A few nights ago, I celebrated my father’s birthday at one of my all-time favorite restaurants in LA. Despite the incredible food, the beautiful atmosphere, and being with my loved ones, I somehow ended up unable to sleep for the entire night, tearing up on and off, nonstop in my head about how full I felt.
The last time I had felt so upset about food was over two and a half years ago, when I ate a cookie and ended up on my dorm room floor in tears. At this point in my life, I wasn’t in control when I was around food. I was constantly torn between wanting to be “healthy” and wanting to prove to myself that I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and not feel guilty. I was extremely critical of my body and to punish myself I would spend hours at the gym.
While I am not in the same exact place now- I don’t force myself to over exercise, I don’t restrict myself from the food I love and crave, and I am much better when it comes to listening to my body- I definitely have begun to backtrack with the progress I have made.
From the start of my journey to balanced living, I have acknowledged that the trip wouldn’t be linear. I knew there would be ups and downs- and there most definitely have been- but I never really expected to come back to the place I am in right now.
I spend too much time critiquing myself in the mirror, despite the fact I know better and know the mantras and words to boost my confidence. It started with me getting thrown off when I no longer saw my abs as defined, but I was able to originally shake it off. I had just returned home from Europe, had travelled on an amazing trip, and enjoyed myself immensely. I knew- and thoroughly believed- it was a one off- I would be back to “normal” in weeks, and for the time being, had nothing to worry about. Again, fluctuations were normal and a part of the path!
But in the chaos of accepting a job, moving, and getting situated in a new place… this “normal” never kicked back in. I have found myself gaining weight- one of my favorite dresses wouldn’t zip up the other day and I made excuse after excuse, telling myself it must have just been tied tighter than usual- have found myself unable to stop eating, even if full and even if I do not enjoy the food, and have found myself getting harder and harder on myself every time I glance in the mirror.
And frankly, I have been in a state of denial about my unhealthiness. What I mean by this is that I have not acknowledged the extent these disordered eating and exercise habits are slowly creeping back into my life and taking control.
So when I returned home the other night, feeling full and disgusted with myself mentally and physically, I went into my bedroom and I sat on my bed, wondering where everything went wrong and how I ended up in this place. I couldn’t sleep the entire night- I cried on and off and went through cycles of chastising myself, telling myself it would be okay, and was just so confused how I could let this happen.
This latter thought- the idea that I don’t have enough willpower to be in control of myself and my life, to shape my body how I want it to look, and to eat what I want and stay completely in control- has always been my biggest fault. I pride myself on my self control, but for some reason, this bodily space has never been in my favor. And that is incredibly difficult for me to process and accept.
As I went through these various mindsets over the course of the night, I got to the place I had come to all those years ago on my bedroom floor: acknowledgement. I finally owned up to the fact that something was clearly wrong and therefore, that something needed to change. I don’t know why this was the night of all nights to bring me to this place, but I am grateful for this night- truly grateful- even though it caused me an enormous amount of pain.
Since then, I’ve been reflecting on this thought, taking note of what exactly needs to change and how I can begin slowly to take steps towards resolving the problem.
For now, I’m starting small and focusing on intuition. I’ve realized I don’t eat as slowly as I used to. When I go out especially, I feel the need to eat quickly and I don’t take the time to really appreciate what I am eating. When I share plates with others, I load mine up and continue to add more and more, afraid I will miss out. I force myself to eat every bite and clean my plate, despite the fact I can take things home as leftovers (especially when it comes to sweets). Even when I don’t like the taste of something, I feel guilty about wasting it or get stuck in the idea that I have to finish because it is a part of the experience, so therefore I eat it all…
I need to find my intuitive mindset again, listen to my body completely, even if it does mean missing out for a bit until I get there. Tonight, for example, I ate a bit too much. I felt fuller than normal. Instead of critiquing myself, however, I thought “Okay, why did this happen? What can I do next time to not feel this way?” I also remembered how yesterday, I stopped eating my salad when I felt full, instead of forcing myself to finish every bite. For a snack today, I didn’t touch the almonds I had packed- instead, the banana in my bag was just the right amount of sustenance to satisfy me.
I also am taking a break from social media, as you may have noticed. While I log on at most once a day to post a daily thought, I otherwise stay off. My friend is in control of my account, engaging with my followers because I want to make sure I am not completely absent. I need a break from the constant feed of food- this feed throws off my hunger cues and I don’t want to begin to view this amazing space as anything but amazing. I need a break, simply put, to focus on myself. And this break has been huge. I’ve become more conscientious of the amount of time I spend thinking about food. There is nothing wrong with this, except when it comes to an all consuming place. then, for me at least, it is dangerous. Now, with this break, I am aware of these thoughts and I am able to push them away.
Already I know I am in a better place than when I came to this conclusion a few nights ago. And I know I am in a much better place than I was three years ago when this began.
Acknowledging this unhealthy state was a long time coming and I most definitely do not expect my progress to be linear or easy… but I think I can’t deny the importance, or the fact that I should be proud of myself for taking this step. And for anyone else out there who is reading this and beginning to acknowledge the fact they are in the same place, be proud of that and know you are anything but alone, because this is the most important step.