Sunday, November 23, 2014

Deleting "My Fitness Pal"

Saturday, I took a big step towards real EDNOS recovery:  I deleted my My Fitness Pal accounts.  

My Fitness Pal is a great site for people who want to log their food and exercise for whatever reasons, including weight loss and fitness goals.  But for people who have major issues with food and body image, including a history of disordered eating, it can be a scary place that feeds into an addiction.

I had created several accounts over the years, including a couple that I had forgotten about.  I have gone back to MFP time and time again, between bouts of binge eating and bouts of recovery (intuitive eating).  I always went back.  I will try really hard to not go back this time, because I feel that counting calories is not for me anymore.  

I started with my oldest account, VeganGal84.

Then I moved on to other accounts I had made but hadn't used very much, including one that I made especially for this blog.

Next, I moved on to my most recently abandoned account, BuffyEat2Live.

Finally, I deleted my active account, after saying a final good bye to my friends.  Earlier in the week, I had made sure to give my email address and social media information to them, so that we can stay in touch outside of MFP.

my final "food journal" entry - beautifully blank

I don't know if I can fully express how scary this step was for me.  People who don't have ED histories may not understand why anyone would devote a blog post to deleting accounts from a calorie counting website.  But I know that most of you guys will get it, because you know me pretty well by now.

MFP's "are you sure???" warning message

Anyway, that's all done.  Now it's time for me to find a better balance in my eating WITHOUT the calorie counting.  Because I have been overeating a lot lately.  And I've also been eating nothing but junk food.

So for now, for health's sake, I am going to focus on adding healthy produce back into my diet.  Fruit with breakfast, raw veggies with lunch, and cooked veggies with dinner.  No "rules" about junk food, because I don't want diet mentality to sneak in; I just want to eat vegetables and fruits again.

What scary steps towards health and/or recovery have you taken?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Goodbye, calorie counting websites

I am working towards full recovery from my EDNOS. 

What does this mean for me?

Basically, I want a life that is centered around living, not around food+body+exercise thoughts.  In order to accomplish this, I'm taking steps towards it.

The first step was realizing that calorie counting and food planning/logging in general no longer seemed important to me.  One day, I realized that it had been several days since I had logged my food, and I was okay with it.

Also in this first step was realizing that I am not okay with exercising to eat more.  When I start a regular exercise routine again (hopefully soon), it will be because my leg and ankle are feeling better.  It will be to get my left leg back to normal.  And then, hopefully, it will be to train for a marathon.  But it won't be because I ate Pop Tarts this morning, or because I want to eat pizza tonight.

The second step was realizing that I cannot follow steps towards recovery anymore.  This entire process needs to be day by day, and intuitive.  Why?  Because every time that I have assigned steps to myself, I ended up failing, and giving up, and going back to what I know (dieting, tracking calories, exercising to burn calories, body hate, etc.).

One thing has become clear to me though:  I need to step completely away from all of those calorie-counting and dieting websites.

I am going to step away from those sites, which will hopefully help to discourage me from going back to my safety net of food logging.

If there was a site that allowed me to track my food but not any macronutrients, I would probably sign up, just to keep that security blanket for a bit longer, while I sort though my emotional eating issues.  Like a food log that tracked feelings instead of calories. 

A place to recover from emotional eating habits, and from disordered eating in general.  Perhaps I have just found a need and should start creating a site like this?  Hmmmm...  Or maybe I should start to keep a real paper journal again, with real feelings written down, along with an emotional eating journal for as long as I need one.

Anyway, I'm going to start by removing all of the links anywhere on this blog that are about anything "diet-y".  The next step will be to deactivate my multiple My Fitness Pal accounts (which is deserving of its own blog post, in my opinion, because that will be a huge step for me).  I'm planning to deactivate my MFP accounts (I have at least three) on Saturday.

I am also going to stop following any diet pages on Facebook (as myself.   I won't unfollow anyone as my blog page, because I hardly use FB exclusively from the page).  I will continue to follow the people who don't trigger me, but if your page makes me want to hop back on the diet bandwagon, then I'm sorry but we have to part ways for now.  I love you, I get it, and I am not saying that your page is bad or that you are doing anything wrong.  I'm just saying that I need to fully recover from my EDNOS and seeing posts about calorie burning exercise challenges and how only organic food is food, is not helpful to me right now.

