Lacy's Book is Available for Pre-Order!

My rad pals Lacy and Kett made a book!  Ink in Water is the story of Lacy's struggle with and victory over anorexia and it's BEAUTIFUL.  Lacy and Kett have been working on it for 2 years, and I've been following along on Instagram and Facebook.  This is going to be an amazing book. 

Pre-orders matter for gauging interest in the book, so if you're inclined, please pre-order here.

Body Dysmorphia, Eating Disorders, and Grief

It’s been a pretty rough time in my life.  I’ve experienced a lot of loss.  It’s affected my body in a very real way too.  The result is that there’s been a big hormonal soup to swim through, and of course, I gained some weight because of the pregnancy and massive stress event afterwards.  For a lot of reasons, I’m having a hard time with the extra weight.

For one thing, so much of what’s happened to me has been out of my control.  Bad things have happened to my body, and I’ve had no say whatsoever – from cervical insufficiency and pregnancy loss, to invasive perinatal physical exams that I didn’t really want and were very unpleasant.  And now, about 10 extra pounds I’m not comfortable with.

I’m afraid that pregnancy moved my set point up.  I don’t know if it did or not.  I just know that I feel heavier and weaker than I used to.  There’s fat accumulated on parts that once were more lean.  It’s difficult to not feel like I’ve failed.

When a lot of shit hits you at once, it’s natural to want to find a coping mechanism to carry you through the really rough times.  Sometimes those coping mechanisms serve you – activities like meditation, observation, writing, napping, sexing, nourishing yourself, sitting in a hot tub with a bunch of your hippie friends… those can all help you process and move through the loss.

Confession Time:
But there came a point for me where I was so unhappy with myself, so guilty and angry at my body for causing the loss (even though I know I’m not supposed to think that way), for gaining weight, for being a body going through pregnancy and miscarriage, basically, that I had the thought:

I should just stop eating. I should have an eating disorder. It would cause this discomfort with my body to end.

And for a couple days, I tried it.  

I know!  So unlike me.  But grief does shitty things to you.  For about a week I restricted my calories and tried to eat as little as possible.  I felt anxious and sad, but also light and buzzy.  It felt good to have control over something, when I had so little control over my body the last few months.

However, whenever I go through a bad pattern of thinking, there’s always a voice that speaks up and questions what I’m doing.  My inner spirit knows better than to do this to myself.  

Plus, it’s unlikely to work anyway.  Most people that lose weight can’t keep it off, and I know from past experience that this is definitely true for me.  

Pregnancy probably moved my set point up some, and there’s not much I can do about that.  Medical research suggests that it’s pretty hard to move it back down, because it’s not in our biological interest.  As it turns out, there’s a reason for that: somewhat overweight people have more longevity than normal or thin people.  Doctors just don’t want to believe it because thin privilege is so ingrained in our culture.

So if being a little chubby actually increases my longevity, and doesn’t affect my overall health (because people who lose weight are actually at the same risk for stroke, heart attack, and death as they were before, why do I care?  Because of the relentless body shaming society does on people who aren’t thin.

Well, fuck it.

I have gone through too much to care about what society says.  My body has been on a bigger journey than what I can control through diet and exercise.  There’s hormonal fluctuation going on, some pretty big cortisol releases from all the damn stress of significant loss, pressure at work, and major life change, and a lot of recovery and healing.  My body cannot be reduced to my weight, my appearance, or the measuring tape.

So I am going to find a better coping mechanism.  It’s my head that’s the problem, not my damn cellulite.  

Here’s what that looks like: focusing on behaviors, not outcomes.

My plan is to get back to my normal routine of lifting heavy 3x a week, 3 days of cardio or yoga/mobility, and a rest day, more if I need them.  Also, to plan and prep nourishing food that I am actually jazzed about for breakfast and lunch, and take more of an active role in dinner planning.  To sleep 8 hours a night.  And to figure out some self-care routines, like meditation, writing, and regular massage.  With those habits in place, I’ll have a shot at feeling my best, maintaining my health, and maybe making some gains at the gym.

