Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “March, 2016”

Some next-level sh…

I happen to be living the sweet life at the moment. Just Married to the love of my life. I not only have a driver’s license, but I even have a cute little car for running errands in a cute Kentucky town. There just happens to be a 2 mile path around my house for me to jog in the morning. Robins and daffodils are everywhere. And I’m writing and learning to knit socks. People used to tell me, “put boundaries around your food and your life will get better.” But that first day that I put boundaries around my food, I could never have imagined that they meant *this*. 

It took years of not putting sugar, grains or starch into my body for me to untangle myself from my false notions, bad behaviors, and manipulative ways. It took years to get free from my self-loathing. To be willing to take an honest look at myself and my character flaws and change. There was no way I could have fathomed this kind of happiness. But that is because I could not have guessed the self-love and freedom that exist in integrity. I would have wanted all of the “prizes” but I wouldn’t have had the slightest idea what it was going to take to get them. And if I had known, I would have been terrified of the work.

Work used to terrify me. Discomfort was the boogie man, it filled me with dread and panic. In the end, I had to make friends with discomfort. It was the only way to grow up. Only children expect to feel good all the time. 

I can imagine on an animal level why instant gratification is a necessity. Eat the food when it’s there. You never know where there will be more food. But when you have a car, gas, a local grocery store, and you do know there will be food, instant gratification means higher obesity rates and a rise in the number of obesity related illnesses. But I’m not just talking about food, either. I’m talking about discomfort in general. I’m talking about sacrificing a fulfilling future for a comfortable present.

I am not one of those people who looks forward to exercise. (Do those people really exist? Are they all underwear models or motivational YouTube celebrities?) What I look forward to is having done the exercise. I like being energized. I like feeling accomplished. I like the endorphins. I like feeling like I am doing some long-term planning, investing in the future. A future with less pain and better brain function. A future where I continue to love my body and care for it, and it loves me back.

And I still marvel that this body can jog for 2 miles. This body that I was sure was such a curse. This body that I was so ashamed of and disgusted by. 

But that just brings me back to my point. How could that me, the one who constantly diminished and criticized myself, ever have had a glimpse into this future? 

They told me if I put boundaries around my food, my life would get better. So I did the work. And my life got better. So I kept doing the work. Yep, I still do the work. But I have to admit, I’d do this much work for a lot less. I mean, it’s not always easy, but it’s really not that hard either. I’d do the work just to be free from my obsession with food. I’d do the work for the guilt-free eating alone. But this whole thing, the love and the peace and the joy, the “prizes”, the life beyond my wildest dreams, this is something else. This is some next-level sh*t.


How you know you’ve found a keeper

When you have boundaries around your food, things that other people take for granted are off the table. Like grabbing a quick bite, going out to dinner somewhere you have never been, or sharing an entrée with your date. It can be complicated, annoying, inconvenient, and difficult. It’s worth it, but it’s not always easy or simple.

That makes it a great way to figure out who is worth your time. See, if I tell you that my food boundaries are a life and death matter for me, and you think it’s embarrassing, or ridiculous, or you simply think I am being difficult, then you are toxic to me. We can’t be close, we can’t be great friends, and we certainly can’t be partners.

This week I got married to the love of my life. I knew he was the one pretty early. I mean within days of being reunited with him after over 20 years. One of my big clues was that he asked me for a shopping list when I was flying to Texas to visit him. And he sent me a picture of a grocery cart filled with pounds and pounds of vegetables. He even found bok choi, which he had never even heard of before. Over the past 3 years, he has let me choose the restaurants, taken my eating schedule into account, and he never minds if I don’t eat with him, if I ask the server a million questions, or if other people are staring at me. 

I’m not saying it’s always easy for him. It’s not always easy for me. But it’s important to me. So it’s important to him. 

The thing about putting my food boundaries first is that my priorities become obvious. And my husband is a priority in my life. 

