(One) Easily, lemon squeezy. (Two) Psh. (Three) I’m a beast. (Four) Ah shit… (Five) grunt. (Six) FACK. I let the chest press weight fly back and hit the back of the machine with a clang, causing people surrounding my machine to stare and send their best evil eye my way. Fellow gym rats are so […]
I have recently taken up hot yoga again, as I have decided to continue to live with my parents for another year and save money towards a downpayment. When I renewed my membership at my favorite yoga practice, I realized my favorite instructor is no longer teaching at this location. I was crushed, by signed up anyways and decided to search for a new favorite. After I tried out five new teachers that week, I was exhausted from yoga and the teaching style that didn’t jive with my personal yoga practice. There was one more teacher to try, so I figured I might as well give him a go before I stop yoga again. It was the best decision I have made in a while.
The first lesson I learned from new yoga instructor:
You will struggle
I almost died in my very first hot yoga session. I counted the minutes until it was over. Looking back, all I did was count the minutes. I wasn’t engaged in any type of yoga or relaxation…so what was the point? Now, I have learned that being in a 100 degree room is symbolic of the struggles we face in our lives. The humidity, which is caused by all of the people sweating, symbolizes the added struggle that others can put on us unconsciously. Practicing yoga, and living yoga off the mat has helped me to realize that not only living through the struggles, but embracing them and harnessing them make you stronger. They make you ready for the next struggle. They allow you feel stronger so you can actively seek out challenges to make yourself even better and stronger than you imagined. And the stability exercises at the end of the session? My yoga instructor always encourages us to “use the energy in the room” as our fuel. We feel strong to help another person that is struggling feel strong. We use his strong voice as a reminder that we,too, can be strong after the struggle.
Hot yoga is not about the 100 degree humid room that makes your car stink of dead skunk for weeks. It’s about learning to apply the lessons learned inside, to outside.
Learning to live life off the mat, Namaste Bitches.
I was 18. My doctor said, “Death is knocking.” I laughed.
When my doctor uttered those words, I wasn’t receiving this news as a Cancer patient that was distraught, yet optimistic. I wasn’t receiving this news as someone that had a history or disease in the family. I was receiving this news because of a disease that had plagued me for eight years. A disease that I had for so long, I personified it as a person. A disease that had gone undiagnosed for so long and had manifested in the ugliest of ways. A disease that seems to a little misunderstood.
Here I will note that I am writing a two part piece about my experience with eating disorders. I am writing this in part because I just passed my 4 Year Anniversary, and also in response to some links that are floating around the interwebs lately. These thoughts are based off MY experience only.The first piece will be background and experience. The second will be my reflection of the process and observations as a “recovered” patient. It should be recognized that every one encounters and experiences something very differently within their own experience, hence the difficulty of the absorbing disease.
Link to post that I was inspired and connecting my thoughts to: http://thoughtcatalog.com/alexa-vecchio/2014/01/8-things-girls-withrecovering-from-eating-disorders-are-sick-of-hearing/
1.”You don’t look like you have an eating disorder.”
I been in the throws of my eating disorder for 2 years before I heard this, and it wasn’t even directed at me. My friend was gossiping to me about someone else that we both knew. “She doesn’t even look like she throws up. She’s probably lying to get attention” (see #3.) Notably, my eating disordered behaviors worsened after that. I know because I remember it vividly; I don’t remember much of that time because a lack of food oddly impairs your brain functions.
2. “Why don’t you just eat?”
One of my biggest issues that led to my relationship with ED was my trust issues. My therapist gave me an extremely difficulty assignment: Tell my brother why I was home from school. (I was in college at the time of my hospitalization and had to stay at home, rather than college. My ED was a secret from everyone.) After 3 weeks of being hospitalized, I approached my brother and told him I had to tell him something. I said he should probably sit down. He grabbed left over pizza from the fridge, sat down, and looked at me grinning. I have an eating disorder, I said. He stopped grinning. His huge eyebrows furrowed. He looked at his pizza. Eat this, he said.
