There is no perfect body.

I can pick a subjective flaw in every human body, and yet, I carry this distorted ideal that it is possible to achieve physical perfection.

There is no perfect body.

And even if I did achieve perfection- like in some metaphysical sense, in some kind of alternative universe where we could agree upon a universal definition of perfection, I WOULD STILL WANT TO CHANGE/IMPROVE/FIX SOMETHING. Because that’s how we are hardwired. Acceptance is twelve times harder than changing (statistic I just made up). And contentment is twenty times harder than fighting.

If I had a perfect body, I’d find a reason to make it more perfect. We can’t sit at the top for very long without getting bored, angry, or depressed. We can’t sit with success for very long without itching for more.

Everyone knows we live in a society that basically blasts us with mixed messages. On one hand, the message that thinner is better has been drilled into my head almost with the same permanence and absolution as 2 x 2 = 4. On the other hand, we’re living in this new-age, high-peak fitness era, where women are also supposed to be sculpted, toned, and muscled into sleek goddesses. Somehow, we are supposed to be able to do it all.

But there still needs to be an ass (WHY ARE THERE SO MANY FUCKING SONGS ABOUT BUTTS THESE DAYS), and there still needs to be boobs.

And no matter what, there’s gonna be some fat. Or some cellulite or stretch marks or imperfections or anything. Because that’s HUMANITY.

Do I think I’m somehow immune to this? Do I think that my body will somehow look entirely different if it weighted 5, 10, 15 pounds less? Would everything be beautiful and rainbows and sunshine and shitting unicorns?

Um no. That’s called a delusion.

A body is a body is a body. I never saw more beauty in bodies at a nude beach over the summer. Easily the youngest person there (by maybe 40 years?), there was everything hanging out for all the world to see. And nobody gave two fucks. They flaunted, they lived, they were comfortable with themselves.

I was too. I’m comfortable with my naked body. I always have been. Which is sometimes why the eating disorder thing is confusing to me…shouldn’t I hate to be naked around others? Shouldn’t I want to hide and shield my body in layers? Neither have ever applied to me.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always known that my body was beautiful…that deep down, even those days when I thought I was too fat or too this or too (insert derogatory adjective here), it was all just the inner reel spinning inside my head.

compulsive exercise recovery! It IS possible.

Dear Bee,

So, it’s about 7pm, and I want to knock out. 

I spent all day hiking with one of my best friends, and it was an amazing 10-mile trek of river-jumping, rock-climbing, and blazing under the hot, cruel sun. We’re both thrill-seekers, so our dynamic is a great one. Hiking, though it requires physical exertion and strength, is such a mental game. You need to be with a good companion(s) at a similar fitness level or it gets challenging REAL fast. 

I used to really struggle with compulsive and excessive exercise. How do you know when you have this problem? When the thought of skipping a workout makes you feel incomplete, anxious, and ready to cry, when you schedule life around exercise, when you push your body beyond its limitations just to “feel the burn,” when you feel dissatisfied if you don’t wake up with allover soreness, when you’re exercising because you feel like “you HAVE to.” 

I consider myself recovered from compulsive exercise. Not in recovery. Recovered. 

Uh, then why are you on a 10-mile hike? Sounds kinda extreme. 

Because, here’s my theory: I like staying active. It’s part of who I am. Once I learned how to walk my itty-bitty feet, I never wanted to return to the stroller. I spent entire summers in my backyard. I grew up playing sports. This was all before the eating disorder. This was all before I cared about body shape or food or control. At one point, “playing” became “exercising,” and it no longer felt enjoyable. I did it because I “had to.” Because it was “good for my body.” Because I wanted to lose weight, stay in shape, tone up, lose fat, etc. The reasons were endless. 

I had to learn how to challenge my distortions. I realized that skipping one workout would NOT make me gain five pounds overnight. I learned that I was literally driving myself sick and wretched with all the stress I was placing on my body. And so, slowly and patiently, I began restructuring my beliefs. I stopped waking up at 4:45am to work out, because I decided I valued sleeping more. I stopped running 3497389374 miles a day. I stopped following anything labeled as a “regime,” “six-week this-or-that,” or “summer-body-workout.” I got over being a gym rat. I let myself experience the full range of emotions when I purposely or accidentally missed a planned work out. 

