Change

Change is a funny, funny business. We spend our lives in constant flux, endlessly trying to become that idealized and imaginary version of our Best Self.  We primp, and spend, and read up, and try. And then someone informs us that people can’t change. We are who we are and there’s no deviating.

A few months ago, someone very close to me told me that I hadn’t changed at all. That, despite the past two years, during which I lost 80 pounds, came to a general positive acceptance of my body, felt more confidence in myself than ever before, and was genuinely happy…despite all that I was still the same person I was before I started down this path.

Now, this was said during an argument and, I assume, meant to hurt me. So I took it with a grain of salt. But that comment did hurt. It sliced like a knife, straight through to my core. It devastated me. And it’s stuck with me throughout these past few months when I’ve struggled to retain who I thought was the “new and improved” version of me. The changed woman I thought I had become.

Every time I skip a workout, every time I binge, every time I get stuck in my head, feeling nearly worthless and doomed to repeat this disordered cycle of eating for the rest of my life…I think of that comment.

You haven’t changed at all.

Change is real. Change is possible. This much I know to be true. I can’t explain my life’s journey over the past few years without the concept of change.

I think that what I’ve learned while obsessing and analyzing and generally falling apart these past few months is that the opinions and thoughts of others shouldn’t influence me. I shouldn’t hesitate in what I’m doing simply because someone else can’t see or feel my progress. Easier said than done, I know, but this is what I need to remember in those darker moments. That I am changed. Who I was is not who I am. And I don’t have to explain or justify that to anyone.

Starting Over. Again.

I’ve been debating my return to this blog for awhile now. Since I stopped some nine months ago, life has changed rather dramatically: I have a new job that I’m passionate about, a beautiful new home, and I’m more content than ever with my social life. On the other hand, I’ve dealt with a family member’s health scare, removed a so-very-toxic relationship from my life, started and stopped therapy for an eating disorder, and, oh yeah, gained back about 50 pounds.

Fifty. Five-oh. 50 pounds. 

That’s been more than a little difficult to accept. But besides grimacing as my pants became harder and harder to pull on, or watching my face and stomach become rounder and rounder, I didn’t quite realize how this slide back into disease was destroying literally everything I’d built over the past few years. All my confidence, my happiness, my ability to feel comfortable in my own skin, moving through the world…gone. I’m back to Old Amanda: struggling to make eye-contact, obsessing about my looks, tired, frustrated, and worst of all, meek.

I don’t like this girl. I, in fact, despise her and wish her dead. And what kills me is that I thought I had destroyed her. I thought that, even though my weight loss was stagnant, that I was in treatment for an eating disorder, that I was so far from where I wanted to be…I thought she was gone.

I am left here to start over, feeling like the past three years have been a waste. And now I’m firmly in my 30’s and just as far from where I want to be as ever.

I guess the one saving grace in all of this, the one thing I remain proud of, is the fact that I’m not giving up. I know how strong I once was, how happy and completely in love with my life I was, and I know I can get there again. Because there is no other option and because I deeply, deeply miss it.

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“Remember why you started.” And now, let’s finish.

Ready

I’m going to blow past the fact that I haven’t posted here for over two months and just jump right into what’s been happening, okay? Okay.

I haven’t felt particularly inspired to post lately, and I haven’t really had the time. I’ve been too busy working, worrying, dating (!!), and more importantly, living. My weight has stayed steady. I’ve made healthful food choices, but I’ve also indulged. Probably more than I should. I’ve been doing a lot of yoga. Like, a lot. And getting back into running. I’ve been taking more time for myself and clocking more hours at work. Basically, what I’ve been doing, is working to find balance.
IMG_20140515_193007 IMG_20140518_190529 IMG_20140518_191626 IMG_20140520_175521 IMG_20140519_190456IMG_20140502_225241 IMG_20140523_085827IMG_20140530_205124 IMG_20140602_191342Earlier this week, I started services at The Emily Program. In my initial conversation with one of the therapists, we talked a lot about my preoccupation with losing weight, body image, exercise and food. She asked me, “How much of your day do you think you spend thinking about this stuff? Honestly?” I gave it some thought and, if I’m being completely honest, a good 90% of my thoughts revolve around:

  • How my hair/makeup/outfit/fat rolls look at any given moment.
  • What my next meal will be and when I will eat it.
  • When my next chance to workout is.
  • How to schedule unexpected social and work obligations around my meal/workout schedule.
  • If I’m having a particularly weak day, how soon I can leave work and binge and what foods that binge will consist of.

After re-reading my last post, I think this is borderline obsession is something I’ve sub-consciously been aware of, and frustrated by, for awhile. And it’s probably why I’ve been shying away from blogging. I don’t want a life all consumed by being A Person Trying To Lose Weight. It’s frustrating and it’s unsatisfying. I fully understand that it needs to be a major piece of my life, but there can, and absolutely needs to be, a measure of balance and flexibility as well.

