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I know it’s been over a week since I last posted, but I just wanted to begin by saying that I have not forgotten about this blog. In fact, I’ve been thinking about what to write nearly every day because there is simply too much for me to write at this point, and then again I don’t want to write too much since I’m still writing more chapters of my project (okay, okay…I’ll try to call it “book” at this point but I don’t want to be overconfident that it will become one). I don’t want to give too much away with what has happened to me yet I want to help others who are struggling. And then again how am I supposed to post about my experiences now if you don’t have much background information? All a big dilemma. And so I find myself writing a good blog post, only to realize I could use it for my project (whoops, “book”).
But it looks like the–book–may be coming to an end (as in, a conclusion). Yes, I think I am developing an ending at last. But I can never be too sure because I thought my “ending” to all of this was back in October at the end of my sophomore cross country season. It’s weird how you think you have come to that “aha moment” (props to Dr. Chesley for that phrase) and then life moves on…and you realize you still had a long way to go yet.
But I guess I have to stop somewhere, because whether I like it or not, I’m going to keep learning more lessons in life that may or may not pertain to the eating disorder, and books are folly like that; they have to end at some point but life goes on.
A Second Chance
So does this mean I may end the book before writing about my final two years of competing collegiately? In a way, I hope so. I hope I can leave this eating disorder in the past, only as something that has made me into the stronger woman I am today. So yes, to answer the question about whether I am still racing in college it is a definite yes–I have two more years!
At this point I see the final two years of college as a second chance–a second chance to compete for my team, to continue letting go of Rawchael (while remembering her too, for she has made me into the stronger person I am today) and to continue to become the best Rachael I can be.
A second chance to be able to live the college life free (or at least lessened) from the burden of anxiety with food. I can’t believe I’ve been consumed with all of this for nearly four years now…and that’s often a short span of time for those with eating disorders. Through my research I learned it can last ten years to a lifetime in some cases. And it seems early intervention is the key to recovery. Luckily it seems raw food forced me into getting help…but it still took a long time. Once I did receive more help I saw that writing, analyzing myself, and getting the support and help from friends and family (i.e., talking a lot) sped things up.
So yet again, I encourage anyone dealing with an eating disorder to get help (I don’t care how “not bad enough” it is. I thought the same thing and couldn’t understand why I still couldn’t shake it off for the longest time). Even if it’s just a message to me, just a note to share your struggles with someone, please do it, because it will only help the process.
When Times Get Tough Again
Even after or near the end of recovery, nothing is smooth sailing from there on out. Falling is scary because the hardest part is learning how to get back up. It’s even harder when things have been going so well and you suddenly find yourself trapped again. That familiar feeling creeps over you, like an enemy who has died has come back to haunt you. It’s hard to hear the voice of hope disappear again, a voice that had been so strong for so long once everything started feeling good. The tough part is pushing the bad voice away as you reach for the railing pull yourself back up, to reach for your support and goals and beliefs in life. It means applying the tools you knew you may have had to use but hoped to never have to use them again. It means gritting your teeth and getting back on track again, even though the pain of the mistake may still linger.
Each time I fall back or make a mistake, I evaluate the situation, tell myself “it is what it is,” learn from it, and try my best to move on. It’s difficult when my mind keeps falling back to I shouldn’t have taken that extra bite, or if only I ate this instead of that… or maybe I should skip lunch only to surprise surprise, find myself ravenous and seemingly out of control later.
Second chances. Since we have to eat every day, we always get another try, another go at our next meal. And this doesn’t have to just apply to eating disorders–any other troubles in our life in general can see this happening over and over again. If you make a mistake in one area, you are able to try again the next day. It’s time to leave the past (“it is what it is”) and move forward (“I have a second chance”).
So with two more years of college running ahead of me, months of more learning about myself to go, days ahead to look forward to, and every meal to try again, I can find hope, happiness, and a new day to try again.
Let me begin by saying that I eat strangely (i.e., plain oatmeal with raw veggies…we will come to this in a moment). Your meals may never look like mine–I mean, never. Please don’t ever feel like you have to strive to eat even close to the way I eat. It works for me and I encourage you to experiment with any and all whole food to see what works for you. So yes, I eat strange combinations and find them delicious. You may find them revolting. I am only posting this to respond to the question, “What do you eat now?”
I want to make it clear that what I eat right now is not set in stone; obviously things change over time, but this is what I eat after years of gathering information and getting help. This meal plan has been fairly consistent and keeps my weight stable. “Consistent” as in, I’ve been sticking to these foods for the most part for the past two months or so. There were plenty of changes along the way and I improved little by little. So far this has worked best for me as a runner and my personality I guess…if you could say the foods you eat are based on your personality. I think so, at least. I’m open to thoughts on this.