Even if my set point is higher and I can’t lose weight or be the size I was before, that doesn’t mean I can’t be healthy or take good care of myself.  My goals of what looks like success will change, but that’s actually probably a good thing, because I need to redefine what I want – to actually enjoy my damn life.

Life is fleeting.  I see that even more clearly now.  Do I really want to spend it locked in a mental battle?  To be fighting and fearing my own body forever?  Nope.

Behaviors, not outcomes.  Health, not weight.  Peace, not disorder.  Enjoyment, not regret.

Maya Kern ( source ) Body Dysmorphia, Eating Disorders, and Grief -

Maya Kern (source)
Body Dysmorphia, Eating Disorders, and Grief -

Being There, Being Here

The shitty thing about eating disorders is that they are the ultimate self-absorption.  You become so convinced that your body is unacceptable that you have to create a whole narrative framework to make yourself okay.  And you become so attached to that framework that anything that doesn't reinforce it feels like a threat.  You lose sight of people you like, people you care about, in the process of feathering that odious nest, of building walls around yourself brick by brick.

It came to my attention today that I'd been a schmuck to one of my friends.  Rather than building a fortress of fragile self-righteousness to protect myself from the pain of being wrong, I've decided to examine where I went off the rails and open myself up to that discomfort.  

I was dismissive and judgmental of this friend because what she wanted to do in her own fitness journey contrasted strongly with mine and I perceived that as a threat.  

Not competition, as I think would be easy to assume.  I know other people are thinner and prettier than I am - after all, there's always someone better looking and more fit than you, isn't there?  But more because it felt like if she went that direction, she would no longer be one of us, part of Team Finish. And that felt sad and scary.  I felt a little abandoned, concerned that the support network I'd tried so hard to build would crumble.

I also felt a bit lost, because the tack she was taking was something she'd warned me off in the past.  It took me awhile to remember that just because one path is right for one woman, it may not be right for another, and that that is always okay.

You may not know what it's like for someone in recovery from an Eating Disorder to be exposed to someone else's restrictive eating plan, no matter how awesome or well-intentioned it may be.  This article from Choosing Raw really helped me get some clarity about what I was feeling.  

When I hear about these regimes, I feel two things. The rational, mature half of me feels a sense of sympathy, because I know that flirting with deprivation is almost always bound to backfire. There’s also an irrational, petulant, and stubborn part of me that hears these things and feels an instinctual urge to compete. To interject with my own nutrition expertise, or (much worse) to prove that I’m no less capable of incredible feats of self-discipline. I don’t act on the impulse, which is good, but the whole thing leaves me unnerved and insecure.

You can have a great relationship with food, a restored relationship with your own body, and many years of recovery behind you and still feel triggered by what I call “food noise”: that great nimbus of conversation that includes, but is not limited to, detoxes, weight loss initiatives, slim downs, tone ups, dietary reboots, and/or lessons in why a particular food is the devil, or why a bite of some other suspect ingredient is sure to make you fat, sick, and nearly dead. And if you’re anything like me, the fact that these moments make you feel anxious becomes yet another source of grief, because there’s nothing more frustrating than realizing that you’re just a little more tender and vulnerable than you thought you were.
— Choosing Raw

Ultimately, I want to be the best friend I can be.  That is hard, sometimes, as I grapple with my own insecurity about my recovering body.  It can be hard to figure out what is right for me, independent of everyone else, especially if that person is someone I look up to.  

It also just goes to show that you're always at the bottom of one mountain, even if you've just scaled another.  I'm always learning.  This is still new to me, and that's okay.  

I feel badly that I hurt my friend's feelings by being unsupportive.  I've apologized, and I hope she accepts.  After all, we all need a little support when things are hard.  I think I'm ready to be there for her now, even as I honor where I am right now.