Sorry for no pictures, but I'm posting from work (slow morning, thank goodness.  Monday and yesterday were CRAZY).  I may come back in here later and add some pics. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I struggle.

I'm not talking about the struggle to lose weight.  In the grand scheme of things, that is relatively easy for me to do (I know that makes me a lucky bitch to those of you who have issues in that area... but hey, if it makes you feel better, I just turned 30, so that ability may disappear soon, who knows?).

Also, keep in mind that though I've always managed to "easily" lose weight, I have NEVER kept it off, so in the long run, that's not actually weight lost. 

Losing weight comes pretty easily to me.  If I wanted to, like really wanted to, and focused on weight loss as a central part of my life, I could lose a pound or two a week.

But here's the rub: 
I don't want to make it a central part of my life.

I really don't.

But, at the same time, I don't want to be unhealthy.

I would like to stop eating so much convenience foods, and to begin cooking more.  I'd also like to start a regular exercise routine, now that I have the doctor's permission to stationary bike, elliptical, and walk short distances. 

But, I wouldn't like to
Or to
Or to

So the struggle that I am talking about is the struggle between my desire to lose weight, and my desire to enjoy life and accept my body as it is currently, thin privilege and (self-)fat shaming be damned.

I deal with the internal struggle daily.  I do find myself and my current body to be attractive.  So does my future husband.  And I make enough money now that I will soon be able to afford stylish fat people clothing.

But my damn desire to experience thin privileges.  To be able to know that I will always fit in seats.  To be able to shop at Express or Gap.  To be able to eat junk food in public without being judged.  To be able to know that when I'm "feeling fat", I'm not actually fat.  To see "my people" represented as the attractive main character instead of the joke-cracking best friend.

Ultimately, my desire to not have to count or burn calories, and my desire to be a well-rounded adult without constant body-hate thoughts win over my desire for thin privileges these days. 

But I still struggle. 

I struggle to let go of my younger, food-obsessed, get-skinny-or-die-trying self. 

I struggle to accept that it really is okay to not be thin, or even "normal" sized. 

I struggle because letting go of the food journal, and the scale, and the desire to be thin is just scary, because I have literally not been like that since age 10.

I struggle because I'm afraid of the unknown.

I struggle because I'm afraid to let go and to just be happy.

I struggle to find the balance in food and exercise, especially without any RULES lording over me and my thoughts.

I struggle. 

But I'm going to try to let go of these unnecessary problems.  Life is hard enough.
What area(s) in your life are you struggling with right now? 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Intuitiveness and not caring...

So the last couple of days I have been trying to listen to my body and mind, and to respect myself.  

I have tried to be an intuitive eater several times in my life, so I'm not going to try again.  Instead of giving myself that "intuitive eater" label and preaching about the benefits of "intuitive eating" and following steps,  I'm going to instead just stop thinking about it.

I just don't care anymore.  Not in a "giving up" kind of way, but in a "eating is a part of life but it's not the most important thing anymore" way.  I am beginning to think that my disordered thoughts about food may actually be disappearing.

My attitude about food now is that it just is.  I eat when I'm hungry and when I feel like eating.  Usually these are the same things, but sometimes they are not.  I try to avoid emotional eating, but I'm not obsessive about it.

I've been obsessively trying to avoid emotional eating for years now, and that has not resulted in the behavior ending.

My new theory is that if I stop caring so much about my eating habits, they will eventually end up in that intuitive place, and my weight will end up where it's supposed to be.  I will still lose weight, because I won't be obsessed with food anymore, which will lead to less binges and more healthy decisions.  It may not be a fast paced weight loss.  I may lose 20 pounds a year or less.

But that's okay.  I have about 70 pounds left to lose to reach my goal of weighing what I weighed before Mom died. I truly believe that I will reach that goal (if it remains my goal, that is).  It may take a couple of more years, but I will reach it.

I also believe that along the way, I'm going to let go of my EDNOS completely, run a marathon, do a pull-up, go to law school, get married, and do anything else that I set my mind to.

