Have you been wondering where I've disappeared to (again)? To be quite honest . . . so have I. This weekend was rough. I suppose the past few weeks have been difficult in retrospect, but this weekend saw the culmination of all that. I did not feel I could write about anything else until I wrote about what happened. The task was scary and humbling, but it's left me with -- I think and hope -- the truth.
The trouble began when my therapist asked me to cut back on my exercise as part of my recovery from anorexia. At the time I had been exercising up to 14 hours a week (two per day, if you are a lazy math bum like me who doesn't like to read and compute). She said to make 10 hours a week the absolute maximum amount I could exercise, no matter what the intensity. This, as I knew, would be hard. Very hard. It's true that over-exercising is often a compulsive aspect of my eating disorder. However, at the same time I have begun to truly enjoy being very active instead of feeling compelled to exercise in overabundance.
So I did it. I cut back. At the same time, I added the personal challenge of eating intuitively. In other words, I wanted to eat when my body told me it needed refueling. I practiced this during my missions trip to Malaysia last winter, with great success. The freedom and sense of victory I was blessed with during those two weeks were unlike anything I had ever experienced, and I give God every iota of awesome, loving credit on that one. Since returning, though, intuitive eating doesn't seem to come as easily. It's work. And seeing as pre-anorexia diet was rife with less-than-nutritious choices and binges, the consequences of a slip-up seem as if they would be devastating.
I thought I could hack it, cutting back the exercise and eating mindfully. And I think I managed to gain a tenuous balance for a few days. Then it all came crashing down around me as my intuitive eating led to indulging my munchies between meals, eating pretty much anything that struck my fancy (which, thankfully, has not yet included restaurant or fast food, or anything fried), and eating large dinners followed by overly decadent desserts. I told myself that it was all part of my health plan, that it was under doctor's orders, but I was fooling myself, at least in part. I've gained weight and not only does the scale show it, but I can feel it. I've failed, and I feel disgusting as a result.
The worst stumble occurred on Saturday evening. I'd made a fruit gazpacho for dinner, along with a large salad for me. As a result of frequent taste testing during the making of said gazpacho in combination of eating my super fibrous evening meal, not only was I sporting my newly regrown muffin top, but my belly was simply huge. So I did something I have not done in a long, long time: I drank laxative tea. Appropriately and according to directions, and I did not take (and overdose on) laxatives in chocolate or pill forms . . . but I used a laxative. That was something that, once I began making headway into my eating disorder recovery, I promised myself that I would never do again. And now -- I've broken that promise.
Not only were the effects of that broken promise devastating to my emotions and sense of self-worth, but also to my body. My digestive system did not handle it well at all, and severe abdomen cramping forced me to miss out on half of our puppy's Sunday training class as well as an evening yoga class I was looking forward to taking. I'm grateful that I felt better in time to share dinner with my in-laws, and that my husband was so forgiving and supportive when I confessed the misdeed, but -- I wish I had never done it in the first place. What was I thinking?
So now, here I am, two days later, digestive system better but not at 100% yet, still unable to find a better purchase on intuitive eating. I'm trying not to beat myself up, because that won't do any good, but I'm not sure where to go from here. The school year, complete with my new job, starts up in two days, and I have a triathlon on Saturday. I don't feel worthy to perform in either arena. I don't feel capable of leaving the house or eating or exercising or doing anything. I was too ashamed to even blog for the past few days, feeling that anything but what I'm writing now would be hypocritical and not having the energy or courage enough to tackle this monumentally honest task. I feel paralyzed.
But I know that God is good, regardless of my performance. What a relief! I'd be lost without His grace. Here's an excerpt from what I journaled this morning about all of these concerns: I think the core problem is not the behavior, but what it signifies. It is evidence that I'm not sold out to Jesus -- to life! -- but to me, to sin, and to death in idolatry (which is what I feel like my food-related failures boil down to). Would I trade friendship with the God of the universe for a bag of chips or a carton of ice cream (no matter how healthy!)? My priorities are seriously screwed up.
Get a load of this, though: this morning, I felt so gross and not myself that I was going to skip my early coached swim session. Yet I found myself woken at 4:30 AM by Lio, our puppy, so he could relieve himself. After letting him out, I decided to begin my day even though I still did not want to swim. But an hour later I sucked it up, donned my swimsuit, and headed to the Y. As soon as I stepped into the pool area, a lifeguard stopped me for an extra-long "good morning!" exchange. She complimented me on taking the time twice a week to come and work on something that was probably less than pleasant and very challenging, and said she thought I had made great progress. What a blessing! It was exactly the kind of encouragement I needed. On top of that, the swimming coach declared me more than ready to tackle this weekend's triathlon swim. How good He is, when I don't deserve it in the least! And how very timely . . .
So now, where do I go? The only thing I can do, I suppose, is keep on moving forward. Keep on trying. He is trustworthy, and just because I've failed once in my new health plan doesn't mean I will keep on failing, or that it's not worth the battle. How do you deal with it when you stumble and fall in your efforts to live healthy, balanced lives? If you haven't noticed, I could use a little advice . . . And if you're still with me, thank you for reading. It means more to me than you know!