, and that’s okay.

I call this “reverse progress” but I actually think it’s real progress. I’m happier now.

Being lean isn’t my top priority. If it was, I’d work for it. My priority right now is being the best mom and wife I can be. My purpose is to teach women how to love and embrace their bodies, and should they want to be leaner, show them how to do it without going crazy.

I’m sharing this with you because I want you to see that fitness professionals aren’t perfect. We aren’t always shredded and we shouldn’t just show you our highlight reel. Sometimes I’m leaner than others, and that fluctuation is normal. It took me years to be okay with that, and to accept my body just as it is, 10 pounds up or down. I could look at that picture from 2009 and feel badly about myself for gaining weight, or I could look at the picture from a few weeks ago and feel proud of myself. I choose to feel proud.

In the picture on the left I was miserable, and today I am free as a bird. I’ve chosen not to let my body fat % dictate how I feel about myself, and fully accepted my body and all of it’s beautiful imperfections. I hope you will too.

xoxo
N”

Thank you Neghar

Day 247

6PM:

Do what feels right – that’s the expectation of what “should” be.  Just do what feels right and you won’t have to worry about whether or not it’s normal, because it will be right for you.  You don’t have to worry about your eating habits being normal or whether or not you’re making the right choices, because it will be right for you.  Yes, in a perfect world, I agree – but for people like me, like us, doing what feels right is a loaded question.

Doing what is right is one thing, but doing what feels right in the moment might be restricting calories, drinking too much, exercising without compensation.  Doing what feels right is loaded because it isn’t just me in there.  When the me parts of me are weak or tired or vulnerable or beaten-up, doing what feels right is what quiets down the blackness.  Doing what feels right in these circumstances, doing what feels right is about giving in to the blackness, making the blackness feel right.

And this incorrectly suggests some sort of cognition on my part to give in – not in the fucking slightest.  Very often the only way I know I’ve done the right thing for the blackness and not for me is through others, through the eyes and ears and distance of others.  When it’s just me, it feels simply like I’m doing what’s right.  I would say that all but a handful of times, I believed I was doing what was right for me, not for the blackness (there have been those times, those few and far between times when things are tough that I have given in, because the alternative is darker than even the blackness).  That’s the tragic part of this thing, this disease, this fucked-up-ness – it confuses the me parts of me, makes me believe I am serving me; when in reality, I am bowing down to the almighty poison inside.

I want to feel happy, content, quiet, at peace.  The me version of me is that, holding hands with the her version of her, walking the dog to the door where the cats greet us with ever-present, unconditional love.  With the blackness, that can happen.  With the tools we’ve accumulated and the redrawing of the lines to reclaim healthy and find a balance of vivid, that can happen.  With the blackness this strong, it can’t.

So again, one day at a time.  Be strong and brave and smart enough – the Winnie the Pooh version of the serenity prayer.  Be strong and brave and smart enough, believing that I can do what’s right for the me version of me, even if I’m not there yet – still on the path of recovery though.

Day 245

6PM:

It is amazing the speed at which hunger returns when you let it, as opposed to letting mechanics, external controls, too-strong lines (confines is more like it, at least for the now version of me, the present colours of my soul).  When we opened that door, re-opening it to reclaim healthy — holy shit, is it ever overwhelming.  I can eat breakfast late, but be hungry for lunch an hour and a half later — this overwhelms me, it scares me.  I can eat lunch late, having only had a snack for breakfast (marking Summer School midterms yesterday morning = not a whole lot of interest in stopping to eat and truth be told, didn’t really feel all that hungry) and be craving something between lunch and dinner — this overwhelms me, it scares me (however, logically, eating a meal at lunch and two half meals – barely – is right about the amount that I was eating before the giant end-of-day meal last week).  But in summary, this is fucking overwhelming.  The blackness has a hold on the anxiety, on the fear and it is Jack-the-Ripper-ish in its evisceration of my me-ness.

There is a new voice within, one that has been screaming.  Is that you, hunger?  That isn’t binge-eating or thoughtless consumption or lack of structure or lack of mindfulness – that’s actually how hungry I am, how hungry I feel?  Have you been there all along?  Have I just not been listening?  Have I tried to control you?

I am relearning how to listen to myself — how fucked up is that!?!  It is the path to reclaiming healthy and finding the lost bits of myself, the bits that once were and the bits that never could be there because of the blackness.  I have wanted to jump back into portion counting over the last 2-3 days because I’m not eating enough.  I am not eating frequently enough, because I am scared by it.  I do not allow myself to eat because I am scared, scared to give in, scared that it will… it is tough to explain, it is irrational, I don’t know why really.  I hear the voice within, that hunger voice, and more times than not, I don’t indulge because I’m scared.

I am floored by the frequency at which I hear you.  I am floored by the frequency at which I have to feed you.  I am surprised by the amount that I have to eat to quiet you down properly, as opposed to dousing the fire with coffee or exercise or ignorance.  But I shouldn’t be that floored, should I?  I shouldn’t be that surprised because even logically, this makes sense.  The practical nature of feeding every few hours scares the me that’s used to eating without intuition.  However, logically, eating four meals of two medium-sized parts along with a snack, is right about the amount that I was eating last week (one meal of two medium-sized parts and one gigantic meal of the rest – ok, along with way too much booze to fill in the blanks).  But that’s not what that’s about in the end.