I will have to figure out what to blog about, if not food and exercise.  Maybe I will take a break from this blog.  Maybe I will find a way to write more about my EDNOS recovery.  Either way, please know that I'm doing very well right now when it comes to this area of my life.

selfie in Central Perk

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Back to recovery

As I alluded to in my last post, I'm going to try to move this blog back towards EDNOS recovery and away from dieting.

I started this process about a year ago, taking the first three steps towards permanent recovery.

I revamped the blog and really started to focus on recovery again, by writing and following my own path, which started with letting go of the guilt, total body acceptance, and intuitive eating.

This time around, (hopefully the last time), I'm going to be more intuitive about the entire process.  No more road maps, no more plans.  Just working on letting go of the EDNOS, one day at a time.

It will be a struggle, because I do want to lose weight, and I don't want to be a fat bride.  These are two thoughts that I need to weed out of my brain.

How many times do I have to learn that more than anything, I want happiness and health, not a skinny body no matter the cost?  Apparently at least one more time.

I have a few thoughts about what recovered me will be like.

  1. I will love my body, inside and out
  2. I will eat whatever I want, whenever I get hungry, and just kind of naturally stop when my body is done, except on rare occasions 
  3. I will naturally gravitate towards qualities and quantities that are  healthy for my body and mind (which sometimes is whole foods, and sometimes is milk chocolate kisses)
  4. I will train for races with no secret weight loss goal.  The only goals will be to enjoy the movement, and to beat my last time.  I will also walk a lot, because it feels good and I enjoy it.
  5. ... and most importantly: Most of my life is spent pursuing goals, accomplishing things, and enjoying things that have NOTHING to do with food, exercise, or my body size.

All of these things are very important to me, and I know that once I'm truly recovered from my EDNOS, my life will be better.  Not perfect, but better.  

P.S. I had a blast in NYC!

Monday, October 6, 2014

My twenties, in a nutshell

I had four job interviews last week, and today my favorite one told me "no thanks".  Today is the last day of my twenties, so this seems about right.  What a trying decade this has been.

I was born on October 7, 1984, which means that tomorrow I turn thirty years old.  Many people dread big birthdays like this, women especially it seems.  Sure, forty is the new thirty, but what does that make thirty?  Certainly not the new twenty, I hope.  I hope that thirty is just thirty, because I am ready for a new decade.

The first couple of years of my twenties were spent in recovery from anorexia/EDNOS.  I was in and out of recovery from 19 to 22.  During this time, I was also in and out of college.

When I was 19, I moved from Memphis to Omaha, and rushed into a relationship with my high school sweetheart which lasted for about two years.  That relationship was full of many firsts and many wonders.  I loved that man a lot.  I still do, in that "I hope that his life is incredibly happy and that all of his dreams come true" way, but not in any sort of "I regret ending that relationship" way.  He was a very sensitive and kind of strange but very cool guy.  It was definitely young love.

It ended badly.  But it still defines my extremely early twenties to me.  I think back on that time fondly, because he was the one to convince me to get help for my eating disorder, and he was the one who held my hand during those initial critical times.  Mom came and visited several times, but he was there in the thick of it.  He made me feel beautiful and worthy during a time when those are nearly impossible but very important feelings to have.

So that covers 20 and part of 21: first adult relationship and recovery from anorexia, while also earning a very few amount of credits from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and earning minimum wage part time at Dillards.

The second part of 21 and all the way until 23 was spent with a new guy, who ended up being my first fiance, and a huge mistake.  This guy made me feel ugly and unworthy, but for some reason I loved him and wanted to stay to prove him wrong.  It was an emotionally abusive relationship that ended confusingly.  I literally had to move across the country to end it.

I had completely dropped out of school by this time and was working as a front desk receptionist at a gym.  I partied hard almost every night, but definitely thursday through Saturday.  This was a very big drinking time for me, especially 21 and 22.  Also, I started smoking a pack of menthol cigarettes a day.

I had a very scary thing happen to me, which stopped my heavy drinking.  One night, I completely blacked out drunk.  I woke up in a strange man's car with no shirt on and a police officer asking me to get dressed.  I passed out and woke up again in a hospital.  It was terrifying.  I never recovered those memories, but I did get tested for STDs the next day, just in case I was raped.  That was the end of my "drinking just to get drunk" days.