The reasons for each food item in my meal plan can be referred back to my journey into raw food and beyond, but as I said, you shall have to wait and see what happened there when the time comes. For a quick update on “the project” (I refuse to say “book” at this point because who knows if this will actually happen…we will get to that when the time comes) I’ve started to go back to edit/revise a lot of what I’ve written and I’m on document 11 of 47 (12 pages of written material, size 11 font, per document…yeah, there is a lot to look over. But it’s fun; as a writer, it is thrillingly fun). And the journey continues…so I do not yet have an ending. I’ll let you know if I reach 60 documents (I hope not).
Alright, lets get to it!
Calories may vary each day depending on how much I run. For the most part I follow a schedule of breakfast, lunch, and dinner with two snacks but some days I may eat less if I’m just not hungry and other days I’ll add in an extra meal (like on long run days when I’m extra hungry). Each meal usually includes a fat, protein, carb, fruit, and vegetable.
Breakfast: Carb (like potato or oatmeal when potatoes don’t sound good) with eggs, an apple (with liquid iron because I lose so much iron through running), and crunchy raw vegetables. Yes, this means that when I eat oatmeal I mix it in with the raw vegetables, eggs, etc. The apple is the sweet “ending” to the meal.
I believe potatoes are the best highest-source of carbs for me (plus they’re tasty) and I notice that including carbs in my meal helps the fullness factor.
Eggs are known to keep hunger at bay for a long time (with the healthy egg yolk–yes, yolk is healthy. Fat does not make you fat).
The apple is just obviously healthy and I like to add a little sweetness to eat meal. I preferably go for organic because apples are part of the “dirty dozen.” Plus the vitamin C helps me to absorb my iron. Why not other fruit? Apples never sounded that tasty on the 30bananasaday diet, but once I got off of 90% fruit diet, apples suddenly taste amazing again (don’t ask me why…it just happened this way).
And I’m sick of bananas; really, really sick of bananas.
Lunch: an avocado with raw vegetables, any form of meat protein (ground beef, chicken, turkey–free range, grass-fed from the farmer’s market!), potatoes, and an apple.
raw vegetables: well, the raw food diet should explain why these are so great. I am just happy to keep including them in my diet and I always like to have something crunchy in my meal.
avocado: Healthy fat, plus it’s delicious with the raw veggies! And you can absorb more of the vegetable nutrients if you include fat with it.
meat protein: highest source of protein, tastes good…learned a lot of great information from the Paleo diet about the benefits of meat.
Dinner: Looks about the same as lunch.
Snacks: potato or fruit before the run (I can easily digest these carbs with no stomach problems). The reason why I don’t include as much fat in my diet (especially before I run) is because it bothers my stomach and I end up having to wait 4-6 hours after eating fat in order to run without pain/discomfort. Blech. Plus I’m happy to eat my carbs from potatoes–they are a great fuel, filling, and taste great!
I also indulge in dark chocolate, Ecotrek bars, all natural peanut butter, and Nutri-grain bars (childhood favorite). I eat grains/gluten once in a while because they don’t bother me but I try to keep it to only to when I truly crave them. Usually I will eat Ezekiel bread and/or oatmeal when I crave bread-y stuff. I also know that wheat makes it difficult to absorb iron so that’s another reason why I try to avoid it but it is not completely off limits.
In fact, no food is completely off limits for me. I will eat processed desserts on occasion and other “fear foods” when I feel up for it. I just want to eat healthy on a consistent basis and I happen to love healthy food after eating it so much.
As I mentioned before, please don’t feel like you need to completely emulate what I eat. I certainly don’t know everything about nutrition but I have done my research, and even in my research I’ve seen that different diets work for different people. Find what works best for you!
Now that I’m “all grown up” in my nutrition and cravings knowledge, I thought it’d be fun to look back at the journal entries I posted on this website and point out “what went wrong” during those binge/craving moments. Why did I feel so out of control? What was I missing?
A whole lot, some of you say. You shrug. “Raw food. Not enough nutrition.”
Sure, to an extent. Raw food obviously provides a lot of great nutrition from all the wonderful raw fruits and veggies, but I was definitely missing out on a few important parts of the raw food diet because of my restrictive tendencies; I was still just too darn scared of calories (I shouldn’t eat too much fruit!) and my fear of fat prevailed (limit the nuts, seeds, and especially the oils!).
I believe the “binges” (was it really bingeing? My body was just desperate for calories and nutrients) were a mixture of emotional and physical aspects, but since I am a very nutrition-body-based researcher, I see much of this as a physical cry for the right food. Every time I thought I was “emotional-eating” in the journal entries I now realize I was just missing “this this and this.” Let me explain as we dive into the past yet again…
July 14: I had a delicious spinach and butternut squash salad with hummus for dinner, but still felt like I was tearing down the kitchen in search for food. (Really? I wonder why. A measly salad isn’t going to keep you full, especially with all the running you did…). So instead of bingeing like crazy again (I could feel it coming on) I tried to just stick with an avocado and ate it until satisfied. (Looks like you were starting to see what your body needed…)
I think I’m figuring out this bingeing problem. I don’t think I’m getting in enough fats (BINGO!) so my body tries to look for anything at night and I finally fill up when I just eat the fat! (And why didn’t you keep this in mind for later?) [...]
