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The fire beneath my feet is burning bright.

A couple nights ago I shared with Chris my ribcage. Years ago (2014) I weighed much less and my ribcage was a great source of pride. I had worked hard for that weight loss.

I had worked hard to overcome a crippling binge eating disorder. I had worked hard to find truth behind the lies of body dysmorphia. My success was evident in my body.

Then I consumed sugar (an orange, to be specific) for the first time in years and my eating disorder reminded me it was alive and well. Then I got pregnant and miscarried (2015). Eventually I got pregnant and had a baby (2016). Then postpartum happened. And sleep deprivation and stress and unhealthy eating patterns.

Life spiraled.

I gained and lost weight. I did Whole30 multiple times (2017). And keto a few. But something that strict felt like overkill. I wanted to learn to navigate healthy while not restricting sugar.

Previously (2010-2014) I had lived a strict Whole30 lifestyle for three+ years. Never touching any grains or fruit. Only consuming meats, healthy fats and the vegetables that didnt bother me. I felt good and never wanted for more.

I had been content never again consuming sugar, processed or otherwise. It felt safe. Sugar was my heroin. I had said it so many times.

But then suddenly (2018) life felt so different and “staying clean” with food was so freaking hard. I wanted sugar all the time. I was a fiend for it and I chased the rabbit hole in search of rock bottom. I’d hoped rock bottom would neutralize sugar for me. I’d hoped drowning in terrible coping mechanisms would give me time opportunity to learn safe ones.

I’d hoped it would do that before I caused irreparable damage and insurmountable weight gain.

It felt like a gamble. But it felt like a gamble that was worth it.

Last November I committed to Rachel Martin one food related change. Six weeks before everyone else was making New Years’ resolutions, she challenged me to dive head first into a headstart. I began with a food window. Much like intermittent fasting, except I wasn’t logging anything except the time. I needed permission to stop eating after dinner. I needed safeguards to not eat the moment I woke up.

Days turned to weeks turned to months. I was doing it. I could eat full on crap all through my window if I wanted. I didn’t want this time around to be about the food. I wanted it to be about the time. I was committed to clawing my way toward a healthy relationship with food by exhausting unhealthy. Only two things were required: food window from noon til 7pm and the first thing I eat is always a healthy, nutrient dense meal.

Enter a long season of a healthy breakfast at noon followed by hours of ice cream and chips and muffins and cookies and whatever the hell else I deemed in the name of “no restrictions”. Months later I called it quits on many of those things. Not out of fear or a need to restrict, but because I felt crappy. I wasn’t getting the physical results I wanted. Most importantly, I felt worse instead of better emotionally. I was looking for comfort and safety in the nonstop eating, and finding overwhelm and instability instead.

Enter Rachel and Dave Hollis and their next90 challenge.  This centers around five principles tended to daily.

  • Pen to paper five things I’m grateful for.
  • 30 minutes of moving my body.
  • Getting up an hour early for “me” time.
  • Drink half my weight in ounces of water.
  • Cut one food item you know you shouldn’t be eating.

I stopped eating cough drops, which had become a huge crutch. I had appreciated that I had found a hard candy made with sugar instead of corn syrup. And I abused the fuck out of them. For months. I ate them instead of eating, even tho I was still eating so much. And it was ridiculous. Next90 was just the excuse I needed to stop eating them. It was a relief in fact. Two and a half weeks later I committed to no more ice cream as well. It felt good to not rely on the familiar, destructive habits. It felt good to give myself the opportunity to find positive, constructive ones.

Here we are now in May and I’m noticing my ribs. For many days I noticed my ribs and I would touch them and play with them and feel the way my skin feels against them. I’d contemplate how in years past feeling thinner would be a huge trigger for me. How losing fat was the awesome success that turned into my downfall.

I showed Chris.

Chris got that adorable smile on his face. That smirky smile that is part turned on and part beaming with pride. And then he asked me how it feels. Because we ask each other stuff like that.

And I said that it feels weird.

And then he asked me this: how are you going to celebrate your accomplishment?

I was stopped in my tracks.

My accomplishment.

Suddenly it was all a different perspective. No need to get wrapped up in triggering thoughts or fear. No need to feel consumed by fear failure or success. No need to borrow trouble.

I can feel my ribs and know my body speaks for my hard work. I can take pride in my accomplishment and celebrate it. I can reap the benefits of fat minimizing and muscle maximizing.

I can allow my brain and my mindset to catch up with all the healthy, just as I allow my body to. It’s another reminder from the universe that I’ve got this. And the universe has me.

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Sentiments, like shadows, grow.

I have a compulsion this morning to weigh myself. I know it’s just that–a compulsion.

I know the rational. It doesn’t negate the irrational.

Logically I know that, whatever the number on the scale, it isn’t indicative of my health or my progress or even really my weight. Logically.

I considered scratching the itch. I considered getting out the scale and just seeing and then I’d know and I could go about my day and I wouldn’t entertain it again.

But that’s not how compulsion works.  Because I weighed myself over the weekend. And that doesn’t matter at all to the voice in my head. In fact, it gives the voice fodder. You lost .6 pounds. The number went down! Let’s see if it went down more. I hope it didn’t go up. Do you think it went up? We should check. Maybe it went down to the next whole number. Let’s look.

I can hear these thoughts and not listen to them. I can choose that. It’s not easy. But it’s possible.

This morning, like every morning before I get out of bed, I felt my stomach. I noticed the thinner skin and the flatter mounds. I noticed how my ribs protrude a little more. I noticed how my pelvis juts beneath the skin and the area below my belly button each day feels a bit flatter and a bit more hollow. And I thanked my body for being strong and supporting me. For keeping me alive and safe. And I told it that I’m learning how to care for it properly and kindly and I hope it can see my progress. I thanked my body for showing me progress.

I do this every morning.

This morning that routine precipitated a desire to weigh myself. To see if the number validated the bones and muscles and curves of my body. Today that routine opened a door to allow the compulsive voice in. That’s okay. It doesn’t make it a bad plan. Honoring my body is a good thing. Navigating unexpected moments is good too. My constructive routine may have played a part in opening the door, but it presented me an opportunity, and I am able to choose to gently close the door with little to no damage.

I have a compulsion, but in this moment it doesn’t have me. So I’m not weighing myself. I’m not enabling the compulsion. I’ve put in years of work for this. To stay the course for this moment. To see all the things and let all the things just be. One foot in front of the other.