I held a grudge against him for a few months. It would have been decades had I not been in therapy. People who utter this statement do not understand eating disorders. This is why eating disorder education needs to happen. REAL education, not the bullshit that is occurring presently.
3. “People with eating disorders just want attention”
When I hospitalized myself, my therapist ORDERED me to tell people. I WAS ORDERED in order to continue treatment. So yeah, let’s send this one out to MythBusters.
With a caveat, who doesn’t want attention?! As human beings we NEED attention. Whether that attention is physical, mental, friendly, or romantic attention, we need it to survive. Do ED-lovers choose ED in order to gain attention? NO. We look to ED because we feel a lack of positive attention and believe that ED feeds our need for attention and stability.
4. “Girls with eating disorders can stop whenever they want”
Note:I want to point out that the original writer probably meant “people”, not “girls”.
I have a LOT of pride. Like, way too much. I actually need some volunteers to forever borrow my pride. But, I was a smoker for 8 years. I always said to people, “Don’t worry. I have will-power. I can quit whenever I want.” THEY ALWAYS LAUGHED. I tried quitting more times than I can count. So no, I could not quit whenever I wanted, and people knew it. Yet, somehow. When I knew I could not “quit” my ED, people laughed and said WHY NOT.
These are my thoughts: 1. People understand smoking because it’s something that is talked about, therefore people “understand” because they heard their grandpa, their mom, their best friend talk about how impossible it is to “simply” quit. Whereas an eating disorder is not something talked about. It’s shamed. It’s not even a different ballpark, it’s a different game. We understand things we know. 2. You can quit smoking because you don’t need to smoke. You can’t quit an eating disorder because you still need to eat. I had many meltdowns in the hospital cafeteria because I sincerely thought a juice box and box of beans were sufficient calories. In ED rehab, you relearn food. I was humiliated, mocked, and humbled in the cafeteria.
5. “Ughhh. I feel so fat. I’m just not going to eat for 2 days.”
People should let this phrase be what it is: a hyperbole. People who say this are simply being dramatic, similar to, “I’m so hungry I could eat a cow.” I say this constantly and I have been a vegetarian for 7 years. HOWEVER, if the person that says this shows other signs of disordered eating, please talk to them, otherwise, stop being PETA and laugh a bit.
7.*puts finger down throat* or any crude joke about bulimia
Contrary to #5, this is crude. If anyone does this, I simply say, “Torn esophagus.” That usually stops them.
8. “Yom Kippur is an excuse for Jews to be anorexic for a day!”
I find that people who make these statements have 1. Disordered eating of their own 2. Huge issues of ignorance. I follow these thoughts up with a brief conversation to see if I should nudge towards help or leave the vicinity of their presence.
My relationship with ED has lasted the greater part of my life, slowly with the years it will only be a portion of my life. With each passing year comes clarity because my body and brain are being fed with proper nutrition and exercise. With each passing year comes clarity because I no longer take medication. With each passing year I am recognizing myself- witty, confident, caring, responsible, loving. With each passing year, I love myself, and believe it.
With each passing year, I make memories that revolve less and less around ED.
For as long as my brain can remember events in my life, those memories always include bloody fingers.
I was a “picker.” I never chewed my fingernails, but I always picked at my cuticles. I was OCD about having no cuticles, but my OCD carried me away. I would pick and pick until my fingers were all bloody and I didn’t have any fingerprints. This stemmed from an extreme case of anxiety. I would just sit, and think about all the things I had to do (mind you, this was happening as an 8 year old. What was I SO worried about, not getting a prime swing at the park??) Instead of actually doing anything, I would just continually stress about it and pick at my fingers.
