Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Encouragement, Exercise, Feelings, Friends, Gratitude, Hope, Recovery, Triggers, Uncategorized, Weight

Challenge to Train

The therapist I saw during my years in graduate school would marvel at how I turned everything into a competition.  It doesn’t matter what, I made it a competition in my mind in order to be the best…to be perfect.  

Here I am, years later, a little–okay, a lot–less competitive.
However, all that has started changing.

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I joined a local gym in the fall and struggled to maintain a healthy focus while getting back into something that was once used as a tool against me by my eating disorder.  My thoughts quickly changed from having a healthy focus to an eating disordered focus rather quickly.  While I wasn’t spending an excessive amount of hours in the gym, I was severely restricting my food intake in combination with exercise; making my sole focus weight-loss.  Within a few weeks of joining the gym my behavior started to raise red flags with those who are close to me.  My track record of easing back into the gym is definitely not good.

Therefore, when I signed up for the Ruck to Remember 60 to 60 event taking place over Memorial Day weekend, I knew I needed to start with my head in the right place.  The event is a 60 mile ruck march where I’ll be carrying 40 pounds on my back.  While it takes place over three days, it will still be physically and mentally demanding.  I had considered signing up for this event for several months, but feared training for it because of the eating disorder’s ability to grab ahold of my brain in the gym.  That, and the last time I did a long ruck march was when I was in the Army very sick with an eating disorder, and ended up stress fracturing my pelvis from overuse and stress on weak bones.  Needless to say that was a less than pleasurable experience.  So, how to tackle training while keeping the eating disordered thoughts at bay?             

Reach out.  I’m training for this with a former Army instructor, turned friend, who will also be participating.  Accountability for training.  This instructor was with me when I got injured during the ruck march before and hung back with me at my painfully (literally) slow pace because I refused to quit.  Next, I e-mailed my former dietician to ask for help and guidance with the nutritional side of things.  I concluded the e-mail with, “I know this sounds like an eating disorder horror story…” Nutritional guidance for endurance training.  Finally, I found a training buddy here in Charleston.  A former Army infantryman has decided to run with me at 0400 in the morning (or in the afternoon, if I’m lucky) before he goes to work.  I’ve surrounded myself with accountability this time around.  Of course, I strive to be honest with TJ about everything, including the moments when the desire to hit the gym may not be motivated by healthy factors.

Instead of turning this into a competition with myself to be perfect or to lose weight and burn calories, I’ve turned this into a competition with myself for something good.  This is a competition to prove when I am healthy I can do more and be better than I ever was when I was sick.  I look back on several occasions when I was in the Army and find myself grateful nothing worse than a stress fractured pelvis happened to me as a result of the eating disorder.  Now I am out to prove to myself that training in a healthy body–a body that is far heavier than it was at any point during my time in service–can serve me better than my sick and broken body ever did.  For once I am taking my need to compete and putting it toward a recovery mindset instead of an illness centered one.

During my two years of treatment for the eating disorder, I learned to embrace mindful, slow exercises such as yoga and slow walking.  While these exercises are fantastic for the mind and my healing body, I appreciate their place and purpose, but there is something deep inside that yearns to leave everything I have on the pavement.  The Army instilled in me the need to compete with myself and I want to train with a purpose for something greater than just me.  Participation in the 60 to 60 event does just that.  It gives me a greater purpose and a reason to, once again, leave it all on the gravel.  My body is healthier and more nourished than ever before, as is my mind.  By the time Memorial Day rolls around I will be ready to participate, and my focus won’t be on calories burned or weight lost, but rather the lives that were lost protecting the freedoms we enjoy in this country.

I can already see a difference in how I treat my training times now versus six months ago.  Having a designated purpose for training makes all the difference to me and my recovery.

With Body Love,
Lane

PS In case you are wondering, yes, the featured image is of me in 2007 during some Army training.   Here is another (that is me in the front):

HMMWV Pull

Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Friends, God, Gratitude, Hope, Joy, Love, Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized

Identity

“Identity cannot be found or fabricated but emerges from within when one has the courage to let go.”
-Doug Cooper

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 Identity.  This is a concept with which I have struggled in recent months.  For nearly two decades my identity has been wrapped up inside a neat little package I refer to as the eating disorder, and subsequently my recovery.  When the satin bow on that neat little package was untied it led to the contents spilling out over the table like puzzle pieces without an order.  Each facet of my life lay before me, upturned and mixed up, waiting for me to pick it up, examine it, and set it in its proper place; in hopes of uncovering my true identity somewhere in there, or perhaps when the puzzle formed a picture.

