Willpower is Bullshit

You know when you overdo something, and then swear off of it for like, 30 daysorLife…and then fall off the oath and “succumb to weakness”?  Well, fuck, maybe it’s not a weakness.  Maybe it’s just inevitability in your humanity.

Example: eat 3 TBSP of flaxseeds because I was still hungry but feeling afraid of “overdoing” legit food like my snack of nuts that I nightly have, so I eat tablespoon after tablespoon of flaxseeds.  Knowing very well that this will not be pretty tomorrow….especially since my gut has been off since antibiotics.

Or for me, it’s eating raw veg and vinegars like salads because they are “safe foods” and satisfy my feeling of needing to be a little ungrounded.  These foods are not what make me feel good in the colder weather.  My soul knows this well, but it’s easy to fool myself into thinking this is healthy because, like, it’s a fucking salad, bro.  But I am suffering with my gut so hard, and I know that the cup of coffee won’t be good on my tummy, but the other parts of me loudly speak their needs for sensation.  How good and like, superhuman do you feel after drinking a cup of coffee? It’s like I can do anything.  It totally masks any fatigue I may have felt, and poor sleep, it just makes me not feel the things that I believe will stand in my way of doing the things. Do you know what I mean though?

What else:

  • drinking too much coffee
  • eating too much __________________________
  • buying too much______________
  • doing too much_________
  • sleeping too much?
  • literally, anything in excess.

And then, the swearing off happens:

I WILL ABSTAIN FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And that feels SO PRODUCTIVE, right?!  Like, a bandaid, it gives peace of mind…until we break the fast, we eat the thing, we drink the thing, we buy the things.  And come in shame and guilt.

But the thing is, this “caving” is not a weakness.  It is not a lack of strength.  I ate too much flax again, and now feel terrible because it’s just that right time for gastric emptying from yesterday to be making its bowel-journey so that I’ve pooped like 6 times already and now feel so “unfinished”….you know?!  That feeling SUCKS.

So, I am learning to say that this wasn’t a lack of willpower.  This wasn’t weakness.  Because I was scared, right?  I acted out of a space of fear, of really trying to not wake up hungry in the middle of the night, so I ate what I felt safe eating.  I used my resources, and from a space of needing nourishment, I evaluated my means, and chose the safest one.  That’s actually pretty beautiful.  I actually was trying to sleep better.  Maybe I didn’t make the best decision for all parts of myself, gut-specifically, but I wanted to be rested.

Awwww!

THAT is a good reaction to this.  Actually, add:

Awww, sweetheart.

And isn’t that something you’d tell a little kid?  Because we actually chose the best thing to do, given our state of health.  Maybe the chocolate was a vice from emotional suppression all week.  Maybe the wine was because we are so fucking tired, used up so many resources, that the feelings are too much to handle and we uncork the whole damn bottle to dissipate the emotions.  The soul wanted to feel.  The soul was telling, yelling at us to be heard.

If I don’t examine where my feeling of being unsafe was coming from, I will continue to use my best and most readily available “safe” vices, at the detriment of other parts of myself.

I feel unsafe when I have disconnected from myself, and I fear of being “out of control”, so I latch on to safety with clawed fingers.  To the point of choke-holding my own neck.  But, that feeling of safety was satisfied.

Humans are incredible at adapting.  We use our ITB and knees when our asses are weak and don’t muscularly fire properly so that we can move, run, walk, ride.

We find venues to expel excess feels when we really need to meet that work deadline, so we eat the whole cake.

We have weak abs, and so our backs hyper-engage so we can remain upright.

We feel out of control in our lives, so we clean our houses like mad because it makes us feel the illusion of order.

Over-compensation.  It’s a thing.  And it works in the short term, but longer term, our bodies can’t handle it too long.  When we are in the over-compensation cycle for a prolonged time, we are sustaining self-disconnect and the soul doesn’t like this.  It can be silenced temporarily, but not long-term.

So, the “willpower” to not do the things, is not the answer, and it is not a weakness when we “run out of willpower”.  It is inevitability.

So the question is, where did we over-compensate?  Where did we satisfy a need with some other soothing thing that helped us feel safe, heard, in-control, or just FEEL?

That’s the ticket.

