Waiting for the Weight

Not too long ago, I reflected on how I felt about my body after training for and running the marathon, and how it made me realize that just not engaging in eating disordered behavior was not enough for me anymore. Despite the certainty that starving myself and purging the contents of my stomach are actions I never plan on participating in again, the mental and spiritual ailments of these diseases linger and take up valuable real estate in my mind and my heart.

When I looked back at photos of myself during that time, 80% of me saw my achievement. 20% felt some shame over what I perceived to be a softer, less lean body that made it across that finish line. It pissed me off that two weeks after fulfilling a dream, the memory of it was tainted by my insecurities–ones that have haunted me since I was about 5 years old when I started to understand that having a flat belly was better than having a round one. I told you all I was determined to fight through this, that I no longer wanted to accept that I would never be completely happy with my body.

Some might remember the comparison I made to my recovery from alcoholism. At the beginning of that, each moment was a struggle to stay sober. I thought about alcohol every single day. Now, almost ten years later (and for almost all of this time) I almost never think about drinking. While the fact that I am an alcoholic stays at the forefront of my mind and is probably the clearest lens through which I view my life, my desire to drink has been extinguished and no longer presents itself as a strain. Throughout these years and even now, I continue to do the work that allows me to peel back the layers and experience even greater levels of honesty and freedom. Just not drinking was and is not enough–my recovery consistently offers me a perspective on my life that allows my world to grow in beauty and in size.

So why haven’t I had the same success in my battle with body image? It’s been an equal number of years since I’ve halted all physically damaging behaviors, but still there are days that my world is small–where happiness and opportunity are blocked by the only thing I’ll allow myself to see–my supposed imperfections.

When I last spoke to you all about this I told you I was determined to fight it. I was fed up with the patriarchy, with the system we’ve all grown accustomed to living in that convinces us that life would be better if we were just a little more toned, a little less gray, and of course, never wrinkled. Unfortunately as women, many of us have bought into the lie that our value is slipping away from us as we age. In reality the opposite is true. With each year we gain wisdom and grit and depth that not only reflects in our physical beauty, but radiates to shine a light on the bounty we have to share with our families, our friends, and the other women who will come after us and look for our guidance.

I think I fought for about two months. I set out resolute to change the tone and the message of the voices alive in my head each day. The problem is, my mind can be a pretty dangerous neighborhood to hang out in. After a while all the voices get muddled and I’m not always sure who’s talking–my healthy, recovery self, or my sick self who manipulates, controls, and ultimately tries to bring me down. I fell into a trap I’ve been falling into for years and years: The waiting for the weight game.

I’ve been honest and I think even healthy and constructive about how my body responds to heavy endurance training. I don’t believe that I am really made for it physically. With the help of my mom, who is a holistic nutritionist, I’ve come to understand that when I ask my body to perform long distances like what are required to train for a marathon, it responds by storing weight–ensuring I’ll have the energy I’ll need to complete the journey. Carbohydrates to a marathon runner from Kenya are pure fuel, their bodies are made to take them in and burn them out just as quickly. My body works differently. I’ve accepted that. It doesn’t mean I won’t try and run a marathon again. However it has meant that I’ve been eager to get back to shorter distances, more yoga, and a focus on strength training. This combo is what I believe gives me my “happiest” body–it’s how I’m most lean and fit.

As I’ve focused on this regimen for the past few months I’ve noticed the dialogue in my brain has shifted into a familiar but unhealthy place. I love fitness, I want to get faster and stronger, and more limber. But without realizing it, I grow incredibly attached to outcomes that are linked less to what my body can achieve, and more to what it might look like when accomplishes said goals. I’m no longer meditating on loving my body for exactly how it stands at this present moment, and for what it allows me to do. Instead there’s a lot of “next week” and “two weeks from now” chatter. Every time I look in a mirror I see a part of me that I’m “working on”. I think being kind to myself is reserving judgment on that body part for a week or two while I bust ass in the gym to slim it down or tone it up. It’s fucking bullshit. I’ll love my body for exactly what it is…just as soon as it looks exactly how I want it to look. That’s not being kind to myself. It’s torturous. It’s waiting for the weight–waiting for my body to look a certain way before I can be completely happy. It’s what I told you guys I didn’t want to do anymore. But it’s the cycle I fall into over and over again.

