Change The Way You See

HAPPY OPERATION BEAUTIFUL RELEASE WEEK!
Operation Beautiful started as a simple idea, as described by the editor, Caitlin Boyle: The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post anonymous notes in public places for other women to find. The point is that WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL. You are enough… just the way you are! 

The site has grown into a phenomenon, and has resulted in the release of a collection of the best notes in a book.  It’s out today! 

I absolutely love Caitlin, and her health/fitness blog, Healthy Tipping Point, is absolutely awesome.  GO LOOK AT IT!

To coincide with the release of the collection, Caitlin has declared this week “Change The Way You See, Not The Way You Look” Week.  To submit your story, simply repost this photo, then tell your story on your blog.  When you’re done, submit the link to Caitlin at operationbeautiful@gmail.com.

Food is not the enemy.  Neither is your body.
Over the past twenty-five years, I have struggled with unstructured eating (just grabbing a snack here and there and not sitting down to eat a full, well-balanced meal), to unhealthy eating, to binge eating.  I was desperate to be skinny.  Not healthy, not fit, just skinny.   Now I’m dealing with an eating disorder as well as severe stomach issues that render me doubled over in pain some days and unable to eat anything solid.
My disorder is undiagnosed and unspecified, but that does not make it any less of a disorder.  It is called EDNOS: Eating Disorder Otherwise Unspecified; an eating disorder that is not anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or any of the other umbrella terms.   If I can relate to any diagnosable disease, it would probably be orthorexia: an eating disorder in which the sufferer refuses to eat anything that isn’t healthy, all-natural, or organic.  For a long time I refused to eat anything with the words “high fructose” “enriched” or “white” in the ingredients.  It got to the point where I would not eat the eggplant parmesan my mother had lovingly prepared because it contained breadcrumbs with partially hydrogenated oils, choosing instead to have a frozen burrito from Whole Foods and an apple.
At the same time, I was bingeing on extreme amounts of peanut butter, granolas, ice creams, dried fruits, whole grain breads, honey, and chocolate.  All because it was ‘all-natural.’  Anything else was poison.  Meanwhile I would crawl into bed, moaning and holding my stomach, and swearing I’d be better tomorrow.  I would cry in fitting rooms.  Nothing fit.  I didn’t fit.  I thought.
This past year, after rejiggering my diet and trying to understand my binges, I lost another twenty pounds, putting me at around 133 from my highest weight of 202.  Over the fall, I continued to binge because I thought it would fuel my longer workouts.  That, in turn, would cause me to work out even harder.  I never knew what it felt like to be so depleted of energy that you passed out.  I’m sad to say I know how that feels now.
A lot of love from my family (and the recognition that yes, I have a problem) has led me to this place.  After months of being terrified to feel hungry because oh my god it means I’ll pass out has led me to a calmer attitude.  An attitude where I don’t look at food as the enemy, or rather I try not to anymore.  Instead, I try to eat what I want to eat (which is usually very healthy anyway, as it’s what I crave now!) and allow myself a daily treat of ice cream or chocolate.  I even tried a deep-fried Oreo this year! Amazing!
The fact that none of the scales in our house have worked for the last three months has been really cool, too.  I’m going by the fit of my clothes, and it’s really helping my psyche understand that happiness and health are not determined by the scale.  In December, I got down to my thinnest weight of around 130.  I was dizzy and exhausted on Christmas Eve.  I never want that to happen again.  Right now, I’m at 135 (give or take, just estimating) and I’m in the best shape of  my life.
Another cure for my disorder has been running and yoga.  Running, as well as keeping me fit, has given me back my desire to eat, and eat well.   And yoga has taught me to appreciate and love my body for what it is.  I haven’t looked in the mirror and criticized my body in months.  Rather, when I step out of the shower, before I reach for that towel I look in the mirror and I strike a silly pose, reveling in my muscle and my softness.  I haven’t cried in a dressing room in a long, long time.  I dance around. 
The good days far outweigh the bad, although there are days (and sometimes weeks) where I’ll be terrified of putting anything into my mouth.  I’ll step off the treadmill after running 4.5 miles and I’ll want so badly to get back on and run another three.  And then there are the days where my stomach is upset and I won’t want to eat anything but soup and crackers.  But most days, I feel good.  I think it’s helped to understand that you don’t have to feel amazing and perfect 100 percent of the time.  How dumb would life be if you went through life feeling fantastic every single day? We’re women! Our hormones don’t work like that!
What matters is I have energy. I eat what I love (and try to eat a lot without overdoing it). I prepare meals for my family, and I eat what my mom cooks for me! Which includes as of two weeks ago the first steak I’ve had in 5 years.  My parents were shocked when I ate it and wished outloud that there was more of it.  I guess I didn’t realize how much this had affected them too.
Now, I go through my days figuring out my other goals that don’t have anything to do with how many calories I’ve eaten.  They include:
Get more sleep.  Watch old movies.  Read more.  Write more (and finish my novel).  Go walking in the woods before it gets too cold.  Run in an open field with my arms outstretched and thank the Great Mother that I exist.  God gave me this body.  It’s what I do with it that counts.
I can’t promise I’ll eat a plate of French fries anytime soon.  But I’ll be the first to swipe one from a friend’s plate, and dunk it in copious amounts of ketchup.  
ally
PS. I’ll be back with my eats tonight.  I’m planning on doing another take on my amazing Peanut Stir-Fry for dinner tonight! EEE!
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4 thoughts on “Change The Way You See

  1. Ally- I just thought I'd let you know that I love both your blogs! And reading them has really opened my eyes. I'm 17 and have struggled with weight for years. I'm not overweight but I struggle a lot with my body image. I hope that, like you, someday soon I won't be stressing about the number on the scale but rather how I feel and if I'm happy. Thank you for opening up to your readers because I really feel that your blog can help girls like me.

    Like

  2. great blog! thanks so much!
    I too, don't care about the number on the scale, but i care a little too much on body image. just wondering if you did any specific exercise to tone your arms and legs? or did they slim down just by running?

    Like

  3. Alivia,

    I naturally have arms that tone up quickly. I actually used to lift weights that were too heavy and my arms got HUGE! But honestly I only lift once a week now. Then I do yoga twice a week, and running. But running doesn't actually make you toned! Strength training is the only way.

    And as for my legs..even when I was obese I had really great legs, so that's not weights, that's genetics! 🙂

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  4. Wow. what a great post. I had a bacterial intestinal infection about a month ago that left me in the hospital for a few days. I am happy to say that I came out with a whole new perspective on my diet. I have totally cut out anything processed and we are doing as much organic as we can afford. I am on a weight loss journey of having to loose about 85 lbs.

    Like

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