This is a life in progress

I am linking up with Sloan’s freEDom from perfection campaign this week. The past weeks posts from amazing bloggers have touched me and cause me to reevaluate.

Strength in Freedom

Warning: I don’t know where I am going with this.

I began this blog not really knowing what I wanted it to be. I just wanted a blog, and figured I must have something to offer the world. I love foodie blogs and I love food, but I don’t know how to make delicious recipes or have the photography skills to make the meal creations I do come up with look very pretty.

My first baked pumpkin stuffed with kale, ricotta, and honey. with roasted veggies, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts on the side
Photography by Kailey Proctor (case in point- I can’t take pretty meal pics)

I exercise, but have to cut back sometime soon now. And I don’t have any cool fat burning routines for myself or anyone else. I am a gym rat and most of the time I am OK with that. I am jealous of you runners that go outside and run for the love of it. Actually I am jealous of anyone that works out for pure pleasure everyday because while yes there are days like this past Friday when I just crave some gym time, most of the time I exercise because it’s habit, I feel like I have to, or I really need to study/read for school and that is how I accomplish such a task.

But I was a dancer. Never a runner or a cycler. I started riding the stationary bike in 9th grade when the world around me started saying I should at least 3 times a week. Weight came off and my turns and balance improved. The benefits of the exercise were numerous. So were the new diet restrictions. I always hate admitting that there is a control factor in eating disorders/disordered eating, but looking back my life was pretty damn controlled.

I wouldn’t say exercise ever became a problem though until after my recovery. Sometime between freshman and sophomore year of college my views of exercise and what was enough became warped.  First it was 60 minutes one day and 30 minutes the next with 2 days off on the weekend. Pretty sane and healthy, too bad I had begun restricting again in that time. But then as exercise machines became more available, and my mornings more free I never did less than 60 and every other day I did 90 minutes on that damn arc trainer. Who was I becoming? The good thing was I stopped restricting food by then and ate food I loved and some I didn’t but told myself I should (Read: large amounts of candy and sweets). But those long workout sessions also caused my eating patterns to become quite off. (Read: Breakfast at 11am, Lunch at 3:30 and sometimes 5pm, and Dinner at 9pm or 10pm). Then came the breakdown, and the realization of weight gain despite all of the hours working out, and that my food/meal patterns were really bothering me. Good thing it was summer and I could go home and get in to see my therapist. Conclusion? I was using exercise and food as an escape or excuse not to have fun or live life. So I was assigned to take breaks, have fun, and make a real effort to break out of the shell I had build around myself. O and I was supposed to reduce my exercise and eat every 4-5 hours no matter what.

Confession: I didn’t do any of it. Summer was good to me in a lot of ways. I no longer felt like I had to workout everyday, I finally came to the realization that dance wasn’t for me anymore, and I was making time for other things besides exercise, meal planning, cooking, and cleaning. But every time I got on the bike I just couldn’t make myself get off until at least 93 minutes had past. Or as I started going to the gym again I couldn’t make myself just do 30 minutes on one machine or the other. Once I had rode the elliptical for 30 and ran for another 30 one day it became my routine and I couldn’t bring myself to change it. And I succumbed to my biggest fear food yet again. Not totally, but it appeared less and less in my daily food intake as weeks past by.

Fast forward to now. My days are jammed pack, I have overloaded my schedule, and my perfectionist nature is stronger than ever. I didn’t overload myself on purpose and all of what I am doing is good for my resume/future career and the things I choose to do I really love (Read: tutoring, anatomy TA, bible study, and spending extra time studying metabolic). I still feel the need to spend a specific time exercising and still find myself on the bike for 70-90 minutes. The fear food is still not a daily choice, and sometimes I restrict it purposefully. Honestly it has become more of a special occasion food, like when I go out to dinner, or it is a holiday, or I realize my stomach hasn’t encountered it in quite sometime. I am not proud of this and I know it needs to change. I know logically and factually from classes that the key to health and metabolic function is a balanced, well-rounded diet. I will be the first person to tell you these fad, clean diets are a load of bologna.

This is all really hard for me to admit. I am recovered right? RIGHT. Because I made the decision to live 4 years ago and committed myself to recovery. I am still committed. But I think along the way I got stuck and never realized it because my weight was stable, I was succeeding in school, and I have what most (me included) would consider a pretty fantastic life.