I don’t exercise carrying these feelings of anger towards my body anymore. I don’t exercise to punish myself. I don’t exercise to offset calories. I don’t exercise because it’s Wednesday. For instance, a year ago, had I gone on this same hike, I would have been calculating the total number of calories burned; I would have been thinking about what alternative exercise class I could go to tomorrow in case my calves or thighs were sore (which they undoubtedly will be, along with the rest of my body); I would have been worrying about the calorie content of the food I was eating. Today, none of these thoughts popped into my mind. 

My views have changed!

I hike, because i love exploring the wilderness. I love the smells of trees; I love the accomplishment of reaching the top of something; I love the sound of nature’s silence.

I walk, because I love enjoying scenery and breathing fresh air. I love the feeling of warm sand beneath my toes; I love crunching on new fall leaves; I love having a great conversation with someone next to me. 

I do yoga, because I love indulging my body with deep stretches and poses. I love focusing on my breath; I love rejuvenating my energy; I love the spirit and meaning of namaste.

I strength-train, because I love the feeling of strength. I love challenging my muscles; I love the isolated discipline; I love feeling the internal power.

I dance, because I love letting loose. I love feeling good; I love flowing with the music; I love having a good partner to share the vibe with.

I do martial arts, because I love the practice. I love the rush before a good spar; I love the precision behind each punch and kick; I love the history of its origins. 

I also love riding my bike and kayaking. I love swimming and soccer. I love jumping on trampolines, playing tennis, and doing pilates. I love surfing and paddle boarding, skiing and wakeboarding. 

The point is, it’s playing now. It’s channeling my inner child again. I don’t think of it as exercise. I don’t think of it has something I have to do anymore. I simply think of it as, wow, I spent all day in the middle of the beautiful and serene wilderness laughing and getting filthy with my best friend! 




PS: I’m talking to someone new, and it’s going very well 🙂 

PPS: Medication is going well.

PPPS: Apartment-hunting is still in progress. More details to follow. Maybe? 



Shine on<3

Pantless Yoga

Dear Bee,

I never really thought I could ever wrap my head around that crazy, cultish-sounding Anonymous jargon known as Higher Power. But, after a few months of attending these OA meetings, I have.

Sell-out? Maybe. Do I care? Nope.

For me, the definition is simple: The universe will take care of me. And whatever problems I have, they will work themselves out by the natural laws and energies of this universe. I never had much control to begin with and by letting go of that desperate need, I can mature from a life once riddled with fear, anxiety, and preoccupation. 

Even when I’ve lost hope in myself, I’ve never lost hope that somehow everything will work out in the end. John Lennon said it best when he said, Everything will work out in the end. And if it’s doesn’t, it’s not the end.

 And WHO wants to mess around with the Lennon?

So, I understand the whole Higher Power thing now. I really do. It’s just believing that everything will be okay. That I’m being taken care of. That I don’t have to do everything on my own and that I’m not a “failure” for leaning and depending on other people or things.

And for a staunch skeptic, non-religious individual like myself, that must be some kind of miracle. I can just replace God with The Universe. Because, I’ve always believed in the good energy of our world. I’ve always believed in the general karma of spirituality.

Today, I was going to do my Bikram yoga class, but I wasn’t feeling it. I had work in the morning and was just kind of dreading going. I had done yoga yesterday and had an amazing class, but felt I needed to do it today. The reasons are distorted: “I need to exercise.” “I’m wasting money if I don’t use all my classes.” “I’m in the area anyway, so I need to go.”

AKA #compulsiveexerciseprobs (#didireallyjusthashtaginthisblog?). 

I was sitting in my car because I had arrived fairly early. And it was really hot. And I needed to do some homework, but I didn’t have the right textbook with me. So, I was just messing around on my phone (isn’t this a riveting story?). Then, as the start time approached, I pulled out my yoga clothes to get ready. And it was then I noticed that I had packed a black SCARF instead of my my black YOGA PANTS.

Yep. No yoga for me.

I personally have no qualms about doing pantless (or thong-underwear) yoga in 110 degree heat, but I’m not sure if my fellow yogis would be okay with that. 

