“What you feel is what you are and what you are is beautiful.”
I got this tattooed on my ribs almost ten years ago. I got this for a few reasons. I had loved the lyrics for years and always went back to this song when asked what my favorite song was.
But the meaning morphed quite a bit into my college years. I wanted to feel beautiful. I wanted to be free from feeling perfect all the time. Who knew that almost a decade later, I’d feel the same way? No matter how much I researched, no matter how much I try to learn and understand myself, I find myself back into a spiral of dark thoughts about myself.
I try my best to forgive myself when I binge. I try to talk positively to myself. I try to confine myself into calories and steps, but it always comes back to the same glaring number on the scale. The same discouraging thoughts.
Finally motivated again to actively try to lose the weight I’ve gained since April.
Some things I’ve realized recently with some introspection is that:
The last time I didn’t care about what I ate, didn’t care about what I looked like, didn’t care about what was in the kitchen cabinets was when I was a senior in high school. I managed to feel hunger and not have to feel like I had to go through my refrigerator. I ate when I felt like it. When I entered college and crossed into my sorority, my self esteem plummeted. It must have been being surrounded by girls who were similar to me, but I felt that they were thinner. I never felt like I ever had to compare myself to others until I was surrounded by thin, beautiful Asian girls.
That was the start of my binge eating. My body dysmorphia. Sure, some of my family members might have offended me here and there, but growing up, I didn’t have the same obsessiveness about food as I do today. It consumes me every hour of every day. When there is food around me, I have an overwhelming feeling to eat as much of it as fast as possible. To this day, I look at myself and feel negative feelings toward my self image, despite all the good that I hear from others. Those feelings exacerbate when I fail to feel positive towards myself. A never ending circle. I try so hard to change my mindset, to try to listen to others, and to practice speaking kind words to myself, but my thoughts always turn so toxic.
I’d like to get help. I just need to get motivated to do so.
“We don’t know how to rest anymore. We don’t allow the body to rest, to release the tension, and to heal.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh
“We were talking yesterday and we were saying that we wish you were the clinic director. It would be awesome if you were.”
“May, when are you coming? Just come early, get your hotel. We’ll hang out poolside.”
Human relationships are so interesting. They are ever-evolving and their boundaries are always redefined. I’ve experienced friendships in which I can go years without speaking to someone and rekindle the friendship in one text. Then it goes to hanging out every single day to not seeing each other for months at a time again. I know that that friendship will be fine though. I’ve also made friends sitting next to someone random on an airplane for three hours. I’ve given so many chances to a person I considered a friend until one day, it just…wasn’t worth it anymore. It caused me so much confusion and pain that in the end, I considered myself no longer wanting to put in the effort to mend the relationship. For a while, it caused such inner turmoil. I mean, this person has been in my life for 20 years (and counting). I spent a whole day with my emotions spiraling out of control, wondering if I had any friends left. By the next day, I was convinced I had some. A few.
I’m okay now. I’ve come to accept it and it’s fine. Will it make me any better at keeping in touch with my current friends? Not really. But I do realize just how important those few people are in my life.
I had a best friend named Katie. Well I’m not sure if she spelled it Katie or Katy, but that’s how I saw it in my head. She lived in a blue house across the street from mine and she had an above ground pool. She had strawberry blonde hair and she never made me feel different from her. I can’t picture the details of her face anymore, as it was about 25 years ago since I last saw her. I remember that she had a dollhouse and that I ate hot dogs with a slice of white bread and mayonnaise with her because that’s how her dad made them. I remember that my mom took us go-karting at Kmart one time. I won a t-shirt from there. One time, she almost accidentally drowned me in her pool because she was on a large pool float and I couldn’t swim around it to get air. I eventually made it around the float. We used to play out in the streets with the other neighborhood kids, but mostly we played with Barbies at her house. My mom used to come knocking at her door to beckon me home for dinner, then lecture me about going home in time to eat. I completely lost touch with her, but I still remember flashes of memories with her from time to time.
Binge. Rinse. Repeat.
As Mother’s Day is approaching, I’ve been making plans on how to best spend the day with my mom in the safest way possible.
