I didn’t know how to start this post, so I figured posting a picture of my wedding bouquet (from Mustard Seed the night before) would work!
And now for some personal reflections…
I was super excited to go do some kickboxing this afternoon since we had so much free time! But I quickly realized how much my disordered eating/exercise addiction is costing me. I couldn’t really go after it as hard as I wanted to or as hard as I used to when I did it weekly, a few years ago. Honesty time – when you restrict food and run/work out excessively for a few years, you reallllllly mess up your body. My poor body is just focusing on keeping me alive, so it’s stopped doing vital processes. I haven’t had my period in at least 4 years, my hormones are out of whack, I’ve lost SO MUCH hair, my bones are becoming brittle and weak (that’s why I couldn’t keep punching and kicking the bag – it hurt), I’m always cold, I’m always irritated, I can’t relax, I can’t stop thinking about what and when I’m going to eat again, how much I’m going to run/bike/work out… and it’s been absolutely exhausting for me for such a long time.
It’s a common theme in medical anorexia recovery articles that if you had cancer, you wouldn’t keep that information to yourself. You would tell people so they can support you. Well, I’m going to need support! I’m so thankful for my friends and family who have dealt with me in the last few years! I’ve pushed many people away because I haven’t felt worthy of being loved, so WOW I’m happy you’re still around! Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder – I had no idea it was so serious. While I’m not claiming to be completely emaciated or that all my vital processes are shutting down, I’ll say this much: at 5’4, I should not have weighed 101 pounds a month ago. So it’s ON! 🙂
Operation Weight Gain has been successful at AIT so far, which is good, but it’s hard for me to come to terms with everything that comes with being healthy again. I’ve just gotta push on and trust in God to get me through this. I want to have tons of energy at the end of the day, I want to have kids (not tons lol), I want to enjoy myself and relax with my friends again, so the time has come. I told myself that I would wait until after our wedding to start to gain, and of course, it was way harder than I expected. It seems so easy, right? You want to be healthy again? Just eat more. But there are too many foods that make me sick when I eat them, and I’ve spent the last month experimenting with all sort of different foods. And I’ve spent many evenings throwing up. It’s been frustrating, that’s for sure.
There’s a part of me that doesn’t understand why this is so hard, and why I’m struggling with this when I’m THIRTY TWO freaking years old. Obviously, there are way more important things to care about. But I’ve used this as a form of control – it “got me through” my divorce, the horrible relationship that came after that, and any other times when I feel stressed. I can control how much and how hard I run/bike/I work out and what I eat, so I used it as a coping mechanism. I’m so addicted, and all I want to do is be done with it. Like today, I noticed “how much” weight I’ve gained (I’ve really only gained like 3 pounds, and I need to gain about 15 more!), so even though I told myself I wasn’t going to run today, I still got on the treadmill and did a mile of sprinting intervals. We already did PRT from 0500-0600 this morning! When Will and I went to Chicago, I ran a mile to the bike station, biked 4 miles, did “warm” yoga, and made the return trip, all before 9 am. Why?? I woke up at 4:45 am every day this spring so I could work out before school and run in the afternoon. And then bike or play tennis with Will. WHY?? I would love to take a day off of exercise or worrying about my food. It’s my dream but it’s also my biggest nightmare and fear.
I started working with a doctor, nutritionist, and therapist in the fall of 2015, actually. I wasn’t allowed to run or work out at all. It killed me, but they told me that my body just needed a break. So I gained about 10 pounds and probably was close to being weight-restored. Then I joined the Army and shipped out to Basic. I healed my relationship with food at Basic, because you can only eat what’s there. The first phase, Red Phase, lasts 5 weeks, and you’re only allowed to eat off the line. They always had a vegetarian option, but it was grain-based, like pasta or lasagna or bread. I tried to remain vegan, but since I have Celiac, the vegetarian options clearly didn’t work. The breakfast line had eggs, some kind of potatoes, pancakes, waffles, sausage, and the lunch and dinner lines had two types of veggies, two types of meat, and a pasta option. I was able to experiment with different types of food and notice what made my body feel good and what didn’t. I CAN eat whatever I wanted, but I can also choose to eat foods that make me feel good. Unfortunately, the deliciously fluffy pancakes didn’t make my body feel good 😦 lol. I added fish and eggs (and chicken occasionally) back into my diet. Once we hit White phase in Week 6, we could use the salad bar! Fruit for breakfast, fresh veggies, kidney beans, nuts, sunflower seeds, Jello 🙂 The options were still limited, but it was so much better. I came back to Ohio with a better relationship with food, but of course, I lost weight at Basic simply because you don’t have time to eat enough.
It’s one thing to let go of control in Basic Training – you have absolutely no choice. I loved it. Tell me when and where to be somewhere and that I can only eat this and I’m good to go. I got back to civilian life and had all of these options again, plus the stress of everyday life. It was too easy to slip back into those old habits and routines, and I fought hard for a couple of months. I thought I was healthy enough to run again, and BOOM, everything came back full-force, if not worse. I lost about 5 pounds since Basic. Now I’m even more in the hole than when I started “treatment.”
The thing is, I’ve made drastic improvements in my running this year. I shaved off 3 minutes in the 5k, 4 minutes in the 10k, and 5 minutes in the half marathon. I want to run my Army PT two-mile run in under 13 minutes this summer. But I just don’t know if it’s the right thing for me to do. I don’t even know about training for Boston right now. Honestly, it’s exhausting sometimes just trying to find someone to go to the gym with me, and no one wants to run as much (or as fast as I want to run) to keep a decent weekly mileage. I might look into working with my running coach and getting her advice… Running does make me happy, and so does biking, doing yoga, playing tennis, hiking – but for now, I need to find a new coping strategy, and it starts and ends with God. He’s got me and He’ll take care of me. 🙂
Thanks for letting me ramble – it was refreshing.