Friday, February 22, 2013

stop dieting, start living

I overhear women a lot speak about how unhappy they are with their bodies, how they need to lose weight. We are living in a society where we neglect to pay attention to what is truly bothering us; instead, we deflect to our bodies.  Guilty as charged.  Our bodies become the battle ground on which the war is fought.  I hear the "I've been good all day I probably shouldnt have that cake..."  or "what can I do to just tighten up around here?" or "I screwed up already may as well keep eating." I've been down this road too many times and it leads nowhere...I'm tired of it.  I'm tired of the "when I lose weight, then..." game. Where are we trying to get ladies? Because I've got news; once we get there it still won't be enough.  We are scared to trust our bodies to make any decisions about food.  We are scared we will get "out of control."  We are scared we'll "never stop." Some people may not like it when I say this but following a "diet plan" in order to stay "healthy" is an oxymoron.  Yes, I said it.  Let me say it's an oxymoron.  Diet are designed to fail thereby making us feel like we have no willpower, no control and so let's run to the donuts and cake and drown ourselves in food for the promise of the next diet to begin on Monday.  Our mental health suffers and years of yo-yo dieting causes damage on our bodies.  Eliminating food groups, counting calories, points, etc...We are better than that.  Our bodies deserve better than that.  When put to the test our bodies actually won't fail us...its our minds that play the tricks.  Oh and they play them so well!  I'm finally taking the steps to be at a place in my life where I've accepted THIS body as mine.  It is the only one I get.  It does not deserve to be treated well ONLY if I workout, ONLY if I stick to a "clean" eating plan.  It deserves to be treated well simply because it is mine.  It deserves to be moved and exercised because it feels good.  It deserves to be fed nutritious foods and sweet foods and yummy foods just because.  Not under conditions....this is the only life we get.  I say life is short, let's eat dessert first ;p

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Perfectly imperfect

There is no way to win the weight game. The minute you tell yourself it's about the weight you walk away from you.  You neglect yourself.  You walk into the arms of this elusive pretender.  You know, the one that keeps promising things will get better if you just eliminate carbs, add more cardio, cut back on portions.  But then what? We're like hamsters on a wheel; were running fast and getting nowhere.  Let me tell you something from experience-it's NOT about the weight. It's never about the weight. 

This holiday season something both terrifying & amazing happened to me. I cut back on exercise a bit.  I ate cookies and dammit I enjoyed them.
 It scared the bejesus out of me. Was I "letting myself go?" Would I balloon up? Were people noticing that I had put on a few pounds? All of these questions haunted me and the thoughts kept racing and racing. Im certain I was driving my friends and family crazy by constantly asking if they noticed. And then I was challenged.  Someone asked me, "Nic, let's say you did put on, what 3 lbs? What if this was the weight you were at for the rest of your life? Would it be so terrible?". A lightbulb went off.  No. No, it wouldn't. 

I am far from perfect. Yes I'm a fitness professional and I pride myself on teaching group fitness classes that show people how enjoyable exercise can be.  I live to touch as many lives as I can through my lifestyle. But I struggle. I eat to fill empty spaces. I restrict to gain control. I eat when I'm happy and sometimes when I'm bored. The reason I tell you this is because it is not about perfection. It is about progress. It's about learning to listen to ourselves.  Physically, emotionally, spiritually.  I have my moments where I really want ice cream. My body wants ice cream. But then my mind gets involved and tries to convince my body that it doesn't NEED (forget want) ice cream. I get into mini wars with myself.  Have something else instead-something "healthier." Well 15 healthier things later and guess what? I should have just had the damn ice cream. So now I listen. I listen to what it is I really want.  When I want chocolate, I have a little. When I want a hot bath, I take one. When I need to vent, I turn to those who listen. When I feel sad, I remember it wont last forever; losing weight wont take the sadness away, only prolong it.   When I search for perfection, I remind myself that I am perfect:my imperfections make me so. The little cellulite on the back of my legs reminds me I'm human. My strong muscular legs, that I have spent years trying to shrink, only remind me of just how much I can squat.  

The voice is still there. The annoying one that creeps in every time food is around.  But I have learned to control the volume. Sometimes I find the mute button and its a treat!   But on those occasions that I can't, I no longer beat myself up for it being present. Instead I tell him to pull up a chair and shut up cause Nicole isn't going anywhere. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Obsession.  It gives me something to do when I'm are trying to occupy the space in my mind. With obsession, you always have something to do.  I find that the more I obsess about my body, what I plan to eat, my workout-if it was enough-what my next meal will be, the less time i have to focus on what is truly important. But of course the more I obsess, the more the body/food really does become "the problem" at that point in time. You see, while I obsess about my body it feels real. It feels as if that really is what's causing me distress, anxiety, fear. I don't want to be told otherwise.  How dare you tell me my body image is distorted? How dare you challenge me? I DID eat a lot!  I do need to lose weight! You just CANT SEE IT! 