Where this would have IRRITATED the hell out of me before starting recovery and provoked a plethora (honestly, isn’t plethora the coolest word, ever) of negative self-talk (I can’t believe I drove this far; I can’t believe I waited an hour; I can’t believe I’m so stupid to have made this kind of error), this time, I just laughed. 

As I was driving home, sure, you told me that I had been somewhat lax on my working out lately. You warned me of the repercussions this missed opportunity would have on my weight. You reminded me that I had barely moved my body at all today.

And how did I react? i just reminded you that working my recovery meant that I’d have to sit with some discomfort (and that includes getting over my anxiety of no longer compulsively exercising). Just like one workout cannot sculpt a body, one missed workout cannot destroy a body. That’s recovery logic. That’s common sense. And yet, I could not understand and accept this reasoning until lately

I had to text my sponsor to tell her this interesting phenomenon. Was this some kind of paranormal sign that I was overdoing my exercise this week? A message that my body was sore and needed rest? A gentle reminder to take it easy?

Or did I just make a ridiculous and very common mistake?

Who knows? At this point, who cares? The point is: I didn’t do yoga. I didn’t freak out. In fact, I was relieved. Relieved because I didn’t feel like doing it anyway. And that’s how I know I’m making strides in my recovery. That’s how I know I’m easing away from my compulsive identity and slowly adopting the living life on life’s terms philosophy everyone raves about. 

Yesterday, I spent three hours in an OA meeting. If someone had willingly told me I would spend a Saturday morning surrounded by a bunch of people talking about their food compulsions, pathways to spiritual restoration, and deepest wounds, I would have asked, are these people my clients? Or is this a school assignment? I finished Step Two yesterday and will be sharing it with my sponsor this week. I have been attending meetings daily, sharing, writing, and reading literature. Most importantly, I have not been bingeing. 

Last night, I booked flight tickets for Europe this August. I’ve been dreaming of this forever. One of my best friends and I are going to spend about three weeks bumming around, backpacking, living the young, free spirited life. We fly into Berlin. That’s the only plan we have, and for the first time in my life, I don’t want to plan out anything else. 

Flashback Friday: Recovery from compulsive exercise

Dear Bee,

This afternoon, I went to a lovely park by my house that I used to frequent. By used to frequent, I am referring to the days I spent running endless laps on the soft grass, hard pavement, trails, and perfectly-defined barometers. At the worst of my compulsive exercise phase, I was running…because I had to run. That’s the only way I can put it. I just had to do it. I’d always been athletic, but this compulsion brought my insanity to an entirely new level. Running became my form of purging, my compensation for an out-of-control “diet.” Or, so I thought. Besides, I figured, isn’t that what everyone did? After all, we always hear  talking about needing to “burn off last night’s dinner.” At least, I was in good shape! 

 What’s my difference between exercise and compulsive exercise? When I am exercising, I am moving to reap the physical and mental benefits. I am moving my body because it is intuitive and enjoyable to me. When I am compulsively exercising, I am moving to ease the preoccupied obsession, to avoid the impermeable guilt and self-loathing I will feel if I don’t engage in it. Compulsive exercise is rigid: it is measured and specific. It needs to be done a certain way, length of time, or provide a certain degree of soreness in order to feel “right.” Non-compulsive exercise does not follow such rules.

When I used to run compulsively, I had to complete X amount of miles in Y amount of time…and when I did that, I could then eat Z amount of calories. It was insane. It was obsessive. I watched every step. Every mile. And I hated every minute of it. And yet, YOU, told me I was this health guru. In fact, you told me I was superior. I ran in spite of ridiculous heat, aches and pains, alternative (and far better) plans, etc. YOU told me that made me a true athlete. YOU convinced me I was special for it.

And what did I like about running? Not much. I liked finishing. I liked the runner’s high I experienced just after finishing. Oh yeah, and I liked the massive calorie burn, even if it was usually offset by frantic binges (because I had “earned” them). And occasionally, I reached clarity in the midst of a hard sprint, but those sparse moments of bliss hardly accounted for the hours I spent panting and wishing I was done already. I may be an athlete and enjoy a variety of activities, but running was never among them, no matter how much I tried to become a “runner.” And yet, the whole time I was engaging in this, I thought I was doing it because I absolutely had to. 