As the holiday approached, news of Florida re-opening spread. This past Monday (May 4th), Phase 1 began for Florida with the exception of the Tri-County area (to be opened on May 18th). On Tuesday, I witnessed one of the people I follow on IG post that they were at Seasons 52 enjoying a steak dinner. I asked incredulously, “Are you eating out?” to which they responded with a simple, “yolo”.
I immediately check the Coronavirus graphs that are constantly updated online. I analyze the graphs and trend lines and my only response is ??? The numbers aren’t going down. The graphs continue to trend upwards at an exponential rate. Am I the only person who is taking this pandemic seriously? I mean, I’ve even witnessed close family members of mine break social distancing guidelines with each other. If I’m not implementing this stay at home order for family members, then I suppose it’s for my own health?
In the meantime, I deleted IG off of my phone. With the exception of Reddit, I just can’t stand social media right now.
On Sunday, it will be raining, so my mother and I will be eating six feet from each other on a lawn on Saturday. We’ll enjoy some homemade blueberry muffins and a quiche for brunch with some flowers. It’s the most I can do for her at this time. I love her too much to risk anything more. I even question if I should be making food for her, but I think it will be okay.
For the past three months, I’ve logged every calorie that has entered my body. 120 days and every tablespoon of [powdered] peanut butter, every single raspberry, every chip I’ve eaten has been logged. I’ve even logged every step I’ve taken and the duration of exercise down to the minute.
Yesterday, I walked 17,505 steps, aka 8.3 miles, which burned approximately 421 calories walking at a 3.5 mph pace. I consumed 765 calories total for the day, which is 487 calories under my daily budget of 1252 calories (mentally, my calorie budget is 1200). So really if I wanted to include the exercise into my calorie intake for the day, it would have totaled to 344 calories. I weighed in at 1.2 lbs heavier the following day.
As I looked at the scale, stepped off, and got confirmation that yes, I weighed in heavier than I did yesterday, I thought, damn, that sucks. Well. On to the next week’s weigh in!
Every day, particularly during the weekend, I feel incredibly restless. The feeling is almost alarming on Sundays. During the weekdays, I can’t just do one task at a time while I work. I try. I really try to be present and be an active listener. However, my mind just wanders to other things that I could be doing. If I see a second in which I can maximize my time efficiently, why not? This goes the same for talking on the phone with people. I don’t like that I can’t just actively listen. I start doing other things and get distracted.
The same thing occurs in the evenings. I find myself constantly occupying every second of my time checking items off my mental list of things to do. Sometimes I’ll even make things up for me to do. However, that’s never the case, as there’s always something to clean or organize. If there isn’t something to clean, then I can always write a letter or call someone that I haven’t spoken to in a while.
Oh my goodness, then the noise in my head gets louder on the weekend. I find myself waking up at 8:00 AM, looking at my phone, groaning at myself, feeling a rising sense of unease, then scroll through Reddit to get my mind off of it. By the time I’m done scrolling through the front page, I force myself to close my eyes only to wake up with anxiety that I have wasted my day sleeping. Sleeping is fine! It’s the weekend! I can do whatever I want and it’s not a waste of time!
Then I think of all the hobbies I’ve put aside (ahem, modern calligraphy, learning a language, playing Sims, reading, painting, maybe training my silly cat) and feel that I could be doing those things instead. I think of things I want to do with my time, such as binging a television show and think to myself, “oh so is this how I want to spend my weekend? It’s going to speed by so fast if I spend endless hours in front of the tv…” Sometimes I think that I’m being productive, but is it really just anxiety?
Oh dear I’m getting anxiety just writing this. I gotta fold my laundry and go to sleep.
During this quarantine, I’ve found myself to be incredibly grateful for the little things. I’ve also enjoyed savoring the small moments. They make the experience of the stay at home lockdown much lighter.
I’ve enjoyed binging a silly show with Jeremy while eating dinner together. I’ve enjoyed catching small moments to read books. I was able to finally finish Becoming by Michelle Obama completely free by borrowing it from the library! Friday nights are the best because we’ve started a “date night” tradition of finding a restaurant to get take out from and stuffing our faces.