I started this blog when I was merely months in true recovery after leaving treatment, and it has provided an outlet for my thoughts as much as it has provided inspiration for people who read it.  Each day I grow stronger in my recovery and take more steps away from the life that once defined me; almost as if I am stepping out of my old body and life to move forward into a new one.  Taking off my mask and revealing my true self.  The eating disorder was the mask for so long and the space between the mask and my face formed the majority of my identity for the last two years–my recovery.

This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDAW) and usually I flood my social media accounts with facts, stories, and information about eating disorders, treatment, and statistics.  Not this year.  My choice to not participate wasn’t a conscious one, it just happened.  My newsfeed on Facebook and Instagram have been bombarded with NEDAW images, sayings, and statistics; yet I have not shared any of them.  It isn’t because I no longer care about individuals struggling with and recovering from eating disorders–not at all–but my identity is not longer wrapped up by the satin bow of recovery or the messy puzzle of the eating disorder.  I still greatly care about and pray for individuals who have not yet discovered the freedom recovery will bring.

I have found myself writing for BBA less and less over the last six months, as I have been stepping away from the eating disorder and recovery communities more and more.  Writing for BBA only once each month wasn’t a choice I made with logic or reason, but it one that has happened as my life is being lived.  Eating disorder thoughts no longer dominate my mind and a “proper” meal plan isn’t something that I cling to in order to give me normalcy while eating now.  My exercise isn’t obsessive or damaging to my recovery and my body does not define me.  I’ve started to leave the role of eating disorder recovery advocate and step with my whole heart, mind, and body into the roles of Christian, mother, and wife.

Earlier today I found myself sitting with a friend and discussing this very topic over coffee.  Identity can be confusing for adolescents and young adults, sure, but it can be equally confusing for adults; especially those impacted by trauma or mental illness.  My friend and I talked about finding our identity in Christ and what that actually means.  Whether or not you are a Christian, or have a Higher Power at all, your identity is found in your personality, beliefs, etc.  While I do not hold the answer as to what it means to have my identity in Christ, I know my “roles” fall under that identity.  My confidence comes from Christ and knowing I am created in His image.  Outward beauty holds no power over my heart and the acts of kindness I can perform for others.

Struggling with my identity 0ver the last several months culminated itself today when I realized my identity is found in more in my heart than anything else.  My identity is my calling and purpose.  Christ has given me a heart for people society tends to overlook or despise–inmates and individuals struggling with substance abuse–and how I focus my heart, energy, and attention speaks to my identity.  I still love and care about the eating disorder recovery community, as it helped form who I am today and I’m eternally grateful for the individuals God placed in my life to help get me here, but it isn’t the biggest identifier of who I am anymore.  My BBA posts may not be as numerous as they once were, but they will still show up every so often, as I wholeheartedly believe everyBODY is beautiful.  There are self-acceptance and body-acceptance lessons to be gleaned in every day life and when a lesson smacks me in the face, I’m going to share it.

My identity is in Christ and the courage I have to serve the community He placed in my heart many years ago.  My identity is found in the life I lead; not in my body, recovery, or past history of an eating disorder.  For me, this is not my identity anymore but a building block to help form who I’ve become.  I may live on a sailboat and enjoy sailing, but I don’t identify myself as a sailor to define who I am any more than formerly struggling with and in recovery from an eating disorder makes me a person with an eating disorder.

In the last six months I’ve found the courage to “let go” of the mask, and the space between the mask so my identity could emerge.  It has been there all along, waiting for me to realize that my identity is found in the calling Christ placed in my heart long before recovery was on my radar.

 Identity.

Yes, I struggled with an eating disorder for 16 years, and yes, I am in solid recovery after two years of ridiculously hard work, but neither of those things solely define me anymore.  Christ defines me.  The heart He has given me for the incarcerated and addicted population helps define me.  My role as a mother and wife are part of my identity.  I will continue to write for BBA but I no longer feel like my recovery or being a writer for BBA is the biggest part of my identity; a feeling that is even more freeing than recovery itself.  As my husband said when I explained all this, “I’ve waited for years to hear you say that.”

I’ve waited years to feel it.

With Body Love,
Lane