Today, I went to this park after an OA meeting.  I didn’t intend on going there. I planned on doing Bikram yoga this afternoon. However, I got my hair done yesterday. After cutting and highlighting, the woman gave me a fabulous blowout, and since I’m going out tonight….well, I didn’t want to wash my gorgeous-looking head! Normally, you would overrule that logic and tell me that my body is far more important than my hair (or anything else in my life, for that matter), but today, I ignored you.

It is an absolutely perfect day in sunny California, and I needed to be outside. So there I was, in this park, alone with my thoughts, soaking in the sunshine, listening to the birds chirping, walking barefoot in the soft, dewed grass (how cliched does this sound?) My sensations overwhelmed me. How had I been to this park so many times and had never taken the time to enjoy its sheer beauty? I suppose it’s because you never let me.

 When I took that time today, I saw a turtle (my absolute favorite animal) on a rock overlooking the lake, watched two baby ducks trail behind their mother duck in the water, got chased down by a squirrel, smiled and said hello to every single person passing by me, watched leaves tumble from trees….in other words, I was alive and rather than simply doing, I was simply being. 

Was this entire experience spent in a purely meditative stance? Nope. Was I completely present and taking in every sense? No. I’m not quite there yet, and even if this walk in the park may sound like some joyous spiritual awakening, it was just peaceful. I like peaceful, and I will take peaceful.

Still, my mind reeled, and indeed, I spent much of my time reflecting.

I thought about the time I lapped this park at 10pm. I needed to get my run in and naturally tripped over a tree branch and fell flat on my face. I’m already a ridiculous klutz in the daytime, and yet I thought it was perfectly sane to jog around in complete darkness. I thought about my last half-marathon, the one I completed almost a year ago to this day, and how I spent the entire time wishing I was done. After crossing the finish line, I had decided that I was done. With running, that is. I couldn’t bear it anymore. Why continue torturing myself?

 I thought about the past few months and my recovery process, from therapy to OA to writing these letters to how I’ve grown in every aspect of my life. I thought about my future in terms of tonight and in terms of the next couple years. 

Thinking is good. Daydreaming is healing. You robbed me of that for a couple of years, but I’m taking it back, thank you very much!

A few times, you tried to interrupt my serenity. You told me I needed to “properly” exercise and increase my physical ante. You reminded me of my summer plans and how I needed to get in “perfect” shape in order to feel good about myself and enjoy my time. You also told me walking certainly wasn’t going to get me there and that I was just wasting an hour that could be spent more constructively. 

That’s the thing about you, Bee. You’re just thoughts. You’re just a little girl starving for attention. You’re just distortion. Where you were once my reality, you’re just a figment of my imagination. And I can now distinguish my voice from yours. That’s not to say I no longer listen to you. If I was able to do that 100% of the time, I wouldn’t have any need for treatment. I’m not looking for 100%. I don’t care about 100%. If I can simply increase how often I challenge, shut you out, or simply smile at you from afar, then I’m on the right track. 

If I can wake up everyday and ask myself, how can I show you that I love you today? and actually take some positive, action-orientated steps, then I’m doing the best I can.

I have forgiven myself and many others over the past few months. It’s time to say that I truly and honestly forgive you, too. 

my week of morning walks, crossfit, tennis, and bike rides

Dear Bee,

How far I’ve come since the days where I compulsively exercised, where “exercise” was only deemed successful if it illicit total-body soreness and utter exhaustion. Why? Because that’s, of course, how I gauged progress. I’ll never forget the pitted knot in my stomach I felt when the first therapist I ever spoke to told me I exhibited the symptoms of bulimia. Bulimia? I’m sure my eyebrows were raised to my hairline. But, I don’t throw up. Of course, at the time, I wasn’t an all-knowing, DSM-toting, therapist-in-training yet, and I did not realize the eating disordered world also considered excessive exercise a form of purging.

I no longer compulsively exercise, but I do feel restless if I don’t move my body. I must admit that I sometimes feel bothered when something interrupts a scheduled workout.

However, I think this is “normal.” I don’t think my slight annoyance is just you speaking. How do I know that? Because people without eating disorders also enjoy working out and often experience slight distress if they do not get the opportunity to do so.