I didn’t feel nourished in my life, in feeling of purpose yesterday.  I instead wanted the safety and control over satiety, so I could wake up and be able to hop on my bike fasted, because when I’m bloated with flaxseeds, I don’t feel hunger as much.  And what does that bike ride give me?  A feeling of satisfaction guaranteed: I know that I’ll feel subdued, more peaceful, high.  I know that this will be my stimulus-addiction satisfied.  Until my next high.

I’m too confused and haven’t “figured” this all out yet, but I trust this much.

I’m stopping here.

Namaste.

How I Overcame my Eating Disorder: Forest Greenwell

Forest is a dear friend of mine who I met when I first moved home to Toronto from New Zealand.   She was behind the counter at a cafe I walked into, in a state of low, really ungrounded and upset.  She immediately took me to the back kitchen, leaving the front counter, and sat me down for an hour without blinking an eye, wordlessly signalling to the staff to cover for her.

Screen shot 2017-10-22 at 1.21.39 PM

She is one hell of a woman, and has founded the wellness initiative Her Habitat, a safe space for anyone to share their struggles that accompany our belonging to this collective human condition called Life.  She connects people and helps the world feel supported; her purpose is brilliantly described in the powerful statement;

You are not alone.

Bless her soul.

She is a warrior of a myriad of Life’s journeys, and battles on while dancing, singing, and doing really cool shit.

Here is her story:

My Eating Disorder Journey:

For a significant part of my life, foods purpose wasn’t to nourish me. I used it to mask, unplug, hide from my feelings. I fluctuated constantly between states of starvations and near illness from binging. I hated my body because I was always tired and never felt good, I hated my mind because I felt weak for giving in to either side of such an intense spectrum, and consequently I hated my friends who had healthy relationships with food. I hated my clothes that never consistently fit me properly, I hated the emotions I was hiding from instead of dealing, and more than anything I hated anything that challenged my way to cope.

I am not proud to say that I actively chose to stop eating. I willingly chose Anorexia over health. I did this with the knowledge that it would get the attention of those around me, and that this would be an easier task than asking for help or doing the very hard work of implementing what I had learned in my years of therapy. I often found myself bingeing and soon my middle ground became Orthorexia instead of Anorexia. I was obsessive about eating healthy. It completely consumed me. And I was still bingeing – now I was just extending my stomach with fruits, veggies, and whatever else I had deemed healthy enough to be able to enter my body.

My breaking point mentally was in Wal-Mart. I was staying with my grandparents for a summer in British Columbia after I had finished high school, and they watched me suffer through hours of running, strict meal plans and timing, and forcing myself into yoga positions that didn’t heal me because I didn’t understand. I was grocery shopping and my grandmother asked me if I wanted any cookies.

Do you know what it’s like to be 18 and having a tantrum in Wal-Mart because your Grandmother asked if you wanted cookies?

I’ve never felt so ashamed in my entire life.

Not just of the reaction, or that situation, but also at my cart full of unsatisfying foods that were not healthy for my mind, not healthy for my soul, and ultimately not even balanced or nutritious enough to give me proper nourishment. I was withering away, moody, disrespecting those that loved me, and fighting against a body and a mind that were desperately needing to heal.

I spent hours meditating in the woods trying to find answers to this longing I had. This void I needed to fill, while simultaneously being terrified of what would happen if I was full. If I did feel joy. If I allowed myself to be human.

The answer was simple, and because of this, so much harder to face:

I was looking for attention.

That’s all it came down to for me. Even though I tried to make myself and my habits invisible I felt offended and unimportant that no one had intervened. I was upset that no one could see that I wasn’t healthy, I was hurting myself. But then I realized I could see it. I could see what I was putting myself through and it was only my job and responsibility to deal with that.

It still took me years to get out of the habit of purging and bingeing. I still fall back on it sometimes. It’s an easy way to remind myself of the “power” I have. It’s also a slap in the face when I feel like shit and realize that there is no one to blame but myself. Not my stress, not my work load, not my roommate or partner or friends. The way that I choose to deal with things, and also the things I choose not to face are not exempt from my hand just because I don’t feel up to dealing with it.

I think the biggest and most important part of my recovery was being accountable.

