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Heavy Subjects

January 18, 2012

My sister and I got into a deep discussion last week.

We told each other things neither of us had ever admitted out loud. About the negative and irrational things we say to ourselves in our heads. About weight, health, food and who’s really running our lives and the way we think about ourselves. Yeah, it got a little heavy.

But it also had a happy ending. Just wait, I’m getting there.

Somewhere along this “healthy living” journey, I developed all kinds of unhealthy thoughts. Butter, real milk and anything too sugary or processed became scary and Earth Balance, almond milk and nutritional yeast replaced all those things. After all, that’s what everyone else in the blog world is eating, right? I started worrying about what time I finished a meal and how many hours needed to pass between that one and the next one. Or that if I had a sugary pancake for breakfast I would probably be hungry in an hour, so it was better to eat something else, even if it wasn’t what I really wanted.

I know it sounds like I’m painting a very restrictive picture here, but know that I never made things off limits and I’ve always lived with a “everything in moderation” attitude, so it’s been more the irrational thoughts, rather than irrational actions. But still, the thoughts I have on a daily basis are not the thoughts a normal person deals with. It amazes me that there are people who don’t think about food all day. And deep down, I want to be one of those people. More than anything, I want to eat like a normal person.

Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it -not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful. Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.

In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.

-Ellyn Sater

Will I ever stop thinking about food? No, probably not. But I can work on correcting some of the disordered thoughts I have surrounding it. I can eat the things I want to eat, when I want to and feel this huge sense of liberation and happiness when I do. I can keep doing the things that make me feel good about my body. For instance, there are many times when I feel… puffy? But when I’m doing yoga, I feel awesome about myself. I don’t care that I have some extra luggage on my stomach or that my arms don’t like Jillian Michaels. I feel strong and beautiful.

And I can stop and think about how these negative thoughts developed. My sister should be a psychiatrist for helping me realize that my fears about my body/weight totally stem from being out of shape and maybe a little overweight at the end of high school/beginning of college. A time when I kinda just didn’t care what I put into my body or how it made me feel. She also reminded me that I’m not that person anymore. And that I never will be. It made my heart hurt to hear her say mean and untrue things about herself, as I’m sure it broke her heart to hear me say similar things about myself. Would we ever say those kinds of things about a loved one? Then why should we say them about ourselves?

Writing this post is really scary. It’s scary that readers, friends and family might think of me differently. It’s scary that I might be judged. But what’s scarier is that somewhere some poor girl who has similar irrational thoughts might feel like she’s the only one or that she can’t admit thinking these things to anyone. To her, I would say that talking these things out is so therapeutic. And liberating and reassuring. So as nervous as I am to hit publish, I’m doing it anyways.

Now.

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28 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2012 9:21 AM

    Good luck on your journey; those first steps are always the hardest but once you get going, anything is possible. Great post and I look forward to sharing more with you:))

    • January 19, 2012 9:25 PM

      Thanks for commenting! Words of encouragment are always welcome 🙂

  2. January 18, 2012 10:40 AM

    Nothing to be afraid of with this post! I think most of your readers (myself included) will be able to relate. It’s not JUST the HLB world (though I do think they can contribute negatively when not careful. I’m thinking of a certain big name blogger who, instead of saying, “Hey guys, I’m really struggling with working out right now!” is choosing to post old race pictures and talk constantly about how fit she used to be… making it seem like she’s doing fine and never struggles like a normal person.)
    I also feel like I’m thinking about food ALL the time. My parents (my mom was 350 lbs at one point and my dad was around 230-240) once said to me (about my brother and his wife), “I hate that they can have ice cream at home and totally forget about it for days.. when we have ice cream at home, that’s all we’re thinking about when we’re out and we eat it as soon as we’re back.” This has always made me fearful, because I also tend to think, “woo-hoo! I have chocolate or cookies or fro yo at home!! Can’t wait to eat it…” and then I think, “Oh my god I am going to be obese…”
    SO irrational, but it’s easy to trick yourself into these dumb thoughts.

    • January 19, 2012 4:21 PM

      I’m glad you realize how irrational those kinds of thoughts are and I hope that you can still do so when you’re actually having them. My sister also mentioned that as an outsider to the blog world (she reads other blogs very occasionally), it does seem like all those big name blogs make their lives seem perfect. I hope I never come off that way, because my life ISN’T perfect. I struggle at times, just like everyone else. And if I had dessert at home, I wouldn’t wait to eat it either, although my boyfriend who has no food hang ups, would probably be the same way. It doesn’t make you normal or not normal to feel that way 🙂

  3. January 18, 2012 10:51 AM

    You are awesome. I think that most people, to a point, have some food issues. Thinking about it too much, thinking about it too little, counting calories, blah blah blah blah blah. You get it. I’m glad that you recognized that you don’t like how your relationship with food is becoming and you want to change it. Thanks for this post!

    • January 19, 2012 9:26 PM

      I agree, it’s a really common issue to have, but still not a fun one 😦 Admitting it is the first step towards making it better, right?

