the difference between letting go and giving up

i've been free falling.

sometime at the beginning of this year i decided i didn't want to be on the hamster wheel anymore. 

maybe there was a tiny part of my brain that wanted to get back on, wanted the structure of an eating and exercise plan, the comfort of the familiar regiment. wash. rinse. repeat.  it's easy.  it keeps me in check. it keeps me in line.

in check for what?

in line for whom?

i didn't go back on a plan though. i kept eating what i wanted and napping on the hamster wheel because i was just...done. 

 "hey!  hey! if you're done with that can you get off? i need to get my cardio in!"

"hey!  hey! if you're done with that can you get off? i need to get my cardio in!"

eating felt like a buffet of my most favorite things with a double helping of shame and guilt. 

my workouts suffered.  i stopped going because i was conflicted. i felt like i was moving my body because i hated myself not because it felt good. 

     THIS. IS. A. LIE.                                                                

   THIS. IS. A. LIE.                                                                

i regretted some workouts. i felt shitty about myself afterwards because i felt slow and ridiculous. my body hurt. i was listening to the voice in my head that tells me i'm a shitty person because i eat shitty food and that's why i move so shitty in the gym. 

something that used to bring me so much joy was taken away from me. i love my gym.  it feels like home most days except earlier this year where it felt like failure and disgust. i stopped going for awhile, maybe a month?  i don't really remember.  it's like i don't want to remember january to may because it was too depressing. 

during this time i would often hold my belly in both of my hands and imagine how much better everything would be if this didn't exist.  i thought about how much better everything would be if i was just someone else altogether. 

it was too much. i was too much. i felt like i had lost myself. for most of my adult life my identity had been tied to fitness and heath.  people really like you when you're going to the gym, then spin class, then posting recipes of your keto/paleo/salad/lowcarb/sugarfree bullshit online. it feels good to be liked and respected. no one was going to like or respect me for my body but they'll like and respect me because i demonstrate the "right" behavior for someone who looks like me.  

someone "healthy".

 3.5 mile run + 90 minute soulcycle class =  Me: "I'm going to fall asleep in the tub."  Sadia Harper : "Please don't die."

3.5 mile run + 90 minute soulcycle class =  Me: "I'm going to fall asleep in the tub."
Sadia Harper: "Please don't die."

i hated this person that people thought i was. i felt like an imposter. i was doing all the "right" things but it was never enough and i'm pretty sure i knew it wasn't enough. that i'd never be ok with myself no matter what i looked like. 

doing all this in the name of "health" made me feel ok about this behavior though.  

i had decided i needed a new doctor as my last one couldn't remember who i was much less remember what i came in for last year when i needed a cortisone shot for my left knee.

i didn't bother finding one right away because i wasn't ready to be told to lose weight...again. i perused therapists online but didn't make any effort to book an appointment because i wasn't really ready to deal with whatever it was that was causing this free fall.  

i was hoping it would sort itself out and i'd eventually get back onto the hamster wheel.

because that's what happens right?  your problems fix themselves when you go back to that sugar-free life and you can do cardio again at the gym without feeling like death.

 i wanted to crawl inside of a huge delicious sandwich to die.

i wanted to crawl inside of a huge delicious sandwich to die.

i gave up.

i sat in this mess of "give-up" for awhile.  i mediated and i felt better briefly. i went to yoga and i felt better briefly.  i threw myself into work and i could ignore it for a couple of hours. i talked to my husband about it and felt bad and stupid and embarrassed about it because i was crying about food and my inability to control it.

i cuddled with my dog because sometimes that's the only thing that feels genuine, real and good.

 charlie pancakes whispers sweet everythings into my ear.

charlie pancakes whispers sweet everythings into my ear.

i feel like i had to come out of this funk to deal with life once summer hit and the busy-ness of summer was upon us.  we traveled and saw friends and family. friends and family traveled and came to stay with us.  i shoved aside a lot of these feelings into the back of my brain because i couldn't deal with them AND life stuffs at the same time.

this felt ok most of the time. i still had no idea what i was going to do about any of it.  the plan was to keep free falling and eating whatever, whenever, in whatever quantities i wanted. i tested the waters with working out again and it started to feel good again after i decided i needed movement more than i needed to excel at everything thrown at me at circuit class. i did the bare minimum in class. i didn't push it to my limit. i often felt lame for not doing everything with gusto but i told that part of my brain to shut up because something felt better than nothing.

