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One year ago today I wrote a blog called 27 Reasons in celebration of my 27th Birthday. It listed 27 reasons how overcoming anorexia changed my life. Reason #26 on that list was: “I can become a mom (this is a big one and has not always been a reality).” One day after writing this I found out I was pregnant with my now 15 week old son, Oliver. So this year on my Birthday, in keeping with tradition, I give you reasons #28. I am the mom to a beautiful baby boy.

 

While motherhood has had it’s fair share of struggles, when I think of everything I’ve already overcome to have him, I wouldn’t trade in my sleepless nights and spit-up stained shirts for anything.

But oh how easy it is to lose perspective in the moment. When Oliver is red-faced and screaming in my ear and my relief is hours away from coming home from work I find myself wondering if I’m really capable of being a mom. Am I strong enough? Compassionate enough? Patient enough? Do I have the fortitude to see this through? When I start to have my doubts all I have to do is think back on my past struggles. Overcoming anorexia required all those attributes that I am now calling into question. If I possessed them then, if I could do the seemingly impossible, what makes now different.

Most of us are capable of more than we think and it just takes a little reflection to realize it. Isn’t that what past trials are all about anyway? Building up a memory bank of successes and of exceeded expectations. What if I started to view motherhood in that way? Undoubtably there will be a day in the not so distant future when I find myself facing another challenge. With my back against the wall and my reserves almost on empty I will question if I am enough. And then I will think back to these past 15 weeks. I will remember that I survived and came out a stronger woman, and I will smile and move on.

 

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Okay so that’s not true at all… the baby was probably cringing at all the sugar coursing through my digestive system (nothing like getting them hooked at an early age right?) Truth is, I really wanted a doughnut and a decaf coffee, so without much thought at all, I drove to Tim Horton’s and purchased the following:

It was delicious and thoroughly enjoyed in moderation. No feelings of guilt, regret, or panic. Will I be eating more doughnuts again anytime soon? Probably not…although I did enjoy a cupcake the other day for my father-in-laws Birthday. But hey, it wasn’t a doughnut. Cupcakes and doughnuts are completely different food groups. Duh!

I’m minding my own business at the gym the other day, happily meandering around the weight room when one of the “fitness consultants” approaches.

(How bad-ass I imagine I look) Source

“Hey, you’ve been working out here for awhile now, but I don’t think I’ve ever learned your name,” he says casually. Hmmmm, I think to myself, it’s probably because I have no desire for you to know my name. My antisocial, just leave me alone and let me work out in peace attitude starts to surface.

“I’m Dana,” I politely respond stifling my inner bitchiness.

“Hi Dana, I’m Jeff**.” He extends his hand. You really want to shake my hand right now? Can you not see how sweaty I am? I politely shake his hand, intending to end our little exchange and get back to lifting. But Jeff persists, “I can’t help but notice you look like you’re losing some of the definition in your stomach. If you want to set up a session with me I can show you a great workout to tighten that area up.”

I glare at Jeff with my “I can’t believe you just said that, I’m ready to go all psycho on you and rip your head off” eyes. He doesn’t seem phased. I muster up the gumption to interject but Jeff continues.

“A lot of women notice that has they get older (excuse me, when has 27 ever been classified as old?) it’s easier to accumulate fat around the midsection. But if we go over your diet and exercise plan I’m guessing there are some simple changes we can make to keep that from happening.”

Can your diet and exercise plan remove this baby from my midsection? I’m sure that would tighten things up quite a bit you ass. I almost say this out loud, but I decide to let him continue knowing that once I do reveal I am pregnant, not just the fatty he is implying I am, he will feel like an even bigger ass. Sometimes I can be a little evil.

Jeff continues on about the importance of high intensity interval training for fat burning and avoiding sugar because it turns to fat. “Do you want to go downstairs with me for a consultation?” he asks. “We can get some baseline measurements for weight and waist size. Give me four sessions and I’ll bet we can knock a whole inch off your waist and 5lbs off the scale.” Do these aggressive, make you feel like shit tactics really work on most women?

Source

I finally decide to spare Jeff any further humiliation, plus he set himself with that last statement. “Well Jeff,” I say “I don’t think my doctor would approve of me losing 5lbs right now, but if you want to wait until mid July, I’d be more than happy to drop say 6-8lbs all in one day and you can take full credit, although my husband might not like that.” I’m relishing in the confused look on his face. I wait long enough for there be that cinematic, dramatic pause. “Yea, I’m 19 weeks pregnant.”