I fully believe the human body is meant to be in motion. And regular exercise is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But, like everything else, moderation must be practiced.  I used to pick the most grueling workouts…they were miserable and I loathed doing them. So why bother, one might ask? Because, well, I had to. You told me I had to. Obviously. If I didn’t, I was a failure. If I didn’t, I was going to become fat.

Compulsions are cognitive distortions; they are the rigid, all-or-nothing, inflexible schemas in our minds; the ones implanted by our own self-defacting thoughts and feelings; the ones that pretend to serve us constructively, when really, they only increase our distress and anxiety.

This week, thanks to the increased flexibility in my new schedule, I rounded out my normal exercise routine with a few new hobbies:

I tried Crossfit for the first time (thank you online promotions) and I loved it. For those who are unfamiliar with Crossfit, it is a strength and conditioning workout that incorporates high-intensity cardiovascular activity (jumping rope, sprints, rowing, polymetrics) with weights and resistance (barbells, pullups, pushups). It can be as competitive as you want it to be…or as simple as you want to be. The choice is yours. I have a 30-day trial promotion. Will I upgrade? Nope. I don’t care how solid a workout plan or gym is, I can’t afford $150-$200 a month on something I can do virtually for free.

I played tennis with one of my best friends yesterday and it was really fun. I actually lost track of time and found it to be a great stress reliever. Both of us are at the basic beginner level, but I’ve always wanted to  learn how to really play this sport. I saw a flyer advertising city classes for beginners held once a week starting at the end of the month, and you know what? I’m thinking of registering. Why not?

Finally, today, I went bike riding with my brother. We spent about five hours cruising up and down the beach under the gorgeous cloudless spring skies. We discovered new trails and parked our bikes for a picnic lunch and short hike around the bluff tide pools.

I’ve been trying to go on solo morning walks as often as I can. I went on a simple one around my neighborhood and another one on the beach. Both were healing and meditative in their own sort of serene way. I did not feel any need to move at a “fast” pace or hit a certain “number” of miles. I just soaked in my surroundings and let my body take me where it wanted to go and see what it wanted to see.

I used to see exercise only for what it did for my body…you told me I needed to do it and do as much of it as possible. But now, with you only in the shadows and recovery in my path ahead, I finally understand what exercise can do for my soul. And that’s why it feels so good to move. 

No Pain No Gain vs. If it Hurts, STOP

Dear Bee,
You believe in pain. You feed off it; just like I need air, food, and water to survive, you need punishment and self-loathing to exist. Because of our relationship, I was a firm advocate of the “No Pain, No Gain” ideology. Life is about pain, you reasoned. It’s about discipline and punishment, perfection and control.

I used to struggle with compulsive exercise. It never escalated to the point where I was working out seven or eight hours a day, but it became an obsessive part of my routine and I essentially wore my body down. Exercise became my weight-controlled form of purging or off-setting my bingeing, which can be just as dangerous as vomiting or laxative abuse. Since starting recovery, I have shifted my thinking away from I need to burn off at least four-hundred calories, because that’s how many calories were in that cookie or I need to run at least five miles or I need to lift weights until my arms can’t lift anymore to more healthy, less black-and-white thoughts. For example, I now enjoy exercise because I love moving my body. I try to view it as playing, rather than a battle. Although most of the anxiety has lessened, I admit I do feel somewhat uncomfortable skipping workouts, especially if I have “planned” them out. This is about my need to have control. Again, I am working on releasing that compulsive need.

Anyway, I was in an exercise class (a rigorous boot camp-style workout with a different routine everyday) yesterday morning when I heard the man next to me complain about his shoulder. The trainer asked him what was wrong, and the man simply responded, “It’s killing me.” He was told, “Do what you can, but if it hurts, stop. Didn’t you learn that in kindergarten?”

I was taken aback. This phrase does not usually fall on the lips of personal trainers, as they are encouraged to push their clients beyond the point they feel comfortable (just like therapy). And yet, he said it in a way that was so obvious and matter-of-fact. Why do something if it hurts?

I thought about it for the rest of the day.