The truth that we all know is this: If we want something different, we have to do something different. For years I woke up in the morning hungover with plenty of consequences and told myself, ok, that was bad enough, just give it a rest and don’t drink today. Although I’d spend the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon shuffling through all the logical and right-headed reasons I wasn’t going to drink that day, somehow, by 4 or 5 pm (or even earlier) that first sip always found it’s way to my lips. Eventually, I found a group of people that explained that my thinking was the problem–that I couldn’t rely on it and I would have to take some actions and trust that my brain would come along later.

I told you all before that I might try and use the twelve step approach to help me with my body issues, but I never actually started that. I thought, I didn’t act. My mind told my mind that it would take care of everything. Just repeat a few mantras each day–oh and work really hard at the gym–and everything will come together. There goes my stinkin’ thinkin’–yet again.

Truth: I do want something different. I want to stand in front of a mirror and see my whole self–not just parts. I want to walk around the streets of my city with confidence–a confidence unattached to whether I’m having a “skinny” day. I want to relax my belly out in the world like I do at home with my hubs; I don’t want to live “sucked in” anymore. I want the parts of my brain that have so long been preoccupied with being thin to be freed and available to join forces with the other parts of my brain that are trying to accomplish badass shit. When I see other women out in the world with bellies that aren’t flat, and legs that aren’t cellulite free, I don’t want my first thought to be that they should cover up. I want to break down that truly perverse patriarchal crud that we are all covered in, and start to see the true and full and wide range that is a woman’s beauty. I want to see my own beauty–to stop relying on the version the world tells me it sees.

If I can’t love me, I can’t love you. If I can’t see me–I can’t really see you.

I want to see the world.

So here I go, ready to take some actual ACTION. I am going to start going through the twelve steps as they apply to my body image. As a commitment to myself and to the idea of real and tangible change, I am going to try and document this process here. Although I’ve never had trouble being honest with you guys, I’ll admit that bringing this type of exposure to my recovery could be tough. If you’ve ever done any type of twelve step work before then you know that you really have to dig down, uncover, and bring to light some of your most personal and even shameful waste. I’ll admit it now–I am not even sure it’s wise to document this type of thing publicly. However at this moment, I know it’s the only way I will truly commit to doing the work. If as I go and get into the nitty gritty, I need to limit what I share in the interest of protecting myself or others, I will of course explain that to all of you while still trying to keep things moving in a way that might be helpful to others. If you have some vice or behavior that is blocking you as well, I hope you follow along and maybe even think about joining me–not publicly of course, but on your own, or in whatever way that’s helpful and healthful to your own recovery.

I’ve finally reached that spot–where the fear of staying in the same place is greater than the fear of the unknown. I’ve seen plenty of women carry these issues that started in their teens, into their forties, fifties, and sixties. That’s not what I want for myself. At last I am willing to do the work–to put myself out there and start my quest for something better. I’m ready to face exposure and be vulnerable, to clear away the wreckage of my past even when I’m unsure and and uneasy about what I may find laying behind it. Ironically, I’ve recently reached this point in other areas of my life as well. Big changes happening. More on that to come.

As always, thanks for reading. Even more, I appreciate you being a part of the journey…

 

What’s an area of your life that you’ve wanted to change for a while but have continuously swept to the side? What do you think it will take to get you to take some action on the subject?

How is your body image? Has it improved or gotten worse as you’ve aged?

Have you suffered from any type of disordered eating? Do you consider yourself to be in recovery? What does that mean to you? Is it simply not acting on old behaviors, or are you wanting more?

Have you changed your body image without changing your body? Have you done work on the inside that’s changed what you see on the outside?

 

header: julie henderson

 

 