I’ve stopped going out of my way to cook new foods or bake only because first, finding ingredients at the grocery store is incredibly stressful, so we only get the essentials, and second, because I can’t bake and not binge. We’ve been finding delicious desserts to eat every night, so I’ve been loving that.
Our walks outside have been the best part about this quarantine. I am able to find beauty in every walk that we take. I love the feel of the wind on my skin. I love the feeling of accomplishment when we are able to take the time to walk 6 miles in an hour and a half. Our runs are fine, too. They’re just hard. And it hurts. But they also bring a sense of accomplishment.
I’ve also been grateful for the views and comfort of Jeremy’s condo. I couldn’t be more grateful to be under a stay at home order with him, Riley, and this lake view. It’s refreshing to wake up to, to snuggle under during the rain, and to stare at after 6 hours of staring at my computer screen for work.
I know my friends have their own lives and have their own ideas of spending their free time decompressing, but it’s also been nice when I get to steal a few moments of their time to connect with them. It makes me miss our game nights or spontaneous hang outs.
Jeremy has been such wonderful company during this time. After six weeks of spending every second together, he’s still able to find moments to make me laugh, to make me smile, and to find adventure. He’s been a great partner in this crisis.
a little sad. maybe a little disappointed, too.
I’m not depressed. I suppose six weeks of staying at home has made me become a little introspective. I’ve found myself becoming a little irritable and sensitive. Little things make me snappy and I find myself furrowing my brows throughout the day, just overthinking the little things.
The biggest disappointment has been this pandemic and how the country has handled it. I didn’t have any expectations coming into this pandemic because we’ve never experienced something of this caliber before. However, seeing how several countries have mandated a complete lockdown as soon as the threat became real as made me wonder why our nation has not done the same thing. I’m sure it comes down to one narcissistic orange man, but we’re completely flooded with information from all sides telling us to stay home. Everything from television ads, to social media, to friends and family, to scientists, to the CDC, to doctors and nurses, to other countries around the world. Everyone is chiming in on the same message: stay home. And what do people do? Cry out in outrage at the fact that we have been stripped of our freedom to do as we please. Come on.
I’m sad. Seeing things stall with my relationship makes me wonder what I’m doing sometimes. It makes me a little distant, as if I am protecting myself from becoming too vulnerable. Being childfree makes me free from time constraints of getting married and settling down, but it is nice to find comfort in something that is stable. I don’t want to constantly be in a state of upheaval. I’m tired of moving and tired of coping with loss. I want to know that I have something permanent.
I’m pissed. I can’t fuckin’ believe I have to live with a roommate. Sure, she’s nice and all but I didn’t think that after graduate school, I’d be living with another stranger. I need to re-frame my thinking about this. I should be grateful for this opportunity to live with my boyfriend. He is so accommodating that I really shouldn’t be complaining. But here I am.
I’m taking a class on “The Science of Well-being” online from Yale. The professor basically reviews the concepts of happiness and how this can be applied in real life. These concepts are all based on the literature. I thought it would be enlightening, but it’s everything I know already. Taking this class also highlights something that I’ve always felt about school: put in the least amount of effort required to get the grade that I want. I find myself zoning out often because I know that I can “ace” all the quizzes that are provided at the end of the lecture.
Venting here makes me feel like such a whiner. These are the smallest first world issues that I’ve ever read in my life. Okay, I’m going to write a re-do.
What causes a binge:
This is Water
David Foster Wallace
The thing is that there are obviously different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stuck and idling in my way: It’s not impossible that some of these people in SUV’s have been in horrible auto accidents in the past and now find driving so traumatic that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive; or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he’s trying to rush to the hospital, and he’s in a way bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am — it is actually I who am in his way. Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have much harder, more tedious or painful lives than I do, overall.
The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the “rat race” — the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.
It is about simple awareness — awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: “This is water, this is water.”
It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive, day in and and day out.
Guided and pure self help is demonstrated to be more effective than waiting list (control). Pure self help may be as effective as guided self help if the participants complete the entire manual. It is still difficult to draw conclusions from the data due to subjectivity.
Carter, J. C., & Fairburn, C. G. (1998). Cognitive–behavioral self-help for binge eating disorder: A controlled effectiveness study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66(4), 616.