I’ve been eating oatmeal lately. I don’t know why it’s been calling to me so much, but I’ve been giving in (Need…more…carbs…). I ate so much bread (CARBS) the other night [...]
I looked up the nutritional profile of oatmeal and saw that it is rich in manganese, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. Maybe I’m lacking some of those minerals? (Or did you just need carbs? Your body was hungry)
July 29: But by the time I got on the plane I was famished because I didn’t have much fruit all morning. When I arrived at the Denver, Colorado airport I quickly grabbed four bananas from a food station and scarfed those down which helped immensely—for the time being.
6 hours later…
Connie got me some raw grawnola. I tried not to eat it because I knew it would be very fatty and bother me on the run I’d be doing that night, but the moment I got back to my room I was famished. I couldn’t get to the food fast enough (body desperate for calories, anyone?), and I was relieved to have brought some of my own food. I ended up eating all of the grawnola (a small bag full), two pears and three raw food bars. I felt guilty about the raw food bars but I didn’t care in the moment because I was so hungry (body in binge mode–get it all in, and fast!). I scarfed everything down viciously like it was the last time I would ever eat. And finally, finally I felt satisfied—well, more like stuffed.
August 8: Today I’m trying to just eat a little. I feel like I have to do that for myself. I have to set up a plan, though:
Breakfast: 1/2 melon
Lunch: vegetables of any kind, little to no fat
Dinner: ??? Vegetables?
I just want to keep everything light and fresh. We’ll see how this goes…
Yeah this didn’t work at all.
Hmm, I wonder why. No fat + no carbs + only vegetables = FAMISHED!
August 29: My next obstacle are the larabars. They are much healthier and pretty “raw,” but they still have a lot of calories and they are addicting for me. I need to limit how many I eat. (My body was desperate for more calories and it knew these bars were loaded with both fats and carbs–the macronutrients I tried to get my body away from. I honestly thought I could train myself to just eat vegetables for the most part to keep my calories low and feel full).
September 5: That night my friends made pear pie. I didn’t really want it but I didn’t care. I ate second and third helpings of it, and ate even more of it this morning. I ate three more Larabars and bananas in secrecy. My friends whipped up pancakes and I couldn’t resist any longer. I didn’t even care that they didn’t sound good; I would force them in my body, make myself eat them because I wouldn’t allow myself to have them in the past. (Now THIS was emotional eating. I know this because I had restricted these “forbidden” foods for so long and at this point I figured what the hell, force them in even if you’re not hungry because then you can finally taste these lovely foods again before you have to restrict. You’re drowning in your own misery, anyway).
September 12: I felt famished while I worked out on the elliptical. Not empty-stomach famished, but famished in the way that I needed something now. The craving was unbearable (No wonder; I tried to go too long without sufficient fat and carbs). I couldn’t stop thinking about tomato sauce (a combo of carbs and fat). I got into the cafeteria and loaded a plate with steamed vegetables, salad, and poured tomato sauce on top of that along with a small amount of pasta salad and this lasagna stuff with cheese. I also added eggs because that sounded good (fat and protein!). I added more raw vegetables to get more healthy things in there, but honestly all that truly tasted good were the cooked foods, especially the cheese, pasta, and tomato sauce (Fat and carbs). I felt like I was wolfing everything down, I felt so hungry for it. I tried to eat more steamed vegetables and raw broccoli with the soup, but it just didn’t feel right to me. I have no idea what it was that lead me to be so adamant about the other food. I feel like I can’t say I “needed” the nutrients in the cooked food–because white, refined pasta really doesn’t have any (But it’s a quick source of carbs and your body was desperate). The cheese might’ve been okay. Maybe I just haven’t had enough fat or something? (It’s still taking you this long to get it in your head?) As bad as this binge was I didn’t feel guilty about it afterward because it was so intense; I don’t think I would have made it through the evening without indulging like I did tonight (which shows just how strong the body can get when it needs to rebel and get what it needs–hence, the idea that “you need more discipline” or “willpower” is not a valid point to make).
September 13: Lunch: I ate my typical salad and then of course I craved the giant cupcakes sitting at the dessert area of the cafeteria (Must we go over this again? Still need more carbs and fat in the meal. A salad with just vegetables on it isn’t going to cut it). They looked so creamy and delicious and I eventually caved into one. [...]
I chewed gum to help myself not eat for the rest of the night. I felt a little guilty about that though because I know gum still has calories and I ended up going through a pack and a half…gosh I sound like a smoker. (And of course, the gum would only make me crave MORE sugar because of the artificial sweetener in it…so of course the cupcakes I found later were antagonizing and I finally gave in).