58 thoughts on “Waiting for the Weight

  1. Pingback: Step Two: Came to Believe… – cat h. bradley

  2. I also had an eating disorder that started when I was 12. Somewhere along the line, in my late 20s, I decided that it was enough and needed to accept myself. Running helped me a lot to believe in myself and my body. One thing that has made me realize just how deep-seeded this part of society is that we buy into is that that my mother is 70 and still struggles every day with body image. I have a daughter now and I know that I want the cycle to stop. I try to not say anything bad about my body, if not for myself, then for her. No one needs this in their life. Be happy. Be healthy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t say how much I second the thought that running helps you believe in yourself and your body. I think one of the things that made me most emotional when I ran my first marathon was my relationship with my body. I was so proud of it. And it was so good to me. I felt like crossing that finish line was it thanking me for now having years and years where I have taken care of it, instead of destroyed it. I really have come a long way–but for me, I know I still have some work to do to get where I want to be.
      My mom is like yours. It makes me sad. It’s not what i want for myself. It’s not what I want for my nieces. I want so much better for them. I’ve been really trying to concentrate lately on applauding them for things they do–rather than their looks. It’s crazy cause it does feel so natural to say “you’re so pretty.” I am working hard though to change that habit, cause i really do think what they hear matters.
      Again agree–no one needs this shit in their life–it’s garbage.
      Happy to meet you Tara! x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have been careful with that whole “pretty” and “beautiful” thing with my daughter too. I mean, she is, but she is so much more than that too.
        I certainly still struggle with eating disorders myself. Most days I think I have it and then my mind gets tired and I sort of emotionally collapse and forget all the important lessons I have learned in life. So, still don’t have a grasp on it 100%.
        Our bodies are strong and can carry us though so much in life. For me, I will keep running and being grateful.
        Nice to meet you too. You have a way with words!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Funny that you commented on my blog and I came here and found this. I’ve had a very similar experience myself! I had various permutations of an eating disorder for 15 years, and eventually was able to stop the behaviors but not the thoughts. About 2 years ago I saw what I call a “food therapist” to try to address some of these thoughts that still oppress me – how it’s hard to travel and eat out, can’t keep peanut butter in the house, etc. I saw her for about 4 months and it really helped! While I’m not 100% “cured” (is that a thing?), it was immensely helpful. I think the 12 steps approach will be great and I wish you success!

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    1. Hey! So glad you found this and we found each other–love connecting with like-minded women who have had similar experiences. Yeah, like you I have been able to stop the behaviors for a while but I’ve just become fed up with the thoughts and our seemingly unanimous decision as a culture that it just is the way this is for us women. I think it’s bullshit! I’m not sure there is much in the mental/physical combo disease world that we are ever totally cured from, but I refuse to believe that this shit cannot get A LOT better. Glad to know your therapist helped– that’s very encouraging.
      Please feel free to chime in and offer your wisdom whenever–I really appreciate hearing what has helped other women. Really glad to have you ;).

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  4. Thank you Cat for being brave and sharing this. It does resonate in too many ways.
    My first memory of thinking of myself as fat I was 5 years old. I had nagged my parents about ballet classes. I finally got to go and I saw myself in my little ballet outfit, standing outside the dance room and didn’t want to go in ‘cos my belly was fat comparing to everybody else’s…I never took those ballet classes. I have always been told to hold my belly in so it wouldn’t get stuck sticking out (?!). As a teenager I was quite unaware of my body but in my twenties I started feeling fat, focus on belly, all over again. I look at photos now and see I wasn’t fat at all. Not fit either but never fat.
    Just like you, I love good food. It makes me happy! I’ve decided I’m not taking that away. Instead I need to move and strengthen my body. I want to be fit but more importantly I want to be healthy and pain free. I’m naturally lazy, I struggle to get my butt off the couch but once I do I love my workouts.
    I don’t know how the 12 steps work but I will follow you and maybe this will be a starting point for me as well. I want to feel worthy in my own eyes just as I am, no matter my size. I want to love and accept myself, love handles included. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That makes me so sad that you never took those ballet classes Lorena. I think there are so many things like that for all of us in life–big and little things that we miss because of our relationship to our bodies. It’s also tragic that it starts so young. I have twi nieces–one four and one two, and I worry about things they are hearing already cause i know how early these thoughts started for me. I want their world to be different. I want them to look at their bodies as vehicles for their lives, rather than an adornments for the lives of men and other people. I know all of this cannot happen in a day but i think we as women can all start to take charge of our own relationships with our bodies and change things.

      I am glad you mentioned good food–isn’t it the best? I am hungry right now, going to fix myself something delicious for lunch! Ah! I love eating! And i am so glad i love eating–one of life’s greatest joys, right?
      i also really love your attitude about your health and your body. We are all different. I think my parents were always workout freaks so i became one as well–I LOVE it, but i know most people don’t. I love though that you have discovered that once you do get your butt up and get active, you DO love that feeling as well, and you thrive off of it. I think if more people had a taste of that feeling, we would all be more active and healthier.
      I hope this can be a starting point for you. Anyone can work the steps–really, they are just an amazing tool to help us with life. It’s not really about being an addict or having a really messed up life–anyone can use this stuff! We all need help!
      I am really so thrilled to have you along for this journey Lorena–please chime in ALL the time ;). x

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      1. I love what you said about how bodies should be seen as vehicules for our lives, not adornments!! Wrote it in big letters. That’s the focus we all should have. worries me what we are projecting to the little ones out there. Lots of toddlers in my life right now and I have thought many times when we adults are talking about our bodies that they are hearing/soaking it up…how can they be protected?