So pardon me, but now I need to go for my run, before I go out to dinner, with my husband, on my honeymoon. At a restaurant I picked.

No fear of flying. Or airports.

In some ways it’s interesting what has become “normal” for me. For instance, right now, I am in an airport on my way to fly to the Florida Keys, and I am not worried about what people are thinking about me.There is something about airports, the close proximity, the hundreds of people passing by and passing through. The natural people-watching atmosphere, that always used to heighten my embarrassment of living in a big body. It made me tense and self-conscious. There was a lot of shame involved. 

Now, to be fair, I was always self-conscious and ashamed, it was just more noticeable in airports.

It seems like I have a different life now. In many ways I do. In specific moments I get glimpses of it. Like the other day, when I looked in the mirror, and knew that I never had to be fat again. It was a beautiful moment. I felt free. 

I have the luxury of feeling free every day now. Especially on a day like this, at the airport. I fly relatively regularly. It’s easy and I don’t have to stress about it. I don’t have to worry about fitting in the seat. I don’t have to think about who is looking at me and why. I don’t have to worry about what clothes will cover my butt or camouflage my belly. I wear what will be comfortable. Because I don’t care.

But that is not exactly true either. I do care, every day, about what I eat, about keeping my food boundaries, about staying away from sugar and carbohydrates. And that constant, steady caring, no matter what, allows me to not care about things like what I’m wearing, or if the person next to me will be angry that I am sitting next to them, or if I’m going to spill over into someone else’s seat. 

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I keep boundaries every day. I don’t have cheat days. I don’t make exceptions, or excuses. So a vacation to Florida doesn’t mean anything goes. It doesn’t mean that since I have never had deep fried alligator or conch, that I get to “live a little.” Why would I live a little for a bite or a drink, when I can live a lot.

There are a lot of things that I will never taste. And that’s ok. It lets me sit comfortably on an airplane, on my way to Florida, in whatever clothes are comfortable and easy to get through security, with my bikinis packed.

The complexities of body image and wearing a slinky dress anyway

Body image disorders are a trip, I tell you. So lately, it’s not about my weight. It’s about the shape of my body. 
The truth is, I’m small right now. In fact, my boyfriend has never seen me this small. So it’s not about my weight. It’s about my knock-knees, and the sort of square shape of my hips, how big my belly is, how my arms jiggle. It’s about what bulges and what sags. It’s always about not being pretty enough. 

It’s not that I’m not beautiful, or that I don’t know that I am. It’s complicated. It’s more about obsessing and worrying. It’s more about focusing on the aspects of my body that are not photoshop perfect. 

I know I’m not the only one. And I also know that “perfect” is just a bill of goods we have collectively been sold. But it doesn’t stop me from thinking about it. Sometimes obsessively.

We are going to Florida next week. So there’s wearing the bikini. And I bought a new dress to wear on the beach and it’s what you might call “slinky.” And I keep thinking “did I make a mistake? Should I buy a different dress? Is my body not perfect enough for the one I bought?”

Sometimes, when I am disconnected from something, it doesn’t occur to me as “painful” but it affects my life to a greater extent than I am aware of. For example, when I used to have a personal trainer years ago, he would give me fitness tests from time to time, and ask me to rate my pain/discomfort level from 1-10. As I got into better shape, my levels rose. When I was out of shape, I was so disconnected from my body that I was almost numb to the pain of living in that body. So even though in reality it was easier to do the exercise as time went on, it registered as more painful because I was actually living in my body.

I have a similar experience with my body image disorders. Over the years, the more accepting and loving I am of my body, the more my disorders are right there in my face.

So I may be less numb to my fears and my judgements, but at the same time, I’m more likely to wear what I want to wear. There was a time I would never wear a bikini in public. And I would have opted for a more loose-fitting dress.

But now I wear what I want. And I love it. And if I worry about how big my thighs are…well, moments pass.

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