So there you have it. After all the years of experimenting with food, I feel like I finally know what goes on with my body now and why, which helps me to feel less in a “panic” when I do happen to crave certain foods. I think, what macronutrient is that high in?
Maybe if I would have tried the raw food diet “one more time” knowing these things, it might have turned out differently. However, high protein sources are much more satiating…and chewing through pounds of raw leafy greens and a few handfuls of nuts throughout the day isn’t quite what I want to do to get in my protein when it’s now as easy as opening a can of tuna or eating some meat. Believe me when I say I am very happy where I am now and don’t plan on changing much.
Like I said, everyone is different, but this is what works for me. What are your thoughts and experiences?
Doesn’t that word just have feeling of “enormity” when you say or look at it? I think it’s the “b” letter that does it for me. As in, “BIG”–big meal, big feelings, big person (feeling that way). (By the way, does that word have two ways of spelling it? I prefer “bingeing” as opposed to “binging”…let me know your thoughts on this haha)
I’ll admit, posting about my bingeing episodes on this website was embarrassing. Luckily they were far enough in the past that posting about my distant experiences made it a little easier. This might be why I am devoting an entire post to the topic; maybe I want to redeem myself, or maybe it is just the part of my past that I am most upset with and regret. But without going through it and especially without going back to read and analyze my experiences (thumbs up for my awesome journaling skills) I would never have learned more about it to help prevent myself from falling into those binges today.
Thus, I am happy to share what I have learned with you all. I also hope that by explaining bingeing to those who do not deal with eating disorders, you can understand why bingeing occurs. I am in no way a professional in understanding how this works; I simply speak from experience and experimentation.
Why Can’t I Keep Up the “Discipline”?
I hate it when I feel the binge coming on. I hate thinking, “Oh no, not today…please not today.” It’s like I could just tell, could just feel it in my throat, like it was a deep urge to tear down the kitchen in search of any “forbidden” food that would most satisfy my cravings. I used to think I had just lost my “willpower” and “discipline.” That was until I learned more about the body and how after exhausting all that “willpower” and “discipline” to restrict, your body WILL (for the most part) rebel. So surprise surprise, my body was just about fed up with me. It was time for the body to take charge again. Let’s make these cravings torturous and shove “discipline” to the side.
So why was I bingeing all of a sudden? In the summer of 2010 I could exert all the willpower in the world. I could restrict, hold back on my deepest food desires. Not to say it was easy; it was hard, but at least I felt like I could control it. I wanted the control that bad.
So what made me “not want it as bad” the next year?
Oh believe me, I still wanted the control. I still wanted that power; I hungered for it. But there was something about food that suddenly took control over me now. Suddenly I couldn’t tell my body what to do; suddenly my body was taking charge and I felt as if I were held captive to it. Something about my body said hey, I’ve had enough of this; let’s shut your brain off for a bit so we can get what we need.
Not to say I was like a zombie stumbling around the kitchen. Oh, I was aware of what was happening. So I can’t say my mind “forced” me to eat all that sugary junk. But the cravings had never felt so strong, so constant, so life-consuming that I “needed” to get rid of them to function, just to be able to get on with my day. It is difficult to explain unless you have actually experienced it. If you have that perfectionist mentality when it is “all or nothing” and go into “all” for a while (for me, restricting) then you may fall into the “nothing” eventually (bingeing).
I had a talk with my dad recently about the difference between “discipline” and “disorder.” I can understand where the mix-up occurs. I think my answer would be that if you go to one extreme (exerting so much discipline without any wiggle room) then it can turn into a disorder (eating too much after eating too little and having feelings of guilt, anguish, remorse, fear of food, etc where on the other hand one without a disorder may just see it as an occasional indulgence). Who knows if that’s accurate, but that’s the best way I can put the ideas together.
Hitting the Books
So I learned about bingeing. Being the researcher I am, over the years I tried to figure out where the bingeing came from, why I was suddenly doing it, and of course, how I could stop. Well it turns out trying to take fat and carbs out of the diet will leave you feeling very hungry. Seriously, can you believe you can’t function on just green veggies alone? Or at least, you can’t feel full/satisfied.
Yeah, I thought I could do it. I have all the discipline in the world, I thought.
“Umm…hello? Yeah, you’re body here–I count in the equation, too right?”
I figured that out–mostly at the end of the day, when 5-14 miles of running and a lack of sufficient calories caught up with me.
Not only did I do my own research (and as you saw came to one of many conclusions that eating a buttload of fruit would help the bingeing problem and still help me lose weight thanks to 30bananasaday…which, in the end, only made the cravings and bingeing worse), but I had the wonderful, life-altering help from my eating-disorder-sports-related-and-all-that-jazz dietician, Trina Weber (I had to extend the title to emphasize how awesome she is).
