2012 has been the year for recovery. I hope every year that something huge would happen and I’d be in such a better spot, only to say that I have so much to work on for the next year. Well, I don’t think I’m going to have those expectations for 2013, because 2012 was HUGE for me. And when I say HUGE, I mean it with all the capital letters and exclamation points if I could add them there and still be grammatically correct. LOL.
2012 started off like every other year. There was so many things I needed to work on: stop calorie counting completely, stop weighing myself, stop focusing on bad/good foods, stop boredom/stress eating, and so on and so forth. I had a laundry list of things that I needed to work on and truthfully, it was overwhelming. I never thought I was going to be able to even get one of those things accomplished.
I was afraid that because I no longer had a counselor, things were going to fall apart at the seems. Not that I didn’t believe in my own strengths and tactics I’d learned in the past two years with her, but to not have that kind of guidance, I was afraid. I rarely talked to anyone, even my family and Whit, about how I was really feeling during my recovery because that’s just the way it was. I never wanted to burden anyone and I had been struggling with this for almost ten years and still having to ask for help made me feel like a nuisance.
The first half of the year went basically as every year went, except a lot of changes and relocation’s happened. I went from a tiny mountain town, to commuting back and forth week by week to the desert for work. I changed jobs, friends, environments and though taxing, it didn’t make anything worse, which was good. But it also wasn’t helping anything get any better. This was my ultimate goal, but I was taking what I could get.
Everything changed when I went to Peru. And when I say everything, not just my recovery, but my whole life. I lived according to a rigorous schedule, I had to adjust to different foods and not be able to choose what I ate for meals, exercise was non existent except for hiking to get places for work, and so much more. It was quite possibly one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I was exhausted to the core most of the time but the experience was amazing. I was challenged with the gusto to learn as much as I could in the short period I was there and took in as much as I could. Well, the insects were not something that I took in well (having insects crawling around under your skin in not my idea of fun), but I kept my head high and tried hard not to give up.
Before I left to go to Peru I had been doing Insanity and finished the whole 60 day challenge. The effect it had on my body was amazing. I went from a serious weakling to as strong as I had been in high school when I could do, count it, TEN pull ups. Like, how the guys do it. Yeah! Ok, when I finished Insanity I could only do three, but it’s better than zero! Anyhow, I knew going to Peru was going to change my body and although I was none too excited about that, going back to flab instead of better shape, I accepted it. I knew this trip was something I couldn’t pass up and had to give up all the things I thought kept me sane. And would keep my body the way that people accepted and wouldn’t judge me.
My warped brain has kept this idea that if I wasn’t at least in great of shape, I would be shunned, unaccepted, judged, no worthy of being made a friend. I never let myself believe that me being me would be enough for someone to want to be my friend. I always considered my personality weak, profession odd, and smarts sub par. I knew I was an odd ball out doing what I do and working as I do, so I just accepted to be…unaccepted and judged. I didn’t like it, but that’s how it was.
Being in Peru changed it all. I had to make friends with the people I was with or I would be miserable. You don’t want to be out in the middle of the jungle and have no friends. It would be a long, lonely experience. I made some great friends. I worked with amazing people, who accepted who I was and what I had done. I always have this epiphany after I meet new people and make great friends, but going into it I’m always surrounded with doubt.
As the weeks wore on in Peru I let everything go. I ate probably a too few many Peruvian cookies, Oreos to remind me of home, chocolate bars, and desserts when I went back into civilization. I spent most days hanging out, sitting and waiting for birds so exercise was not as intense as it had been, other than simply living at 11,000 feet in elevation (that’s hard work in itself). There were also some changes and eliminations in medications which could have had an affect on what happened next.
By the time Whit had arrived, I knew I had gained some weight. I felt it EVERYWHERE and was extremely ashamed. All my clothes were tight and I was extremely uncomfortable. I was also having a bad reaction to not having one of my medications and it was causing my moods to swing all over the place (hormones people, just think hormones changing after being on the meds for almost 10 years). I felt horrible for poor Whit who traveled all the way there only to have me crazy about well, everything.