A flash of understanding crosses his eyes, and I’m expecting him to apologize and wander off to find some other girl with an expanding midsection to torture. But instead Jeff surprises me. “Oh, you didn’t really look pregnant.” He laughs a little too confidently. “In that case, definitely look me up later in the summer and I can help you get off all that baby weight.” I cannot believe this guy. Oh Jeff, yes of course the first thing my former anorexic midsection wants to do after giving birth is come find you to be ridiculed and shamed. It would be the start of such a beautiful relationship.

I desperately search for something snarky to say, but in the end all I can think of is “no thanks,” and I walk away.

The world is full of people like Jeff: well intended but clueless. They make comments that lead you to question your self-worth, your beliefs, and your inherent goodness and beauty. They’re ready with a snap judgment or inappropriate remark that can bring you down even when you’re feeling on top of the world. You can’t avoid them because they’re everywhere. And unfortunately, despite my desire to mark this Jeff with a big, flashing neon sign that read Unintentional Jerk, they don’t come with any warning label or exterior sign of inner thoughtlessness.

The best remedy for a Jeff is to educate and move on. If you’re feeling brazen enough (which I was not at the time) tell him or her that, while you’re too confident to be brought down by their comment, other people not as tough as yourself might find it hurtful. Your advice might register with them, but since I don’t call them “clueless” without reason, it probably won’t. In that case, just walk away. Everyone views the world and the people in it through a unique lens. The way one person sees you does not truthfully reflect who you are as a person. It only reflects who you are through the personal experiences and biases of the person looking. Work on creating the most favorable, forgiving, and loving lens through which to view yourself. In the end, that’s the only perspective that really matters.

In the meantime, if anyone does come up with a good “jerk tagging” system, please let me know. I’ll spearhead the campaign!

**Name has been changed to protect the identity of said fitness consultant (you’ll see why he needs protection in a moment).

The shirt I contemplated buying but decided it wasn’t worth spending $20 to flaunt my insecurity:

Source

“Expect to gain 25-30 lbs over the next 30 weeks,” the doctor said. “Really,” she paused to chuckle “after week 20 it’s going to be hard not to gain a pound a week.”

Those words sound eerily familiar. Almost eleven years ago, I was sitting inside another doctor’s office, albeit one filled with a plush “tell me all your problems” couch and a box of tissues instead of an exam table and lubricating gel, but the message was the same. “Our goal is for you to gain about 30 lbs over the next 3 months, say about 2 pounds a week.” My reaction eleven years ago: I burst into tears, hide my face in an oversized sweatshirt, and silently promise to myself that I will do no such thing. My reaction one week ago: the most nonchalant “okay, sounds good” you can imagine. My how far I’ve come.

Before my husband and I even discussed children, long before I even knew if I wanted kids at all, I was convinced I could not have them. With the slightest mention of babies or grandkids, I would ardently declare, much to mother’s dismay, “I’m never having children…EVER!” Even though I knew it was something I wanted, my fear that I would not be able to have them overtook any optimism and faith I could muster. After years of damaging my body and depriving it of the essentials it needed to develop, how would it have the energy or vitality to create another life? I viewed myself as damaged goods, as irreparable. I labeled my body as defective, and decided I deserved whatever was coming to me. My mind was ready to accept defeat; my body on the other hand, was not.

When I begrudgingly took the first home pregnancy test, I thought I was being paranoid. When the test came back positive I assumed it was defective. When the second came back positive, I believed the whole box to be defective. When, two months later, I looked at the ultrasound monitor and saw our baby for the first time, I was still in disbelief. I was convinced that the image on the screen would display an empty nothingness, but instead, I saw wiggling arms and legs, a defined head, a body, and a heart that was beating despite all my fears and doubts.

Now, I feel like the ambassador, like the protector of this new life growing inside me. I can’t officially claim the title of “mother” yet, but my maternal instincts have kicked into high gear. “What’s that ghost of an eating disorder? You don’t like the idea of gaining weight, of putting someone else’s health and well being above your desire to restrict, to binge, to purge? Well guess what, I don’t care.” It’s interesting how easy it is now to shut off the voices in my head that belittle and try to convince me my worth is only skin-deep. It was so difficult when I was only standing up for myself, but now I’m standing up for two, and like the saying goes, strength comes in numbers.