Yes, Trina has been fantastic; in fact, for those of you who still suffer from an eating disorder and have not yet sought help, I highly recommend going to a registered Dietician (especially one who is registered for helping those with eating disorders). A counselor/therapist helps things move along nicely, too.
Believe me, I thought seeing a Dietician would be a waste of time. After all, haven’t I learned enough about nutrition over the years to know what I should eat? Aren’t I Rachael, health-nut guru, seeker of ultimate nutrition?
No. Believe it or not, I had to humbly trudge into the dietician’s office and get a swift kick in the butt if I wanted to see improvement in my daily eating. I had to tell myself that yes, I did not know absolutely everything, especially when it came to bingeing and how to eat “right.” After all these years of absorbing different advice from different health-seekers, I felt lost and confused, struggling to find balance again.
It was as if I were a child who reverted back to crawling and had to learn how to walk again.
Trina was the key to me understanding the terrible cravings I had as well as teaching me how to eat again. Looking back at many of my old posts where I write in despair about the so-called “bingeing” I want to shake that poor, scared girl and explain why she was “bingeing” (i.e., my body was in desperate need for adequate calories either from carbs or fat…both of which I tried to avoid. I actually thought I could stay full off of mere vegetables).
Sure, there can be many different reasons for bingeing–emotional, not eating enough throughout the day or over the period of a few days to months, or not getting in the right macronutrients that your body needs.
For me, bingeing was an emotional response when I had my knee injury. I knew it was emotional because I had cut out certain foods for so long and once I was injured I figured what the heck, I’m just going to eat everything that I would never have let myself eat before. I would shove it into my body even though I wasn’t even hungry; there was something about it that I “had” to have.
The emotional bingeing died down once I could run again, but restricting and not eating enough in general brought on the bingeing. For the most part this bingeing was due to restricting for periods (trying to regain what I had done before–enter, “discipline”) and trying to restrict myself to certain food groups or macronutrients (just fat and protein for a while).
After I went in to see my dietician for the first time she saw how I was low in carbs and bingeing on sugary things–sugary peanut butter, Nutri-grain bars (a childhood favorite…ugh), jars of jelly, chocolate bars…
“You are very low in carbs,” she said, looking over what I ate for the day (oh my word…as I type this I’m thinking, I am such a writer, such a storyteller. Why can’t I ever just tell you what happened instead of creating a whole dialogue out of it?).
Low in carbs. Hmm. Well I wanted to be low in carbs. No way was it going to cause me to crave sugary things. That was just stupid. This was exactly why I didn’t want to go see the Dietician. I knew what I was doing!
“What do you eat for your carbs?” she asked.
That was about it. Seriously. I tried to get myself to go low-carb to lose weight; at least, I thought I’d give it a whirl. More info to come when you can read into it later…
Finally, finally after bingeing over and over again, going back to see Trina a few times…I decided to test her hypothesis. And lo and behold?
I started to gain control of the bingeing–for the most part. Sure, I had a ways to go in learning to eat more carbs again, but once I got the hang of it (i.e., finally in the past few months) it has helped immensely.
Crave chocolate? Eat more carbs. Crave Nutri-grain bars? Eat more carbs.
Well, I go for the quick treat, first…just in case that small bite is just enough for what I desire. Then I try to work on other things (i.e., writing in my journal, reading, etc). If I still crave that sugary yumminess (as in, now I want an entire chocolate bar or apple pie), I try to eat WHOLE FOOD carbs like potatoes. But then again I may go for the oatmeal or sprouted-grain Ezekiel bread…basically anything high-carb like that (preferably potatoes but sometimes oatmeal just sounds way better). It may not sound appetizing but usually once I start eating those high-carb whole foods, I find that they do taste good and that yes, maybe I did need more carbs. Maybe I am actually hungry.
Some may argue that I am just bingeing on whole foods now. But I try to eat slowly, mindfully, and listen to my body. No more wolfing down a meal (or a pie, for that matter) and feeling like I want to die afterward. And so far, combatting these cravings this way has kept my weight stable. And it may just be one step in the entire process to regain health and a sense of balance.
So, you feel a binge of the lovely sugary things coming on. What do you do?
EAT MORE FRUIT!
Just kidding; those days are over. More like, JUST GET IN THE DANG CARBS!
So yeah, sort of like the whole 30bananasaday mantra. I mean, you could eat fruit (like I sometimes do) but usually potatoes and/or oatmeal does the trick for me and they fill me up more than fruit does. However, I will grab the occasional apple or orange (I am sick of bananas…).
So, for those of you who are not as familiar with all the high-carb healthy whole foods, I’d say from “best” to “least best” would be potatoes, whole fruit, beans, oatmeal, bread…and I guess I don’t go on from there. Maybe it’s just a bias, but from what I’ve learned over the years that’s usually the order I prefer to follow. However, everyone is different so find your own path!
