I am now back at school and although I am a bit sad to return and that Thanksgiving is over, my mood is brightened when I think about how darn close the next holiday is! Only about three weeks until I am back in my hometown again, free of homework, exams, projects and of course finals. I am also really looking forward to next semester because of an internship I applied for and was granted just a short time ago.
But more on that later! Let’s get to part two of my break from school, Thanksgiving shenanigans, and whatever else I feel out to be discussed.
The reason I wanted to split this recap into separate posts is to avoid making a monster long post… I have so much to say from this entire weekend; from the recipes I contributed and the food that was consumed , to the underlying thoughts that are determined to make an appearance at every opportunity they can get.
I realize I have said this 20358 times, but speaking the truth about what goes through my head on a daily basis has allowed me to understand so much about my eating issues. Now that I am no longer in denial about the issues I have and what need to be changed, recognizing my thoughts and actions based on the disordered eating is an essential part of this recovery process. At this time last year, I was fully aware that I had some serious eating issues, but that doesn’t mean I was ready to make an effort to get better. I was simply not ready to, and this made for a very difficult family holiday.
It’s safe to say this year was a huge improvement from the previous Thanksgiving. And yet, I am recognizing this “journey” is far from over, I have more to overcome, more battles to fight, but more chances to get my life back.
Now that I have been actively recovering for a year, I am rather “good” at seeing quite clearly when I am acting myself, and when the disordered eating part of me is taking charge of my decisions. This was displayed quite nicely the entire time during Thanksgiving and the subsequent days which followed the holiday.
The day started out with a 5-mile local Turkey Trot that I have been participating in for the last two years, this was my third!
Shirts from the previous years
I look forward to this race each November because it is genuinely a fun (for lack of a better term) time. The overall vibe of the race is what really makes it an enjoyable experience- tons of people up bright and early to start the day with a run with friends, neighbors, family members, and you can tell that everyone is psyched for festivities that will commence later in the day. Gah I just love it! The ambiance of the race gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling… like, this is nice, this is why I participate in this race, this is why I run.
Alright probably not making much sense here, so let’s keep going with the recap
I was also quite psyched for the Turkey Trot because I experienced one of those I-feel-like-I-could-run-forever runs on the Tuesday before. After that high, I was ready to kick some serious booty at this race, and maybe even earn a PR.
Ehh… this did not go as planned. I felt fantastic the first two miles, maintaining a 6:50 mile, a pace I was shocked to be seeing. I knew I was going a bit too fast, especially because I had three miles to go, but I was loving this “high” I was experiencing and could not let it go. But alas, things quickly went down hill pretty much right after hitting the two mile mark.
The all-too-familiar fatigue I have been experiencing lately was returning with vengeance. Each minute that went by, I felt progressively more tired, not out of breath necessarily, but my lower body was just not having it. My legs began to feel like to increasingly heavier weights and cramps were surging through my butt, hamstrings and calves. Yeah, not too fun.
Not going to lie, I got pretty pissed as I realized what was happening. Yes I was tired, but anger and frustration were present emotions as well. Even though I had felt so good just two days before, my hopes of having a stellar race was rapidly slipping from my grasp. It was not the loss of a PR that was upsetting, it was how crappy I was feeling and the bad mood that was steadily taking over that was bringing out the worst in me.
As I wrote before though, I can now readily differentiate between when me, Tessa, is logically responding to a situation, rather than the disordered eating side.
My initial thoughts were,
you don’t deserve to be feeling this tired, you took rested all day yesterday for Christ’s sake!
Umm fatty, get moving faster, I mean you do realize you are going to be eating a whole lot later… how do you expect to be okay with this if you don’t burn enough calories before hand?
You have been eating so much more lately and taking iron supplements, and still you feel this way? Are you kidding me? Get your ass moving, don’t let others see how slow you are running!
You do realize you are going to be in a piss mood the rest of the day if you don’t run well?
And so on.
However, after the normal internal battle that takes place in my head, I rationalized the situation and was able to calm down.
My (me, Tessa) thoughts,
First of all, I understood that this race is really and truly supposed to be something that is fun, rather than an event that is forced and tortuous.
Just because I took a rest day the previous day, does not automatically mean I am going to completely rejuvenated and ready to rumble. In fact, I am still anemic, still undernourished, and need more rest days. Must accept this.
I refuse to let this pooptastic race ruin my Thanksgiving holiday… I will never again repeat the experience I had last year.
Stop letting this run your experience, remember why you are here and why you love running. It is beyond burning calories remember?
I tried my best to maintain somewhat of a quicker pace for the remaining part of the race, but my body was just not having it. I embraced the fatigue, chose to not freak out about the situation, and I jogged to the finish.
I did the Turkey Trot with several friends of mine from high school and also friends from the workout place I interned with over the summer.
Although this is a road race and you are supposed to run (duh), it is also about celebrating and completing it with friends and family! I almost let this one event ruin the rest of my day and most likely would have propelled me into a long-lasting bad mood.
Once I returned home, the cooking and prepping began. It was time to face the food part of this holiday, let the internal battle begin.