I’m not going to lie; I am terrified of becoming a mom. I’m terrified of the power I will soon wield over another person’s life. I’m terrified of the responsibility to nurture, strengthen, inspire, teach, motivate, and love and on the flip-side, the potential to destroy, letdown, scar, and demoralize. I instantly want to protect this baby from every future hardship, from scraped knees to broken hearts, but I know that those are the trials I can’t control once he or she enters the world. But right now, while he’s still just a small fig-sized** baby inside me, I do have the power to protect him. And protecting him from the backlash of my neglected, kicked-to-the-curb eating disorder voice is the least I can do.

Today, at eleven weeks 2 days pregnant, when I look at the small image of the baby hanging on our refrigerator, I’m truly amazed. My body has done what my mind perceived to be impossible: it has healed.

**Thank you babycenter.com for all your fruit and vegetable references. Although, I had to wait until week 11 to post this because normal people don’t know what your week 10 fruit, a kumquat, looks like.

Today, November 5, 2011, I turn 27. For me, Birthdays have always been a time for reflection. I like to look back over the last year, not to dissect my mistakes or contemplate the “what ifs” but to appreciate how much I’ve grown and changed. This year marks my 10th year in recovery from anorexia. In honor of my 27th Birthday, I came up with 27 reasons why recovery is worth it and why I never want to go back to that dark place.

1. I can look in the mirror and think I look fat, see the scale go up a pound, or feel my jeans getting tight and still manage to have a GREAT day.

2. I rarely look in the mirror and think I look fat, in fact, most days I feel beautiful.

3. The relationships I have with people are more important than my relationship with food; sadly this was not always the case.

4. I have 10x more free-time because I don’t spend hours counting calories or fretting over my next meal.

5. If I get an offer to go out with friends, I don’t have to consult my workout schedule first.

6. I respect the needs and desires my body has instead of trying to suppress them, and I focus on all the amazing things my body CAN do, like this…

Rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park

and this…

Snorkeling off the coast of Maui

and this…

At the top of Mt. Haleakala

7 I have constructive tools for dealing with problems instead of behaviors.

8 I no longer lie to the people I love, and as a result, I have earned the trust I never thought I deserved.

9. My behaviors no longer worry loved ones, and they don’t have to walk on eggshells around me, afraid I might break.

10. I define myself by my character and morals, not a number on the scale.

11. Shopping for new clothes is fun, no matter what size the label says.

12. When I go to the beach, I’m thinking about the beauty of the ocean, not the visibility of the cellulite on my ass.

 

 

 

13. I find serenity and peace in stillness instead of restlessness and anxiety, and I can enjoy yoga without thinking “I should be running right now.”

14. Running in the park is a form of relaxation, a way to connect with nature and feel alive, not a method for burning calories.

15. I can now spend my “me” time quietly reading a book or watching a movie instead of crying, trying to qualm my anxiety, or feeling alone and hopeless.

16. My body functions and feels better: my skin, hair, and nails are healthy; I have unlimited amounts of energy, and I’m not cold all the time.

17. Holidays are a time to have fun with family, relax, and eat good food…not an occasion to freak out over all the treats waiting to tempt me.

18. I am a better listener because my mind is not consumed with eating disorder thoughts.

19. I am a better friend because I can focus on other peoples’ problems instead of being consumed by my own.

20. I have the ability to do this at my wedding.

 

 

 

 

and eat this…

21. When in public I no longer think everyone is judging me, and when I run into an old friend I’m enjoying the reunion instead of fretting over whether they think I’ve gained weight.

22. I’m no longer ashamed of my naked body, allowing me to spend naked-time in more “amusing” ways than analyzing my butt in the mirror.

23. I can eat hotdogs at baseball games, cotton candy at amusement parks, and cake and ice cream on my Birthday without the lingering guilt.

24. Snuggling with my husband feels better when I’m not all skin and bones.

25. I can write this cooking blog with my husband just for fun and actually eat the food we make.

26. I can become a mom (this is a big one and has not always been a reality).

27. I am alive to see another year filled with opportunity and hope.

So Happy 27th Birthday to me! I’m looking forward to 28 when I’ll be able to add another reason to the list.