So yes, the 30bananasaday community had a valid point. If you feel like bingeing, eat the carbs–but not to the point where you stuff yourself and limit the carbs to just fruit. And I want to point out that protein and fat is important (which the 30bad crew stressed were not important at all). But once I feel I have eaten sufficient protein and fat in a meal (I usually make sure to eat those first) then I know I would like more carbs. And usually carbs do the trick when I crave sugar (although fat can be an exception at times…sometimes I’ll go for that instead, usually in the form of an avocado). And of course, if tuna also sounds good when I’m craving chocolate (I know, I’m weird, forgive me! But it happens) then obviously I’ll dig into some of that stinky stuff (hey, it’s delicious when the time calls for it).
We Are Different People
I’m not saying this works for everyone. Sure, it’s still taking in calories, but it’s probably a heck of a lot less calories and guilt than if I were to fall into eating an entire chocolate bar just because I’m low in carbs. And so far I have maintained my weight following these rules rather than gaining (gaining, which was the result of bingeing on sugary stuff). My body also has to go through a period of adjustment and I’m willing to just let things be this way (the same weight) for a while. As I explained in my earlier post, I have to be okay with settling at a weight for a while before I even think about trying to lose weight (if I ever really feel the need to).
I realize bingeing can be a result of other factors–emotional, not eating enough throughout the day (or a few consecutive days), and not eating enough carbs (or fat sometimes!). But so far to keep my weight stable, I have applied the rules of eating more whole-food carbs to avoid the processed sugar craze I used to go through. I also make sure to start the day with breakfast and include lunch so that I am not famished for dinner. I noticed that after going through a phase of trying to only eat dinner, it just led to bingeing.
So, my advice summarized? To avoid bingeing, try these:
1. Recognize your emotions
2. Did you eat breakfast lunch and dinner? Be honest with yourself–did you eat enough throughout the day? I notice that if I have a very tiny or no breakfast at all I tend to crave sugary things later.
3. Let yourself have a small amount of what you really crave.
3. If you crave more, try eating more whole-food carbs (fruit, potatoes, beans, oatmeal, bread, etc). Sometimes we could be low in fat though, too so try eating some healthy fat could help as well.
In the end, if you’ve had trouble with bingeing I see this as one step in the right direction. It is not a cure-all but it has helped me. Plus it helps to realize that if I “feel” that binge coming, I know exactly what to do and how to feed my body the right way.
Is this helpful? What are your thoughts? I figure the majority of those reading this deal with an eating disorder, but for those of you who understand nothing about eating disorders and want to learn more, does this make the whole restricting-bingeing aspect clearer? What still doesn’t makes sense or should be cleared up?
As for those who deal with an eating disorder, what have you done to help your bingeing if you deal with it?
Let me forewarn my readers that this post is definitely a large area of the project. I don’t know if it’s too confusing when you don’t know enough about where I’ve been but it’s hard to share the entire story (and you’ll have to read all about it later to fill in the gaps). But I’ve tried to put this post into simple terms without much of a storyline because I did want to post something to help those suffering to see a glimpse of recovery and what has helped me to heal. This is very recent journal entry since the journey to recovery continues; this “epiphany” happened in the last week.
Some of you (especially those who know me personally) may want to shake me and say, “I’ve been telling you this all along!” but time is the key here. I just had to live and figure it out for myself. And you can’t force someone to finish grieving. I will explain.
This week was huge for me—probably the biggest change I’ve ever made for myself. And I waited until Friday to write this update because I wasn’t sure how long this feeling would last and I had to “test it out” for a few days before confirming that yes, I have moved on.
It feels like it’s been a long, long grieving process; like someone close to me was dying slowly before my eyes for the past few years and I had to watch it unfold. I just couldn’t let her go. No matter how mean, how frustrating, how deceiving that voice was, I could not let her go. Hadn’t she given me success? Hadn’t she brought me glory?
Or had I forgotten also that there was pain and fear all along?
After gaining the weight back, I felt I had lost the powerful Rachael, the Rachael in control. And now I’m left with a blanket of fat to cover me up. Or is it the eating disorder covering me? Did I just need to let that past Rachael go? I felt like losing all the weight through restriction and gaining it all back plus some left me feeling that I lost a piece of myself. And every day I thought about bringing her back to life.
How do you finish grieving a part of yourself that you want to die forever? I love this past Rachael but I hate her all the same. I knew that the only way to let go, to “unstick” myself, to pull myself out of the rut where I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere, was to find a happy medium of contentedness instead of skyrocketing up into restricting euphoria only to plummet down into binge-eating depressive despair. I know it sounds obvious and easy to most other people, but I finally realized that to be okay with where I am now, I had to give up the old Rachael. I had to stop dwelling on the past. It’s just difficult when I still expect myself to get back to where I want to be even when Coach Woj says he is fine with where I’m at now and that we can just “work with this new body.” I couldn’t accept that. I didn’t want to accept that.
“Rawchael” wouldn’t let me accept it.