Just as I am still learning in school, I am still learning in life. I am only 21 years old, and it would be weird if I had it all figured out.  My life includes my recovery. Right now that means I have some days when that dang ED doesn’t have a chance to put its two sense in. But I still have quite a few days where the voice is present and I hear it. But does that mean I listen? The answer should be no. But sometimes I do. But do I act? Again sometimes yes. It is hard not to all of the time, I am not perfect after all.

But none of that means I am not recovered. Because I know who the ED Shannon is and who the recovered, totally awesome smart Shannon is. I see the latter a lot and the former not so much. And when the ED Shannon busts into my life you best bet I kick her to the curb. I am recovered and it is my life. I still have pieces I need to work on and I need to stop ignoring that and actually get to work. I am not a procrastinator so why do I procrastinate with this? That’s a topic for another time.

I’ll end with this. I am committed to my recovery and the healthy life I have been given in the 4 years since my eating disorder. I am forever grateful for what  was a learning experience I don’t wish upon anyone else, but for me it has taught me to never take life for granted, showed me that I am worth it, and has given me the opportunity to live for what makes me happy, not for what I think people expect me to be.

Recovery = Life and Life just isn’t perfect. In other words my recovery won’t be either. The important thing is I have realizations like this that get me back on track.

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23 thoughts on “This is a life in progress

  1. Hey hun…I just had a chance to read your link up with Sloan’s campaign…I love the honesty you display here. I can feel the determination you have to stay in recovery leaping off the page (or computer screen in this day and age), and it’s wonderful 🙂 I really agree with your last paragraph, too. I would never, ever wish this upon anyone (and there are times it breaks my heart to read some of the other posts and understand where those beautiful girls are coming from because it sucks so badly), but it has taught me so much about myself and life in general…I’m not sure I would have learned it all otherwise…and it’s still teaching me things, which are pretty invaluable…catch-22 no? Anywho, I really enjoyed reading this, so thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Thanks Caitlin, this gives me a lot more confidence about putting this out there. Because I am in recovery, but I do still have struggles. We all do whether we have had an eating disorder or not. My struggle has a diagnosis, but it doesn’t make any different than the average struggle anymore because I do feel like my recovery is strong. I just need to keep checking in on it and challenging it just like I challenge everything else in life!

      my therapist has taught me the this can be a blessing in disguise because how many 20 year old are able to use this kind of life evaluation to catch themselves BEFORE they fall. Most college students don’t have a clue how to tell when things are stressy or how to help themselves work through it. Because of this and the recovery I and many others do. We have a lot to offer.

  2. girl, I hear you on this and I think you have hit that good enough stage. That was so me before treatment. I was in a place where ya my weigh wasn’t bad but I had obsessions, fear foods I rarely tried and overall a state of being that wasn’t me. I hope you challenge yourself to move past this point, because i so know you can. Life is so much more than exercise and food. You know how to reach me lovely if you ever need anything. Keep fighting. Don’t just settle.

    • O I am not settling. It just frustrates me because I actually pushed past fear foods and was literally unafraid (not faking it) but something happened and this one got triggered. Time to go back to what I know works to hit it out of this ball park.

  3. I run because I love it. Simple as that. I know you said on skype today that exercise shouldn’t be something to dwell on, but running is my passion/hobby. Although right now, I don’t care if it is 5 or 15 miles just give me my jogging shoes 😉

    I’m going to echo Alex in stating that you can get past this point. Like people around you have said, you’ll find something more important (aka your research position!!!!*squeals with delight*) Food isn’t the enemy – it is here to nourish us and keep us going and be those lovely people we are meant to be. I’m not saying have a poptart feast, but whole grains would be a lovely addition for that glycolytic pathway that you know every single enzyme for 😉

    • so this made me chuckle more than slightly! I know you love running my dear. you are one of the passionate ones! And you and my mom are right I will find my passions again and that will help me push past some of this and help me leave this part of me behind. research research research! (maybe a boy one day! haha) and you are right, i know the facts. it is time to follow them again. Cue Babs!