Yesterday I sauntered into the kitchen and opened the cabinet containing all my husband’s snacks. Peering into the assortment of chips, crackers, and cookies I pulled out a bag of Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies, grabbed a couple, and walked back to the couch where I began eating. All of this transpired without a single thought about fat or calories, a single should I or shouldn’t I debate, or any plans to later compensate for my nutritional indiscretions. This might just be one of the greatest recovery moments I’ve had in awhile.

Mindless eating, or the act of making decisions about food based on unconscious psychological cues, has developed a bad reputation. For most people, the concept conjures up images of overweight people staring blankly at the television, one hand on the remote, the other robotically going in and out of a bag of Doritos. It’s associated with a lack of control or willpower and a disconnect from physical hunger or emotional cues that prompt us to eat. To use the famous Nike slogan, it’s the kind of eating where you “just do it.” Or more appropriately as Weird Al Yankovich’s song suggests, “just eat it.”

Advocates of intuitive eating promote bringing mindfulness to eating while breaking through the indoctrination created by years of following rigid food rules. They encourage people to get in touch with their bodies’ internal hunger cues, to savor each bite, to experience the smell, taste, and texture of food, and to respect fullness. All of these goals are noble, but for the recovered anorexic, intuitive eating can often lead to over-thinking eating. What was meant to be an endeavor at respecting the body and fully enjoying food can morph into analyzing the necessity and nutritional value of each and every bite and continually questioning one’s hunger or need for food.

Health magazines are filled with nutrition experts who urge readers to get in touch with their emotions surrounding food. “Why are you eating?” they all ask. Are you bored? Stressed? Feeling social pressure? Tired? Get to the bottom of the what, when, where, and why you eat and you’ll be on your way to better health, a thinner waistline, clearer skin, deeper sleep, and better sex. Even the proverbial fountain of youth can be yours by for the taking. For the recovering anorexic, a more appropriate question to ask might be, “why aren’t you eating?” Instead of emotions prompting overindulgence, unsettling emotions lead to restricting behaviors or obsessive thoughts about food. One of the tools to overcoming emotional hurdles in recovery is to separate what the mind thinks from what the body needs to do. While getting in touch with emotions is crucial in long-term recovery, in the here-and-now of deciding whether to eat the next meal, disconnecting from emotions is critical.

Thus, learning to eat mindlessly is a major undertaking for someone with a history of anorexia. Okay let me rephrase that. Eating, mindlessly or not, is a major undertaking for someone with a history of anorexia. In treatment patients are taught distraction techniques for getting through a meal or snack. Focus attention of conversation, a book, or favorite television program. Do mental exercises, say redesign your room or plan a dream vacation, to keep your thoughts busy. The initial aim is not to enjoy the food, but simply, survive the food. It hasn’t been too long since I was religiously counting every calorie and fat gram that passed my lips. Every meal used to be a negotiation. You can have the cheese on your sandwich if you swap out the mayo for mustard and run an extra mile at the gym. Or you can binge on that cake but then you’re not eating tomorrow. With food always on the brain, I couldn’t conceive of the day when I would be able to just eat something.

But that’s exactly what I did yesterday. I mindlessly ate those cookies, and only after they were half-way to my stomach as I licked melted chocolate off my fingers did I realize it. I needed this win. I needed to be reminded that it is possible to remain in recovery from an eating disorder, even when you encounter unexpected road bumps (see Broken Bones and Broken Dreams). I’m not going to question why I did it or what might have been unconsciously going on in my head. Nor am I going to work on becoming more mindful in the future. I’m just going to sit in the present and enjoy feeling like the superhero that I am.

I broke my foot exactly 1 month ago, and with it, all my dreams of losing too much weight, overdoing it at the gym, and once again reclaiming my eating disorder glory. Let me explain.

About 2 months ago, I stumbled upon the website sparkpeople.com. Much like diet and exercise trackers I’ve used in the past, it allows you to set a goal weight and a day at which you would like to achieve said goal weight and POOF…. it pumps out a daily calorie allowance and suggested exercise program.

The fact that I searched out this website to begin with says something about my general mental well-being. I’ve been struggling a lot lately with grieving the end, or death if you want to sound more poetic, of my anorexia. I’ve been struggling to fill the void it’s absence has created. At one point in my life eating disordered behaviors could be the answer to almost any question or problem. Feeling bored? Turn to ED. Feeling stressed? Turn to ED. Feeling overwhelmed? Turn to ED. Feeling angry? Turn to ED. You get the idea. Lately, I’ve had to admit to myself that anorexia is no longer my coping method of choice. I’ve had to admit that even if I wished to develop anorexia again, I don’t think I could. Just as much as I didn’t control its onset the first time around, I can’t magically will it into being now. And all that makes me sad.

