9.3 Mile Run…Backwards

Overall, I have been doing fairly well with my attempt at recovery. Slip ups here, restricting there, purging now and then. Even with this, I am doing much better than I would have if I never would have gone to treatment.  Saturday I did a 15k. I found out just a few days earlier that I have a small tear of my meniscus. Against numerous opinions and comments, advice, what have you, I still chose to run the race.

I had been slipping, I knew that. Throwing up more frequently, eating less. My meal plan has become more of a suggestion than an actual guide. So, Saturday morning came, I was told by someone from treatment to make sure I packed extra food, even though the staff there all thought it was a bad idea for me to do the run.  I wrapped my knee the best I could figuring if nothing else, for some stability. It was pouring the rain, my knee was in a lot of pain.

It was definitely a pride thing. I wanted to accomplish this run, finish, be proud of what I had done- even if it was self destructive and disordered.

I finished the run even though by mile 7 my knee and hip were in so much unbelievable pain. Afterwards, I ate a snack, but never added anything else to it to make up for the calories I had burned off. I got home and my best friend and her family were making tacos. In my head I thought, “Ok, cool. Protein, fat, veg, starch.- perfect.”  I attempted to eat some, then I began to freak.

The disordered thoughts came back twice as loud, demanding, screaming, threatening, belittling. I went to the bathroom and threw up everything. Ed was screaming at me, “You did the run without any extra food, you are fine. Think of all the calories you burned off today during that run, I bet you are back in negative calories. What the hell did you just do actually eating?! Why the hell would you even choose to run if your fat ass is just going to eat?!?!” The following day, I skipped breakfast, restricted for snack, then attempted to eat lunch. I heard it again, “You barely ate at all yesterday, you did great. I bet you could have gone all day today without eating too….but NOOOOO, had to go and ruin that one too, didn’t ya?”  So, then I threw up the little lunch I had consumed.

It occurred to me, that running the race wasn’t probably the smartest idea I had. I knew how badly I struggle with exercise addiction. Everyone else from treatment knew as well, plus with my knee. I was just so stubborn I didn’t want to listen or believe it. Running over 9 miles, and puking twice, all within 24 hours… this is not a good sign, I thought.

So, I emailed treatment, was honest and told her about how I did the run. It reignited some major disordered thoughts. That was late Sunday. She responded, and set me up with an appointment on Monday for outpatient services.

It was stressful and embarrassing to walk back into treatment for help. I told my dietitian that I had really begun to slip lately. She knew I was going to struggle with working out, and I explained I would make up excused to avoid adding anything extra to my meal plan after working out because I hadn’t, “worked out long enough, or hard enough, or just wasn’t hungry.”  She told me her main goal was to get me back on the meal plan.

After that, I went and spoke with the clinical director and she asked about the run. I told her that it probably wasn’t a good idea. Besides limping with my knee, she quickly realized that it had probably set off a domino effect with my eating and the thought patterns

So, here I am. Trying to get back on the meal plan, going to treatment now for outpatient guidance and help. I have said it for months now, I so desperately want a healthy relationship between eating and working out.

Trust the process!!

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Ahimsa, Mindfulness, Yoga, and ED

I can’t remember a time where I enjoyed something, in the past few years. It was the same perfunctory routine, wake up, run, class, gym, home, maybe run again, throw up if I had eaten anything. I prided myself on going a thousand miles an hour. I ran longer, quicker, more frequently. Went to school, work, home, etc. Never sitting still, never wanting to be with myself long enough to feel or acknowledge myself.

There was a time, a long time ago, I had fun. I enjoyed doing things. I would go out to eat with friends, go shopping, soccer, etc. As the years in my eating disorder progressed, the things I once used to enjoy began to diminish. I enjoyed running, but it had also become something that I NEEDED to do in order to feel any bit of accomplishment- it was no longer just for enjoyment. Then I was introduced to yoga.

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There have been several people in my life recently who have asked how and why I got involved in yoga. What am I supposed to say? “Oh, when I went to residential treatment for my eating disorder they took running and exercise away, but I got to do yoga twice a week….” For some reason, I just don’t think this is the answer they would be expecting.

I soon found my passion and love for yoga. Breathing, being still, sitting with myself (something I never would have done months ago). When I left treatment I found a yoga studio close to where I live. I hesitantly walked in. Almost a month later, I am still going, I love it and learn more and more everyday.

Being the youngest in the class, I am in such awe of the women in the class. They may be older, but I have such respect and admiration for them, the way they move, how they embrace their self and how they even push themselves while in different poses. I admire them so much and even hope I can strive to be like that in 30 or 40 years.