She told me that despite what everyone was telling me, I would show them; I just had to keep trying.
I could get it all back.
These past few days I realized that I am not about to regain that past Rachael. I am not the fictional 30-pounds-less-again future-Rachael. I have to focus on the present, to live in the moment. That means I have to be okay with who I am right now, without a thought towards future weight-loss or dwelling on the past and hating myself for “messing up” by gaining the weight. I know that to be the best person I can be I must either fix this unresolvable relationship within me or finalize its death at last. If I want to live again, that old, destructive self must die.
So I killed her. I killed “Rawchael”, the demon as well as the hurt, scared girl who always feared weight, who always felt trapped. I set up a “burial” this week for the scared Rawchael and threw away the bad Rawchael.
It was one of the hardest, most difficult parts of this process because it hurt so badly to learn to accept that I may never be All-American again, that my race times may never be the same, that my weight may just stay where it is—and that I have to be okay with this. I have to be happy and fine with where I am in order to live life to its fullest and be there for my teammates. I have to be okay with not being perfect.
It’s not that I approached this whole recovery process the wrong way; I just needed time to grieve and I had to give myself the extra push to finally move forward again because I’ve been stuck for too long. I’ve made great steps toward recovery on the way but I had to the muster the courage to finally let every part of Rawchael go for good; even if it hurt.
My new “motto”? “It is what it is.” I have to be okay with where I am. That means I can’t weigh myself. It means I can only do the best I can with food. It means I need to try to avoid the mirrors. The mirrors are tempting, but they bring me down, just like the scales do. Each time I stop at the mirror to “measure” I pull myself away from it, saying, “No! No measuring with your eyes. Leave it.” It’s sad that I can’t love my body yet but it will come in time. At least I have learned to accept it.
I’m applying the rules I’ve given to myself—I mean, the good rules! The goals. Today I felt worried about the breakfast and lunch I ate but I told myself that it would prevent a binge later, that it would prevent me from feeling too hungry. I also told myself that no matter what happened at those meals, they were over and done: “It’s over, it’s done, move on,” I’d say. Every time I felt tempted to count calories I said that, too. It made it easier to not count calories when I didn’t measure out portions today; there is absolutely no way to go back and count.
Each time I thought about the past, I reminded myself: “You have to be okay with this.” As in, you have to be okay with where you are now, and that you may stay at this weight for the next few years. I have to be okay with where I am at now. And every time I reminded myself that I felt a wave of relief; there is no more pressure from that internal voice to drop the weight again, that if I didn’t drop the weight I would be a failure. I told myself that I could maintain this weight for the next few years of college and I would be okay.
I started thinking about things out of my control, about the future. I told myself, “Give your worries to God” and it helped. Every time I look at someone and start to compare myself I have to remind myself that I’m me, I’m my own person, and comparing won’t do me any good.
That is probably the most difficult goal.
So yes, I’ll admit it—I’ve been harboring Rawchael, the girl that still wants to lose weight, all this time in “recovery.” I think I realized it, but not completely. I just didn’t want to let go of her. I still wanted that anticipation, that possibility that I could lose all the weight again. I thought I could still keep her and recover.
That “need” for weight loss is gone. I told it to be gone. I mean, it won’t be bad if I do lose weight. But I’m not going to intentionally try to force it to happen like I’ve been trying all along. I’ve done too much damage to my mental and physical health that it’s not about using “willpower” anymore because my body is fed up. I’m just going to eat the healthiest I can, not starve myself to prevent binging, and listen to my body and give in to cravings (within reason of course, as I’ve found and maintained balance for the past few months).
I’m going to enjoy life and live more. I am allowed to lose weight but I know I don’t have to lose weight. Sure, I will feel the ghost of that former self hurting me mentally each day, or maybe just some days more than others. I will still have “perfection” tendencies and it’s not like I feel like I can suddenly eat any food I want.
There will still be difficult days.
But I have the tools to help me through each day, to push those negative voices away. I’ve learned hunger and fullness cues, I’ve experimented with different ways of eating, I know how to relax and understand cravings, and my meal plan helps me to eat without feeling as much guilt. But even though I had the logistics down for a while now, I still needed to let go of the mental side behind it all, fueling the feeling of inadequacy.
I see what they mean when they say, “You have to want to recover.” When I realized how stuck I felt on Monday, I realized I was the only person who could change that now. Like I said, I have the support and tools…the last part I had to change was me and how I viewed the world.
Now I know I have to brush away what Rawchael did freshman year to stop dwelling on the past. Yes, it was an outstanding, fun year, but was it a blessing or a curse? What has it done to me now? I feel I have had to fixed a damaged body—physically and mentally. It has taken so long.
No one can take away what I accomplished that freshman year. But records will fall, my name will be forgotten, and what does it matter anymore? The real me will always be here—through written words, the impact I make on other people, and of course, in me myself.
