This may trigger those who are currently going through treatment for or are recovered from anorexia, binge eating disorder and orthorexia.
This morning was an absolute mess. I woke up bloated and confused and my typical 45 minute drive home took two hours.
So I decided to make some banana-protein- peanut butter- chocolate chip pancakes because they’re my favorite food. I get home and there’s no bananas. I get in my car and go to the store.I see three of my coworkers. I am in my pajamas and probably reek of the Moe's burrito bowl I had for dinner last night and this is the Fresh Market in Scarsdale, nonetheless, the mecca for fancy, rich and white middle aged women, so of course I caught several dirty looks from just about everyone. Even the deli guy when I asked him for balsamic dressing because I decided to buy a salad too.
Because, nothing is ever easy, my card was declined so I had to put some of my bananas back which was super embarrassing because my co-workers were behind me in line.
After three plus hours at this point, I get home. I'm all ready to make my pancakes and there's no eggs. So I eat some chocolate chips and brainstorm. I decide to make oatmeal with bananas, peanut butter and chocolate. Sounds good, right?
Wrong. After a few bites I wanted to throw up. So I settled on a breakfast of a handful of pita chips. Looking at the clock, 12p.m., I realized I should probably go to the gym or go for a run before I left for work.
Well. I didn’t. Instead I had to run to my bed and lay down.
Eating disorders are no joke.
Back in High School at the peak of my disordered eating I had little routines and rules I followed strictly and if I broke them I would absolutely fall apart. I remember once, at the dinner table, my parents asking me how my day went. I said It was bad because I ate too much, to which my mom responded "why does that have anything to do with how your day went?"
I would never dare eat chocolate unless it was in a breakfast muffin, or eaten before noon, so I could burn it off throughout the day. Chocolate or muffins were approved foods but I had to run an extra mile or two after track practice or go to the gym to burn them off.
Never would I skip breakfast and breakfast always contained one serving of fruit and was around 300 calories. To jumpstart my metabolism.
Old me would have never gone to the supermarket, or anywhere for the record, without working out, showering and getting dressed first. Seeing someone at supermarket or a restaurant was my biggest fear because they might see me buying food, a basic human need, and think I’m fat.
“I saw Jess at the supermarket. What a fatty” they might say.
And never would I ever skip a workout two days in a row, especially after eating Moe's for dinner the night before.
I laid in my bed for a little while. I opened Instagram on my phone and saw a feed of beautiful, skinny and fit women/men on beaches or at the gym or drinking protein shakes. Old me would have sat there for hours scrolling through the pictures and planning my three hour workout for when I got off of work to make up for my messed up morning and eating schedule.
But I didn’t.
I got up and I walked right past everything, the mess I made in the kitchen trying to clean up and the grocery bag from this morning and I stripped down. I drew a bath and I listened to the Avett Brothers and I took out a pen and a notebook began writing, resulting in this reflection.
Why are we so hard on ourselves? We place so many rules, regulations, and rituals on ourselves in hopes to become better. Fitter. Stronger. Healthier. Skinnier. Because once we achieve those ideals we will be successful right?
I'm not saying you shouldn't have drive or ambition. That you shouldn't listen to constructive criticism from your peers, family or own brain.
I'm saying that there is so much more to life than your weight. I can guarantee you apply to college they don't ask for your weight on the common app. When you apply for your first job, there isn't a space for you to indicate how much you weigh. When you get married, the priest doesn't include the number you read on the scale that morning in your vows.
I lost 50 pounds between the ages 14-17 and I gained back about 25 between 17-19. And you know what?
All of it. Being overweight in the first place at a young age, having to diet and go to the gym in middle school when all of my friends were eating pizza.
What would you say if I told you that every day from 14-16 I went to the gym for an hour and a half, minimum, and did the elliptical. Would you believe me?
What if I told you that I cried on my 17th birthday because I felt so fat and I couldn't make myself eat the ice cream cake, mint cookie crumble flavored (my favorite), that my parents bought custom made for my sister and I because I felt so fat.
Would you believe me?
All of that being said, I am blessed.
I have a roof over my head and clothes on my back. I have two beautiful sisters, one who supports me and lets me call her at all hours of the day crying over stupid things like my banana-protein-pancake meltdown I had a few hours ago. The other, at only eight years old, looks up to me like a role model.
I have found friends who don't judge me when I go on rants or scream at the top of my lungs because I feel guilty about something I ate.
I have a job. And even though it wasn't given to me on a silver spoon, an education at a university I adore.
So today I had a meltdown.
But I now realize that it is okay. I'm not perfect. I will probably never be a fitness model. I am a healthy size and I have healthy blood and I don't faint in public places anymore. I not only have to be healthy for myself, but I need to be a good role model for my little sister.
Although skipping a workout gives me anxiety, I have found the strength to be able to move on.
And while this morning wasn't perfect, and tonight probably won't be, I'm going to be ok.
That's the beautiful thing about recovery, the comfort that no matter what happens- you will be ok.
(This post was originally shared on the Odyssey Online)