My “Thesis” & the Final Frontier of Recovery

CB067697I got the most sincere and beautiful e-mail from a reader yesterday; e-mails like this reaffirm that I’m doing the right thing blogging and sharing my journey of discovery and recovery with the world, for better or for worse.

Without going into details of what she said,  I wanted to share some thoughts I came away with after reading her message.

She pointed out that not journaling/IE/learning to trust myself, even for just a few days as an experiment —  is kind of my last frontier of my disordered eating journey.

As she noted, I stopped chewing and spitting, my midnight incidents are few and far between, I’m not over-exercising as much, I know all about nutrition and portion size and portion control …

The only thing left, really, is to trust myself. The scariest notion of all, but the most necessary.

I likened it to my “graduate thesis” of sorts. My “capstone,” if you will — something I have real-world experience with.

I received my M.A. in public communication from American University (where I also did undergrad) in 2002. We had to write a non-thesis-thesis, meaning we didn’t have to verbally defend it, but still had to come up with something amazing.

Combining my passions for Latin America, human rights and international communication, my thesis proved Amnesty International’s grassroots communications efforts brought former Chilean dictator Augosto Pinochet to justice for crimes against humanity and a litany of human rights abuses that took place in the southern cone.

I spent nearly six months entrenched in research, immersing myself in everything I could about the case, about Amnesty, etc. It took a lot of work, but I knew in the end I’d hand in a finished product I could be proud of. And lo and behold, I got an A.

Since blogging, I’ve been “doing research,” creating different variables and trying out new ways of looking at the same facts to come up with my own capstone project or thesis.

I know the ins and outs of clean, healthy eating — whether I choose to do it all the time or not. I know the health benefits of exercise — and I am good to go on that one.  I know enough about nutrition to make good choices on my own. But I need to trust myself to do it which is the “final exam” or the “thesis” I need to produce for my “professor” (i.e., me!)

While I’m not journaling or specifically counting calories these next few days (at least) I will continue to measure things like peanut butter, cereal, pasta (when possible), which are all easy to over-eat without intending to.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being mindful. I’d never be satisfied with peanut butter and I could easily down the jar in one sitting. I’m choosing not to, so there does need to be some restraint 😉

I’ll continue to eyeball things like lean protein, but am not going to worry if I want a little extra chicken.

I’ll probably still be naturally satisfied with half a sweet potato vs. the full thing.

I don’t see myself ordering a dessert all for me in the future, as I like sharing lots of bites of different choices(though if that happened, so be it).

And in all honesty, I’ll probably still count out 20 mini pretzels to make a serving if I choose them out of habit– but I’m not going to count out my carrots. (I’m also not going to eat a whole bag of carrots in one sitting; I have done that before and it wasn’t a good thing!)

The truth is, I know for a fact, I didn’t have food issues til WW began. I didn’t have DE issues until I got thin. Ultimately, dieting led to disordered eating, and while I suffered and might continue to have moments or relapses, I have to believe I will overcome it learning to trust my body — the final frontier.

For too long I’ve let calories or Points tell me when I’m full or when I’ve had enough, which led to restriction in the past. I don’t want to travel that road again.

So I’m trying to view this go at IE as is the last chapter, the final hurrah in my journey toward full recovery. Like Ryan Reynolds said (and I posted about here) “When you have expectations, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. I didn’t expect to finish the marathon; I trained to finish it.”

Well I can look at this the same way. I’m training/studying for recovery.

I don’t have any expectations for what that will mean; I don’t want to be disappointed.

I might always be a little “weird” about food. But I hope to get to a place where I’m comfortable enough in who I am and how I behave that those issues are secondary to who I am on the inside.

I have to believe that it is possible. I’m going to let my intuition lead the way. It has never failed me before; why not give it a try?

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13 thoughts on “My “Thesis” & the Final Frontier of Recovery

  1. i love the balance here! trust yourself yes, but know yourself enough to accept that you need to still measure peanut butter!

    im so excited for you, and for the inspiration you are presenting to your readers!

  2. This is so wonderful, Lissa. You can learn to trust yourself again and day I say, even with peanut butter. But it is a process and you are well on your way to taking the first step! This truly is worth fighting for. You are a rockstar!

  3. Thanks ladies! I do think some foods need to be/ought to be measured (at least for me) and PB I could never eat “til satisfaction” (the jar would be empty 😉 But thank you 🙂 Yesterday was another nice, good day!

  4. Another great analogy. You have such a knack for those 🙂
    It really is all about trust and the journey to IE is just like any other kind of journey we go through in life–ups and downs, wrong turns, successes and failures. They mention something in the book about how there is not one “right way” to do IE and that there is no such thing as being a perfect IE eater (that darn perfection bug that so many of us struggle with in regards to weight/body).

    I don’t see anything wrong with measuring out portions of foods that are calorie dense and easy to overeat. It is different when you know you can have more if you want to vs that is all you get because you used up all your pts/calories.

  5. Thanks 🙂 I do love my analogies. I like looking at it that way — no right/wrong way … to eat a Reese’s 🙂

    Exactly. I would never be “satisfied” with something like chocolate or PB. They gotta be done in serving sizes!

  6. I’m so proud of you Melissa! It’s so evident how much you’ve grown throughout this process. And while it’ll be a life-long struggle, I know you’re on the right path.

  7. Beautiful! You are such a strong person for writing this blog and also for working SO hard on overcoming DE and your relationship with food. I respect you so much for being so open about your journey.

  8. Thanks, Al! I do think weight will probably be a lifelong struggle for me, but with the right tools, I hope to put my energies into more positive things and more meaningful things than weight … however much it plagues me!

    Thanks, Alis! I’ve been told I tend to over-share, talk too much … but it seems when it comes to something like this, my mouth is working for positive change!

  9. I am willing to bet you have helped so many people with this blog understand their own relationships with food and DE. Not to mention all the other topics you touch on. You are on my favorite list that is for sure.

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