Today I reflected on the disordered declarations I used to make every morning while in my eating disorder.
I would spend hours scrolling through fitness instagrams. Updating myself on the latest health trends, finding exercise gurus to follow, and pinning vegetarian recipes.
I would go to sleep with all this newly-found inspiration on how to be thin and active.
It felt exhilarating to create a flawless routine for myself. Thinking: “this time it will work. If I follow this plan, I will never have another unhealthy craving. And I will never want to stop exercising.”
Oftentimes, I fell short of my goal. My motivation to work out would inevitably dwindle, and I’d eat things that caused severe guilt.
I failed yet again. Somehow all these beautiful women I read about could do it, but I wasn’t good enough to keep up.
My personal eating disorder often included binge/purge cycles that crept in about a week after I implemented my strict diet and exercise regimens. And I aways wondered, with such intense self-loathing, how could I allow myself to get to this point, again? What am I doing wrong?
“I just have to try harder,” I would think, as I scrolled though more Pinterest pages and found new ideas on how to tighten the reigns on myself.
I’d spend a long time reading and pulling tidbits from everywhere: what women ate, how they exercised, how much water they drank, how they kept their motivation.
Another night’s sleep would pass in anticipation that… “tomorrow I’ll be good.” and “this is the last time I’ll have to start over.”
Years later, in an eating disorder treatment facility, one of the first steps I took was deleting all accounts that fueled my desire to be thin and fit. I could not allow myself to look at anything that made me feel as though image was ‘all-important.’ This even meant unfollowing certain friends. I made a conscious effort, which was very difficult, to not indulge in the health/fitness and diet culture. I had to be really serious about it.
Two years later, I hold true to this. However, I still see fitness models and seemingly flawless women all around me. I do not seek them out, but it is truly unavoidable (especially with social media.)
I do not speak about it, but I overhear conversations pertaining to the subject. How people plan to lose weight. I hear many people confidently boast about their work out routines, and others “ooh-ing and ahh-ing” at their “dedication.”
I know the truth: coming up with ways to change my body is an absolute waste of my energy and time. I am a better person when I am not trying to be like others. I am proud that I want to obsess over the beautiful/unique aspects of myself, and not pick apart my flaws. My core belief is that self-love is all-important.
But that doesn’t change how hard it is to deal with the fitspo pictures that pop up and conversations surrounding food and body.
When ‘Jill’ talks about how many miles she ran today: I hear the remanence of my eating disorder telling me how flabby I’ve become since I stopped putting so much energy into working out.
When my eyes graze the cover of Women’s Health and I see that another actress dropped ten pounds and gained lean muscle, I wonder: why the hell would I give up focusing on what I’m eating everyday.
I noticed today that my declarations, although lessened, have not stopped completely. They are not as loud and intentional, but they do remain in the back of my head. It’s the little voice that says: “maybe I’ll just give up my mac and cheese.”
or “I have to start using my pull-up bar again.” or “no more desserts for the next two weeks.”
I made a couple of these subtle declarations in therapy.
My therapist stopped me. She reminded me that focusing on food is my way of regaining control in some area of my life. And although my eating disorder isn’t as obnoxious as it once was, it’s still successfully convincing me that I have an inadequate body and I need to change.
If that little voice starts to plan anything related to food or fitness, shift my thoughts and start planing other things: such as what do to with my free time. Start imagining the canvas I plan on painting when I get home from work. Or what facial mask I’ll wear while I pick out a color to paint my nails.
Declarations aren’t quite as bad as I once thought they were.
I can still wake up exhilarated to start or continue something. But, let your declarations be constructive and worthy of your time. Let them be soulful and artistic.
Look forward to your current life, do not plan on changing yourself.
“I declare that I will use my experiences to write more” …