Walking the fine line

When you’re someone who has publicly struggled with her weight and a disordered eating past, people close to you — and even those not-so-close — tend to scrutinize you when they think you might be, shall we say, “taking things too far.”

While I know in my heart of hearts the comments and concern are valid (hello,  experience does indeed point to a past problem) and well-intentioned (the comments are said by people who love me and care), the past is not always a predictor of the future. And I know in my heart of hearts that I am not ever going back there.

In spite of what it may appear (i.e.: I’m legit hitting the gym hard again/I’m being a little more careful with food again/I’m weighing myself once a week again), I’m not engaging in any unhealthy behaviors: no restricting, no over-exercising, certainly no chewing/spitting. (5+ years “sober” thankyouverymuch!)

Of course, I get it … I understand why people might think this way. How can an alcoholic be at a party surrounded by drinks and not be tempted to go “down that path”? becomes the (unspoken) comparison. They see me working hard and question it: my motives, the how.

I get it.

And I’ve even had to catch myself a couple times from falling into uncomfortably familiar thought patterns … not to let the “high” of losing consume me, to really affirm and reaffirm to myself that “slow and steady wins the race; that even though I have an end-goal in mind, it isn’t the be-all, end-all. To recognize I’m a mom of two now and really the size of my jeans is the least of my concerns. (It can be a concern–just a little one).

Because sometimes, in spite of all the great strides I’ve made over the years, I do need to reel it in. Sometimes I need the reality check that hey, maybe I do need to take a step back and look at myself objectively. Maybe I’m not walking the line as well as I think I am; maybe I’m toeing it a little too closely.

All of this came to a head with my husband last night as we cleaned up from dinner. Recognizing the sensitivity around the subject, he was very careful with his words and deep concern was written all over his face. Brow furrowed, he spoke: “I see what you’re doing … you’re obsessing again. And you don’t realize it, but it clouds your judgment …”

I didn’t like what he was saying, but deep down, I knew he was right.

It was 8:45 PM and I was rushing out to go to the gym to squeeze in a workout to counter-balance how much I’d over-eaten over the weekend, so I’d “break even” this week.

And when I say it that way …  justifying voicing my reasoning … I understand more why he shared his concern — and why others have, as well.

Ick.

He, who has always loved me as I am — who always thinks I am beautiful and fit and whatnot and who loves me unconditionally and knows me best of all — could see through me. He’s called me out on this before — many, many years ago when this all began– and I know him seeing me in that state of mind (even if just for a moment) scares him.

Needless to say, I felt pretty defeated. I went to the gym anyway because I wanted to blow off steam from the day … but gave it a lot of thought while I was there.

I share this today because, as someone with a sordid past like mine, it’s a fine line to walk … and an easy one to toe. And while I think on the whole I’ve got a pretty good grip on this, I needed to be reeled in a little last night.

I think for me, the trick is to remember the following:

Dieting doesn’t necessarily mean “restriction.”

Embracing a regular fitness routine doesn’t necessarily mean “over-exercising.”

Weighing oneself once a week doesn’t necessarily mean “obsessing.”

In other words, while it’s true that one (or all) of these things can be taken to the extremes (something I know first-hand, all too well), it isn’t a given, and doesn’t have to be. (Read as: it won’t).

I just need to be extra diligent that it isn’t a given — because, by nature, I am more susceptible to falling into a trap than your average Jane — in spite of how strong I think I am.

I do believe I’ll always be a work in progress. And though no one likes being called out, it’s a necessary part of growth and, in my case, my recovery.

So thank you for the encouragement, motivation, compliments … and the gut-checks. Though sometimes they hurt to hear, those are just as important as positive reinforcement. Ultimately, it’s the gut-checks which keep us in line.

How about you? What are some of your tips to keep yourself in check and not delve into disordered territory (real or imagined) when embarking on a new fitness/diet kick?

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3 thoughts on “Walking the fine line

  1. Eh, I think that everyone who is in “good shape” by today’s standards has some degree of obsessive thoughts or behavior about food or exercise. It’s kind of sad, but that’s the way it is. I have yet to meet one “fit” adult, man or woman, who just throws caution to the wind and has a relaxed attitude about their eating or workouts. I am the first to admit that I’m slightly obsessive about keeping off the 15 pounds I lost about 2 years ago. But if I wasn’t, I’d gain it back, which wouldn’t be good, either! My biggest tip for staying mentally healthy is that if I have a day where I don’t eat well or I skip a workout or something, I just freaking let it go and get back on track the next morning. I don’t let myself fall off the wagon because of one frustrating day.

    1. There’s truth to that, for sure, A.! If you think of top athletes, in order to perform at their best, they need to endlessly train and diet (or at least be careful with their diet in the general sense of the word). So I do think there has to be some level of obsessiveness in order for them to achieve greatness. But that’s not MY goal, you know?

      Love your attitude though — it really isn’t about perfection on a daily basis — it’s about the overall picture. And kudos on the 15 lbs!

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