Despite the external stressors and pain we endure just from living, we PILE unnecessary punishment onto ourselves. I know I always believed pain was a necessary component of life. After all, I began an intimate affair with you, a destructive friend who tampered and compromised my physical health, mental sanity, self-confidence, and relationships. And I always thought, I “needed” pain. I always thought pain made me “stronger” and “better.” I felt it braced me for the “real world,” that it prepared me for the letdowns and setbacks I was doomed to experience. In other words, pain maintained my own self-fulfilling prophecy for disappointment and sadness.

Yesterday, in thinking about my eating disorder recovery, I think I switched sides. Yes, pain can be one of our greatest teachers, but we do not need to inflict it on us. I have done way TOO much punishing!

If it hurts, stop.
Simple, profound, and it makes me feel good. What’s not to like about that?

Snippets from 2012… what a year we have shared

Dear Bee,

What a year we have shared! So many ups and downs. I normally dislike the New Year Resolution, “fresh start” hype, but I must admit, there is something to be said about the novelty of the ever-promising January First.

Let’s look at some memorable snippets over the year.

March 1, 2012: First Attempt at Journaling 

I have disordered eating. I think about food constantly, always afraid of binging, always afraid of the hunger pains that may occur when I go without food, always planning my next meals or next time to exercise, always feeling an obsessive need to count calories or protein or sodium or whatever.

March 8, 2012

I overate. I hate using the word binge, because then I would be breaking my promise made only a week ago. But I did consume about 1000 calories in less than an hour.

March 14, 2012

I binged. Six days after my last one.

March 24, 2012: Despair

I ate more yesterday than I have in MONTHS.
To hold myself accountable: the whole frozen pizza, 2 Klondike Bars, homemade fudge, 20 Chips Ahoy Cookies, Apple donut, 2 waffles with butter, 2 cups of ice cream…all throughout the day.

March 25, 2012: Despair Round Two

Can’t stop binge-eating.
Probably have eaten 10,000+ calories in 3 days.
Feeling ashamed and hopeless.

April 8, 2012: Trying intuitive eating

Overall, I’ve been doing well. I did not track calories this week, and i didn’t binge at all! Just overrate a little today at Easter, but nothing out-of-control…I’m realizing that I just allow myself to get anxious enough toe experience hunger when I “want” or “think” I should be hungry.

April 12, 2012

I know how to take care of myself. I know how to be healthy. But, for some reason, I am unable to treat myself with the love and respect my body deserves. This will be one difficult journey, but, this time, I am determined to see the finish line.

April 16, 2012: First time I sought help (through college counseling program)

I’ve decided to get help for my eating disorder, and I will be meeting with a therapist for the first time next week. I’m nervous, but I’m also ready and willing to get better. I came clean to ___ and ___, which was very liberating. Fortunately, they are both very supportive and understanding. In talking to ____, I realized that I don’t take care of my true needs enough–in fact, I usually settle, be it food, clothes, items, etc. for something I don’t actually want. It’s like I don’t think I deserve it. What an epiphany!

So, I’ve been trying to eat intuitively by listening to my body, paying attention to my cravings, and actually satisfying them. If I want a treat, I am ONLY giving myself exactly that treat, not a substitution. Amazing how freeing this feels–the other day, my tummy was growling, and I spent fifteen minutes confused about what I wanted to eat. I haven’t had any desire to binge. I’m consuming slightly more food than I was, but I’m not stressing over balancing or carbs. I’m just eating. 

April 25, 2012: “Sorry, we don’t work with eating disorders”

Still struggling. The counseling program at school can’t help me, so I made an appointment with _____. Oh well. 

July 12, 2012: My first therapist (didn’t like him much at all)

We talked about the ebb and flow of progress, the dirty, complex path to recovery. It’s scary knowing that I may slip up, and in fact, even more terrifying to be able to embrace it. Quitting an addiction cold turkey, while we all have heard the stories, is rare and actually very difficult. This is especially true when the problem has been deep-rooted in one’s life for many years, as mine has.

He commends me on writing how I feel, and I agree that it has been helping me very much. It’s a way to unwind and reflect on my behavior, patterns, and thoughts without being overly critical. He mentioned that is important to learn to not take everything so seriously and almost be able to laugh at the things I fear and hate the most (I.E: when I binge).

July 16, 2012

Oh, binge eating disorder, how you NEVER fail to surprise me.
How did I go from feeling so on top of it to knee deep in Oreos?

