Friday, December 24, 2010
So, I've been within a 5 lb. window of my basic weight goal for over a year now. I shoot for 126-127 and sometimes I'm a bit lower and sometimes a bit higher. It depends a lot. My measurements also waver a bit - sometimes my waist is 26˝ (yay) and sometimes it's more like 27.5˝ (boo) but I know that's usually due to sodium, hormonal stuff, etc. rather than real weight gain or loss.
Honestly, these numbers are so fleeting. They really only tell you about your body as it is *right that second*. A lot of the swings are due to fluid retention, how much food is in your stomach, whether or not your muscles are being repaired (and holding water) and hydration levels.
I know this. I can talk about it and sound like a sensible human being.
I'm not, though. I'm experiencing some mild (and sometimes not so mild) signs of disordered eating - mostly in my thought about calories in and out and exercise. I didn't really experience this until I started the process of maintaining. When I was losing, I wasn't feeling like this. I'd get a little weird if I ate too much and went over my calories for the day or didn't hit my burn for the week, but I didn't completely break down and lose my shi! over it. Not like I do now, at least.
I am thinking about what I'm allowed to eat and the exercise I have to do 95% of the time. I worry about my weight constantly. I stress about burning enough calories when I work out. If something prevents me from working out I feel like I don't deserve to eat anything but my bare minimum amount (around 1300). I feel like a failure if I go over the low end of my calorie range. I don't really consider it a range, most days. Most days it's a game to see how close I can get to exactly that low range number... how few calories more than that I can take in. I feel pleased when I hit it exactly - bummed when I'm more than 50 calories higher than the minimum.
When I eat things I haven't planned I beat myself up - literally and emotionally. I scream at myself for being so weak, for being a fat stupid failure who's going to pork back up again. For not just controlling my self and not being such a stupid cow with a grazing mouth. I feel like I'm slipping whenever I relax.
The thing is, it's mostly mental. I think that I should be working out more/harder, eating less. I should be doing this or that. But I don't. I've been eating and exercising moderately and my clothes still fit the same. My stomach varies day to day (sometimes it looks good, sometimes flabby) but I generally feel pretty stable in my size. That said, the real pain is between my disordered self saying "eat less, move more, fat cow, getting fatter, eat less, you suck!" and my behavior being healthy. Whe I'm working out like normal I'm eating 1600-1800 a day, which is low to mid-range in my calories. I'm sometimes hungry but I'm not ravenous or starving feeling. I don't lose loads of weight, I haven't really lost anything much lately.
So, this disordered me is going "eat less, move more, be smaller" and my brain is saying "eat and exercise moderately, maintain your health." The brain is winning and that ticks the disorder off(!) and causes this crazy rift in my mental state. I feel BAD for Not doing what I know is Not Healthy or Good For Me. I feel bad for eating more food and not killing myself with overexercising. I feel bad that I'm not doing what that disorder brain is demanding. I feel like a failure for daring to eat more, for daring to take two or three rest days a week if I need them. For doing an easy workout a couple times a week in addition to harder ones.
This week is my post-marathon recovery week. I hate it. I hate how I feel. I know I should be recouping. I know that in the last nine weeks I've raced two marathons, raced a half and run a number of long training runs (14, 16, 20) in cold, unpleasant, rough weather. I know that I've got niggling injuries from doing so much to my body and I need this time to start healing. I KNOW that. But I still feel like a failure. I haven't done any exercise since Sunday's marathon. Nothing. The voice in my head is screaming at me right now just since I wrote that down. It makes me panic a bit to have been so lazy for so long. :( I haven't even really been doing stuff around the house - I just feel so wiped out and blah. Nothing seems important so I'm just laying around with my feet up. :/
I'm eating relatively low calorie (1400ish?) since I set my info to hardly any calories burned via exercise (really, it should be none and my daily calories should be lower but I'm not willing to do that) right now. Since I have to rest, I can't eat like I'm working out. I have to just cover my bases for BMR and eat a tiny bit lower to avoid gaining while I'm healing.
I've been frustrated to the point of tears twice lately. Wanting food but feeling like nothing I want is "allowed" within my current range.
I hate this.
I'm better currently than I've been in the past. I've had some really rough times in the past couple months - disordered brain peaked for a while there and I had a number of total meltdowns - but it's still rough. No one really mentions that maintenance might be even harder than losing - or, if they do, it's worded more about the physical. No one talks about the emotional turmoil of maintenance. I know, I know, some of you are probably thinking I should cry you a darn river - here I am at my goal weight, "thin" and where so many would like to be - but it's true. Your brain can be the most cruel thing on this earth. And being a formerly fat person in a now less than fat body is like visiting a strange country where you don't know the language or the culture. And the natives can be cruel or even deadly if you misstep too much.
I don't know what I'm doing. I'm not sure I'm improving my mindset.
Being able to talk about it at all is probably a good sign that things are getting better. At my worst, I wouldn't ever admit to this. At my worst I was in denial and would have said I was fine, never better, totally cool.
I'm angry, though. I'm angry that I'm thin now and I'm more at war with my body than ever. Being thinner and STILL not perfect is hard. You keep going "maybe perfection is five pounds away? Maybe ten? If I lose more, do more, will my stomach finally look like hers? Am I so close to a body like in the movies/magazines/etc. but since I'm stopping here, I'll never know that?" The impulse is to keep losing, see how small you can go, how low that scale can drop, how small those pants can get.
All this is why my tracker is gone. I need to STOP focusing on these relatively arbitrary numbers on the scale and focus on how I feel and my health, rather than my appearance. I need to start judging myself like I'd judge another person. I don't know their weights, I don't feel that they have to weigh a certain amount to have worth or be attractive. I just take them at face value. How people take me.
No one can tell if I'm having a "fat" 128 lb. day or a thin 125 lb. day. It's just not visible to most normal humans. In addition, I don't know why that gain happened. It could be water, food, TOM, time of day... my weight fluctuates all day. The weight I am on the scale is one frame in a film full of them. It tells me nothing about worth or success or value - it tells me what my body, at that second, weighs. Nothing more.
Honestly, it's not a piece of information that's very useful.
If I feel like I look lean and then weigh in higher that ruins my day. If I feel like I look pudgy and then weigh in with a loss, I feel better. This is wacky.
I'm going to focus on how I feel and my health, how my clothes fit, what my body can DO rather than focusing on how small I can make it look. I have a soft belly, toned arms and legs, slim hips, graceful shoulders - this is a healthy, strong woman's body. It isn't worth less due to not having a six pack or fitting into a size 0. I need to keep that in mind.
Not sure how I'm going to handle the disordered brain/voice. It makes me miserable and, honestly, should be taken care of. I'm not sure I can do it alone - I might be looking into therapy to try and get a better grip on that. As it stands, I'm usually a few seconds away from swinging into bad brain space. I feel it, even now, right on the edge of my conscious mind. Too much food. Can't believe you haven't exercised this week. Loser. Failure. Fatty. Slipping...
Things more folks should talk about, IMO.
We need to know we're not alone. Just saying "maintenance is hard" isn't really admitting that it can feel more like an ED than losing ever did. It glosses over some genuinely bad bits - how to get this brain and this body, as it is now, to mesh? How to stop chasing after perfection and how to stop hating yourself? Why is it never enough?