Speaking of The Emily Program, at my appointment this week I was officially diagnosed with an eating disorder. I mean, obviously it’s not a surprise, but still. I can’t help but feel that it’s yet another huge obstacle I have to overcome on this freaking never ending journey. But, on the flip side, I’m incredibly proud and grateful that I chose to formally address this issue and take steps to fix it.
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They  say admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right?

That thought flooded my mind earlier this week at my intake assessment, as I filled out form after form, test after test, and shared very personal information during  an incredibly, horribly uncomfortable conversation with the intake therapist.

We were having a pleasant, happy conversation, going through my background (how’s your relationship with your family, what are your hobbies, what do you do for a living) and suddenly she comes at me with this gem:

What does a typical binge look like for you?

An eating disorder, like any other substance abuse problem, is something typically done in secret. I’ve become an expert at hiding my eating from friends and family. I’ve never shared my dirty little tricks, habits, or menus with anyone.

To sit down with someone and walk them through my eating rituals, step-by-step, bite-by-bite…well, it felt like I was confessing to heinous murder. I was waiting for the Law & Order detectives to walk through the door and arrest me.

My anxiety soared. But, like with most difficult things, the more I talked about the problem, the better I started to feel. The more in control I started to feel.

I have an appointment next week to discuss my treatment plan going forward. And I can’t wait to dig into all this new uncomfortable stuff 🙂
IMG_20140531_191120And finally, speaking of uncomfortable, I picked up my bridesmaid’s dress for the wedding I’m in this fall. Let’s just say, I’m not entirely comfortable in it. So, Operation Bridesmaid is now in full force. I’m going to do my damnedest to get back on a consistent workout schedule and mostly Whole 30-type eating plan. I have set some great balanced goals for the summer (which I’ll share in an upcoming post), so it’s time to get going.

I am ready.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

I’m so insanely excited and hopeful about life these days. I find myself wanting to be around people, being unabashedly joyful and positive…it’s all very, very odd. But incredibly good.

I have this inexplicable feeling deep down inside me that there is so much good lying ahead for me in 2014. Call it what you will, chalk it up to the new year, if you must, but this feels like more than that. This isn’t just hope, this is a feeling of inevitability, of belief.

Instead of being bogged down in the day-in-day-out of life, I’m actively looking forward to fully living each day, embracing the ups and downs, seeking out the good in all situations (and people), looking for new ways to grow, change, be happy, live love, say ‘yes’ to it all.

What a new, strange, beautiful thing…

It’s The Journey

Here is what I know to be true: weight loss is mental journey, not a physical destination.

I have long desired a boyfriend. A partner, a significant other, my soulmate, the dude I would grow old and have babies with. But as much as I wanted that presence in my life, I never allowed myself to pursue it or even entertain the thought of its possibility.

I literally have not had any sort of confidence or self-esteem to speak of for years and years. I didn’t want to be noticeably and embarrassingly bigger than my man. I wouldn’t be comfortable with him touching me—the thought of someone wrapping their arms around me brought forth nothing but thoughts of how unattractive, unappealing, unsexy I perceived the action (and myself) to be. And the looks and whispers we would get from others? Plus, side note, the kind of man that found me attractive at my heavier weight was not someone I wanted to be associated with: I have impossibly high standards that I’m not willing to compromise, and, being totally honest, my experience at that weight with men boiled down to being wanted for one thing and one thing only. And let’s get this straight right now: I am no one’s guilty pleasure; I am no one’s secret.

Even now, though, as I receive more and more positive feedback, smiles, and compliments from men, as I’m coming into myself, holding my head high, and contemplating really putting myself out there to seriously pursue this love thing…it’s hard to shake that mindset. That idea that I’m not worthy, that I’m disgusting, that no one would want to touch me, hold me, be with me, love me. I’m still bigger than the great, great majority of people; I’m still, by society’s standards, unattractive and unacceptable.

But do you put off living your life, pursuing your greatest hopes and ambitions because you’re not yet at some magical number? Do you continue to wait for your life to begin while you toil away after some elusive number?

Or do you gather up all the bits and pieces of confidence, courage, boldness, and bravery you’ve slowly been collecting on this journey and take the damn leap anyway? Once you (mostly) stop caring about the opinions and judgments of others, once you (mostly) make peace with your body as is…shouldn’t that be enough?
The answer, as I’m slowly coming to find out after a long 29 years, is a resounding yes.

Everyone else be dammed, you’re here to live your life. You are worthy. You are attractive. And if someone else doesn’t see life that way, if they’re too wrapped up in the numbers, the goal weights, the physicality of it all…then screw them. Move on.

Life in general is a mental journey, not a physical destination.

And I know the purpose for this part of my journey. I’m here to live love. To risk and dare. To share my happy. To find my lifelong sidekick. And look damn good doing it all.

A Year Of Love

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions anymore–hence, the lack of the obligatory blogger resolution post. No, this December I spent time reflecting on the failures and successes of my 2013: the goals I accomplished and the ones I didn’t. The pounds I didn’t lose and the massive mental baggage I did. And then I spent some time thinking about how I wanted my 2014 to unfold. What did I want to see and do? Who do I want to be? What will I achieve?

