I feel damned if I do, and damned if I don’t. I feel exposed or hidden. I feel arrogant and seeking, or too modest and quiet. I feel confused and defensive, while simultaneously humbled and challenged.
Because I forgot that I want to.
In July my shin was killing me, to the point that I couldn’t race, and walking downstairs was painful. Then, race season was canceled anyway, and it seemed that the stars aligned for me to enter a fat loss phase knowing I didn’t need to prepare for anything competitively, and that I was ready for a change in fitness routine. Those closer to me know that I’ve been dieting for 13 weeks now. And by diet, I mean literally – I have intentionally been trying to lose fat. 6 weeks of a cut/deficit/diet, 3 weeks of a reverse to add back calories to avoid plateau, and now 4 out of 6 weeks back into the second and final cut before we reverse slowly for 3 weeks and then move forward back into eating all of the food and watching all of the muscular gains and improved performance and vibrant energy again. I’m down 18 pounds right now and lots of inches. Yes, you read that right. I look and feel very different. And I am stoked.
I wasn’t comfortable in front of the mirror. I didn’t feel good in my skin. I was accepting, and I kept showing up. I wore shorts when it was hot, and I went to the gym and stood in front of the mirror and I had sex and I wore a bikini and I still did all of the things. But I wasn’t comfortable. And it wasn’t so much about what the scale read back or thinking I wasn’t good enough exactly as I was, but I’ve learned over the years where I’m comfortable and that it’s OK to want to look a certain way and to pursue that if it’s safe – even in recovery. And I wasn’t there.
When I got sober from food, I was certain I’d have to let go of training, competing and wanting to look good. I felt guilty for being attracted to muscular, lean bodies and to working hard and to feeling sexier and more alive when I felt confident in my own skin. I felt guilty for wanting to be smaller and leaner, not because I thought I was more worthy of the bigness of my life if I was, but because let’s face it – it’s easier to do life when your pants fit and you don’t take up as much space! And I realize to many, that I didn’t take up much space. And it’s not about space taken so much as how it feels to occupy that space. And this is my space to occupy. My body to live in.
And that’s why this topic is so heated, delicate, personal and vulnerable. I’ve made the choice to be public and open about my journey and it is hard. It is hard because I am realizing, slowly but surely, that food and body sobriety is very grey, and changes all of the time. We all reserve the right to look however we want to look, and we all reserve the means to change that look. For me, it took many years to get to a place of neutrality with look, performance, competition, goals, food metrics, food in general, the scale, and the mirror. And it is a DAILY GRIND to maintain that neutrality, and some days I nail it and some days it nails me. It’s been a daily, vigilant effort to honor what works for me and to even learn what works for me. As it turns out, metrics work for me. Following a calculated plan works for me. Weighing myself daily and allowing it to become a tool is working for me, for today. I appreciate metrics because I appreciate the knowledge they avail me. I track my HR, sleep, steps and life. My work life, too. I like numbers and they seem to like me. I ebb and flow with my truth around that, because for many years I only knew what I thought you liked, not what actually worked for me.
And so here we are, navigating the balance that is fat loss and aesthetics and the right to celebrate feeling amazing and the delicate balance of tying it back to a certain look or weight. Because I want to. And even though I want to, I had forgotten that that’s all that actually matters. I started to make it hard. I was allowing myself to feel admonished (both self-inflicted and externally) for wanting to do this for myself, while also extremely devout that I am allowed to do this. Of course I feel better 2 jean sizes down – wouldn’t you? But then feeling guilty for celebrating. I was allowing people to get to me with their questions: what happens after this? Do you gain it all back? Do you do this again in a few months?
The answer is no. That’s why I’m using a nutrition coach and successful platform and didn’t entertain this phase for many years. Many years. I’ve eaten consistently and enough no matter what I felt or thought I saw for years. I’ve wanted to lose weight many times, especially after breaking my leg, but I stayed the course anyway. I showed up for my recovery anyway. I did the next thing right anyway. And when the stars aligned and I got the green light in my gut that said it was OK to pursue, I did. And I’ve still stayed true to myself and to my recovery and stayed very open and honest about the experience. Of course I’m scared to gain weight back, but I also know weight is relative. My team knows what they’re doing, and I trust them, and I trust God and I trust myself and I trust my body. They, just like God, didn’t bring me down here to then let me blow up. Food and my body are no longer the enemy, or the problem, or the solution!
That’s why this is so confusing – is it really real that I’ve come to a place of neutrality with food, cannot wait to eat more and feel good and partake in more celebrations, all while maintaining a physique and feel that I work hard for and really am fucking proud of? My disease says absolutely not – you cannot look this way, you cannot sustain this, you cannot be proud. Because if I can, then I don’t need my disease anymore. I don’t need the negativity or the demonic voice or the pull back to harm. Then I don’t need help and I don’t need support and “see, you were going to fuck it all up eventually anyway”.
Nope. Old story. Untruthful story. Harmful story.
Because I want to. Not because you want me to. And I really am allowed to be happy, look great, feel great, and show up for this enormous life God is giving me.