Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Imperfection... a beautiful thing.

I think about it quite a lot. As a former (still recovering) perfectionist, I constantly struggle with how I "should" have done something better/faster/more efficiently/more neatly/etc. Sometimes I feel like I eat too much (even though I maintain my weight and basically just eat when I'm hungry) and I still feel bad sometimes when I choose less healthy foods. I'm getting SO much better about shutting down the negative voice, and I am so grateful to be almost completely recovered, but I still do think about it a lot. I read other food blogs (which can be inspiring/interesting) but some people's seem so perfect like they ONLY eat healthy food and ONLY when hungry. I try to have the majority of my food be nutritious, but I firmly believe that SOMETIMES it IS highly appropriate to enjoy totally non-nutritious foods, especially when around friends and loved ones, and to just NOT worry about it! Your body is MEANT TO TAKE CARE OF YOU and it will and that is a beautiful thing. Like I said, imperfection is beautiful! I consumed way too much chocolate/chips/beer on Saturday and felt really bad about it in the morning (not really hungover--like a mental guilt) and I have gravitated towards healthier foods in the past 2 days. I feel way better now, and Saturday is long in the past. I want to work out because I feel better doing it and I honestly am more productive the entire day when I do workout. But I'm not going to do it to burn calories. I've missed almost a week of workouts. That's OK! I was doing violin related stuff and when I got home I was catching up on work that needed to get done. I plan to go to the gym tomorrow. I think intuitive eating is a great idea, and I think that we generally need more calories than we think. I remember my nutritionist during my ED telling me that when I was recovered, I'd probably still eat 2200-ish calories on a regular basis. I thought she was INSANE! Like out-of-her-mind, you're-trying-to-make-me-fat insane. But she's right. On days where I do workout and/or just have a really busy day, I'm definitely over 2000 cals and the beautiful thing is that I DON'T COUNT! I choose a lot of low calorie foods that I enjoy and that I know provide nutrients, and I also (FINALLY!) choose yummy, nutritious and sometimes not-so-nutritious foods that I enjoy. On less active days I'll naturally eat less, without counting and without restricting. On some less active days, I'll still eat a lot, maybe more than I need on any particular given day, and I know that my body will either 1) metabolize the calories anyway to take care of me or 2) store them for the night or the next day and I'll be less hungry later on. And IT'S GOING TO BE OK! Just to clarify, I had an actual ED for about 8 months. I was in intensive outpatient treatment and I did recover, got my weight up, got a slightly better (BUT NOT GREAT) mindset, and when I was out of treatment, I still kept my calories between 1100-1300 with an hour of exercise most days, which is pretty typical for a lot of people, both women and men, of all cultures and ethnicities. People: THIS IS STARVATION! I know, because I did this for another 2 years! And not-at-all suprisingly, I was still food obsessed! I WANTED to have other hobbies. I tried desperately to find other things I enjoyed. But I kept coming back to: reading food magazines, checking nutrition facts on-line, browsing grocery stores knowing I wouldn't buy anything, cooking/baking, and browing either pro-ana or recovery websites (which I realize is kind of ironic, to visit both at the same time!) I see so many people on their food blogs agonizing over this "am I eating intuitively?" question. I think that if you're constantly having to restrain yourself from eating more, then you're still restricting and thus not eating intuitively. I think that you'll know when you're eating intuitively because you'll stop thinking about it so much. I think we need to put less emphasis on having a 100% clean diet, even though we vehemently insist that we're not on a "diet". It's ironic, because many of us even admit that we eat below maintainence on any given day. This means that you're not eating intuitively because 1) You're still counting if you know you're below maintainence, and 2) you will have a harder time eating intuitively because your body thinks it might be in danger of starvation (since it hasn't had enough for several days) and will try harder to get food.

It's 2009's National Eating Dsorder Awareness Week. I want to point out that ED-NOS (eating disorder-not otherwise specified) is STILL an eating disorder! And more critically, it is still a joy-robber! It will steal some of the happiness from your life. Trust me, I know. I've been there for the better part of 3 years. I don't have too many memories of that time, because my brain was starved for fuel. I never socialized, I missed out on a lot of events simply I I didn't want to go and be surrounded by food that I told myself I wasn't allowed to eat. I can honestly say that I am happier than I've ever been and in part this is due to my recovery. Peace, love and joy to you all! Email me if I can help you in any way. My prayer is that eating disorders will cease to exist; although that might be a long ways away, we can take steps toward it by speaking out and exposing the truth.

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