        I will do the 12 steps. Í haven’t decided how open I will be with it, if I will mention it in my blog. I need to do this for ME and don’t want to

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Step One: We Admitted… – cat h. bradley

  6. So strong and open – I salute you.

    On your body not being the “right type” to do marathons, I do have a theory that our bodies get so shocked the first time we do endurance training that it stores the fat, hangs onto it, in case we’re doing some migration or something, trekking across wherever our ancestors trekked across. I found my first and second maras, this happened to me. My third one, which was 6 months after my second, I found that DIDN’T happen, like my body was accustomed to it, just like it got accustomed to running in the first place. Just leaving that there (and hoping it’s not triggering. I certainly didn’t lose weight but I didn’t put on that soft, protective layer).

    I’m kind of OK with my body image but I am having real trouble with depression and negative self-worth at the moment, due to being knocked for six by some family stuff. This has allowed me to do some bad decision making and getting overwhelmed by work. And not sleeping. And feeling worse. Etc. Trying to work on the work overload so I can address the other stuff – and having a family time afternoon reading blog posts and reconnecting myself with the outside world of running and books, with husband and cat nearby, searching for holidays and snoring.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s good to know Liz about the second and third marathons. It makes sense that your body would start to trust you and understand that it doesn’t need to store for some long arduous journey.
      I am so sorry you’re struggling with depression. I am familiar with that struggle as well. Hope reconnecting with yourself and time with your hubs and kitty put you on a better path. Lots of love your way! x

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, you always amaze me with your openness and honesty chick, I bloody love your blogs! You’ve got a great grit in you and you’ll smash this, because it’s what you want and what your ready to do.

    You’ve read some of my issues, mostly the internal beast that makes me push harder than my body can handle. I seem to always be recovering from some silly endeavour that’s left me broken in some way! I’m trying to control this better, but I may have to take serious action and I’ll be I retested to see how you apply the 12 step to your mission.

    I have a weird relationship with my body image. I can recognise I have a strong body but it doesn’t always look how I want it to. I see to much bulk sometimes, or not enough. My six pack comes and goes but I try not to dwell, ultimately it means nothing.

    My eating has changed so much over the last few years. From diet if a 17 year old to vegan, to veggie to high fat, to atkins…..I’m reaching the point where I think I need to get tested as my stomach can have some very off days and my energy is nowhere near what it used to be.

    I can’t wait to follow your journey as always 😁😘xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for saying all this lady. I needed to read your first paragraph this morning–needed that encouragement! All this is very much easier said than done and i have to dig down and really start doing the work!
      You know what’s funny Deb is if I had your body, I wouldn’t do any of this work. Not that I wouldn’t need to, cause i would still be obsessed with what i looked like, but i know i wouldn’t do this work because your type of musculature is what i really want. I feel like the universe is holding me back from having that though–like i am not one of those people who will get that body–cause me having it is not really going to serve me or other people that i might help. If I had your body i would probably flaunt it, and just post a lot about my workouts and just tell people that it’s all about hard work. All the while, I would still probably not love myself inside, and i’d still see imperfections, and still be picking myself apart. I’d probably be terrified of losing that body as well. Idk, just realizing that the universe doesn’t always give me the things i want, for a reason! Or maybe it will give them to me–but I’ve got to go on quite a learning journey to earn them, otherwise, I won’t have the proper appreciation. We each get our own gifts and challenges I think!

      Also…I relate to changing your diet an trying to find that energy! Currently working realllly hard in my workouts but feeling like i need something more to carry me through–it’s frustrating when your tank feel empty and you need that fuel!

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      1. I am lucky in my genetics, deffinatly. And having always done a physical job since I was 19 means I have a base fitness above average. I keep trying to find a way to better use this gift and I think I’m forming a plan. I think my boredom threshold is my challenge 😂 I throw myself into things and then move onto the next interesting thing that crosses my path. My brain is always jumping to other ideas!

        Have you heard of ‘The Zone’ diet? I’m starting to look into it. It’s big in the Crossfit circles.