The body dissatisfaction I still have is ridiculous. Feeling like the fattest one there, trying to hide my body in large t-shirts, sometimes even hoodies. I sit on my mat, completely aware of my lumpy, rolley stomach. Going into Adho Mukha Svanasana (or downward dog), obvious to the fact that my thighs are touching. Bringing my hands to Anjali Mudra I am coached to set an intention for the class.

This concept was entirely new to me. I had brought my hands to heart, and bowed to my instructor, in residential, K numerous times, but an intention? The first couple of classes I went to my brain froze. Setting no intention for the class. Sometimes briefly I would decide last minute to focus on doing “yoga on my own mat” as to focus on myself and not compare myself with others. Eventually, my intention became to be more comfortable in my own skin in class. I began to wear a tank top and leggings, being so self conscious about my arms and body. My intention was to try and be comfortable, not be so self conscious, self critical.

Ahimsa is one of the lessons in the study of yoga, meaning non harming. When I read about this I immediately thought of the literal term of being non-violent. Is there more I thought? To not cause harm, I would be included in that statement, self harm, is still harm, and does not follow the idea of non-harming. It teaches us to not act, think, or speak in harmful ways. This would also include samskaras, or negative feeling and thought processes that can also be very harmful to ourselves. Which also ties into the cocept of Niyamas, or our attitude towards ourself.

While I am still extremely far from reaching self love or even acceptance, I have found something that I enjoy doing again. It doesn’t involve running my body into the ground when I haven’t eaten in a week. It doesn’t involve isolating myself.

ED is still with me on the mat, but even if it is only briefly, it is amazing to sit quietly with myself and be ok with it. To have him be silent.

I am able to challenge myself on the mat, in ways that aren’t self destructive or harmful. I have a growing respect for my body, the strength is possesses, the asanas it is able to hold, and the inversions my body can contort to. Yoga isn’t about how fast, how far, how much, but while you are all in a room together, it is what you, as an individual, can accomplish on your mat within yourself.

Iokah samatah sukhino bhavantu

May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

Namaste & Trust the Process

Running from my Eating Disorder

10985274_10203187436033126_1776184478909549160_nThis picture was taken the first time I got exercise approval in treatment. I was told to try and “walk” first. I was so beyond thrilled.

There are many things in my life that I thoroughly enjoy, even love. Running is one of those things. I soon realized I was using running as a coping mechanism. To me, I would excuse the amount I ran as “healthy”, I didn’t smoke, this was a “healthy” habit I had picked up. It soon became ritualistic, expected, needed, and a way to run away from myself as well as my own eating disorder. I felt the most alive when I was nearly dying during a run.

I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but I remember when I was barely able to run one mile without stopping. One turned into three, I ate less, ran more. 3 turned into 5, then 7, even 10 miles at a time. Sometimes running multiple times a day consuming barely 500 calories a day. I was still healthy though. My body was still capable to sustain a run. Never mind that I skipped classes like Organic Chemistry II, Microbiology to Health and Nutrition, and Cell and Molecular Biology in order to get that extra run in.

I loved running. It got me out of my own head. It consumed time that I might be otherwise told to eat or FEEL. I am still in complete shock of how my body was able to sustain itself. I would reach mile 5 and was barely able to stand, and my vision would begin to come in and out, I was always convinced I would pass out and fall into the street.

Running turned from a “want to” to a “need” and “have” to. It was no longer enjoyable, it wasn’t a personal goal or record anymore, but to see how many calories I could burn off. How far into the negative calories I could reach.

I didn’t necessarily use running as a “punishment” per se, but more like a giving me permission to eat. “Well, if I run 4 miles, thats xxx calories. So that apple I ate is understandable.” I would run in 18 degree weather, even in shorts. Unable to catch my breath, snot frozen to my face.

My period continued to be something I only heard about and read about, never actually experiencing such thing in years. God forbid Aunt Flow actually ever came, I probably would have ran 15 miles, associating my period with body fat rather than being “healthy”.

Everything I ate was no longer just the calorie obsession, but was immediately converted to miles that needed to be ran in order to burn it off.

During treatment I had exercise taken away from me. I was still so positive that I was completely fine, I wanted to go run. My body could tolerate it and sustain it just fine. Forget the fact I had torn my entire IT band from hip to knee, and have a reoccurring hip injury that will require back surgery. It took so much time for me to realize that it was acceptable for me to eat something and not feel the need to go and immediately burn it off.

