Thursday, September 6, 2012

I've Let You Down

They say it's good therapy to write your struggles down if you want to get somewhere with breaking through them. Before the age of the internet, some of us would rush to our diaries to share these battles with an audience of no one; others would grab a handy spiral notebook to jot down a thought or two only to roll it up into a ball and toss it into the nearest available wastebasket.

Now we have the ability to share our thoughts or demons we're fighting with an entire community all around the world. It gives us an instant soundboard where we once relied on a conversation or a letter to a friend to get any wanted (or unwanted) feedback. We also have the opportunity to make a positive impact by taking a negative aspect of our lives and sharing its realism with the world while exercising our own humility in the process. Almost any struggle you have can be empathized by another person because he/she is right in the middle of it like you are. We can find comfort in this if we only reach out to the world with our current struggles. There truly is strength in numbers as well as accountability where needed.

This leads me to the purpose of this entire blog post. I have demons I fight on a daily basis. They may be different from yours, but neither is any less of a demon than the other. I've shared mine in the past, but I've been pressed to share them again lately. I'm finding that balancing work, family, health and fitness, and relaxation time has been more difficult than I had envisioned since my daughter was born almost a year ago. When I stress, I tend to let one or more things get thrown to the bottom of the list of priorities. The one that always makes its way to the bottom is my health.

Ever since I was a teenager, I've struggled with anorexia to different degrees. When I became health and fitness-conscious the beginning of 2008, I started to turn my life around. I was eating as much as I should be, and I was eating the right things. I made dramatic changes to my body for the better. I gained weight and had lean muscle mass. I looked and felt great. I was quickly becoming a type of role model to people I encountered on Facebook, my friends, and my coworkers. I was one of the few (at the time) Team Beachbody coaches who gained weight as a result of doing the company's fitness programs. In the back of my mind, I was aware that this demon was always going to be here and could come back at any point in time; however, I was convinced I'd never let it happen, so it was not an issue.

Fast-forward this timeline to February 2011: I found out I was pregnant with my first child, and I was ecstatic. I vowed to be one of the few mothers who worked out consistently and stayed conscious of what she was putting into her body so that her child could have the best nutrition possible. Very shortly into my pregnancy, I realized I wasn't able to work out like I wanted to. Each time I tried, I would feel nauseated and couldn't bring myself to continue. I eventually had to give it up entirely, and I didn't work out the rest of my pregnancy. That's not to say I wasn't active because I made sure I kept moving and climbed stairs on a daily basis right up until the hours before my daughter was born.

The nutrition aspect was tricky. I didn't binge on junk food, and for 90-95% of my pregnancy, I ate very well. Unfortunately, I wasn't eating very much. Not only was I not consuming enough for myself, I wasn't consuming enough for a baby on top of that. I knew this but still couldn't bring myself to eat more for fear that I would gain more weight than was absolutely necessary. Maybe I would have gained more weight had I eaten as much as I should have. Maybe not. I ultimately gained 22 pounds altogether, which was within the range that I needed to be. I gave birth to an 8 lb, 10 oz, healthy baby despite the lack of nutrition I provided for her. I was truly blessed that things turned out that way.

The time spent after my pregnancy has been an uphill battle as far as eating goes. I started off with a lot of motivation to get back to where I was, so I tried eating well, and I started working out again 6 weeks after I gave birth. As time went on, and I was working out consistently, I was getting frustrated that there wasn't much change to my body. I was expecting to jump right back into the body I had before I was pregnant. It's an inconceivable notion to the wise man, but it was a reality in my head. I had been trained from my years of self-motivation that anything is possible. I'm not saying that I could never get my body back the way it was before I was pregnant, but it will take a lot more work and probably will never be exactly the way I envision it. Having had a C-section, I know my abdominal muscles are not the same. Everything has been shifted, stretched and cut. I even have charley-horse-like pains when I do hamstring stretches or many yoga moves. My abs are also not as flexible, and I struggle with twisting my torso. Those issues alone are discouraging because my flexibility will suffer because of them.

All these issues culminate into one large disappointment in myself. Is it unwarranted? Yes. Is it unrealistic to feel this way? Of course. How my mind works and how it should work are two entirely different things. I've let situations I've been in and people I've known to dictate the way I feel about myself and how much self-esteem I allow myself to have. I find myself somewhere between surrendering to these feelings and wanting to fight them.

This pattern allows me to fall back into starving myself. For years this was how I dealt with stress or how I would punish myself for something I felt I'd done wrong. I'm finding myself right back in the undertow of this disease. I'm trying to paddle my way out but not grabbing onto the occasional life preserver that's thrown my way. In my own pride, I feel like I can get out of this myself when it's clear that I cannot. It's funny how pride blinds you to reality, but we're so hell-bent on hanging onto that as if it's absolute truth.

This is my moment of honesty. I'm failing in my fitness and nutrition because I've fallen back into this lingering disease. I'm definitely not perfect but never thought I'd see myself in this situation again. If you're suffering from this, you know it's just a matter of being in remission rather than ever being cured. It's a daily struggle to keep the emotions at bay and focus on what's important. Some days are worse than others. I'm determined to get back on track, and I'm going to exercise the aforementioned humility by asking for your help and support. Help me to be an example for the girl/boy/woman/man that is sharing this emotion with me right now. I can't do it alone.

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