Monday, June 21, 2010

Getting Real


Truth: I've been avoiding my blog. I've been putting my focus inward because I'm still trying to make peace with my body and these sorts of things are hard to talk about with loved ones let alone the whole internet. But I'm at a point where I feel like perhaps broadcasting my issues might help someone shed some light on issues of their own. My weight loss journey has bred some disordered eating habits in my life. As much as I'd like to tell you all that I reached my goal weight and life was perfect and yours can be too, it just didn't happen that way.

When I started eating less and moving more I was morbidly obese and I found calorie restriction to be something that could potentially save my life. Getting the weight off took little effort and went fast because I was determined not to trip up for fear of slipping back into old unhealthy patterns. That chapter ended two years ago. Since then I've been struggling with life after weight loss. Once I hit my first goal weight, it wasn't enough. Five more pounds. And once I lost that, ten more pounds. Reflecting on how I was treating my body at that time where my weight was plummeting below goal frightens me, to be honest. I was eating far too little and exercising far too often and hit a point where my body just stopped losing. I was hungry for praise and attention for my weight loss and once it stopped I didn't know who I was.

Eventually I decided to learn to love food again. That's about the time I started this blog. I was relatively comfortable around food. I put some of the weight back on and have hovered around goal for some time now, however on bad days, weeks, months, I'd revert back to bouts restricted calories/over-exercise. These bouts were always met by a subsequent binge. The kind of eating where you feel like you can never get enough or there will never be enough. The kind of eating you save for times when you're alone and no one can see you because you've believed that eating was "bad" for so long.

With the binge eating and slight re-gain has come a slew of other issues, body image being one. Despite losing all of that weight, I learned that happiness could not be found in size 8 jeans and I would not learn to love myself just because I didn't have to shop in the plus-size section. I still look in the mirror and pinpoint my flaws rather than my successes.

It's a lot to share, but I guess I just want to stress to others on their weight loss journey to be gentle with themselves, for the consequences of setting your expectations too high or resorting to extremes can lead to a lot of troubles way worse than a few extra pounds. Learn to love your body as it is NOW and health should be easy to achieve. So many shame themselves thin instead of focusing on nourishing and strengthening their bodies. Every day I am working towards fixing my relationship with my body, mind, and (of course) food.

On a lighter note, I feel like this past weekend I've made some significant progress. I took my first dance class yesterday. On a whim, I signed up for a crash course in Argentine Tango. It consists of two 4-hour sessions in which you learn the basic moves of the social dance. Because I still struggle with said body issues and leftover shyness from my obese days, the idea of dancing with strangers had my stomach in knots. This first class took me way out of my comfort zone. Around the second hour I was about ready to give up, but I pushed through my discomfort and at one point a switch went off in my head. I can't explain how connected I felt to my body. There was a new awareness of my arms, my chest and my legs as the music echoed through the studio room. When following, we were encouraged to close our eyes as our partners led us around the dance floor. Once I let go, it felt kind of like I was gliding around. Weightless, even.


Marisa (Loser for Life) said...

I'm glad you're back, Jenelle. And thank you for sharing. This is a crazy journey and we do tend to beat the heck out of ourselves. Thank you for the reminder to be gentler :)

Christen said...

You have no idea who I am, but you inspired me to lose 80 pounds. However, I have gained 30 of those pounds back. This entry made me feel so much better, to know that I'm not alone and to know that I'm not the only one who struggles. Thank you SO much. You have helped me so much.

MC said...

Thank you for posting this! You don't know who I am either. I started reading your logs regularly on PT a few years ago. Almost everyday, I check back on this blog to see if you posted anything new. Funny, because a few days ago I started thinking, hmm, guess she's busy or doesn't want to post anymore.

Anyway, back to your new post. I've been able to maintain about a 10 pound weight loss for awhile now (still have 15 more to reach my goal). It's not much, but for me it's a big deal considering how much I've struggled with emotional eating. I binge much much less, but I still do it. I haven't been able to lose the last 15 (despite how active I am) because of that and because of overeating. I've just been able to maintain my weight because of my activity levels and I get back on track and eat "normally" the next days. Sadly, food still continues to fill the voids I have. If that weren't the case, I'd be at my goal.

Tonight, I binged on a bunch of things, including 6 of those whole wheat banana blueberry muffins (recipe you posted awhile back. This is like my 5th time to make these! I love them). I'm not sure why I felt compelled to eat...I believe a big reason is that I feel lonely often and then food gives me that fake comfort. It continues to be frustrating. I'll be 24 in 5 weeks, and I'm just sick of continuing to have this struggle with food, body image issues, this extra weight on me that makes me feel unattractive and unworthy. It's become a cycle. Not to mention, I think I probably go extremes with my exercise (6 hours of cardio a week). Yes, I like exercising and I like feeling athletic, but a big reason why I do it is for superficial reasons.

I feel like I've made a lot of progress in the last year than I ever have since wanting to lose weight when I was 16/17 years old. But I know I can make even more's hard.

I just want a normal relationship with food. I wish I could go a full week without an binge episode. I wish I could just stick to my calorie goal of 1800-1900 calories...very reasonable, right?!! But the only way I'll ever achieve my goals is by dealing with the underlying reasons...and I'm not sure how to deal with them or at least find another pleasurable activity that gives me the same comfort.

Thanks for posting. It makes me feel a bit better than I am not alone in this.

Jenelle said...

Thanks so much for the support everyone. It took a lot for me to press the "Publish" button on this post and your positive words mean a lot.

Christen - Congrats on getting healthier! I am so humbled that you have found inspiration through my blog. Struggling alone is hard. Bit by bit, it's become easier for me to open up about these personal issues. Bringing them to light and acknowledging the problems we have will certainly help us to deal with them and move on. You're not alone! Feel free to email me if you ever need support.

MC: I nodded along to pretty much everything you touched on in this comment. Though life has been busy, I think the real reason I didn't want to post new entries was because I felt like I had nothing helpful to share while sort of spiraling out of control (little did I know that LETTING GO of this control would help me enormously). Please, like I said, be gentle with yourself. Lately, when I find working out to feel like punishment, I just do something else that requires some sort of activity. Instead of exercising as damage control, I've been trying to make exercise into something I can find joy in again (hence the dance classes). Likewise, if I do disappear again (which I hope not to do!) feel free to send me an email if you ever want to talk. I feel like we have very much in common and sometimes communicating these feelings/compulsions helps keep them in perspective. Also: I'm SO glad you like those muffins, too :D

Kate said...

I always enjoy your blog, but this post in particular gives me a lot to think about. I recently reached my weight-loss goal, and I occasionally find myself thinking I should see if I can lose another ten pounds. Maybe I should work on developing a healthy self concept first, huh?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing. There are so many feelings that only an obese person would be familiar with, that you've written out on this entry. You are an inspiration.

Kanakike said...

Wow.. it's almost a relief to hear that you struggle too ;) I'm always so envious of your progress! I've gained about 25 lbs back since January, and I have been seriously depressed but can't seem to do anything about it.. Congrats on everything ♥ (loveberries)

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