I am officially over COVID, and it is coming out in my mirror. And on the scale. And then into my clothes. Into my bed. And into my beating heart and flowing bloodstream.
I often talk about being vulnerable and it immediately moving onto my body, but I haven’t actually experienced it in a long time. Until now. Besides the elephant lying on my chest by the end of every day, accompanied by his hippopotamus friend eating the insides of my brain, I have felt well. I’ve had other things to focus my attention: my body and losing fat, closing deals, whatever. Now, no diet is here, the year is slowing down, and I am acutely aware of my emotional space and its delicacy. I cannot avoid it.
Being in active recovery for an eating disorder, I am often prodded with questions about what’s helpful versus triggering. These questions come from people I trust that are in my network of support, and they also come from me. I see memes and posts online of all kinds – eat this but not that, do this but not that, and it can be really difficult to figure out what works for me.
What works for me changes. It has changed drastically since I published my book and I imagine it will change again before my next. Food is like that, if you allow it to be. I have found that I had to start more rigidly than I’ve had to stay with regard to what I ate, but not how. I started more flexibly in how and have transitioned to a more calculated approach, and for today, it’s working beautifully.
Part of that transition has included weighing myself daily, taking measurements of certain body parts every 2 weeks and also pictures. Initially, this terrified me. I assumed I’d become obsessed, attached, and most definitely hateful of what I saw and read. Just like I used to get unbearable anxiety before a doctor’s appointment because I knew they were going to weigh me, I assumed seeing pictures of myself every couple of weeks was going to produce similar feelings.
So far, that’s not true. The reason I have chosen this approach is not because I have to in order to work with Eat to Perform (my nutrition platform), but because I genuinely want a neutral relationship with all parts of food and body. I want to have a neutral relationship with the scale. I want to have a neutral relationship with unfiltered and unedited pictures of myself. I want to have a neutral relationship with the mirror, my clothes, my body. I just want to be in the middle.
I have been fully open about my process and my wants. Some days, the scale snags me. Other days, it brings me up. All days though, it bears a metric to acknowledge and watch and to let go. I let it ruffle me or excite me early, get dressed and eat my breakfast, log the number and go from there. It is fascinating to me how much it can change with seemingly no cause overnight – in either direction. Or how other things, like sodium and stress and sleep affect it greatly.
This morning, I took pictures and measurements as I do every 2 weeks for my coach. They prove as invaluable data points to monitor over time as yes, I do train and eat the way I do to continue looking in a way that makes me happy. I do not need to be smaller and leaner but being smaller and leaner bring a level of confidence that I know God wants me to feel. And if I can maintain said smaller and leaner frame while eating food and enjoying myself, that’s exactly what I’m doing to do. Well who the hell wouldn’t want that?
This morning my weight was up a bit, which seems to happen now when it’s time to give me more food. Yesterday was a lower carb day, and despite doing all of the “right” things: eating my plan, drinking a lot of water, moving, training, sleeping – the scale still went up. Immediately my eyes convert that in the mirror. I saw bigger, fatter, not as sexy. I let it ride me. My measurements were exactly the same as they were 2 weeks ago when I felt like a million bucks, 1.2 pounds lighter. Does that tell you something?
Just like following a food plan, taking consistent measurements and pictures of myself keeps me accountable and HONEST. My coach does that, too. Because her eyes aren’t distorted. Her eyes aren’t emotionally attached to my numbers. Her eyes aren’t attached to me, at all. I have some friends that can do this, too. And I do it for them when it’s their turn to upend themselves as we all do from time to time.
Following a food plan gives me immediate access to a higher self, a self that is present, accountable, available and accessible. When I am constantly guessing what I should be eating and fucking around with my food, you cannot reach me because I am not here. I am in my head. I am in the pantry. I am in the gym. And despite my temporary grief and frustration over the scale and my perception of myself in my photos this morning, I now have tangible data proving me WRONG.
With this kind of data, I can learn more about my emotional and spiritual process. Just like following a food plan enables me to live between my meals and uncover what’s actually going on with me, on life’s terms. I can learn more about what works and what doesn’t – for today. I can learn more about what’s actually important: the lowest number on the scale, or feeling like a badass every day? Showing up fully or being small and shrunken? Moving forward or staying behind? Focusing on what I can actually control, or letting the rest of what I cannot (most things), debilitate me and bring zoo animals into my living room every day?
A lot of recovery organizations and practices encourage never weighing yourself or your food, staying away from the mirror or photos and not training very hard. None of those, today, work for me. And that’s awesome! I encourage EVERYONE to do EXACTLY what works for them. I sometimes forget that my way isn’t the way, but I also know I’ve been given such a wide tent to figure my shit out that I would be depriving anyone else from doing the same. We are only as good as our experience, and I have had so many now leading me nowhere but better that I can only promise the same for you if you keep coming back and showing up and being willing to be willing to try anything that will set you free.
And today, despite my first hour, I really am free. Despite transferring my emotions to the mirror and the stress of 2020 onto the scale, I really am OK. I know what I can control, and I know that the rest doesn’t have to control me. I know I can be who I am wherever I go and bring people into it with me. I know that God isn’t give any of us more than we can handle, and even if life continues to be what it is right now for the extended duration, I trust so deeply that it will be OK, that I know it will.