Thus, I have no more crazy expectations for myself. Sure, I ran a 17:37 for cross country, but now, with this new Rachael, this new body, my personal record for now is 18:26. I was a 17-minute runner but I was scared and lost and confused. If I have to be an 18-minute runner that is confident, proud, and wiser, then I choose her. I realized that the person I was dwelling on in the past was not happier than I am now; if anything, she felt trapped and lonely. But I blocked out that part of it and only focused on the great racing times she had, on the weight she was at even though at that time she thought that weight wasn’t low enough—the very same thoughts I have had for a long time now. If I am a stronger person now, I have to be okay with my weight and show her that I can be okay no matter what the scale tells me.
I realized that despite all the great times I had that year, I was in constant fear of weight gain, constantly in hunger, constantly over-thinking food. I kept asking myself, how could I continue to live like this? How could I keep up this willpower?
Now I can tell myself that I don’t have to live like that anymore. I don’t have to live like that. Ever since I “buried” Rawchael this week the voice has diminished to a mere whisper.
I am not completely fixed. I am not completely healed. But I took a huge step from where I was just one week ago.
I have to be okay with this.
My therapist said that the last piece to fall into place would be to accept myself, to love my body. No one said this was easy; and it sure as hell isn’t. But I’m worth fighting for, and I can only do my best.
Okay, so I can’t completely abandon my readers.
I need your help; I’m trying to take this to the next level. What can you offer me to take it to the next level? What are your biggest questions about eating disorders or diets in general? Do you have specific questions about what you have read so far on this website?
I want to keep you all connected as I put my project together and I want to keep you updated without giving too much away. Please post any suggestions, comments, etc, and maybe we can dive into these topics and my perspective for a few posts here and there. After all, it’s been a little too quiet here since it’s mostly me talking. What are your input or thoughts?
Are any of you willing to comment/email me to share your story on here anonymously? We can make it into something to post on this blog to give another voice, to show another perspective. What is your story? Can I help you tell it? If you live near me and we know each other, please let me know if you would like to meet up to talk. Or if you are further away, email could work too of course.
Basically, we can make this blog into anything we want now under the topic of eating, diets, body dismorphia, eating disorders, others’ experiences…tell me what you want!
Please, all of you who have helped me so far, please bare me your souls, tell me what to do to help me help you. I would not have gotten this far in my journey without you all. As I continue to recover I remind myself that I must “create the perfect ending” for my story. It keeps me going, keeps me wanting to jump to the next level in recovery. Your support and readership keeps me wanting to end things right and move on in life when I feel the most stuck.
With a heavy heart I must explain to you all what is happening here. Where are the next posts?
As of right now, I will not be posting any more journal entries. This has been a difficult decision to make, but I am confident in my final decision. There are definitely more journal entries to reveal, but I need to take action and make something more of these journal entries than just a simple blog. I never planned on doing this; in fact, I highly anticipated sharing the entire journey on this website. However, after a lot of thinking and professional writing advice, I have decided I want to work on these posts more and create something bigger.
Let me assure you that you will be able to read the rest of the posts eventually—however, I can’t tell you when. I don’t even know myself. All I do know is that this is the next step I have to take and I don’t want to risk self-publishing all of my work on this site if my gut feeling is to do something bigger. I have a lot of work to do, let me tell you that!
I did not intend to use these posts as bait, only to leave you hanging. In fact, it pains me to know how long it will take to complete this entire process while you all wait to see what happens next.
To make it clearer, if I post any more, there won’t be much left for my project. Of course, we are only maybe a quarter of the way through my entire journey, but I feel like if I reveal any more I won’t have as much to share later.
I will keep the other posts up on the site for others to read when they visit. I hope they can serve as a way to still connect to those who are suffering with an eating disorder as well as a way for others to understand what having an eating disorder is like.
Posting has been a great outlet for me mentally and has actually aided in my recovery process. It’s like releasing difficult parts of my past for good each time I post. I am doing much better and I feel like a better, stronger person for everything I’ve gone through. I can’t wait to share the rest of this crazy journey with those of you who are interested.
I want you to realize that you all have a life journey to share; I was just lucky to have put it into words each day. I encourage anyone to write about their life as it happens; keeping a journal could possibly aid you in the future. I have learned so much about myself after looking back at these entries and continuing to write about my journey even today.
In the end, everyone has a story. Everyone has a “dark voice” within themselves. This eating disorder happened to be mine. If there are any words I can leave you with, it is to confront those dark parts of yourself. My story is no more or less difficult compared to the struggles of others because only we know our own pain.
Please leave any comments, questions, suggestions, etc! I may still post other entries randomly; we will see. For now I’m going just to go with the flow. If you’d like to stay updated please subscribe! To the first 41 of you that have already subscribed, if something comes out of this project I guarantee you will get a “treat.” :)
Thank you for reading and for your patience and support.
January 30, 2012