August 15, 2012

Damn- I had a really bad binge today, and I felt horrible afterwards! 

August 16, 2012

I had another mini-binge today, but I didn’t let it derail me-which I guess is good. Still bumming pretty hard about it. I never thought I’d be suffering from an eating disorder. 

September 7, 2012

I binged…not proud of it at all. I tried so hard not to. Then, it became a free-for-all-day. Why must I torment myself this way? 

September 8, 2012

You know, despite the horrible tummy ache I had at work all morning, I binged again when I got home. I was so full. But, this time, I spent an hour planning out a month free of binges, and I’m vowing to stick to it…I’m committed. I can’t let myself down again. 

September 14, 2012: First session with second therapist (the one I still work with)

The new therapist was interesting–a much different vibe than the super-nurturing, “it’s all going to be okay” mantra I expected. Nope. She’s straight-up and tough.

September 23, 2012

I binged today. I’m not happy about it, but I am owning up to it. For some reason, I just wanted to eat, eat, eat. Okay, I know the reasons–compensation/reward for not bingeing in 15 days, being home all day without prepared meals or designated times to eat and general anxiety about the upcoming week. It wasn’t my worst binge, not even in the top ten, and for several hours, I did delay it by looking/reading eating disorder blogs. Stopping that behavior, before it even begins, however, is the key to my success. So, one roadblock, one obstacle…not about to be defeated now! 

October 5, 2012: Rock Bottom

I’m coming down from a binge, and I feel sick to my stomach. I’m experiencing all my usual feelings (the self-blame, anger, sadness, guilt, and strong feelings of weakness), but more than anything else, I feel scared…I’m just so afraid that I’m not going to bet better…I feel so vulnerable…I know why binged today..I was aware of how I was feeling, but I wasn’t able to handle these problems constructively. And so, I did what always numbs the pain. I ate. And ate and ate…I feel wrecked and exhausted, like I’ve tried so many different recovery options…I hate the preoccupation; it’s toxic, it’s driving me insane, and I’m really afraid of isolating myself because of it…I’m tired of the disillusions of “this is the last time” and “tomorrow will be better,” because part of me wants to believe that is true, but I also know it’s probably completely unrealistic…I just want to stop feeling like I have two voices and personalities: the normal me and the me dealing with an eating disorder…I’m tired of feeling like I’m out of control, when this is something I have full control over. 

October 22, 2012: Slowly getting easier?

I haven’t binged in 17 days, a huge feat for me, and I’m super proud of myself for getting to where I am at right now. It takes so much work to recover–there’s the need for me to learn to love myself unconditionally and heal all the same I’ve held within me. 

October 25, 2012: Texts to my therapist

I think I’m finally ready to expose myself and get the help and support I need from therapy. It kinda terrifies me to do that, but I want to overcome this, and I’m very grateful for your patience and understanding.

November 28, 2012: Asking my therapist for help when I needed it (last binge)

Hey, so I kinda overrate a little bit ago. Nothing real major but now I’m having some anxiety and the disordered thoughts 😦 Trying to deep breathe, anything else? Is now a good time to call? 

Reflecting over our relationship makes me feel a variety of emotions, from sad to humiliated to empowered and optimistic. Aside from our relationship, 2012 was an incredible year, and I have so much to be grateful for! 

My achievements over the past year

1. Admitting I have a problem to SOMEONE ELSE other than myself. This has single-handedly been the most influential change agent in my recovery process. I spent years thinking I could fix myself and falsely believing that opening up indicated poor willpower and utter weakness. Nope. Admitting weakness is a sign of strength, and I know now that I could not do this without the support and guidance from others. 

2. Learning and ACTUALLY USING effective coping strategies to deal with anxiety or other aversive, triggering emotions, such as journaling, yoga, reaching out to people, deep breathing, removing myself from the situation, etc.

3. Giving up my obsession with the scale. I have no idea how much I weigh. I have not checked in two months. My clothes fit and I am learning to accept and embrace my body for everything it does for me!

4. Discontinuing calorie-counting and any other type of calculation. While I know this keeps some people on track, it made me preoccupied and obsessive. 

5. Attending Overeaters Anonymous meetings. I was absolutely resistant to this kind of support, and I have still not taken a stance whether I agree with the philosophy, but I enjoy the meetings, conversations, and like-minded atmosphere. This Twelve Steps program validates that I am not alone in my behaviors or thoughts. 