        Keep pushing chick, you’ve got this. X

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I think it’s great you’re working to accept yourself and your body more readily. It’s so hard as women to go through life NOT being aware of body image, or not feeling guilty in some way about what we look like. I hate to admit this, but the truth is, I grew up hearing that fat = bad. Being fat (according to some family members) was probably the worst thing you could be. So I’ve always had it ingrained in me that I needed to do anything I could to not let that happen. I’ve never had an eating disorder, but food and weight have definitely taken up a LOT of brain space over the course of my life. Even today. Anyway, I can relate!

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    1. You are definitely not the only one who grew up hearing that fat=bad Ari. I am not sure what’s worse–when that is said openly, or when the people projecting it don’t even realize that’s what they are doing. I have two young nieces now and I feel extremely protective over them–I don’t want them hearing/feeling the same shit I did growing up.
      I hope to write all this in a way that people with and without eating disorders can connect to. Although eating disorders are in my past, I have not acted on them in a very long time. So while I connect to women who have dealt with that, I now feel more similar to women like you–who haven’t take things to extremes but whose brain space has been taken up with this shit for a long time. It’s so tiring to me–I am sick of it. When I listen to other women I get even more sick of it cause i realize how ingrained it is in all of us and i just think it’s bullshit. Counting calories, weighing, goal weights, diets. Men are fucking brilliant. You create a culture where the other sex is constantly obsessed with what they look like, you know they’ll never have their full brain power to inhabit the space and the rights they are capable of and should own. Fucking brilliant.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I think I actually just fell in love with you a little bit lol ❤

    Not only have you identified the issue, you've expressed in a way that hits me to my core. I admire your determination and strength for putting it all out on the table.

    I'll be reading, mulling, applying… and of course rooting for you with all of my being.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Grrrrllll…I’ve BEEN in love with you ;).

      Now I’ve got to get to this shit. I’ve tried to start and I’ve realized I’ve talked a good game, and now i have to back it up and really do the work! oy vey.

      Thanks for the support love. Will be looking forward to your insights along the way. x

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Props to you for making such a commitment to change your mindset; it has to be one of the toughest things anyone can do. As much as being a runner can help our body image I think sometimes it tends to make us self scrutinize even more because we just become so much more tuned into our bodies. In the past year I put on about 4 pounds and I’m fairly certain it’s all in my thighs, I believe as muscle, as my jeans feel tighter through my legs. As someone who has been blessed to still wear clothing from high school/college seeing the number on the scale go up was worrisome at first. I had to keep reminding myself that I’ve developed a lot more strength from the half marathon training as well as new types of workouts and it’s ok.

    The comments above about body image developing as a teen I find to be interesting though I would slightly disagree. I had a lot worse body image as a teen than I do now. I hated being small chested, “skin and bones” and acne dominated. Working at a juniors’ clothing store in college didn’t help as I was constantly seeing girls trying on clothes who could fill them out a lot better than me and wanting to cry sometimes trying on tops that just hung on me. As I progressed through my later 20s into now I would say I’m a lot more comfortable with my body. Running longer distances has helped to an extent – no pain from bouncing in a sports bra to worry about for me!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you’re so right about being a runner TN and how in tune with our bodies it makes us. It is good, but it also means we’re pretty hyper-aware of every curve and bulge. It’s interesting to hear from everyone cause each of us have our own “issues” even though some of us don’t consider them issues. For example, It’s amazing to me how frequently many american women weigh themselves. Many would say they don’t really have eating or weight issues, but monitor and stress about the fluctuation of 3-5 pounds. It’s hard, we are all very conditioned and it starts at such a young age regardless of what type of body we are genetically predisposed to have.
      I am sure your weight gain is from you getting stronger. I’d love to live in a world where you were excited about that rather than having to assure yourself that that’s what it was and that that is ok. I mean, 4 lbs? It’s tough that we worry about 4 lbs!

      I also really appreciate that you brought up the discomfort and woe of the lack of curves/having a flat chest. I have never faced this but have many friends who have. (And most of them LOVE their small boobies now as adults, lol)

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  11. Progress not perfection. Give yourself permission to enjoy the trip and stop worrying so much about the destination.

    The ultimate destination is death anyway. We all need to enjoy ourselves before we get there.