I liked having an “easy” answer to all life’s problems. I don’t like having to deal with issues in a mature, adult way. I don’t like having to look for alternative coping mechanisms, or what most often happens, not cope at all. Over the past year I have fallen into quite a depressed state, and without my fixation on weight loss, or the sense of accomplishment I get from sticking to a diet, I’ve been hanging out at the bottom of this dark hole for quite some time.

Enter sparkpeople.com. I became hooked on its community based approach to weight loss and point system very quickly. I loved entering my food for the day and seeing the ticker land right between my designated calorie allowance. I loved watching the calories burned bar far surpass the calories consumed bar. I especially loved watching the slope of the line graph indicating weight steadily become steeper and steeper.

In about 1 month’s time I had lost 7 pounds. The depression was starting to lift, and I was feeling on top of the world. I was feeling like a somebody instead of a nobody. And then in a seemingly innocuous fall while playing tennis I broke the base of my 5th metatarsal (aka: a Jones fracture for all you medically minded people). The moment I heard the doctor say it was broken I knew my weight loss plans were over. The tides had been turned and I was bearing straight toward a sea of home alone binges, uncontrollable crying sessions and irrational, nearly suicidal thoughts.

It’s always been that way with me. The moment my plans are disrupted I can no longer stay on course. In effect, I do a complete 180. It’s my all or nothing mentality at its finest. And sitting on that cold, paper-lined hospital table I knew it all too well. I started to cry, not because my foot was broken, but because I knew that meant I was heading into a period of compulsive overeating, purging, and depression. And despite having complete awareness over what was happening, I had no control.

It’s been one month since that accident, my foot is still cast bound, and my follow-up appointment isn’t until September 6. I’ve completely abandoned my sparkpeople account, except for the rare occasion when I wake up committed to track for the day and make it through lunch. Those half days only make me feel bad when I look back over them…reminders of my failure. I’ve tried telling myself that this broken foot was a relapse intervention; it was some higher power’s way of telling me to cut it out. Or it could have been the universe’s way of showing me just how ill equipped I am at overcoming obstacles, how little drive and perseverance I have.

Despite the cast, I still make it to the gym 3-4 times a week, my weight is “only” up about 2 pounds, and I’m managing to eat a more balanced diet than I normally would were I in a typical binge and purge period. I’m hoping once the cast comes off and I get the go ahead to apply weight I can flip the switch again and get back into tracking and out of this funk. I know I should hope for a future that isn’t centered around any extreme eating and exercise behavior, but frankly, I have a hard time imagining what that would look like.

Because it is the thing that makes me most miserable that I also need to find any joy at all.

October 2011 Update: I am completely managing all eating disorder behaviors and have taken this incident as an opportunity to deal with some of the latent emotions I have surrounding the “death” of my eating disorder.

“The only thing ugly about me, was you.” In need of some inspiration? Check out this video.

“You’re a failure, stupid, ugly, fat, useless….” I’ve been having to remind myself a lot lately that it is the lingering voice of my eating disorder telling me these hurtful and nasty comments, and that those statements do not come from within me. As I lay in bed at night pinching at my legs, calling myself fat and worthless, and committing to a calorie-free day tomorrow it is the eating disorder driving my behavior and not my own will. I continue to fight against the negativity and oppressive thoughts, but sometimes, it’s so much easier to give in and believe I am all those horrible things. When that starts to happen, when I see my resolve failing and my support crumbling around me, it’s videos like this one that give me the ability to stay strong a little longer. Keep fighting friends!

Back when my eating disorder was the dominant force in my life, I was ready to punch the next person that told me “fat is not a feeling.” I used to get into this debate with my therapist all the time. It went something like this.

Dana: I hate the way I look; none of my clothes fit anymore. I feel so fat.

Therapist: Your weight gain is right on target; no need to worry. And remember Dana, fat is not a feeling. Why don’t you tell me what you really feel: sad, frustrated, scared?

Dana: I feel like I want to punch you (is what I should have said). I don’t know (is more likely what I did say).

Therapist: Fat is a physical state; and you either are or are not fat. You need to ignore your own perception and trust me when I tell you that you are not fat.

