Day 351

8PM:

At the end of August, I decided that it would be helpful to re-gig the August Greatist Challenge, continue it for the months to come as loving, supportive inspiration to my wife on her journey of recovery.  In October, it was less a day-to-day set of lines to structure.  It became more of an “open in case of emergency” situation.  Having a shitty day?  Check out the Greatist calendar and breathe five times.  Work using you like a punching bag?  Check out the Greatist calendar and name five things that make you happy right now.

Well, work has treated me like a punching bag for the last (insert what-I-wish-could-be-a-hyperbolic statement HERE [but it won’t be hyperbolic until there is care to remember that I am volunteering for the benefit of the school on a Saturday and that I asked for their blessing in stretching my professional limits for the benefit of my professional development]) and my back appears to be completely fucked either by lack-of-outlet stress or by working out to compensate for the stress, so I looked at the calendar and here are five things that make me happy right now:

#1: I am able to gloat about my grandfather, about the connection that he and I have right now.

#2: I have the means to be a little bit stupid.  And the universe knows it will make me happy, so it went from 10% to 40% to 50%.  Not making it any less stupid mind you, but somehow increasing the right-ness of it.  In setting the stage ever-so-snuggly, the universe made it fit ever-so-snuggly.  I can’t wait.

#3: As a supplement, being in the spirit of happy, of giving, of loving and caring (even for an hour), the parts of my brain that often go unused (because of the whole frosty workplace element), kicked into overdrive.  It gave me a way to combine #1 and #2 that will be beautiful, amazing and loving.  I can’t wait.

#4: Work sucks.  To escape, I went to my brother/sister/mother-in-law’s house after work today.  I was greeted at the door by my nephew, who’s initial reaction was to ask, “Are you staying for a visit?”  I did.  I didn’t because there were some ulterior motives.  I didn’t because there were political gains to be made.  I did because he enjoys the fact that I talk with him, at a level that is him, within his lines and colours, within his vivid.  I did because he enjoys that I read to him, and yes, he and I get impatient, but it is beautiful that he wants to know and learn and be immersed in something.  I did because he and I created love and amazing and beauty in that, because I get lost in that every time, because I got lost in that today.

#5: Work sucks.  To escape, I went to my brother/sister/mother-in-law’s house after work today.  I was greeted at the door by my nephew… no, this is not a repeat.  This deserves its own spot.  In sitting with my nephew, listening to him extolling the various Clash of Clans minutiae, my niece comes along.  Dressed as a beautiful princess (are there any other types at the age of two?), she found her nook = good lord, does she ever act like my wife (even her nose mirrors the cuteness of my love’s scratching and “stop iiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttt” [AN ASIDE: I LOVE IT!!!])!  Not only that, the loving side of this beautiful 831-day-old took her Mickey and Minnie dolls, made sure they were holding hands, snuggled them up to me, made sure they were holding hands, closed my arms around the three of them, made sure they were holding hands and found herself immersed in the comfy, began falling asleep.  I got to notice that.  I got to get lost in that.

#6 (because it’s been one of those mind-fuck days/weeks/fortnights/months/semesters): Even if the blackest parts of me don’t believe it (or the not-so-black parts of which the eating disordered, controlling blackness still has a hold), I can pass on the wisdom of my experiences to the next generation.  Even if the blackness-soaked parts of me scream differently, I can prevent further blackness, further destruction, further disordered thinking, further body dysmorphia and anorexic masochism, further self-hatred through the wisdom gained after being blackened…

20141031_192103

This means nothing

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This means everything

 

 

Day 299

9:30AM:

http://greatist.com/eat/health-fitness-experts-favorite-coffee

If they can’t agree on something as simple as COFFEE…

One says butter

One says black

One says sugar

One says honey

One says coconut

One says cream

I scream

I used to feel self-conscious, uncertain about taking my coffee black.  Initially, I did so because I didn’t want to consume any incidental milk calories (because logically, we all know the extra 100 calories a day; but the blackness has a much different voice, one just as bitter and distasteful as some of the coffee I had at this time…).  However, I have come to terms with the fact that for me, good coffee tastes better black.  Today, when Science Colleague Work Friend (the cookie saver/savior) asks me how I take it, I have the confidence to ask for it black (that, and Tim Hortons, seriously no vegan alternatives???).

However, I have days where the blackness is riding shotgun (as opposed to having been run over by me, leaving black-stained bloody tire treads along the path), and on those days, it makes me doubt myself.  The blackness tells me that it is about calories, about restriction, about being less – and in doing so, it makes me feel just that, restricted and less.

I scream because why do I continue to have such a hard time coming to terms with my own version of reclaiming healthy?  It is because recovery is ongoing, it is one day at a time.

Day 283

5:45PM:

Choosing Raw and Greatist do a “Links of the Week,” so I figured, what the hell… let’s co-opt the idea!

1. The ever-intelligent and inspirational Neghar Fonooni turned me on to this little ditty: “Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is says about [self-deprecating] thoughts: ‘A thought is harmless unless we believe it.  It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering.  Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring.  A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.’ … Tell yourself something enough times and it will become true for you, no matter how far off it is from reality.”