Yes, all of the tools I learned to avoid bingeing and purging are invaluable to me, and my own intuition and understanding of my body’s signals and messages are paramount. But just how I can take pride in what I am doing right and how far I’ve come, this also comes with the acknowledgement that sometimes I don’t do right by me. Sometimes I do give in to that cyclical pattern. But now I understand what it is, am learning more and more why. I’m finding that the more I’m aware of my triggers and emotions that sway me, the more inclined I am to be conscientious of my eating choices without being paranoid or obsessive about them either.

I can eat a slice of cake without worry about eating the whole cake, or about needing to starve myself before indulgence.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to her on any of her links for connection:

https://www.facebook.com/herhabitatblog/
https://www.instagram.com/herhabitatblog/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkrAlmDZwwsv_iyGr-4Vdxg/
https://twitter.com/herhabitat/

You.
Are.
Not.
Alone.

Jah bless xo

 

Tools that helped me beat Bulimia

I’m resting today.  My ankle hurts.  I have a new private catering client, and I love this.  I love helping and sharing my food and living philosophy; that of self-love and kindness.  That of healing an unhappy gut, of facing feelings, of raw, real emotions, all of them.

img_7929

This morning, I pitter-patter in and out of the ego-rubbish dialogue with my inner wisdom.

“Rest is earned, food is earned…” I ate a great breakfast.  I hobbled to do laundry, I’m sitting at Reunion Island and blogging.  I can’t walk lots, and I’m looking gratefully at it.  Maybe this is the space I need to fill my website, to organize myself as a developing practitioner in holistic healing.  I want to be the change.  I had some wine last night, to calm my nerves, and passed out at 8pm.  I woke up at midnight hungry, so ate a snack.  Good stuff.

This morning, I’m sitting and craving an outlet, so I write.  I have an extra cup of coffee, and I breathe.  I am sharing what helped me beat Bulimia.  I am looking at the shit I’ve overcome, instead of where I still have to further my journey.  I am looking at my “full” vs my “lack”.  Maybe the universe will listen to this positivity, and like attracts like.  Oh how I see mountains.

Here’s some stuff (wanted to submit to Tiny Buddha, but submissions full….anyone know any platforms that would be good for sharing this story?)

Tools that helped me beat Bulimia:

 

Bulimia is a bitch. It’s a cycle of restriction, then “giving in” to a purge. I put that in quotations because it represents the voice of failure, of ‘lack’, of weakness.

Here’s how it manifested in my life.

I had all the prereq’s for it: perfectionist, two best friends who were dubbed “gifted” against who I was always comparing myself, an athletic body type throughout elementary school, controlling parents, and a terribly low self esteem paired with timidness.

So come High school, when my body started changing, and my sense of self remained vague, unhealthy friend-dynamics, a really bad first experience of sex, and strange attraction to assholes for male partners, I was ravenous for control. I was unhappy, confused, and seeking to be seen, heard, respected. I was involved in sports, and remember having the feeling of being idle when I had free time. In this time, I was unable to cope, I felt uneasy and turned to food to control. I remember using food in a fear-form. I remember the summers when Competitive swimming would take a break, and I felt so isolated and alone, and would fill my time eating “Oatmeal to go” bars and watching TV with my brother, while I imagined all my friends at overnight summer camp having so much fun. I had maaaaaad FOMO. So, when school came back around, and my weight was slow to catch up, my parents latched on to control. I was monitored for my weight and how much exercise I could do. That year was hell. Grade 10. I was struggling hard, and by the summer, I ended up being admitted into North York General’s eating disorder day program.

North York’s day hospital for Eating Disorder recovery was a 9am-5pm gig, meals monitored strictly, as was bathroom use. Group, individual, and family therapy consisted most of the day, along with shit like…knitting and other “non-movement” types of things. No sitting up straight at the table because that “burned too many calories”…I was struggling hard. I remember one day, crying so much that the nurses were actually hard pressed to get me to stop (having it been a good few hours) being concerned for my energy expenditure. Days of coping revolved around spiting the program, hating the food, fear, and extreme distain for control. Long story short, I ended up running away one day, to fight it on my own. [That sentence entails more than expressed, but for the sake of a shorter post, I’ll leave it there (and also to spare myself the pain of rehashing…).]

I spent that summer at my cottage with my grandma, and it was the best, most empowering summer of my life. I remember the focus not being on weight, although I did gain weight to a healthy weight, on my own. I guess I let my body be, I let it find where it needed to be. I was so happy that summer. There was freedom, a boy, a job, swimming, I also ran! I fell in love with running, then.