Anyhow, even though I was having a hard time accepting that I had gained some weight (at this point I didn’t know how much, no scale in Peru) I still ate all the Peruvian foods and desserts I wanted to try, although shied away from the camera while we were out traveling. It was hard to accept but I did it. I had to, there was no other way to get through it. I had gained the weight, it was there and until I was able to work out again and eat like I normally did, it was going to stay there.
Jump ahead to when I got home and that’s where things get interesting. I gave my body about three days to let everything adjust, probably not enough time but I was impatient and wanted to see how it changed. The way Whit put it was that I had filled out and my body looked more womanly. To me, I just felt fat. I tried my hardest to listen to his words and did, because I was afraid he wouldn’t like what he saw when he saw me after three months away, but of course he still liked me for how I looked. Anyhow, I took one look in the mirror one morning, totally naked and truthfully quite angry at how it looked, and hesitated standing on the scale. I knew I had gained weight but how much was beyond me.
Those little blue numbers came onto the scale and I was more relieved than anything. I wasn’t totally disgusted, but ok with what it read. Ultimately, I had gained ten pounds, and I felt relieved. It wasn’t the end of the world. It took me a while to adjust to this fact (you can read about it in the linked post) and three months later, it’s better than I had anticipated. I look back at pictures and I think I think I can see a difference, but really, I can’t.
With an ED mindset, you dive into the realm of extremes. My ED mindset wanted to immediately detox, eat clean and workout to the the point of probably danger. I wanted that ten pounds to instantly be gone. But rationally, I knew that was impossible. I had to accept that I had gained some weight and that I was going to have to work hard to make it disappear, but all in all in a healthy manner. There wasn’t going to be danger in this move back to my healthier weight.
I set myself up with a calendar to plan healthy workouts, recipes, encouraging words and activities to keep my occupied. I had friend keep me in check and made a promise to myself to only weigh myself once a week, which became every Friday morning, so I wouldn’t get obsessive over what the number on the scale was.
It’s been almost three months since I’ve returned from Peru. It was hard at first, I hated the way I was feeling. A month in and I was still having a hard time accepting how my body was shaped and feeling in my clothes. Two months in and I was running again, along with doing Insanity and getting back into shape (then sadly sprained my ankle and became disabled for a bit). By month three my ankle was healed and I was back at doing Insanity full time, but taking time getting back to running. And all the while, I slowly watched the number on the scale go down. In three months, I lost five pounds. It may not seem like much for that time span, but I am happy because I did it without going crazy.
Month two was were I changed the focus of the weight I gained. I realized that even though my body looked different and clothes weren’t as comfortable, I could change that with time and money. I could change how I felt in clothes by simply getting new clothes that I could feel comfortable in. I could exercise and start to feel stronger and gain back the muscle definition I had before I left. I focused on working on getting my digestive system back up to par after the hell it went through in Peru with goodness know what parasites and viruses. I decided to go completely vegan and really make an effort to eat less processed foods. I looked in the mirror and didn’t see fat and disgust, but thought about the hard work I was putting in to make it the best it could be. I accepted the extra layer of fat surrounding my body and went with the flow.
Granted, I still have bad days. I’ll be in a crap mood, but I’ll try and focus on the good, like being with family, friends and Whit. And I’ll talk to Whit about. We had a discussion after I got back from Peru and was in a very bad place, about my needing to open up to him, reach out and feel safe coming to him with my struggles. I had to learn to ask for help or just simply ask for someone to be there. And I have, well, I’m trying. It’s hard, and just something to work on.
So as the end of the year approaches, I am almost in awe at how I handled the situation. I never would have thought I could take a change like that in such a level-headed way. I was afraid I would get thrown into a bad place, but I didn’t. I let myself accept what had happened and work at how I believed I should be to be my healthiest. It was hard, but it’s so much easier now.
So much easier.
[[If you made it all the way through this post I congratulate you! It took me hours to write and think about, so I'm sure it took you just as long to read. I know, freaking novel right here. Sorry!]]