The way that my wife feels about herself sometimes, her self-worth, her self-image, her direction, these are far off from reality.  These are far off from reality because the blackness took hold of them and made her believe they were true, without inquiring.  For me, the lack of stomach definition is a trigger, and may actually be a figment of my imagination.  However, if I continue to believe that it defines me, that it is anywhere near as important as valuing myself or being a capable Don, then I have given it to the blackness, given these thoughts to it to be malevolently twisted into flaws.  Instead, treating ourselves compassionately, telling ourselves that “our weaknesses are not the blackness’ anymore,” telling ourselves that “I value myself,” these will allow us to reclaim healthy thoughts from the blackest pits of neglect.

2. http://greatist.com/play/blood-sugar-hunger-anger-relationships

How many arguments between my wife and I, my parents, their parents, their (you get my drift), has been caused simply by hunger?  I do not want to not understand my hunger.  I do not want to be able to blame not recognizing my hunger at a 6 as the reason for a fight.  It is why I ate lunch yesterday, because I need to know.  Not that I need to be in control or that I shouldn’t let myself get hungry, but because I want to be a strong, loving and respectful person – none of which can happen with overwhelming hunger, not the least of which because it gives the blackness traction and a willing ear to hear its screams.

3. I like the “defining” part:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/wellbeing/10403767/Confessions-of-a-vegan

Day 277

8:30AM:

A cool thing happened yesterday morning while standing in the shower, trying to wake up from the restless sleep (not my fault, not incited by drinking too much, but by my “cats away, mice will place” Quebecois roommate… fucking sales people).  It inspired this, Greatist’s August Self-Care Challenge for the day: “Write a thank you note.”

 

August 18, 2014

Dear my love,

 

On Saturday, I had the genius idea to barrel through the exhaustion, save a giant chunk of money, get out of dodge a day early (ok, so “genius” might be stretching it a little bit).  I told you that afternoon, once we’d figured out the logistics, which obviously made you happy (cautious, given the midnight-ish return – and we both know how that worked out at the end of July!).

It was then that you told me that you’d secretly planned to take the second half of Tuesday off.  In the past, even with my belief and faith, my head would have gone towards selfish motives or immature scatteredness or purely emotional or uncomfortably inattentive – love, but not care – since that was my experience.

Now for the thank you part.

Here is where the cool thing clicks in: my head didn’t go there in the shower.  My head instead went directly to “you must be taking the time off to get the house ready, preparing it as a home.”  These acts of care, these elements of awareness and attentiveness – even if just suppositions or potentials, even if I am wrong – made me feel warm and loved, not uncomfortable or on edge.  They made me feel cared about by you.

Thank you my love.  Thank you because even if I am wrong, I want to believe that I am right, that my faith is justified, that my belief has spread to you, that you are acting like you believe = your recovery, your reclaiming healthy, your vividness.

 

Love forever-ever,

Me

Day 265

12NOON:

I took some time today to explain my reasons for veganism to my grandparents.  It often confuses them as not eating enough (which I see their side, given that I tried to go to sleep last night, only to realize – through Greatist’s August Self-Care Challenge‘s Yoga day – that I was trying to go asleep when I was still hungry; I’m still getting used to this not eating bulk at the end of the day, which allowed me to fall asleep “full” even if I hadn’t eaten enough through the day; now, I don’t have that “advantage” and since I air on the side of under-eating caution as opposed to over-eating caution, I may run into this trouble in the future — but I digress, as usual!).  Back to the spirit of veganism: as I’ve said before, it is about being the me version of me, the one with a soul and kindness that extends to humans and animals.

Recently, I read Angela Liddon from Oh She Glows writing about her discovery of a vegan diet:

“A vegan diet encouraged me to look outward for healing and to value all walks of life, including my own.  Little by little, I found the growth that I so desperately needed – through food.  A vegan diet is the way I aligned what’s in my heart with the food on my plate.  My compassion for others – and, most surprising, for myself – grew in many ways.  I finally realized that I’m worthy of happiness and deserving of nourishment no matter what the scale says – we all are” (xvii).  [Okay, had to throw in the recovery piece!].

And the vegan guru Robin Robertson adds some clear words of truth and inspiration:

“10. Last, please finish this sentence. ‘To me, veganism is…’

I’ll finish that sentence three – no, make it four — times:

‘To me, veganism is…Love.’

‘To me, veganism is…Compassion.’

‘To me, veganism is…Life.’

‘To me, veganism is…Delicious.'”

But the truth is, Tao of Pooh puts it as aptly as they or I ever will be able, or at least, as I am able to right now:

“The animals in the Forest don’t think too much; they just Are.  But with an overwhelming number of people, to misquote an old Western philosopher, it’s a case of ‘I think, therefore I am Confused.’  If you compare the City with the Forest, you may begin to wonder why it’s man who goes around classifying himself as The Superior Animal.  ‘Superior to what?’ asked Pooh.  ‘I don’t know, Pooh.  I’ve tried to think of something, but I just can’t come up with an answer.’  ‘If people were Superior to Animals, they’d take better care of the world,’ said Pooh” (77).

The environment, animals, each other – if people were superior, we should be doing a better job of taking care of our own (yes, I did steal that from How to Train Your Dragon 2).  That’s why I am vegan – out of love.

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