  4. Man you are a fighter. I agree with one of the above comments – you are SO determined to finally get through this phase and honestly, someone as determined as you can’t possibly fail. I was stuck in that phase for….ok no, I’m still kinda stuck in that phase. I’m a runner, and that’s what I’m truly passionate about – when I run a lot, it’s because I’m working towards goals that I care about and I love what I do. But this whole year being injured….I thought I might make a good cyclist, and I like riding my bike, but,….I don’t love it. Basically yeah I admit – I exercise now in order to burn calories and keep my cardiovascular system and muscles strong to make my post-surgery return to running easier. On the one hand: I think it’s totally okay to love exercise in all it’s forms. It’s good for you after all! And I do love getting my heart rate up, I love that feeling. But on the other hand…..an hour of riding my bike on the trainer or up the mountains, that’s awesome. I don’t need to ride my bike for four or five hours (yep, I do that sometimes) just to stay in shape for when I can run again. That’s probably not helping my recovery at all! And the food – when I live alone, it’s so easy to jjust eat what I want. And I truly love all the foods I eat, and I eat things that make me feel good and I eat enough calories….but with being home and traveling this past week, I realized I’m scared of “travel food” and I can’t even drink a glass of wine on my first night home with my parents and I find being gluten-intolerant a relief because it gives me an excuse not to eat fear foods. Okay, so this was a lot of rambling but basically….I identify so much with where you are right now, and I think I need to take a leaf out of your book and work on this!

    • So I wrote this whole big long reply and it erased!. redo redo! But sorry if it is shorter! lol. I completely respect the love runners like you and Kailey and Hollie have for your sport. But as for other exercise, if you don’t love it why spend so much time on it? I say this and I am obviously a guilty hypocrit but I can honestly say that this week I have challenged it and have won. But seriously think of it like a relationship r a date with a guy you are just not into anymore. Do you still spend excessive amounts of time getting ready, going out with him, or talking to him? NO! You break up with him. Do that with those 5 hour rides girl, I think your injury will actually thank you! As for food it is hard to challenge fear foods when you actually can’t eat them. I think you have to work on developing a mind set the no food is off limits (unless it is something created that never should have been) and work on eating out because it sounds like you are struggling with it. You should be able to enjoy a glass of wine with your parents. I am not saying it won’t make you anxious, it might, but in the long run you will know you did it and could do it again when you want to!
      I say all of this sounding wise, but I am struggling with it too. But I am pushing through and refuse to settle back into ED habits. You can have them and still be recovered, that doesn’t make them any less evil. I want them gone.

  5. Wow, I had read your about page and knew bits and peices but boy is this powerful. You are amazing and I’m really glad you found some sort of peace. It doesn’t have to be perfect (obviously) but you are really a role model for a lot of people.

  6. Wow!! Shannon thank you so much for linking up this week! It means so much to me that you are brave enough to tackle some of the struggles that are going on in your life right now. Its so easy to think that once you’re at a stable weight etc that you’re fine, but our hearts can tell us otherwise. That is something I’m struggling with right now actually! I have a pretty big roadblock that I need to break through. We can do this–listen to that healthy voice, the one that tells you that you are good enough just as you are, that you are loved, special, and safe. She will take you where you need to go.
    xoxo

    • Sloan, thank you for making this campaign. I think it great that people will have the opportunity to realize that perfection is not what makes life good. It is really all of the imperfections and crazy weird stuff that makes life a story worth telling! Please let me know if there is anything I can offer to help you crash through that roadblock. You can do it, but remember you never have to do it alone! xoxo

  7. You are so thoughtful about this. I think you are wise. It’s inspiring to hear that you are continuing to choose recovery and to live your life for yourself despite the difficulties. Your hard work in so many aspects of your life (like school and recovery) is admirable. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. 🙂

  8. What a beautifully honest and unfiltered post. Thanks for sharing your battles, stuggles, and views on life. You are doing so well in recovery and it’s already obvious that as your thoughts on food/exercise/ED take up less space, your mind and heart make room for more important things in life like school, hobbies, and just plain ole’ living! I love and respect your approach – you don’t deny the fact that this will be something that follows you through life, but you know that soon enough it will be a distant memory that no longer affects you but helps make you the strong person you are today!

    • This means so much to me. You are right, the more I make room for other things the more I really feel like I have lived. Because let’s face it 3 hours on a bike or at the gym or making and eating a meal sure does take away from fun! We aren’t given struggles so that we suffer forever. Struggles happen so we can overcome and use them in our bright futures

  9. I’m so glad I discovered your blog! I have to say I am much the same way with exercise. I do it every single day, sometimes twice, because it’s a habit and I fell like if I don’t, my body will deteriorate into a shapeless lump. I know that isn’t true, and frankly, seeing all of these beautiful ladies in the blog world learning to treat their bodies better is very inspiring to me. I hope you visit me again!

    • I am glad these lovely ladies have been inspiring you too. Exercise has certainly had some revelations in my life lately and you do not need to do formal exercise every day. I walk a lot and that is the most natural form of exercise there is!

  10. Pingback: Because I DON’T Have to! « Plateit & Climb

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