Having to sit with these calories and the feeling of fullness was something that terrified me. I began to pace the stairs, run in place. Anything to burn the calories off. After many weeks this feeling became more tolerable.

The opportunity was given to me to be able to use my running watch to track the distance I ran. I was given exercise privilege, I was told to walk, but everyone there knew better. I was told that whatever I burned I had to make up calorically. The choice was mine. I was able to decided if I wanted to go on a run, but I understood that if I did, I had to eat or drink something to make up for it.

In my mind it was never like that. You work out or run to burn off calories, not to consume something else to “make up” for it. That logic was ridiculous. It worked. I ran, but understood and knew that I would have to add something extra to my meal plan.

Leaving treatment I began to pack extra food with me, even an Ensure in case of a food “emergency”. I run between classes sometimes, but depending on the distance, I’ll have a Quest bar or Clif Bar, maybe even an Ensure.

I ran 10 miles Friday. I ate a big bowl of oatmeal to help fuel my run. Let that digest, then hit the road. My legs weren’t as weak and trembly like they had been before treatment. I was able to see, wasn’t as lethargic and shaky. It was different than I was used to. I now enjoy running and do it because I like it, not because my self-hatred filled eating disorder tells me I have to.

*Caution Slippery Slope Ahead*

I have received so many inspirational comments, encouraging words, reassurance.

I’ve seen comments such as, “You’re brave and curious.” “I don’t know you but I am proud of you because in my own journey you give me hope and inspiration.”, “You are showing such strength and determination.”, “Wish I was as strong as you are with your decision to recover.”, “Gives me hope :)”,  and one of my favorites:         “I saw a comment you left on someone else’s post and I found my way to your blog and before I knew it, I had read your entire archive. I’m so inspired by your story. Thank you for being so honest, for baring your soul to the internet – I feel like I can relate to a lot of what you said.”

These words, your words, your encouragement, has meant so much to me. I have to be honest though, I don’t want to come across as “Oh, I left treatment, everything is rainbows, sparkles and sunshine.”  I never want to come across phony and fake.

Honestly? I am struggling, but I don’t want to admit it to myself let alone anybody else. I don’t have an outpatient team, I keep putting it off and considering it “not important”. School is the most important thing to me… ok, and attempting to stick to my meal plan.

But here I am again, acting on urges and thoughts…THOUGHTS. Feelings, emotions, guilt, FOOD AND ED.

Over Easter break, my friends and I took the boat out, went out to an island on the lake and had a cook out. It was terrific, I hadn’t hung out with them in forever. It was so much fun. We ran around the island, played around on the beach, climbed trees, watched the guys be guys, laughed, started a fire. It was terrific. Then came dinner time. I helped cut stuff, and start the grill, played with fire.

After the burgers and hot dogs were done being cooked we all gathered around to eat, talk, and laugh. I attempted to make a plate and be “normal”. Ok, I’ll have a bun for starch… oh God, no, no bun… nevermind… but I’ll have cheese for fat…. ok… and lettuce and tomato.. and pickle… ok.

“What? Got something against buns?” One of my friends teased. “Hah, oh yeah, I do, I just have bun envy so I refuse to give in.” I joked back.

Then, as they passed around homemade chocolate chip cookies I reluctantly took one. “You didn’t have a starch or your second fat, so this is acceptable.”  I took a cookie, ripped it into pieces, and got about 3/4 of the way done with it when the familiar face of guilt and regret came back full force.

“You don’t know how much fat was in that. You have no idea what was even in that patty you ate. Oh God, you can just taste those calories. What did you do?”

Unfortunately, my glance went all around the circle. Everyone else was laughing, still enjoying the food. I was mentally body checking. Perfectly aware of my pudgy stomach, my touching thighs. Yet, as I looked around, I was the smallest one out of our group. You would think that would be comfort that it was okay to eat. Oh nooo. ED took what I saw and ran with it. “You saw what they ate… HOW they ate. You are going to look like that. You are going to be bigger than them.”  It had nothing to do with my friends. I love them all and they are terrific, but I am so insecure and so paranoid and irrational.

I snuck away, took a walk around the island. There I stood, my toes in the freezing water line in the sand. I looked out at the lake…. and stuck  my fingers down my throat.  My fingers were sappy and bitter from climbing the trees earlier. I got done, wiped away the running mascara, snot-faced self, on my sleeve, and stuck my vomit-covered hand into the sub-zero temperature of the mountainous lake.

“How embarrassing” I thought… not this again….

