Learning to Let Go: Loving Yourself After an Eating Disorder
If you know me now, you know how much I hate routine. I would choose the unknown over stability anytime. I have a fear of commitment. Ask my spouse; we can't talk about buying a house without me screaming "but what if we want to pick up and move across the world??" I have not always been like this. I used to think that if I didn't have a routine, my life would fall apart. If I did not know what was going to be happening in the next hour, I would panic.
I created a routine to give myself a little peace of mind. I knew what meals I could binge and purge on; I knew exactly how many hours I could go without calories before I wanted to pass out. For almost ten years, I went back and forth on my eating disorder. I would almost get better, and then I'd look in the mirror and decide my face could be slimmer if I didn't eat for two days. I would only talk about my weight, or what diet I was doing, or how I was going to lose the next ten pounds. I was exhausting to be around. In 2009, I got help. While the outpatient program enabled me to recover from the physical part of my eating disorder, it didn't help with the mental aspect. It took me over six years to let go of the idea that controlling my weight was the only way to have control. I had to figure out how to let go of fear and live my life. While it is always a work in progress, there are a few things I have done that have helped me learn to love myself.
I've stopped talking negatively about my weight. I don't even know what I weigh anymore. The moment I want to say something negative about how I look, I replace it with some super egotistical comment about myself. If my thought is "I wish my arms were thinner" I instead say "man, I have the best god damn handstands ever! Have you seen them? I look amazing while doing it." It feels weird, and people give you funny looks, but it works. Your mind is pretty compelling. If it can point out all your flaws and you believe it, then why can't you believe it when it tells you how powerful you are?
I had this goal to run a marathon. I trained and made it to 8 miles, but every time I finished running, I was pissed. I never got runners high and felt good. I just felt angry and sore. I started choosing pleasure over pain. If something is not going to bring me pleasure, I don't want to do it. Sometimes an hour-long boxing session feels like heaven and sometimes, sitting on my couch eating cookies is what I need. If something brings you physical and mental pain, figure out what you can do to create pleasure. Life is way too short to feel miserable.
If you had told me six years ago that I would go to Europe not once, but three times in less than a year, I would have laughed at you. If you had told me that I would travel full time and learn how to find a balance between eating and working out, I probably would have had a panic attack. The difference now is I understand that life is just one big experience. We get to choose how we experience it. For me, that means enjoying every single second. Every piece of bread I eat or box jump I do is an experience. I can stay home and think about my calories and what I look like in a bikini, or I can wear the bikini and drink the margaritas and create a new experience.
I haven't mastered my thought process entirely, but running on a treadmill and hoping that my waist shrinks and my tits magically look bigger is not a new experience for me. In fact, it's the same experience I have been having since I was thirteen. Letting go and learning to love your body for what it is always a work in progress. One day I decided I was tired. I decided that my body was perfect, that I didn't want to do anything I didn't enjoy, and that I wanted to experience everything I could. Take the pictures of yourself, wear the crop tops, learn to love movement, and try to stop worrying about what you look like while you are doing it. I promise you: you look perfect.