This was all before bulimia. I went back to high school in grade 11, and come grade 12, I had issues arise for self-esteem and stress over university. I was so adamant about not being controlled, that it grew to be insecurity-based. I returned in Grade 11 with a chip on my shoulder, no longer willing to be subordinate, no longer willing to be unseen, unheard; I felt like the pain I’d endured has “earned me” the right to deserve respect.

I went to university, and fell into the mainstream image-oriented stereotypical Western ideal. I went to University of Western Ontario, where long legs and blonde hair were revered. I nit-picked at myself hard. I worked out. I was known as the athlete in my residence.

Then, I fell into restriction. I would restrict, and I remember my first binge on my roommate’s Pringles. There was also the alluring residence caf, brimming with sugar-laden temptations, a candy-bar, and all available with the swipe of your pre-pair residence eatery card.

My first purge was in my dorm room, in a garbage bag, using the back of a toothbrush (Google said that’s how it was done)…While my roommate was at cheerleading practice. I followed it with a session at the gym, late at night.

This was the beginning of hell. It lasted from first year uni, to fourth year. Fourth year university, I went cold turkey. The last episode I ever had was Thanksgiving 2013, the day of my Grandma’s funeral. I stopped. I don’t know how exactly, but it was the same way I stopped using fake sugar (I was known to make a meal out of a tub of sugar-and -fat-free yogurt with 8 packets of TwinSugar and sugar free jam…with coffee whitener).

I lived in a house in year 2-3 uni of 7 girls. This was tough. I am now saying how much I felt like an outsider, I felt so wrong and bad all the time. I isolated myself. I lived in fear. I am sorry for the way my coping mechanisms took hold; for all the peanut butter I sneaked from my roommates, the cinnamon toast crunch, the dishonesty with them, with myself. The pain was horrendous.

Then I found Wayne Dyer and Timothy Ferriss: two things here were the beginning of the end of Bulimia:

  1. Self-love
  2. Slow-carb diet

One side-note: Tim Ferriss’s “Four-Hour Body” book, and the idea of one day a week having a “cheat-day” is NOT conducive to healing from an Eating Disorder…but you know what, his philosophy of real food was a big one for me in facilitating change.

So here are some ways that I healed:

  1. I left that house, I broke my foot running away from a peeping tom in my house at Western, and waved the white flag. I surrendered to taking 2 months off of school (to be finished online in BC that summer in my wicked stint out West—see you soon, mntn friends).
  2. I learned to commit to my meals. I stopped the idea of “only a snack”. This idea of “willpower” or lack there of, pitter-pattered out of my life. I trusted that I had to commit to meals. I had to fuel. A friend of mine, a fellow ED warrior actually implemented this idea to me. I remember her transformation to a fit and sculpted body, and I approached her one day at the gym to ask her how she did it. I was so sad in my body, and so unhappy in my binge-purge cycle. Her answer: “I finally started to eat!” THIS IS TRUE, FRIENDS!

My grazing idolization failed time and time again. I would think that I could “have a small snack” and it’d suffice me throughout the day. No. I implemented a meal plan of fuelling; imperatively around workouts (I was training as a triathlete here), as well as a proper breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

  1. I began saying affirmations and understanding from Wayne’s teachings (His book “Your Erroneous Zones” was huge for me in a catalyst for healing) that self-love came first, then the body would acclimatize to the happy set-point. I lived in such pain, my body was heavier, and I was so mean in my self-talk. I started being kinder to myself, and honestly, this is when I balanced out my weight.
  2. I grew into a healthier identity for myself after spending a summer at camp with mature adults, camp Towhee, a camp for kids with learning disabilities. Coming from superficial UWO-this was a breath of fresh air, with wholesome adults who were nurturing support for my soul. I distanced myself from people who made me feel like shit about myself, and learned that I no longer would tolerate my own self-talk in meanness, nor the talk from others with that hue of non-compassion.

 

Note: where I lacked was in healing the mind-aspect, the reason behind my coping through food. Once I regulated my needs for physical nourishment, I no longer had binge tendencies. But, I grew over-controlling with routine. I have yet to nourish my soul.

 

But, these are the ways I beat Bulimia, and I am very proud of this. Bulimia was a dark and painful experience. I am recovered from Bulimia (damn, that feels good to say)!