As much as I love my coworkers, I believe that one of them has given me the nasty cold that she had last week, so I have been feeling a bit under the weather. The positive side of this unfortunate situation is that it allows me to think a bit about the days in recovery when listening to my body is especially challenging, and why wanting recovery for yourself is so very important.
Heading into yesterday, I was feeling optimistic. I had decided ahead of time that I was going to try to branch out a little bit and try something different for breakfast, and I was feeling good about my decision. Instead of oatmeal, I had a bagel topped with peanut butter and a banana. I have been feeling tired, and this breakfast’s quick preparation allowed me to sleep a little later in addition to providing a food challenge for me.
Breakfast went well, and I was able to dive into work with a good bit of energy once I got there. Not long after arriving at work, however, I started to get hungry for a snack. I second-guessed my hunger and felt anxious about the alternative breakfast that I had eaten,, but I decided against restriction and ate this granola bar (which are awesome, by the way) with an iced coffee. My lunch break ended up being pretty late, so I also ate a bite of a chocolate chip cookie to help tide me over.
For lunch, I brought leftover pizza, which I ate with a substantially sized salad and carrots with hummus. The pizza was excellent, but restriction started to creep in during my lunch and I only ate part of it. After some more time at work, it became clear to me that I was still very hungry and I had a realization: it does not matter to anybody else if I am hungry. It only matters to me, and I’m sick and tired of feeling like hunger is some sort of accomplishment. I am the one who has to choose how I want to feel, and I do not like feeling hungry. So, I finished the rest of my pizza and moved on. A bit after lunch, I also had a cup of coffee with a piece of a Toblerone chocolate bar.
As my day progressed, I developed a bit of a headache and I found myself feeling increasingly blah. Whenever I’m feeling under the weather, I tend to be quite hungry, and yesterday was no exception. Although I know that this is logical because my body is using more energy to fight off illness, it still spikes my anxiety. I spent the rest of my afternoon at work in a bit of a hunger fog, something I’m not pleased to report. I was hungry, miserable, and exhausted.
After I got home from work, I did something that I regretted almost instantly. In a moment of poor decision making, I looked up the calories in the pizza that I had eaten for lunch. I was so hungry, I was so afraid of recovery, and I caved to my disorder. Shortly after making this mistake, I remembered what I had called into mind earlier in the day: I have to be the one who wants recovery enough to trust my body instead of arbitrary numbers. I have to be the one who decides not to research nutritional information. I have to be my own advocate, because nobody else knows about the battle that goes on every time that I choose whether and what to eat.
At the risk of feeling like a failure to my disorder, I ate the small bit of yogurt that was left in this container, which I froze a few days ago. Even though feelings of guilt and anxiety wash over me when I make choices like this, the feeling that I get knowing that I am making the right choice for my recovery far outweighs the negative. And, if you haven’t tried freezing this yogurt, get on that shit.
After finishing up some things around the house, I was still rather hungry and I knew that I needed a snack to hold me over until dinner. I made edamame with some pieces of dried mango, dried cranberries, wasabi peas, and a couple of almonds. I ate it while lying in my back yard in the lovely sunshine, and it was rather delightful. After I finished the edamame, I ate a bit of trail mix and a couple of Bunny Grahams while I journaled.
My dinner plans sort of flopped, because I had planned on eating a leftover portobello sandwich, but I found that the bread was soggy beyond the point of recovery when I took it out of the refrigerator. Instead, I had tilapia and pasta cooked with vegetables, basil, cream cheese, and a bunch o’ garlic. I also ate some carrot sticks dipped in feta dill dressing. It was a relatively quick and fairly satisfying dinner, but I wanted to throw in a quick ‘fuck you’ to the eating disorder that caused me to second-guess my body all day long. I ate a mini shortbread cookie and enjoyed every last bite.
I was utterly exhausted after dinner and I knew that I had to work early in the morning, so I spent the rest of the evening lounging around my house. As I often do on challenging food days, I began to fret about calories, exercise, and other bullshit like that before bed. I was hungry, though, and the last thing I want to do is begin or perpetuate a cycle of restriction. For a bedtime snack, I chose a satisfying favorite: a piece of toast with peanut butter.
Yesterday was a tough one, and it reminded me of the significance of autonomy in recovery. The people around us want the best for us, of course, but we are the ones who are most affected by our disorders. The sense of success that we feel as we appease our disorders is hollow and short-lived, and we are left with the consequences. We are the ones who feel guilty for eating a piece of a Toblerone bar. Nobody else notices or gives it a second thought when we have a piece of chocolate or a cookie. We are the ones who know the calories in our piece of pizza. Nobody else knows how many calories we saved by dabbing at the cheese with a napkin or cutting off the crust, and nobody cares.
Ultimately, we have to advocate to become the people we want to be and feel the way that we want to feel. When you’re used to following the rules of a disorder, it is damn terrifying to stand up to it. But in recovery, it is necessary to let your disorder down and risk feeling like a failure in order to pursue health. It is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it is what will let you live the life YOU want to live and be the person YOU want to be. It would be heavenly if we could magically remove our disorders, but that is not the reality. The only way to beat them is to stand up to them time and time again, gaining strength with each and every healthy choice we make.