This is what all of that looks like, as words and ideas I want to populate my still new year:
IMG_20140119_161821The thing that struck me most in my reflecting and goal-setting was how the idea of love permeated everything: from self-respect and confidence and strengthening relationships with families and friends, to time spent creating and experiencing natural beauty…and if it happens to be in the cards, working on that whole boyfriend/soulmate/person-to-be-with-so-I-don’t-become-an-old-spinster-cat-lady 🙂 It’s an odd thing, since love, in all its forms, is the one thing I’ve run from my entire life. But no more. Now I want to live, breathe, be love.

That’s what I want my 2014 to look like: positivity, light, happiness, strength, smiles…lots and lots of love, love, love.

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Wrecking Ball

Throughout my high school and college years, and really, up until I began this transformation, I was the queen of making excuses. Excuses about any and everything, but in particular, I excelled at making excuses to avoid uncomfortable social situations. I was afraid. Of what? I’m not sure I fully understand, honestly. That I’d be noticed? That I’d be ridiculed? That someone else’s words and actions or my own self-consciousness would force me to expose the me I worked so diligently to avoid?

The summer before my senior year of high school, I volunteered to be a freshmen mentor. It meant wearing a dorky t-shirt that read something silly like, “Ask me!” and required me to attend an orientation pizza party with all my fellow college application padding senior cohorts. Now, these were people I saw every day. I had grown up with these people. Most of these kids were my friends and I generally got along with all of them.

So why then, on the night of this lame and unnecessary shindig, did I proceed to slip on my t-shirt, get in my car, and drive halfway to the school before turning right around and going home? When asked of my whereabouts the next day, I claimed sick (as I so often did during those days).

In college, my excuses, and my general disposition, grew bitchier. Meaner. I wouldn’t go out with my friends to the bar because, “so-and-so’s crush would be there and if I have to watch them make-out one more time I’m going to vomit.” My friends would constantly attempt to appease me by switching plans, choosing a different venue, letting me decide what we should do…and I complained and begged off the entire time. I pissed a lot of people off. I spent a lot of nights alone watching TV and getting fatter. I lost epic friendships.

Post-university experience, I just kept on rolling. Destroying everything in my path, withdrawing more and more, until I ended up basically completely alone.

Case in point: after I’d backed out of her birthday party two years in a row (one that would involve strangers and boys! Gasp!), my oldest and closest friend called me while I was shopping at Target. She was rightfully angry: her dear friend hadn’t shown up for her in one of the most basic and celebratory ways a girl can. I’d be pissed, too! I listened to her yelling at me, terrified, trying to explain (falsely) why I wasn’t there. She hung up on me. I stood in the throw pillow aisle, crying. We haven’t been more than acquaintances since.

People mistook my excuses as me not wanting to spend time with them, me being difficult and judgmental, me being pathetic and infuriating. But in reality? I just didn’t want to see my peers succeeding where I was failing miserably. I didn’t want to get sloppy drunk and make mean comments about others (as I was wont to do), while they took ladylike sips of their cocktails and flirted with every cute boy in the room. I didn’t want to attempt to squeeze through the throngs of college co-eds, trying to maneuver my extra-large body around the space without bumping anyone and spilling their drink.

I didn’t want to go unnoticed. But I certainly didn’t want to be noticed, either.

I didn’t want actual proof that my life was ever-so-slowly starting to fall apart, lose control, pass me by.

Lately I’ve been feeling an urge to rectify the situation. To apologize to the people I’ve hurt most. It feels like some sort-of twelve step program idea, but I just want to explain to these people that I’m sorry for being a huge pain in the butt and I’m sorry that things have ended like this. I know it most likely won’t effect their lives, but it feels like necessary closure for me.

Whether or not I do ever apologize for my old ways, this painful analysis has also taught me that love is always the answer. Love and kindness. Towards yourself, towards others, in any and all situations. It’s something I try to live each and every day. Positivity and love. Because while you can’t go back and fix hurt feelings, lost relationships, or missed experiences, you can learn from the negative and use it to influence the light in your present and future.

Negative Nancy

I used to be a horribly negative person. It was constant, it was severe, it was mean, it was completely unnecessary. Thanks to this weight loss journey and my drastically improved self-esteem, that’s all changed. While I’m obviously not always perfect in this respect, I think because of the person I used to be, I now have zero tolerance for any sort of negativity. I find it so completely repulsive and unattractive.

Snarky comments, sarcasm, the news, that co-worker who does nothing but poke holes in every idea, most social media…I really just can’t handle it. I have no patience for it or the individuals who espouse it–probably because I used to be one of them.

There’s plenty of bad in this world. Too much, really. And a lot of the bad stuff that happens is out of our control. So really, beyond all that, there’s no need for any of us to pile on and put more bullshit out there.
preview Yep, my life is still messy and frustrating. I’m nowhere near who and what I want to be. Bad things happen, I get sad, I feel supremely discouraged, left behind, overlooked, and on and on. But like I’ve said before, the more negativity you throw out, the more you’re going to get served right back to you. So I choose happy. I choose positive. I choose to find the good.

And there’s good to be found in every situation. Look.