My plan for Thanksgiving was to enjoy a mix of healthier dishes that I made and more indulgent ones, but also to make the conscious understanding that this holiday has deeper meaning beyond the food. It is a day to be thankful for all that you are blessed with and remember the people and things in your life that are important to you.
I can recall Thanksgiving celebrations from my childhood where I did look forward to all of the amazing rich food I would soon be consuming, but most notably, it was the fact that I would be spending time with my family for several days… this is what made Thanksgiving special.
Somehow I have forgotten in the past few years, and everything has become about food and my body.
I have been making the conscious effort to shake these obsessive thoughts. But of course, easier said than done.
Halfway through my cooking and prepping of my healthy side dishes, I realized that I was in a great mood because I knew I would not have to really eat anything that was scary to me. What I mean is, by cooking food that is “safe” for me to eat, I could appear like a normal person while sitting down to the Thanksgiving dinner because my plate would be loaded with food…. my safe food.
Do you notice something here?
There is a whole lot of squash and spinach- my dishes. Yes there is a bit of turkey and the cranberry compote, but no stuffing, no broccoli with bread crumbs…nothing that was scary to me. Oi vey.
So here I am being honest with you, I had a bit of a fail from what I discussed on my What I Ate Wednesday post, where I planned to put myself out of my comfort zone. I seemed so carefree and fine at dinner because I was…but for the wrong reasons. My mind, or rather my disordered eating mind, was at ease because I was not consuming anything which I deemed fattening and fearful.
Unless my family read this, they might not know that I didn’t really eat much at dinner. I filled up on low-fat protein, a crap-ton of vegetables, and roasted marshmallows picked off the sweet potato casserole which I had difficulty eating because I knew there was butter in it.
Gah I am so… hrm, embarrassed by this. I allowed the disordered brain to take over during dinner and make it seem like this was what I actually wanted… that I really only desired to eat foods that were safe and perfectly healthy for me. I did not take the chance to challenge myself even though I planned and promised myself to. Even dessert… yes I tried all of what I made, but they were tiny pieces, and my main dessert was a huge piece of healthy pumpkin pie (with fat-free Cool Whip).
Fail. Damn it.
However, not all bad things to discuss here!
Once the food was no longer the focus, I could finally loosen up a bit and enjoy time with my amazing family. Board games and ones like charades are popular in my household and boy did we embrace that interest during the week! Seriously, such a fun and hilarious time
Another rather fantastic thing that came out of family game time was the fact that I experienced side-splitting, I-can’t-breathe, tear-prompting laughter for the first time in years. Trust me, I know how sad that sounds… but laughter is something that has escaped me for the past several years of my life. This mental illness made me into a very depressed person and let me tell you, it felt pretty awesome to laugh like that. I am even smiling now as I dwell on the emotions I experienced that night…
Another thing that I should be thankful for this weekend is how gorgeous the weather was. On Saturday, it was up to 65 and sunny, gorgeous weather for being outside. Taking walks with my family was perfect on Saturday, I mean look at the view we were able to experience.
Like I said in my last post, overall I had a joyful and wonderful holiday. Sadly, I did battle the ever-present thoughts around food and my body and it prevailed in a few circumstances. I was alright during times when food was not the sole focus, such as after the run, during game night, and while we spent time outside. When the focus shifted to a meal and what was going to be made and eaten, my disordered eating was put on high alert and you know what, I restricted and deprived myself of what I truly wanted to have.
It’s obvious to me that I have a long way to go. I would like to say that I know I am so much better compared to last year, and I am in fact proud of myself for the progress I have made. However, the thoughts of food and the fears of gaining weight are still very much a part of my daily thought process decision making. It might have seemed to my family that I was happy and carefree, yet they didn’t (and couldn’t) know the internal battle that was raging the whole time. Well they do now!
Sometimes, this whole mental illness is easier to deal with than others. Sometimes I am more “in the mood” to challenge and propel myself toward a life free of all of this. I am able to accept the fact that I am going to very likely feel bloated, fat and uncomfortable by doing something that is against the eating disorder.
And yet, there are other times that I give in to the illogical voices and make choices based on a part of me that is simply unhealthy.
Continuing to differentiate between the two is essential for recovery to continue progressing. You know what else I have to learn to embrace? The discomfort that recovery is. I am fighting against a powerful force that has readily been destroying my life for several years now. It’s a tough foe to take on and it’s going to hurt… something I absolutely must accept.
I would love to hear from you…
1) Can you relate to what I wrote here? That fulfilling the wishes of an eating disorder makes you happy… but is it really YOU that is happier? I know it’s hard to tell.
2) If you have any sort of eating issues, are holidays a challenge for you? Or how did Thanksgiving go if you celebrate the holiday?
3) Do you ever have game night with your family or friends? If so, what are your favorites? Charades, Taboo, Scategories, Apples To Apples… all great ones
4) When is the last time you laughed so hard that it was hard to breathe?
5) What was the best thing you ate over the weekend? Either from the holiday or not!