Recently, my very good friend freaked out when she noticed how beautiful my hands were! I had stopped picking!! I had stopped picking for so long that my fingers were not even a shade of recovery pink. My digits were a normal looking pale (although my thumbs still have faint prints). However, just a few days after she notices my boyfriend broke up with me. I started to panic. Am I going to go back into my depression? Am I going to have panic attacks? Am i going to start picking my fingers again? I had started to freak out about the potential of all these things without really having a reason too, that’s how used to my anxiety I am! It’s been a little over a month now….I had a week of panic attacks. But I realized I wasn’t depressed. I wasn’t even sad. My fingers are still beautiful. My friend even asked me, “Ya know…you are having way more fun without ____.”
Now, whenever I look at my fingers I remember that I have control over everything. These fingers are a symbol of work I have overcome in terms of my long lasting depression, my dependency on others for happiness, and my general outlook on life. These fingers are the makers of their own happiness – it’s up to them whether it’s a bloody battle or a modeling career.
One shall never step into a gym without knowing the social hierarchy that exists within.
Never been to a gym? Does that first sentence start making you sweat? No worries…I’m here for you.
Assuming you’ve been to high school, you’ll understand the need to know social hierarchy and norms in order to know what to do and avoid in order to survive. Naturally, survival is the ultimate goal. Not being cool, not having friends, and DEFINITELY not being the most popular…survival. Even CBS understands the critical importance.
When you first walk into a gym, whether it’s a tiny little park district or the glorified LifeTime, you will come into interaction with the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper is like the God of gym world…only he or she can judge those that enter. He or she has a list of when you have been in the gym and can clearly see when you have sinned and not been at the gym for 6 and half weeks. If you are constantly on the naughty list, better start building your exterior as to not be burned to the ground by the gatekeepers judging stare. (Key: gatekeepers can judge…you can’t…get over it.)
Now, if you are not a pansy, get past the gatekeeper and attend a more elite gym you will enter the locker room. The locker room holds more intricacies than a woman’s reproductive system. Walk into an elite gym locker room and you’ll notice the frumpy elderly, the ripped Asians, the stay at home beautiful moms, the ripped working mothers, the nudists, the college student, and the teeny boppers. The frumpy elderly change in the furthest areas from the door and closest to the pool. They walk around, seemingly looking for a lost key or glasses, with their one piece bathing suits pulled off their shoulders, around their waist with the boobs hanging low wobbling to and fro more than Dumbos ears. The ripped Asians can be seen huddled at the mirror frantically applying makeup or aftershave (something clear and cultural) to their faces while flexing every perfectly toned area of their half naked bodies. They are feverishly sharing stories and will not give you a second glance even while you stare…possibly drool…in their direction. The stay at home mothers are the next group huddles around the mirrors. They are the fully dressed, beautiful women that are adamantly swapping stories of their children, how they never see each other anymore, etc. their hair is perfect, their makeup is perfect. Their shoes magically repel the flooding waters. The ripped working mothers are usually never seen with others of their kind. They are sporadically spread out like Mosquitos. They shower with the curtain open because they don’t have time to close it. They change so fast you can’t even admire their rock solid bodies. They’re a mythological creature that sometimes you may leave out pieces of chocolate in hopes of seeing one. They can sometimes be mistaken for a nudist. But not be fooled. True nudist are not unicorns. True nudists are the outlaw clan. Nudists are comprised of the full naked frumpy, full naked Asians, stay at home and working mothers. These locker room creatures have been excommunicated from their true sector because of their embracing of full body exposure. They like to air dry every crevice, every nook and cranny. If you can walk past all of these creatures, you will notice the college student. There is one. ( you think there are herds of college kids with money??). Then you will inevitably notice, then disregard, the clan of teeny bopping, squealing, space consuming, trust fund children.
Make sure you align yourself with the correct crowd or you will soon be Catty changing in the painfully tiny stall. Alone. Aligning yourself with the correct locker room crowd is the first step in gym survival….better choose the right crowd. There’s no whey of changing.
The last four years of my life I was a college student. I was a college student that embraced her college years far too easily… I went to a party EVERY day my freshman year, woke up claiming I would never drink again, then saddle up the keg to win longest keg stand of the […]