Faithful readers, you may or may not recall that in late August, I was introduced to the siren song of the latest diet--I'm sorry, fitness plan--and that with all the best intentions at my side, I decided to undertake the Twelve Week Challenge. I lasted nine days.
I never followed up on this fact here because, to be starkly honest, I was ashamed of myself. I kept thinking I would hop right back on the "program". The binder in which I faithfully recorded nine days' worth of meals and snacks is still propped on the bookshelf, ready and waiting. The book itself has been tucked away, along with all the pictures on the inner lining of the Xena-looking chicks who, unlike me, actually completed all twelve weeks.
So here's where the plot thickens, okay? I didn't get any farther than nine days because I am in a long-standing recovery from bulimia, a disorder that dictated my life for the better part of my youth, until cigarettes and booze became the rafts that led me, ironically, to a saner and healthier place. The cigarettes smothered the monster of my appetite and the booze gave me license to start expressing myself, loudly and violently and among friends. Once the party life took hold, it crowded out the secret self-cruelty of isolated bingeing the way the canopy of pine forest stunts the undergrowth. I was rescued.
I stopped smoking four years ago, when I was pregnant, but at least between babies I still had my beer. Then last year that went too. And somehow I find myself surprised that my old friend the eating disorder has been waiting all along, not dead at all, but hibernating.
It took another go-round of dieting (nine days), bingeing (one slice of cake should not send anyone into the abyss), bargaining, and despair before I came all the way back around to acceptance. I do not look like Xena. Really, it's actually okay. I can climb big hills with a heavy pack on, dance all night, Jazzercise, spin my kids on the back lawn until we're all dizzy. My clothes fit, I feel comfortable, and my husband keeps coming back for more. There's no problem here.
In a strange way, I am grateful that I have this disorder. It reminds me of my limits. I know when I start having an unreasonable craving for a greasy TV dinner in the middle of the night that there's something within me that is shouting its way out. I know I have to stay gentle with myself, pay attention to my body, keep things simple. Some people get this reminder in their recovery from alcohol, but for me the real reminder is in my recovery from food. Somehow my clever soul set me up to have a delicate relationship with a substance that it's impossible to quit. Perfectionism is out. I can only practice balance.
So I'm sorry if I let anyone down by not being the motivating Before and After photo. I'm sorry if I let myself down. But it's my body, for life, and at this point I'd rather just be friends.