    That being said, I struggle with enjoying the trip, too, not as much as I used to though.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. At the age of 71, I am the happiest about my body, love myself exactly as is, but am overweight. As a Young girl, brother’s and their friends called me:”Fat Pat”, and I believed them! Always had a poor body image. When drinking and doing drugs, I ended up 10 lbs underweight and was told how great I looked! Test I side I dreamed of a plan to kill myself…..screwy! The day I had an experience of bei by loved by God changed my perspective. Since then I have spent more time in healing my mind and soul and living my body just like it was. A couple or years ago, a second brother died. Was looking for pics to send to his daughter and came across some of me. I was NOT fat!!! I am now, but I see love in my face and I don’t seem to mind my body. I suffer from disordered eating as it is my go-to for everything…..sad,happy,angry,afraid. Keep promising myself am going to change and love myself more, tomorrow. Always busy helping others, no time at the end of the day to help me. Now, I have been having some balance issues, and am starting Tai Chi to strengthen my core so I don’t fall. Had given me some new endorphins to start walking again,more endorphins! Am trying to stay out of my mind when looking in the mirror and NOT judge……am hoping I will trim down as I work on not falling. Above all, I know God loves me as is, and He don’t make junk! Pat

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  13. Good for you, Cat. Thanks for your courage and inspiration. Body image isn’t a huge deal for me, although its in there. I am, however, continuing to struggle with the stupid sugar thing (but what do I really think about it). There’s a piece of addictive insanity there that I still have not accessed in a functional manner. So, if I may, I’d like join your journey.
    Yes, I do want to lose some weight, not nearly as much about appearance as it is about knowing that running will be easier if I take a few pounds less with me on each run. I suppose less concern with appearance is a gift of my years. I can feel the strength and functionality beneath the somewhat tattered external wrapper, and I am pleased enough by that that the rest falls away.

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    1. Addictive insanity–that’s right up my alley! Glad to have you along for the journey. I know we can help each other along the way–you’ve already been such a thoughtful resource and friend over the past several months (or a year? has it been a year yet?), I hope i can be useful to you as well.
      I am big on the losing the weight to feel light running too–that’s a real thing. A fine thing. But then sometimes, I make it something else and it’s not so okay. Something I will explore here!
      I def see that less concern with our appearance as we age is a gift–cause really, who wants to live, “concerned”. Still, it feeds a bit into that who thing I mentioned earlier–as we become older people stop looking at us–we have decided that older is less beautiful. Idk, i don’t like it.

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  14. I feel exactly the same way. I’ve never struggled with an eating disorder but I do struggle with worrying about my weight, with want to lose weight or look a certain way. Even though my higher, feminist brain knows it’s all bullshit, I put on a bikini and compare my body to how it used to look, or to other people. I want to stop thinking about myself this way too. I want to come on this journey with you.

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    1. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have you on board! It’s funny cause even though I have a long history with eating disorders–it’s really not how i view myself anymore. I will NEVER go back to that shit–I for sure love myself AND food, way too much. I do feel though just as a woman–it’s so hard to maintain a really healthy and realistic view of ourselves. Sometimes I realize my head is fucked because i look at other women and think they have beautiful bodies–and then at some point it will be pointed out to me (or I’ll just realize when I’m on my own) that I am actually thinner than them. This is just one of the ways i know my brain is off. I want to be able to see myself clearly, but also to change the idea that there is even an ideal.
      Anyway–so fucking pumped that you are coming along for the ride (for some reason certain blogger friends bring out more f-bombs in me–not sure why you have that effect, but def take it as a compliment!) More to come girl–please keep sharing as well!

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  15. I hadn’t thought about it until reading your post, but my body image has gotten worse as I’m aging and falling into the cultural belief that my value goes down with my youth and looks. Although I don’t have an eating disorder, I’ve never liked my stomach, and I have an unreasonable expectation that one day it will be flat, even though that only happened once when I lost too much weight due to anxiety. At the time I thought I looked good, but when I look at pictures, I looked sick! Although I know this, there’s still a part of me that wishes I was that skinny, or just a few pounds more than that. But if I did that, I would still be underweight! What a messed up idea.

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    1. I totally relate to everything you are saying–it can even be frustrating when we hear our own dialogue cause as intelligent people, we know a lot of it doesn’t even really make sense.
      It is good that you can look at those old pics now and realize you looked sick. I have been able to do that too and i think that is a step in the right direction. There was a time when i looked at pics when i was really unhealthy and begged the universe to take me back there! Progress, not perfection, right?