6. Abstaining from bingeing. Today marks 33 days. This is the longest I have gone without using restrictive behaviors. I am incredibly proud of myself.

7. Writing about my recovery as often as I can. I am choosing to channel my emotions in a constructive format, rather than a destructive one, which has been absolutely beneficial.

8. Making my recovery the first priority in my life. I have always been “too busy.” Today, I am busier than EVER BEFORE. And you know what? I am putting this first. I am prioritizing myself, rather than my friendships and relationships. I know that I need to love and respect myself before I can give and receive it from others. Sometimes, recovery feels time-consuming and difficult. Sometimes, I get angry with driving to meetings or reading literature or speaking in therapy or calming myself down when I feel anxious or depressed or preoccupied with my distorted thoughts. But nobody promised it was going to be easy. I did not develop an eating disorder overnight; I will not unravel it overnight. The journey of a thousand baby steps once seemed daunting and overwhelming, but now, I’m just learning to enjoy the scenery and novelty along the way.  

Goals for the next year

1. Find a sponsor. As mentioned, I do not know just how I feel about the Twelve Steps format, but I know success often depends on strength in numbers. The more cheerleaders, the better. 

2. Continue my sobriety from bingeing. One day at a time. 

3. Write, vent, complain, brag, or even just ramble about this journey as often as I can. This is healing for me, and for anyone who may be reading, I hope that my experiences can help you as well.

I am in a completely different place than I was last year at this time. I do not know what “true recovery” will look or even feel like, but that does not concern me right now. The present moment has never felt so wonderful. 

Recovery IS worth it. 

Eating Disorder Vs. Yoga

Dear Bee,

I have not thought about you much at all today. Thanks to some new, exciting changes at work, my thoughts were occupied with other concerns. Funny how my other passions can minimize my obsession with you once I allow that to happen!

Six weeks ago, I joined a yoga studio thanks to the promotional virtues of the non-commital LivingSocial. Yoga, i know. Does every girl with an eating disorder use yoga to deep-breathe and meditate the anxiety out of her compulsive thoughts? Probably. So cliched.

I liked the theory of yoga for a long time, but as someone who struggled with excessive exercise, I found the movements much too slow. Furthermore, I felt guilty for simply thinking too much in class. Thinking is off-limits. Focus on the breath.

Breathe in calm, breathe out stress. Uh. Okay. Where can I find the happy pills for that? 

Besides, you were always there reminding me of my limitations and weaknesses.

I consider my yoga journey analogous with my eating disorder recovery. For a long time, I flirted with the idea of this exercise, maybe dabbling in it for a class or two, but the training was erratic. Within the past few weeks, however, I have steadily improved.

There have been setbacks and humiliation, clumsiness and awkwardness, definite mat-envy (um, all right, I’ll just watch you do a headstand, while I awkwardly crouch on my knees), and some serious self-doubt. WHY CAN’T I JUST RELAX?!?! 

With yoga, everyone “else” seems to get it. Everyone else appears to be in utmost harmony, meditating in an ulterior existence full of peace, sunshine, and namaste. And that leaves me? Well, collected in my own thoughts…trying to redirect to my own balanced place.

Excessive exercise undoubtedly served a purpose in my world. Just like you, it allowed me to numb myself with pain and torture. Like you, it shifted my thoughts onto one core notion: my body and what it could or could not do and what it did or did not look like.

Yoga takes the idea of “working out” down several notches. I am not beating my body into bloody oblivion or pushing myself into extreme states of physical exertion. Yoga is not about changing your body or burning a certain number of calories. To me, that adjustment is hard. Breaking out of that black-and-white dichotomous thinking, the notion that I can either TOTALLY RELAX or TOTALLY TORTURE MYSELF has been engrained into my mind for so long that it can feel awkward to practice the moderation.

So, yoga and me, yoga and bee. It is an interesting threesome. I have one force trying to introduce me to the engaging state of self-acceptance, true inner peace, love, and mind-body-soul connection and the other trying to pull me back into the toxic cycle of self-hatred, inner turmoil, anger, and mind-body-soul disconnection. 

The choice seems so easy written out like that.