Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On Letting Go

[[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?

whit 140

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!” 

IMG_20110116_121827 (1)

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. ]]


Megan D said...

Once again, great "side note" post. You are fabulous!

mymarblerye said...

i love these posts lately Melissa. These longs runs=quality posts. Anyways, I hate the guilt from eating GOOD celebratory food...and I hate the fact that I can't look at a slice of cake without wanting the WHOLE cake. But you are right...the problem is DEEPER than the damn cake! I think that is why I'm thinking of taking up yoga...just breathing my stress away...my insecurities away.

Tori said...

I don't know why I can't dissasociate being skinny with being happy. It would help so much if I could just let go of wanting to be a certain size and having to maintain it, because I feel like if I don't my life will suck. But really it's quite opposite. Holding onto a disorder sucks!

eliz@thesweetlife said...

What a beautiful post--thanks for sharing your lovely thoughts. Your honesty through your journey is beautiful.

Gena said...

As usual, this is a thoughtful and brilliant post. I love your side notes, and this is one of my all time faves!

Krista said...

You've come so far, Melissa! I wonder if being in a great relationship with Whit has contributed to that? You seem like you've been on cloud 9 since you started dating...which I think is so refreshing and awesome to see....

Gabriela said...

I honestly think this is one of the best posts you've ever written. Seriously. You are awesome. I'll leave it at that :)

Jess said...

Melissa, this is such a wonderful post and a very very necessary step in overcoming an ED! I can identify with everything that you talked about, and it's enlightening to see you struggling through it and coming up with an answer! Holding on = bondage. Letting go = freedom.

Runeatrepeat said...

I can relate to not letting myself enjoy things. I don't know how many parties or events I spent the whole night worried that I looked fat and then would go home and binge because I didn't let myself eat "bad" party food.
Letting yourself enjoy life is key to freeing yourself from Ed.

glidingcalm said...

I adore you so much!!! It has been crazy too see how much you have grown in ...what? 2-3 years of blogging since I've known you? You are incredible, inspiring, strong woman and I applaud you.

LOVES YOU! Text me moreee! :D

Joanna said...

I agree with my fellow commenters. This is a great post that not only talks about your insecurities as a person who is recovering, but as a woman. We all have these horrible thoughts to contend with and it's comforting to hear how others deal with it and beat them. I've been struggling with letting go of the idea of being perfect and we all know there is no such thing. It's about being healthy and comfortable in YOUR OWN skin.

I am (as people say)lucky to have a skinny body, but am I happy? no. Am I strong and healthy? hell no. I'm insecure as hell and beat myself up all the time for not looking the way I want. Even worse for us "skinny people" we get the "real woman have curves" bit from the media. Well, I guess I'm going to have to pay for curves because I have no boobs or no ass and feel insecure because of it. It's a catch 22. Damned if your skinny, Damned if you have curves. Reminding ourselves that we are fighting againsts unrealistic pressures is very much needed!

skinnygrape said...

Wow, thank you so much for this post! Like you, I often set my goals much too high. I want a 4.0, I want to fit into XX size, I want to weigh XX pounds. Well...when I have all that, I am so unhappy and overworked and undernourished that it is NOT AT ALL worth wanting those things! Life goes on if you get a B, if you don't exercise today, if you eat candy. I am planning on making a list of all of the things that hold me back, and then crossing them out and setting more attainable things for myself to refer to :) Thank you !
- Alli

skinnygrape said...

Wow, thank you so much for this post! Like you, I often set my goals much too high. I want a 4.0, I want to fit into XX size, I want to weigh XX pounds. Well...when I have all that, I am so unhappy and overworked and undernourished that it is NOT AT ALL worth wanting those things! Life goes on if you get a B, if you don't exercise today, if you eat candy. I am planning on making a list of all of the things that hold me back, and then crossing them out and setting more attainable things for myself to refer to :) Thank you !
- Alli

Emma said...

Really love this post Melissa! I've found it difficult to seperate happiness and satifaction from restricting and body image. It still makes me uncomfortable from time to time but gradually I've been getting better at realizing that the two do not have to be linked.
Thanks so much for sharing, your writing and candidness is amazing, as always.

fittingitallin said...

Awesome post. I can totally relate to freaking out about food and hunger instead of letting myself enjoy an event. It's always at the front of my mind, and I have to force myself to just play it by ear and know that the experience is worth far more than any extra calories I might take in.

As for distance running, it TOTALLY changed my relationship with food. All of a sudden it was necessary and my fuel instead of the enemy. It's why I love my running so much!

Kelsey said...

in my mind i wanted to say so many things to you about this post; i realized everything i was writing was just agreeing and repeating your same thoughts. you blow me away- and this post is a perfect show of how resilient you are. so beautiful <3 <3 XOXO

MorningStar said...

I've never commented before, but I've been following your blog for a long time. This post is so incredibly positive and inspirational. I've recently been working on appreciating my body for what it is, and realizing that I don't have to be emaciated to be successful or happy in life. In fact, being trapped in an eating disorder, underweight, with unrelenting standards for yourself, is a recipe for misery.
And why would anyone want that? Life is entirely what you make of it. You can be unhappy, or you can really enjoy yourself and engage with people and opportunities. Personally, I'm coming around to choosing happiness. And in the very end... who cares what size or weight you were?

Christina said...

What a beautiful post!!! I agree w. Gena - quite possibly my favorite post of yours ever. The transformation you've made is amazing.

You ought to be SO proud of yourself!!!!!!

Kirsty said...

Thank you for saying just what needs to be said, and so well said. I aplaud your insight and courage and you inspire me to be better. Thanks for showing the way ahead. Kx

Heidi said...

Very inspiring post!! You should be proud of yourself of how much you have achieved so far!

Hallie said...

I'm catching up on blog posts, and I SO needed to read this today. Thank you :-)