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks for sharing, Cat. I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who told me that she’s stopped trying to “fight” to be skinny. She said she loves to eat well and drink a nice glass of wine so that’s what she’s going to do even if it means she’s 15 or 20 pounds heavier than she would otherwise. I found it wonderful that she’s going to live her life in a way that makes her happy and the hell with how society views her body.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing Donna! I totally relate to your friend actually (although this post might make it sound like i don’t). In comparison to how i used to live before, I do feel much freer. I really don’t feel like i am fighting to be skinny anymore–it’s more like my brain just isn’t where my heart is, if that makes any sense? I know what true happiness and joy are about–and i know it’s not weight! (and i know delicious food actually does make me really happy, lol). Unfortunately, there’s just still something in there that’s not all the way healed yet. Your friend sounds like she is in a good place. I hope to join her there!

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  17. My body image has gotten a lot worse as I age. As a youngster I was always really skinny (genetics, mostly), could shovel it in without gaining weight, all that jazz. I never thought about my weight because I never had to. Even in my early twenties when I did start to gain weight if I didn’t eat right, it was super easy to lose it. But ever since I turned 30 it’s like I’ve hit a point of no return. I’m hyper aware of the softness of my body, each newfound curve, the filling out of my hips and butt and upper legs. I still love my body, but I find myself constantly thinking about how clothes don’t fit the same anymore and “I bet I’d run fast again if I were as skinny as I was two marathons ago”. I’m a healthy adult with a healthy, normal body…I think I am just struggling with denial about the fact that I’m getting older and I don’t have the same body or life I did 5-10 years ago.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s funny Hanna, cause you’ve actually sort of pinpointed what bugs me so much about this whole subject: Our culture is so conditioned to believe that as long as we are “thin” there’s nothing to worry about. In the meantime, anyone who’s not thin starts thinking about how they can get there, and many people who are eat like crap because our culture doesn’t emphasize health–it focuses on what we look like on the outside. I don’t really feel like this serves anyone. I’ve got friends who have been thin all of their lives and are just realizing now they could have some health things to worry about, despite their size. (sorry, maybe this was off topic, but you’re looking back through your life struck a chord with me!)
      I relate to that hyperawareness of the softness of your body. I am hyperaware of how my body feels and how it looks as well. I can actually leave the house feeling good–then decide to eat something crappy, and the next mirror I see, the image will be completely different. Kind of messed up-def why i need to do some work.
      I think it’s normal to feel a bit of a loss for a body that you once had. I am just hoping to try and embrace aging as I go cause really, there’s only one other alternative!
      Sidenote: What was it about your life 5-10 years ago that you prefer to now? I am sure whatever it is you have the power to change.

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      1. Good question!! Overall I actually prefer life now to when I was in my 20s. I just feel like I’m in my groove now, and I’m more mature and more centered. I had more energy when I was younger though, and I do sometimes miss that, plus the ability to indulge in junk food and not feel hungover, ha! I think it’s just really hitting me for the first time that the youthfulness I had as a teen/early college student is NEVER coming back. I know that sounds like, duh, but I think I was still able to identify with being young while I was in my early 20s so I didn’t really think about it. Now, it’s for real, we’re adults now and there’s no turning back. I like adulthood but it’s still a sobering thought.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Everything you wrote here resonates with me (and I’m sure with the majority of women). Thank you for being willing to document your journey. I’m inspired to do the same! I really identify with the idea of loving my body at some point in the future — when I lose five pounds, when I lose a couple of inches off my belly, etc. Why not love it now? It does so much for me and I don’t let myself acknowledge it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s crazy Rachael cause while I’m glad I am not the only one–I wish there weren’t SO many women that can identify with me. I wish the norm was body confidence and healthy self image. I really do believe though that there’s some work we can do to get there. At last I think I am willing to do it. (At last I am in enough pain, that’s usually how it works for me!)
      I am so incredibly excited that this has inspired you. I hope you’ll join me on this journey and chime in and let me know how you are doing! x

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  19. Hey there loveliness, I still struggle with disordered eating. But I’ve just started working the steps with a newcomer and it occurred to me that they can be applied to any problem…So while my sponsee is working on hers ( alcohol) I’m writing my own. It’s all about the thinking isn’t it. Sending love S x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey there my lady. Yay, we’ll be working the steps together, I love it! Also-you’re a better person than me–working with newcomers and all. I don’t do much of that!
      Anyway, we should compare notes at some point or at least check in and see how each other are doing. Hope all is well otherwise! x