I enjoyed the rest of the day, returned to the group, snacked on a piece of pineapple for dessert and tried to laugh with the rest of my friends.

Yesterday, I needed to study, I went to Starbucks to get coffee. I was feeling ballsy and decided to try something new. I’m not into the foo-foo girly sugary drinks, and ordered something that sounded up my alley, but different. I got in the car and headed home. I took a sip of my drink and wasn’t sure- I was immediately taken back by how sweet it was, but decided to try one more sip of the $5 drink.

It was awful. It wasn’t what I expected or wanted.  I got so worked up, convinced I could taste each calorie. On the way home I was freaking out, going from a 0 to 10.5 mentally. Not sure what to do, how to handle it. I got so flustered and worked up that I gave myself the hiccups. Which led to me involuntarily throwing up in my Starbucks cup as I’m driving in my car on the way home.

So, now here I am, headed home, with a Starbucks cup full of some God-awful sugary substance drink and vomit. Awesome…. *sarcasm* -_-

So, now what do I do? I thought. There is no way I can get this drink inside and dump it out without my best friend seeing. Shit Shit Shit.  Oh, the shit ED drives us to do…. In my mind, the logical way out of this was to roll down the window and throw my cup out of it.

Okay guys, hear me out. I swear, I have never done something like that before. The worse thing I ever threw out of my car was an apple core.  I knew it was an awful idea, but in my mind what was I supposed to do. I didn’t want to get caught coming in the house with a cup full of vomit… I couldn’t just put it in our outside trash can, someone would see.

So anyway. It’s been a slippery slope and I am struggling. ED is just currently raging, which sucks.

Trust the Process

XOXOXO

It Is Okay To Be Triggered; Or Are You Jealous?

A close friend and I went out to eat for my birthday about a month ago. I had only been out of treatment for a week. As we prepared to order I was looking over the menu for something condensed, but yet, that hit all of my exchanges. I decided on a quinoa, kale, craisin, almond, salad with grilled chicken.

She got up there, decided to get half of a turkey club. No bacon. No mayo. No cheese.  I struggled through my lunch, desperately wanting to not eat, to only eat toast and turkey. I was so annoyed that someone that knew me so well would do this at lunch. I took it very personally, was irritated, and pretty triggered. She was part of the reason I went to treatment, telling me she was proud of my choice to go, to take care of myself, etc. Yet, here she was eating bread and turkey… half a starch, and maybe one protein.

I wanted nothing to do with my lunch anymore, I wanted to say something. Blow up. Let her know how ridiculous that was that she is barely eating anything and yet here I am having to eat all of this.

I didn’t say anything. I ate half of my lunch, (which was the norm when we would go out to eat in treatment) boxed up the rest, and tried to not let anything get to me. It was my birthday lunch, this was my recovery. I was still annoyed by what she had done, but I tried to talk myself out of being triggered and pissed. I wanted to throw up lunch.

Being rational though, I told myself that this was my recovery. I had to do what worked for me.

Later, I told a friend about what had happened. I explained it was no fair that I had to eat all of my exchanges and eat so much when she was barely eating, and she knew I had been in treatment. I told her that was so triggering to me, and I thought it was so ridiculously ignorant of what she did.

Without judgement she pressed the issue a little further. “So, it was triggering because of what she was eating?”  Yeah! I wish she would have eaten like as much as me, not barely anything, because I didn’t want to eat anything.

“Sweetie, you weren’t just triggered…. you were jealous.”

Those words were enough to make me defensive and pretty pissed. Until I realized she was right. I was jealous. I was jealous she didn’t have to eat as much as I am expected to.

When people would talk about running and sports, I wasn’t “triggered”, I was jealous as hell that they could do something I couldn’t and they hadn’t abused working out like I had.

Talking to my mom I consider that very “triggering”. She has a way of making me envy people who have healthy mother daughter relationships. She makes me jealous of the people who can rely on their family and jealous of the children who can talk to their moms.

In my opinion, it is ok to be “triggered”, but acknowledge it for what it is. Is it jealously? Are you really “triggered” or is it stemming from something else?

It is okay to be triggered, just like me at lunch, but it is how you react to it.

I could have chosen to have a hissy fit, not had lunch, restricted or purged. That wouldn’t have been proactive or healthy at all, and would have only hurt me and my recovery.

It is perfectly okay to be annoyed, upset, triggered, jealous. The key is how you react to those situations and circumstances, that makes you rise and continue on towards recovery.

Trust the process.

XOXOXO