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To divide something so real.

So I want to talk about all of my weekly goals. Delve a little into what they look like and what they mean to me. How it all came to be. I should probably do this before I have weeks and weeks and weeks of thoughts that I can’t catch up with. (Newsflash: it’s been weeks and weeks and weeks already.)

First, I want to say that the precipitous to all of this was a workshop of sorts that Rachel Martin held on her Finding Joy page. She posed the questions, (I’m paraphrasing and filtering through memory and self here) “What is it that you’re waiting til 2020 to do? Why are you waiting 8 weeks to get started? What would it mean to have 8 weeks of progress come the new year?”

The seed was planted.

Then the universe kicked life into gear from there. And now I stand here telling my story.

Week one (Nov 11): Commit to an eating window from 9am til 7pm.

Eating is continually the thing in my life that I navigate. I used to live deeply inside a binge eating disorder. I have always used food as a friend, a connection, a coping mechanism, a stress reliever, an avoidance, an <insert thing here>.

Back in 2013 it was the worst it had ever been. I didn’t even know I had an eating disorder. I thought I was too fat to have an eating disorder. I thought I could only have an eating disorder if I was thin. Hell, I wished I had an eating disorder so I could be skinny! (I was sweet and naive…)

It wasn’t until I was back in school and studying nutrition and learning about eating disorders that I realized that I was drowning in one. I ate so much food it’s painful to think about now. And I never really gained weight because I ate so clean. I only ate proteins and fats and some vegetables. No grains, dairy, sugar of any kind, fruit, nuts. It was just about Whole30, but more strict, for three years. But a crazy obscene amount of food.

After acknowledging my eating disorder, I worked to navigate the things I was hoping to satiate with food and eventually ate mindfully and presently and satiated my pain in healthier ways. Or so it felt.

I lost weight and it was awesome and I felt great. And then I got the flu and after a few days of no food, I succumbed to an orange. Which feels really strange to say. I hadn’t had sugar of any kind in years and thought of it as my heroin.

Everything unraveled slow like molasses after that.

Fast forward six years: a pregnancy, a miscarriage, a wedding, another pregnancy, a newborn eventually turned three year old, a tween, a teenager, the rest of my family, and navigating lifetimes of….just..everything. And I was (am) still using food to function. (Far less destructively and dangerously as I once did, but still.)

I wrote, publicly (…with my name attached to it and everything) to another group I’m in that my goal would be to be healthier and have a healthy relationship with food, but that I’m terrified.

Terrified of not functioning. Terrified of not keeping up. Terrified of drowning. Of losing the comfort of friend, connection, coping mechanism, stress reliever, avoidance, <insert thing here>.

Rachel, the head of said group, told me to pick one small thing to focus on and I retorted my penchant for very much being an “abstainer” and not a “moderator” and referred her to Gretchen Rubin’s moderator vs abstainer, with the caveat that I believe the thought line, but not to my core per se and that life should be grey and not black and white, but in this case for me this one thing is black and white.

Which is obviously ridiculous in hindsight. And in regular sight as well, which is what prompted a quick reevaluation and remedy.

I do stand by the fact that some people are good to live with moderation, while others just aren’t. But I believe too that we don’t have to be pigeonholed to these things by chains or live our lives in paralyzing fear. I didn’t have to stand still just because I work better with abstinence than moderation. I can be afraid and move at the same time. I can moderate where I abstain.

So, I gathered up all my fear and all my brave and decided that an eating window was my next safe step.

I wasn’t going to stop eating this or stop eating that. I wasn’t going to limit food in any way, except by time. And also, the first thing I eat will always be a meal.

The first week took some balancing. Sometimes I counted down the minutes til 9am and other times it was suddenly 11 and I was getting lightheaded from not having eaten, but I hadn’t obsessed the time away. Some days at 9am it felt like I needed to eat in order to navigate anxiety/depression/stress/overwhelm and I would choose to indulge it. Other days I was able to recognize the anxiety/depression/stress/overwhelm and say “I’m going to wait until it passes” and employ other ways to feel all the things.

A few times teacher parent conferences or driving my kids around delayed eating until after 7pm and I carefully chose in those moments to eat dinner and then be finished with food, and it was always before 8. Some days even tho I hadn’t eaten dinner, I decided to forego it altogether because I wasn’t even hungry.

Week 2 (Nov 18): Commit to drinking seven glasses of water a day.

Hydration always feels better and also, by default, helps offset (perceived) hunger. There have been a couple days here and there I’ve only hit five, but it’s only interesting to note because I went right back to my plan the next day. No issue, no shame.

Week 5 (Dec 9): Commit to an eating window from noon til 7pm.

The next natural step for food felt like increasing real me time and limiting destructive eating time. Seven hours is more than a reasonable duration to eat. I rarely get hungry for real before noon anyhow.

There was one morning I was so wrapped up in emotional hunger that I was counting down the minutes til noon and didn’t even realize until 11:30 that I hadn’t done any of my regular morning routine. I was on an emotionally-depleted autopilot.

It was an eye opening example of how much control food can have and that I, solely, am the one that gives it power. For now the seven hour window gives me the reminder and opportunity to focus the rest of my time on experiencing life.

In the weeks to come, now that I have a solid foundation with time windows, my goals in regard to food will really be in regard to practicing positive coping mechanisms. I acknowledge I am not yet using food how I wish to be. I’m okay with that–it’s just not where I am yet. I need new, safe things squarely in place before I can take old, destructive things away. That plan feels like the best navigating.

Up next: weeks 3 and 4. Stay tuned!

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