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Well done for talking about this, and I’ll be interested to read about your progress. I would consider myself in recovery, but at times I wonder if this is what it’ll be like forever, and if I’ll ever have a “normal” self image. I definitely go through long stages of being fine, and then something, like having to eat a meal with someone I don’t know, will throw me and I’ll wonder if I’ve made any progress at all! It’s definitely a constant battle. I would definitely recommend looking into ACT and CBT online, that has a lot of useful exercises you can work through to help see your body in a more positive light, and recognise what your actions are doing. Good luck with everything 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Heather. I wonder if there is anyone who has struggled with disordered eating that hasn’t thought what you just stated: “Will it be like this forever? Will I ever have a “normal” self image”. I think for years and years I told other women, “yes, there is a point where perhaps it’s as good as it gets.” Now i just don’t want to believe that anymore–it’s not good enough. “Fine” is not good enough–not anymore. It has started to piss me off cause I think our culture has so much to do with our thinking that “fine” may be as good as it gets. But really, we should demand more. I think we can have more. We shall see, right? Happy to have you along for the ride! x

      Liked by 1 person

  21. To document your process and share it via the blog is very brave, and I think it will prompt a lot of your readers (myself included) to cast a reflective eye on some of their own challenges or behaviours. Particularly as someone who is preparing to step into an uncertain phase of life, thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re welcome Paul, and thank you! I have to say that I really appreciate how introspective you are and how you are always able to have empathy and relate things I share to your own life–even if the issue isn’t exactly the same. I think that’s a real gift!
      Wishing you luck with your new beginnings!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Thanks for this Cat! I struggle with my body image a lot. A counselor once explained to me that my body image was created when I was an early teen and I was at my heaviest then so that what I always see in the mirror. I never see the person who has lost fifty pounds and can run for miles and works out:(. I definitely need to work on this and am by trying to focus on what my body does for me rather than what it looks like. It’s an uphill battle in this society though:(

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow, I never thought of it like that. That your body image was created when you were a teen. Might explain a lot about how I feel now. While a fair amount heavier, I am fitter, stronger and generally much more confident than what I was. For the most part I don’t worry about my body image, but it surely lurks and rears its ugly head occasionally, and that’s when I jump start my regime somehow.
      I need to think more about that and re-evaluate my body image and thoughts surrounding it. I am already doing more strength and fitness to improve the physicality of running, not so my body looks better – that’s wonderful side effect sure, but not the final destination. Thank you.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Thanks for reading and for chiming in Jennifer–sounds like you’re doing pretty well for yourself! I totally relate though to the bad body image “lurking”-that’s kind of how mine can be too. I can go a while and feel okay, but it’s always kind of around the corner! Thanks for sharing!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. After reading your post and the comments I’m tempted to write my own post re body image and the like. I grew up with none of that, no expectations were out on me in any way shape or form, so I’m finding it odd sometimes to have these feelings.

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      3. Regardless of how you grew up, I don’t think anyone can expect to be immune in the culture we live in! A lot of things affect us subconsciously and without our realizing!
        I hope you do write that post, I will look for it!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. You’re welcome AJ! That’s an interesting thought about your body image being created when you are a teen. In the recovery world, we often talk about how we stop developing emotionally when we first start using–i kind of relate these two things. It has made a lot of sense in my recovery. There have been some pretty basic things that I didn’t really learn and develop as a teen that I have had to confront as an adult–like having a fight with someone. For years i pretty much just had fights with people and stopped being friends with them. I ran/walked away from everything. All of the sudden when i got sober i realized that method was a bit ridiculous–that you could have a disagreement with someone and work it out. Interesting to start to look back at some of these things– I think it’s what healing is all about!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. This is a good post for me to read. Truthfully, I used to have great self-esteem, confident with a slightly attractive edge of arrogance (Okay, I’m kidding…my pride got in the way a lot), good body image and also loved fitness. I’m not sure where it all went and have spent a good majority of my time trying to figure it all out – kind of like my alcoholism. But I guess, in some way, it really doesn’t matter what happened; what matters, is what I’m going to do at this point. For me, I know what I want out of life, but I have to focus on my sobriety for the time being – the other stuff, including the fitness needs to wait for the moment. But I’ll get there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You know what i think one of the keys for us is? To stop trying to figure it all out! Our thinking is often the problem–and then we think we are going to think our way out of everything that ails us. Less thinking–more listening to people who have what we want and action….I think ;).

      Liked by 1 person

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