It is about listening to myself, my urges, my hungers, my desires, my soul and my truth, not my fears or anxieties or black bits.  Because reclaiming healthy is about the truth in my soul.  So I will try to listen better, because we all know that I’ve been able to hear you.  For the most part, I’ve lied about those hunger desires – I’ve heard you, I just haven’t listened and in doing so, I am now unable to even hear the other voices: sex, fatigue, illness, sadness.  I believe hearing those again (because listening to them is what I’ve been waiting for) is about listening to the food desires that I’ve focused on ignoring for so long.

Reclaiming healthy is about feeding those desires, those true desires that truly make soul food.

Day 244

12:30PM:

We are filling the emptiness with normal, not euphorial.  That means there will be good days, there will be bad days and there will be Eastwood ugly days (as a couple of nights ago showed much too clearly, but we made it to Day 4).  But we are doing it because we are reclaiming healthy, because we are reclaiming the me version of me that the blackness stole, stripped away and hid for years.

Reclaiming normal is being honest with my wife that I needed to eat before we made love, and that the decision had nothing to do with sex or anxiety or blackness, just recognition of hunger.

Reclaiming normal is enjoying being slightly hungrier than I should be (not ravaged with it like I would be), because it meant I could be the most comfortable pillow in the world at that moment.

Reclaiming normal is finding out the next day that I’m not strong enough to eat when I am hungry enough.

Reclaiming normal is believing that if I respect when I’m not hungry (as I feel today), I have to respect when I am (the aforementioned yesterday) and not having the strength to do it just yet – but trying to be a little better at it today than yesterday, recovering one day at a time.

Reclaiming normal is finding joy in reading and listening to music and have these things be undistractable, without hunger-created daze or alcoholic haze.

Reclaiming normal is looking for salad dressings based on taste and a desire to be a healthy vegan, not based on portion control/prediction (or more commonly, restriction).

Reclaiming normal is not wanting to throw up to alleviate the pain.

Reclaiming normal is trying to find digital companionship on this path, reading through the notes on my desktop and knowing that others feel the exhaustion of recovery.

Reclaiming normal is fighting through the body dysmorphic, mentally disemboweling blackness; fighting through its new direction, because while we are strangling it, the gurgling sounds very much like “you feel like you are getting fatter,” “you should not be sitting down right now…” – it is an issue with not knowing, fighting through the uncertainty; but it’s dysmorphically hypnotic, isn’t it.

Reclaiming normal is hoping that the anxiety in my gut is going to ease tomorrow, with one more day under our belts.

Reclaiming normal is one day at a time, as Victoria Moran says in Main Street Vegan: “The great thing about … a day at a time is that there’s nothing keeping you from doing it today.  All you have to do is eat foods from the plant kingdom for this day’s meals and snacks, and you’re good.  You don’t have to worry about your sister’s wedding next June, your company’s Labor Day barbecue, or what you’ll eat if you ever go to Argentina.  Today you’re enjoying a plant-based diet. … Understand that moving two steps forward often has one step back as part of the package.  Taking it a day at a time, though, is insurance against slipping because, in the early days when this is still a little bit daunting, you only have to make it to bedtime” (22).

Reclaiming normal is one day at a time, because looking too far ahead is fucking overwhelming.

Day 241

9:30AM:

This is not the first step, nor is it the first stage, nor is the first new step. It is a continuation, a continued set of steps in the right direction, in the direction of recovery and of reclaiming healthy.

For example, being overjoyed by my wife coming through, even with as much as she had on her plate yesterday, and bringing me home some love – that is a step in her recovery, in our recovery.

[AN ASIDE, OR NOT SO MUCH OF ONE, I GUESS: I truly believe that we can see the us version of us ahead – the her version of her and the me version of me, holding hands and smiling as always (maybe crying too, but tears exist in the bubble as well; it’s just that they are safe and protected and cared for/about. And yes, I truly believe in unicorns and flying penguins and ninja pandas and the power of love (and bears) to conquer all the darkness in the world (HALLELUJAH!!! AMEN!!! – I also believe and have faith in my religion of love, and it is Sunday after all!)].

On a practical side, recovery is tasting the carrot-apple-ginger grand elixir juice that we’d planned on starting the day with and realizing I really don’t fucking like juice. Recovery is changing that plan and recovery is not having to finish it, chugging down this healthy tonic (or poisonous partner of the blackness, as it would be in this case). Recovery is also re-purposing the juice as soup, adding olive oil and onions and apples and almond milk – or peanut butter… hmmm… – because those things would make it taste good, because certain proportions of it would make it taste good, not because these healthy ingredients are within the portions or boxes or countable (again, becoming poisonous partners of the blackness in this case). Recovery is also tasting the soup along the way – outside of meal times – and adjusting the seasoning along the way and not worrying about getting extra calories from it along the way. Recovery is spilling a bit of the soup while stirring and saying “fuck,” but not because of the lost calories, the pre-counted allotment. Recovery is saying “fuck” because I now have to clean the stovetop again! Recovery is saying “fuck” because the cats whining wakes you up in the morning (well, at least it’s not visions of calories and food portions dancing in my head!). Recovery is not about perfect; recovery is about real. Recovery is about finding the balance that life can provide, the beautiful vividness of the world and of me in it (ok, not so practical with that one, but fuck off, it’s my blog!).

Now that we’re into the metaphors, it’s time for some motivational quotes:

Not being afraid of doing it wrong – it just gets in the way of doing it right. – The Flying Penguin