I quit my job at the gym to work with my fiance as a bill collector.  He convinced me that it would be better money, and I agreed.  I hated that job so much, but it was better money.

During all of this relationship, I was convinced that I needed to lose weight, because my lovely fiance told me (and I believed him) that this was fat:

When I finally got the nerve to end the relationship, I called my parents to come get me.  To their credit, they immediately drove up to Nebraska and helped me move, without making any scenes about my smoking or about the fact that my ex was still staying at my place.

I kissed my ex goodbye, and moved back in with my parents in Tennessee.

I realize now that 23 is not old, but back then I thought that I was such a failure for living with my parents again.  I tried to make the best of it, and spend as much time with my mom as possible, because she ruled.  If it had been just us and the dogs, I probably could have stayed there forever.  But my dad and I have always had a difficult relationship, and soon the sparks began to fly.

I started working part time at The Home Depot to save up enough money to move out of my parents' house.  This is where I met Stacey, who was a harmless crush for me.  Harmless because he was totally off limits for two reasons:  He had a girlfriend, and he was my boss.  So, never gonna happen.  But, I thought he was cute, and that was all I was ready for at that point anyway.  A harmless crush.

Meanwhile, I quickly gained a bunch of weight, because I was finally free from the body hate that consumed me when I was with my ex... or so I thought.

I moved out, and into a bedroom of a rental house with three roommates who I had never met before, all male.  Risky business, I tell you.  But it worked out.  It was a crazy living situation, with the roommates changing often.  Within a few months, I started dating Stacey (he broke up with the girlfriend, but was totally still one of my bosses, so oops).  He moved into my room with me fairly quickly, and eventually became one of the "official" roommates and we took over the master bedroom and paid more in rent.

In 2009 (I'm 24 by then) I landed a full time job as an administrative assistant at an engineering firm, and Stacey and I moved to our own place.  I thrived there, and finally felt like an adult with a real job, a real relationship, and a real place to call home.  For the first couple of years at this job, I was content.  I had a good thing going.  I visited with Mom every day, either at lunch or after work; Stacey and I were doing well; and I was good at my job.  Also, I quit smoking!

Oh, yeah, I also started this blog and lost a lot of weight.

Some time in 2010, I decided that I wanted more.  I knew that I'd never be able to advance at my job, because everyone else there were engineers or accountants.  There was only one solution: Go back to school.

So in 2011, at age 26, I went back to college.  I stayed at my job for the first year, which means that 2011 went like this: Work 8-5; Class 5:30-8:30; see Mom and Stacey on the weekends (though I lived with Stacey, he worked 3p-12a, so I rarely saw him through the week).  It was a rough year, but I loved being back in school.

still wasn't skinny enough
(so I thought)

I had to quit my job in 2012, because I had to take classes during the day if I wanted to stay full time.  Suddenly I was living off of my savings and student loans.  I loved the first semester.  By this time I was 27 and loving being a student more than anything, and finally felt like I was right where I supposed to be in this world, and that my future was bright. Then came summer break...

That's when my mom died quite suddenly.

And everything went to hell quite quickly.

My late twenties have been all about two things: figuring out how my life works without Mom in it, and finishing school.  I'm still working on the first (though things are getting better every month or so), but I nailed the second.  And as an added bonus, Stacey and I are engaged.

And I gained a bunch of weight and even though I've lost 28 pounds (woo-hoo!!!), I'm still heavier than ever before (except these 28 pounds of course).  I've also grown up quite a bit,and despite "recovering" from my ED in my early twenties, I still deal with some obsessive thoughts about food and about my body.

older and bigger maybe,
but still pretty cute.

This blog is going to get another makeover soon, to adjust to a new era in my life.  I'm sick of having an eating disorder.  It held me back enough in my twenties; I refuse to give it another decade.  Not going to happen.

One day very soon, I will be completely free from disordered thoughts about food, exercise, and my body.  It's time to love myself from the inside out, and truly take this new decade as an opportunity to live life.  It's time to focus on getting a job, on getting into law school, and on getting married to the love of my life.  ED has no place in this life.  So I'm letting go.  One day at a time.