Dana: Yes but fat is also a relative term. I feel fat now compared to what I once weighed. Therefore, relatively I feel fat.

Flash forward 10 years, and I weigh in at about 50 pounds heavier than when I previously felt “fat.” The interesting note: I have lots of days when instead of feeling “fat” I feel “normal” or “healthy.” So what’s changed? Most notably it is my perception of what is considered healthy in addition to the fact that I no longer need to use my body nor my weight as a tool for self-expression. I now recognize anorexia for what it is: a disease that distorts perceptions. I recognize extreme thinness as a symptom of the disorder. In the past, I didn’t even recognize my physical condition as a problem that needed correcting. I was healthy I thought, my life was under control and my body reflected that. If I were to gain weight, to give up the disorder, all the calm feelings would leave and my life would be in chaos.

Today I see my body less as a statement of how I am feeling and more as a source of strength, a vehicle to get me to where I am going, and only a small fraction of who I am as a person. With so many more things defining my life, I don’t rely on my body to determine my self-esteem or self-worth or to serve as a temporary fix. Today when I feel “fat” I know it’s because something else in my life is grating on my patience and my body becomes an easy target for expressing my dissatisfaction.

As much as I hate to say it, my therapist was probably right. By calling myself fat and focusing on my appearance I avoided the real issue, which often felt out of my control or too large to tackle. Losing 5 pounds, that I could handle. Resolving the anger and sadness that were building in my head, not quite as easy. Luckily I realize all this now and can act as stand in therapist when the girl I see in the mirror starts to tell me I feel fat. I now look at her and repeat: “fat isn’t a feeling Dana, why not try telling me how you really feel.”

I’m going out of my mind. For the past 4 weeks I have been sick or injured in some capacity. It started with a case of strep throat, which led to a bought of bronchitis and has finally evolved into strained back muscles from excessive coughing. The ironic thing about all this illness is that the actually sickness itself doesn’t bother me. I can deal with the sore throat, fever, and body aches that came with the strep. The coughing and tight chest from the bronchitis, no big deal. The back pain, piece of cake. What I can’t deal with, however, is the inability to exercise that has resulted from this prolonged illness.

Summer has finally arrived in northern Ohio; the sun is shining; the air smells of flowers and fresh cut grass, and I have the worst case of cabin fever. As I sit here in bed writing, looking outside, my new running shoes are calling to me from their cubby in the closet. I bought them over a month ago and still no inaugural run. I think they are starting to get sad… or maybe that’s just me. For someone whose self-esteem and identity is tightly wound up in how many miles she can run or how much weight she can lift, not being able to work out has taken a toll on my feelings of self-worth. I find myself getting anxious, depressed, and slightly neurotic. My new favorite question to ask my boyfriend has become, “what if I never get better; what if there is always something wrong with me?” It’s a very real fear I have, and even though he often manages to punch through it with logic and reasoning, there is still this lingering fear that he might be wrong.

“Get back in bed; go lie down.” I’ve been hearing this one a lot from my boyfriend also. I’m standing in the mirror trying to see if it looks like my muscle are getting smaller or my butt is getting bigger and he ushers me back to the couch, beseeching me to just rest. He’s right. He knows it. My rational side knows it. But my stubborn side, the one that still sometimes likes to mingle with the enemy, to converse with the eating disorder, doesn’t want to listen. It fills my head with images of my body ballooned out to 300 lbs. “Do you want to look like that?” it asks. “Do you want to be lazy? Then go ahead and rest.” My rational side begs me to listen. “Rest,” it tells me, “or you will risk injuring yourself worse.” And here is where the anxiety lies. If I rest now I am lazy and fat, but if I don’t rest now, I will double my recovery time.

So now I must ask myself this question: why is it so hard to be still? Why does taking a month off from my normal workout routine to recover from illness freak me out so much? The more important question might be: why is my identity so wrapped up in my athletic ability anyway? I know I am more than a number; whether that number is my fastest 5k time, how many pounds I can bench press, or how many risers I put on my step for step class. All of those are just things I can do, not things I am. I think the problem I am running into is that for so many years, my athletic ability and my weight constituted the only important part of my identity, and in some way, I’m still stuck in that mindset. I still believe that if I sit in stillness for too long I will lose myself, or at least the part of myself that I value the most.

Here’s wishing for either a speedy recovery or an identity beyond my physical self. Really I wish for both.

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