[[Side Notes: On Letting Go
I got a lot of requests about how to deal with just “letting go,” feeling guilt free, and just being free from an eating disorder.
It’s not an easy task, I’ll tell you that, but definitely one you can accomplish. I was thinking about it today and while I was looking in the mirror at myself after getting home from work, covered in sunscreen, sweat, dirt and completely frazzled, I realized that it’s not really figuring out how to let go, but to identify what’s holding you back.
I have spent so many years trying to understand why I couldn’t just eat cake without guilt, not go a day without running or exercising, or feel beautiful when I looked in the mirror. I would wonder every night if the next day would be better and I’d be able to eat without thinking about every bite and calorie, only to be sorely disappointed every morning because just as soon as I finished eating my healthy breakfast, I was already worried about what I was going to have for lunch and run that afternoon.
But I’ve realized now why I couldn’t let go: because I wasn’t let myself enjoy anything. I do so many things that bring joy to my life, be it work or play. But I was always so focused on how it revolved around food that I wasn’t able to really relish in the event itself.
(For instance, this night of gator surveys I was worried to bits about how I was going to do 4-5 hours into the am of the morning of surveys without eating because I’d already been up all day and eaten a full amount of food. Crazy, right?!)
It’s amazing when you really bring yourself to the present moment of something and forget about all the things that bring stress to your life. This didn’t start to hit me until a month ago when I was sitting out in the desert watching the side of a mountain for 9 hours, watching endlessly for birds. Only then did it hit me how much I loved my job. Yes it can be hard, exhausting and dirty sometimes, but if you think about it, I mean, I get paid to count birds. How much better can life get when you love birds and the outdoors?
I sat there for hours, and I really took in the environment. I had to bring food because I wasn’t allowed to leave the spot all day, and truly listening to my body for when it was hungry. I didn’t depend on a clock to tell me when to eat, I just listened.
It was amazing how this light just went off in my head. When I was busy enjoying myself and taking in my job, I didn’t have time or even an inkling to think about food. My mind was occupied with finding new birds, listening to my favorites, and looking forward to the new and amazing projects I’d be able to work on.
But this has not only happened with my job, but also with running. I had a lot of time to think on my 15 miler this weekend (yeah, 2.5 hours!) and when just too recently if you’d asked me why I was running I probably would have chuckled and sarcastically said, “You see these love handles? The product of my copious chocolate consumption. Busted!”
During that run it was different, way different. I was more worried about how to treat my body in the best way possible to make sure I could run without pain or discomfort, and even more miles later on. I have learned so much about running and my body that it’s becoming easier to take care of. For instance, I told Whit that as soon as I finished my run, we had to get to Jamba Juice asap so I could get in some food and my protein powder, because it does wonders for my electrolyte balance and lingering headaches later in the day. I lose a serious amount of salt when I run that I’m surprised they’re any left in me afterwards really!
In all of these experiences, I’ve been able to really look at what’s been holding me back from achieving that “letting go” and “guilt free” mentality that’s plagued my mind.
- I want to achieve too much. I’ve always wanted to be something that in reality could never happen. For instance, I will never be an Olympic runner. I will never have model legs or abs. I’ll never have a picture perfect memory. I’ll never be as smart as many of my friends. And really, that’s ok. Because then, I wouldn’t be me.
- I set my goals too high. Run this fast? Weigh this much? Wear this size? I was trying to get somewhere that I simply couldn’t unless I wanted to really hurt myself.
- I thought I could never be happy. I never thought I would find a guy who liked me. I never though I would be able to make friends in a new town or job. I never thought I could live each day with a smile and the satisfaction that everyday could be the one that could change my life forever.
- And of course, I wanted to be skinny. I didn’t think anything good would start in my life until I had those flat abs, thighs that didn’t rub together, or the sharp facial features. I believed that nothing could go correctly until I looked the way I pictured in my mind. I thought I was a horrible person for not weighing XXX lbs or something lower than that.
After realizing all the things that were keeping me from “letting go” it made life so much more manageable. What, you mean I don’t have to wear a size XX in order for a boy to like me? You mean I don’t have to weigh XXX lbs in order to enjoy the things I love? You mean I don’t have to only eat this or that to run the way I want? You mean I can be happy?
Yep, I sure can.
So instead of trying so hard to figure out why you can’t “let go,” look at what’s holding you back. What do you feel keeps you where you are? Make a list of them and read them aloud. Realize that some of them might just be flat out crazy and simply out of reach. Take them and rearrange it to something more reasonable and rational. Or simply get rid of them, there is no harm or foul if you abandon them. You’re still the same awesome person you were when you wrote them down. ]]