this summer i told that part of my brain to stfu every day so i could try and do normal life things and it worked.

i had pushed so much of this stuff to the back of my brain that it was easy to forget i had signed up for this retreat/workshop at be nourished. i had read every page of their website and listened to hilary and dana on podcasts but really had no idea what i would be stepping into when i got to the little house on n. williams across the street from the tastiest little chocolate potato doughnuts at tasty n' sons (i think about this doughnut hole more than i should).

after friday evening i knew it was going to be a tough weekend for an empathic person like me.  i cried often and quietly because i didn't want to be loud about anything while people shared.

i had forgotten so much of my childhood that it was surprising to realize how early a lot of this started. food was at the center of everything growing up.  i just got back from a family wedding and realized it still is.  we buy and surround ourselves with so much food like there's a great famine coming and this wall of burgers will protect us from everything. 

 replace society with family and that also works.

replace society with family and that also works.

a lot of memories came flooding back to me, reminding me this hasn't just been this year that has been a struggle, it's been my entire life.  

it's now clear why i need as many naps as i take/want each week.

i'm fucking tired. 

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this year is the year it has hit me that i don't want to waste any more time on feeling bad about myself. 

i don't want to be praised for being "good" because i go to the gym or don't eat bread.  

 being praised in a national magazine for losing weight fueled my exercise addiction and orthorexia.

being praised in a national magazine for losing weight fueled my exercise addiction and orthorexia.

not when i'm paying for it with knee surgery, copious amounts of physical therapy and complete distrust of my body and it's ability to feed and take care of itself.

this doesn't mean i've stopped wanting to lose weight. this doesn't mean that i'm ok with my body and how it looks and moves.  i still want these things. i still want some relief from the voice that tells me i'm a horrible human being for not working out or eating kale. i don't necessarily believe this voice will ever go away. i don't know if i'll ever stop wanting to be thin.

but i do know that what i've been doing for my entire life hasn't worked so i need to stop doing that. 

i'm letting go of all the crap i've gone through to get to this point because i know there's a better way. there is a way to exist in this body as it is right now and not -30 lbs from now that doesn't feel like hell.  there is a way to navigate food that doesn't make me lose my mind counting macros or lose my mind bingeing. there is a way to not hate my body on days when i can't love it. 

 everything is a process isn't it?

everything is a process isn't it?

there is no thin person inside of me wanting to get out Oprah. there has never been a thin person living inside of me who is a better version of me.  there's only been me, in this body, in this container for my guts, trying to figure shit out in a world that is doing everything in its power to make me want to be someone else.

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i don't know what happens now. ever since the retreat i've been slowing down trying to navigate food choices that feel good and not "correct" in the lens of healthism. i've been eating and feeling less guilt about what i've consumed.  i haven't flipped any particular switch in my brain and all of a sudden food is shame-free.  i think i have a deeper understanding that has come to light during the retreat that none of this is my fault and that's made it easier to let go of the guilt. 

we were all sold this idea that there is only one "correct" way to look.  belonging and love and acceptance only goes to those who fit into this ideal. everyone else take a backseat because we don't give two shits about you.  you don't deserve nice clothes or decent space in airplanes. you don't deserve time or attention unless it's to mock you or ridicule you for what you eat and especially for what you look like (ahem: dani mathers, diana andrews). 

anger was really the biggest emotion i walked away with from last weekend.  it's odd since anger really isn't in my regular vocabulary of emotions.  i steer clear of it because it's uncomfortable, scary and aggressive but it was the realest thing i felt on that last day of the retreat.  angry that i've been made to feel like a complete failure because i did all the right things and it didn't work. i didn't win. i don't get pass go and collect $200. i get to stay on the hamster wheel until i'm thin enough to be accepted by a society that doesn't care what i'm doing to be "healthy" (which isn't healthy in the slightest)  just that i stay "healthy" because it is my moral obligation to be "healthy" and anything less means i'm slovenly, lazy and bad.

i think anger is probably what i needed though since anger motivates me to change, pushes my kapha self to do something.

that something is opening myself up to a different way of living that's rooted in self-love and self-care.

the first tangible real step in this direction?

my first therapy appointment is this Friday.