Thursday, January 17, 2013
I'm rolling up on my two year maintaining anniversary this Saturday, my weight is right on track, and I have settled into a workable routine and schedule. Looking back on my first year of maintaining I find I used that time to puzzle out what habits I could sustain and needed and which ones were unnecessary to keep a physically healthy body. But there are two sides of the coin and physical health is matched with mental health.
To that purpose, I have spent much of my second year in reflection, seeking an understanding of my goals and my purposes through both good times and bad. I have had a number of profound revelations along the way that I'm still working through, but all of it is necessary for the continued maintenance of my healthy body and life.
1) Willpower fades.
This was a challenging concept to accept. When I fell and could not regain my footing this past spring and summer, I struggled to understand that I couldn't just keep going as normal. It is depressing to know there would be and will be moments when I do not have the willpower to stay healthy. But at the same time, knowing that willpower is scientifically proven to fade does allow me peace of mind for those times when I will fall, that it is something beyond my control. And when I fall I can study how I react. Then I can find the precautions I need to make sure that next time the fall is not as hard, or deep, or long. I can spring back sooner, reenergized to get back in the game.
2) Hunger is debilitating.
It was hard to differentiate between thirst, cravings, urges, and true hunger. But now I do undertand because hunger is debilitating. I start to shut down mentally, to the extend that I can't participate in conversation, I can't mentally function, I can't even warn my friends and company that I am in the process of shutting down and needing food. I can follow through the motions that are required physically and my communication is shortened to abrupt, angry, inarticulate reactions. When people say to wait to eat until you're truly hungry, they've obviously never understood what it actually does to your mind. Instead, I found it works best to create a rhythm to each day so I can both expect food at certain times and allow myself the time necessary to prepare it or to find it. I always need to adjust my social calendar around my eating schedule, and I can't say I am immune to cravings and urges, but I am at least able to squash most hunger related disasters or misunderstanding before they pop up.
3) The American Dream is not my dream.
I've spent much of my time since graduation in denial of my shortcomings and my career failings, but this year I've been able to face those truths I've been avoiding. I wanted to be an illustrator and I can produce amazing art, but I am poor at fulfilling the work requirements of professional artist. In regards to my body, I focus obsessively on the long artistic process at the sacrifice of my own schedule and health. This is not a manner in which I can earn a living in combination with healthy living. That said, I now see my strengths as a person and an employee. The roles in my life may not be glamorous or profitable or what I thought I wanted to be, but I am happy and satisfied with the work I accomplish and I have confidence in my abilities to do my jobs well. Now I can hopefully also achieve a little job security.
4) There is always a reason.
Even as I came to terms with the lifestyle changes necessary to maintaining my new healthy weight and body I have never felt there was a reason for my prior adult life of obesity. I listen to the podcast The Daily Dose with Jillian Michaels and she always insists to callers that there is a reason. I firmly thought I was an exception, that I was just negligent and uneducated about nutrition but it turns out she was right. I kept rolling it over in my mind, wondering and questioning, and this Christmas the connections fell into place. I found that I used food as a coping mechanism against a lifelong fear of being broken, when instead I am simply asexual. It is a shame that I did not have this knowledge before I developed a serious eating disorder, but now I can prevent further erasure of the underlying reasons.
This year was by far more productive than I realized, in different ways than I was expecting or seeking. I feel like the journey I began with weight loss is continuing along and expanding, helping me both heal the damage of the past and improve my life. It's not just about the physical, it's about the mental, the emotional, the financial, the home, the relationships, and more. It's about building the life I want and need to be healthy and happy forever, one piece at a time.
What next year will bring I can only imagine.