Tomorrow I'm going to start my 30s by taking a trip to visit my brother, (who has lived in NYC for all of my 20s)!  I can't wait.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

I love/hate my body

I'm trying to work on accepting and loving my body. Trying so freaking hard! Why is it so hard sometimes? 

For the record:  I believe that the woman pictured here
could be ANY size, and the message
would still be true.  This is not a size-ist blog.

In theory, I love my body.  I mean, it's the only one I've got, and it's gotten me through my entire life so far.  I appreciate my body, and want to do only right by it.  

I'd like to believe that my body is not just useful, but beautiful.

I'd like to believe that it doesn't matter if my body is beautiful, because I don't owe the world a beautiful body.

But in actuality, sometimes I hate how it looks, and I hate how it lets me down (e.g., breaking to the point of necessary surgery when I rolled my ankle).  And I always ALWAYS always blame myself for how crappy my body can sometimes be.

I feel like lately, I've quickly done a 180 on this blog's mission statement.  When I switched the blog from "Leah: The Kind Weight Watcher" to "Leah: Not Otherwise Specified", it was with a purpose.  

I mean... when I wrote this, I was so inspired to leave my dieting ways and my obsession with weight loss in the past.  I was ready to love my body and accept that I may never lose any more weight, and to just focus on healthy habits for the sake of health.  I was ready to throw out all of my dieting books, along with my scale and measuring tape.  I accepted that my EDNOS had morphed into a diet addiction.

Somehow, I lost the message over time.  I stopped accepting my body and practicing healthy habits.  Instead, I gained more weight because of emotional binge eating, and became determined to lose it, and have been dieting hardcore again, which had led to the dieting cycle.  Ultimately, I dived right back into my EDNOS thoughts and behaviors and my diet addiction.

Seriously, google "dieting cycle".  There are so many
gems out there that really made me think.

Anyway, enough is enough.  I am tired of making blanket statements about how I'm going to "eat/exercise/feel about my body" from now on.  

I want to keep on trying to improve myself, while also accepting and loving my body.  It won't happen overnight, so I won't pretend that it will.

But here's what I'm going to do for now.

1) Take better care of my skin, hair and nails.  This has been rough on me lately, as because I don't have a shower stool and am afraid to try standing in the shower with one leg, I always need assistance to wash up.  I just need to be more assertive in asking for help.  Sometimes I think that Stacey forgets that I used to shower EVERY day...

2) Add one or two new healthy behaviors/habits to my life every week or two (depending on how hard of a change it is) until everything feels normal.  I have become very out of whack with my health since this injury.  I don't drink enough water, eat enough produce, have a solid post-surgery exercise plan, etc.  But because of my all-or-nothing thinking, I continue to stick with "nothing" because "all" is just overwhelming.  I want to keep this a positive behavior, so things like "more water" and "more veggies" instead of "less junk food" or "no chips".  The "yes rules" are just a better way to go for me I think.

3) Read more.  I have spent the last couple of months in front of screens.  And only a small portion of it was my Kindle screen.  I consider myself to be a reader, a book-lover, a bibliophile.  And yet given an extremely unlimited amount of immobile time to myself, I chose the boob tube over my books time and time again.  I still read a little bit every day, but not nearly as much as I'd like.  Zoning out to Netflix or YouTube is much less rewarding than getting completely lost in a book.

4) Better communication with loved ones (and add some new loved ones to my life).  I tend to isolate myself from too many people, because of my depression.  It's time that I start contacting family more (the ones who I actually want to talk to, anyway) and it's time to make some new friends (book club perhaps, cleverly combining two of these new goals).  Now that my leg is well enough to get out of the house now and then, it's time to actually do so.

I think that those are enough goals to start with.  I'm ready to get back to at least part of Leah: NOS's original mission statement, which was all about loving myself and moving away from dieting and my EDNOS thinking.

For now, I have a love/hate thing going on with my body.  And that's okay, because it's where I'm at, and it's honest.

What about you?  

Do you truly love your body as it is, or do you love/hate it?

My body, right this second, aerial view.