But all that noise is simply the top layer. Underneath all that madness in my mind are emotions and feelings I'm trying to mask, deny, run away from...Things that may feel uncomfortable or painful. 

Losing my mother at age 22 was too painful. I was able to numb myself out from the heartache and retreat to the madness in my brain instead, spending hours calculating  and counting, planning my workouts and meals. I'll take that over the reality that the woman who meant the world to me, the woman who taught me to love myself, the woman who always helped me to laugh and live, the woman who protected me and mothered me, was now gone.  

Obsession for me allowed me to ruminate in my head rather than cry in my heart. And while I still am filled with immense guilt over not being present with my pain, not allowing myself to experience it in a healthy way, I forgive myself. I realize that it served its purpose.  I needed protection at that time. I needed to feel safe. I needed to experience distraction. It served its purpose. 

But that was then. This is now. I am no longer that girl. I have grown both by teaching myself and my outside influences:family, friends, trained professionals, life experiences. I know that losing weight can seem so damn enticing; the pull is strong. "Don't you want to feel lighter? Think about how good you'll feel when your pants are too big again!" (Please don't get me wrong, this is far different than those struggling with obesity. That is a fight for health. I'm all for that. This here, is the opposite of health.) 

It's what we call "learned helplessness." It's different than denial because we know we are doing it yet we succumb to the whole, " I want to stop but this is just how it's always been." yeah, so?? I refuse to resign myself to a lifetime battle simply because I have felt helpless in changing. Is it easy? No. It's uncomfortable. I've been experiencing that for some time as I directly challenge this belief that "this" is something I can't change.  Yes, I'll always have this history and some days will be harder than others. But that doesn't mean ALL days will be hard or that I'm not in a healthy place w food and my body now or that I can't keep this up. My mental health is just as, if not more, important than my physical health. It's time for me to take a stand against this learned helplessness and accept that my past does not dictate my future.

Every time I utilize my eating disorder, I am running away from myself. I am running away from the part of me that says I am not good enough. I am running away from the girl who just wants to live.  I am running straight into the arms of that which only continues to hold me back. 
I no longer want to run. Instead, I want to be. I want to be spontaneous.  I want to be peaceful.  I want to be excited about  life.  I just want to be me...the real me. After all, I am a human "being" , not a human "doing.".

Saturday, October 27, 2012

False security

"No amount of security is worth the suffering of a life chained to a routine that has killed your dreams."

I saw this quote last night and I was taken aback with how much I could relate to it. Security is something we seek because it holds such a positive connotation. We seek secure friends, secure relationships, secure jobs, financial security, a secure sense of self..the list goes on & on. But it seems, for me at least, that I become secure in things/habits that don't really help me to achieve what it is I want & need.  I find security in my ritualistic eating. I experience this "fear" if I stray away from eating the same breakfast and lunch every day. I want to change it up and I "know" it's good for my body to mix it up but when my eating disorder creeps in, I allow it to persuade me into believing that I NEED to have the same thing every day.  

For those that don't suffer from eating disorders or the aftermath of one, it may sound silly or actually ok to have predictable meals to remain healthy and on track, but I ask, what does healthy mean? Can it be healthy for me to find security in eating the same thing every day because I'm scared I'll gain weight if I don't ? Can it be healthy for me to freak out if I can't have a side salad with every single meal? Can it really be a helpful sense of security if my workouts are what dictate whether my day is deemed good or bad?  When I'm getting caught up in ED, my security comes from the control, the same-ness and predictability. It may sound painless but it holds me back. It holds me back from experiencing life. It holds me back from enjoying my favorite foods.  Don't get me wrong, I have them but I don't always "enjoy" them. There's quite a difference.  It holds me back from just waking up and being spontaneous. And as I write this it breaks my heart. I have come so far in my recovery but I still have a way to go to find true peace with my body   But don't we all? Don't we all need to come face to face with that "security" that holds us back? There is more to life for me than what I eat and when I eat it and how much I work out and if I did enough. I AM ENOUGH.  And you are let's go..there are dreams out there waiting to be chased..

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Language of Fat

Unfortunately, learning this language comes all too natural to most of us.  It is not exclusive and you don't need to sign up or take courses to learn this language.  Sorry, Rosetta Stone, I think we got this one-no assistance necessary.  The language is easy to pick up.  No country to visit...oh wait that's since we live here already.  Day in and day out we are inundated with messages.  All we need to do is pick up a popular magazine and take a glimpse at the cover. "How to lose 10 lbs FAST." "All you need to know to get the body of your dreams." "Walk away from the bread!" It's no wonder when we surround ourselves with women we find the topic of conversation to naturally progress to that of weight and body image.  And I'm not talking about the empowering conversations where we discuss the kick- a$$ class we took at the gym that left us feeling strong.  I'm not talking about changing a habit of ours to promote health and wellness.  I'm all about walking the path to health.  No, what I'm talking about is the look of horror that flashes on faces of women when a birthday cake comes out to celebrate a co-worker or a loved one.  "Oh no I really shouldn't."  "Just looking at that makes me gain weight." "I'll never forgive myself."  The reason I'm so open with all of this is because I had (and sometime's have) these thoughts.   I've spoken those words.  When I read those statements I'm quickly reminded that this is a CAKE we are talking about.  A slice of cake that we have somehow given an enormous amount of power to.  We have allowed time after time, that piece of cake to dictate what that says about us.  For me it goes something like this: "If I eat that cake am I going to be able to continue to have a good day?" or  "Am I strong enough to say no to it?"

I find that speaking The Language of Fat has somehow brought women together.  How many of you have been in a circle of women, strong, successful women and the conversation starts.  Some are mothers, all are daughters.  Some own their own businesses while other's are nurses, doctors, CEO's of companies.  One woman says she feels gross.  The other adds "oh please YOU look great, its ME that has thick thighs." And on and on and on, each one adding in something else to knock themselves down.  We are all fluent in this language and for whatever odd reason, it acts as a bond between women; something we can all speak.  Please don't misread this.  I am not saying we enjoy this talk at all but the harsh reality is that most of us have all engaged in it. For me, I remember several occasions where I thought to myself, "If I don't say something about myself that I dislike, will that make me come off conceited or snobby?"  And that had nothing to do with the other women but rather a build up of years and years of societal influence. 

The good news is, things are starting to shift.  More and more women are not practicing the Language of Fat as often and so when other's are speaking it, it starts to sound foreign.  So I say, let's go against what our teachers taught us for all those years, just for this lesson.  Let's stop practicing. Let's stop reading it at night.  Let's stop discussing it with our 'peers' to get their stance on it.  No more group projects about this language.  Let's stop speaking and start celebrating.  I don't know about you but that's a language I'd like to be fluent in!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

a glimpse into ED

Sometimes it's subtle. Other times I feel I need earmuffs & a volume button to drown out the noise and chatter. Eat this. Don't eat this. Gross. Change outfits.  Thighs are too big. Ok you look thin; today's a good day.  You can eat that for dinner if you're "good" all day. Ugh you look like CRAP!

Are you exhausted yet? I know I am. Thank goodness the chatter has decreased over time. That's not to say I don't hear it most days. Its part of my eating disorder. It's something that unfortunately was ingrained in me.  Was...notice the past tense.  It's something that ,through years of therapy and nutrition counseling, I have learned will always creep in. It is now a matter of learning how to manage it and navigate my way around and through it.

My name is Nicole and I'm a 30 year old woman (still sounds funny to refer to myself as a woman!) I am in recovery from bulimia and anorexia. After suffering through the noise, the endless obsession with my weight and body I asked for help. I was hospitalized and treated for my eating disorder; I learned that my hatred for my body and my obsession to lose weight had taken over my being.  I was ALL IN and I was miserable.

I bought into the ED mindset; "things will be better when..."  When I lose 5 lbs. When my clothes are looser. When my bones are more prominent . When when when!    It was my new inner dialogue and I had a constant headache.

It was torture but I recognized I was sick. My mind and my body were sick.  It was all about control.  I had very poor body image, even at my thinnest. I was never ever satisfied.

It's funny I'll look back at a picture every once in a while and ask "why can't I look like THAT?" until Ill quickly be reminded that when I looked like THAT I wasn't happy with how I looked either. You see, eating disorders have very little to do with weight after all.

I know I am not in the clear and I know I am not perfect but my days of punishing myself are over. I am no longer "sick" but healing.  I am me and I am ok.

When I am reminded that 70 million people world wide are struggling with eating disorders, I am pulled to make a change. And change we will.. one blog at a time...