  4. Shanna like Banana permalink
    January 18, 2012 10:51 AM

    This is an incredibly strong and insightful post. You are not alone in your thoughts. So awesome you had this convo with your sister.

    • January 19, 2012 4:21 PM

      Thanks, Shanna. I know I can always count on you to support whatever it is I want to write about 🙂

  5. brittney permalink
    January 18, 2012 11:20 AM

    I got excited to read this post just by the title. I love it when people pour their hearts out on their blog!
    This is a tough subject and it is everywhere in the blogging world. I’ve definitely become food obsessed in the past year and don’t know whether I like it or not.
    From the outside you seem like you have a great relationship with food, I admire how you can eat so many vegetables and make it look easy and you can also bake 12 different kinds of cookies in December.
    Now we know how you really feel and I’m sure SO many people can relate, I definitely can. Thanks for sharing!

    • January 19, 2012 4:22 PM

      Honestly, I do love “healthy” foods. My body feels and performs best when I get fruits and veggies. It’s not hard for me to eat well, so I need to realize I shouldn’t have to plan it out or think about it really.

  6. ADunn permalink
    January 18, 2012 11:43 AM

    First of all I would like to say that you are a beautiful writer and I dont know why you aren’t doing it for a living. Second both you and your sister are beautiful people. You probably know I had some trouble with my weight, and those voices telling me I’m fat, still ring in my head. But I can’t let it consume me, or else I would be starving myself and working out for hours on end. Don’t let society shape who you are Lauren, you are beautiful on the inside and out, no matter what your head may tell you.

    • January 19, 2012 4:25 PM

      Every time I read one of your comments I’m tempted to just write “YOU ROCK,” but that might be a little vague 😉 I think almost everyone, ESPECIALLY us females go through weight issues and it makes me quite sad that body image problems are pretty commonplace among our sex. Tell those voices in your head that you are an amazing person, because I truly think you are. I’ll tell myself the same 🙂

  7. January 18, 2012 11:43 AM

    Very insightful and honest. I had the same mentality a little over a year ago, right before I started my blog. I was restricting lots of things, worrying about what to eat, when to eat, etc. I followed a very strict no sugar, no artificial, all natural foods diet, and started working out six days a week. This is about the time I first decided to try running as well. At the time I thought it was great. I was roughly about 10-12 lbs lighter than I am now, had more definition, and was so happy to wear a skinny size…..but I was miserable. I wanted to drink wine with my friends, I wanted to have cake as dessert, I was so tired of planning foods to eat and packing a cooler with me. I would even pack a cooler for a day trip into Baton Rouge. Damn it I wanted to eat out while shopping, grab a mocha, maybe even a slice of pizza on the way home. I can tell you that I still have issues at times with food, but once I stopped the obsessivness I was happier. Now I do eat butter. Why? Because I want to, it is tasty, and hello it is natural!! I just watch the intake of foods/drinks now. I am 10 lbs. heavier but happier 🙂

    • January 19, 2012 4:27 PM

      It sounds like you were on quite the slipper slope there at one point and it makes me honestly happy to hear that between being 10 pounds thinner, restricted and miserable or 10 pounds heavier but happy and free, you chose the latter. LA has too much tasty food to miss out on!

  8. January 18, 2012 3:21 PM

    I think these are things we all struggle with at some point, especially as women. It doesn’t get talked about enough. But who’s to say what the right approach to food is? I think it’s different for every person. What’s unhealthy behavior for one person might be completely fine for another. It’s important for us to all love ourselves and to ultimately be happy with our bodies and whatever we put into them, which I really believe is going to be different for every single person. One of the dangers of the blog world (a world which I love dearly) is that it can create this idea that there’s one certain way we should all eat and live if we want to be “healthy”. So glad you decided to post about this, you should never be afraid to write about what’s on your mind! 🙂

    • January 19, 2012 4:35 PM

      I completely agree that it doesn’t get talked about enough! In some ways, it almost feels normal to be a female and think bad things about your body. Joey told me he feels bad for woman because we’re so quick to belittle ourselves. Totally not okay. Glad you pointed out how personal “health” and an individual’s definition of health can be.

  9. Lacey permalink
    January 18, 2012 11:53 PM

    Bless you. Really, truly, thank you for having the courage to write this. I have the irrational actions, as well as the irrational thoughts, that you mention, and it is torture. Every day, the first thing on my mind is food. What I will eat, when I will eat, and, most days, IF I will eat. I truly don’t think it is something that most people understand, but I can see that you do. Though I think that you look wonderful the way you are, I know hearing that doesn’t change a thing, but just know that there are others out here supporting you in your journey! One thing that I have done recently is to cut the major “healthy-living” blogs out of my reader, and this has helped tremendously. There are some seriously disordered thoughts going around in this community, and, for myself, I finally had to put a stop to the perpetuation! Good luck in finding a truly healthy balance between caring about what you put in your body and obsessing over every little morsel. I believe it’s possible [at least my therapist and nutritionist swear to it ;)]!

    • January 19, 2012 2:32 PM

      Thank you so much for your response, Lacey. I totally agree in thinking that reading a bunch of “healthy living” blogs has really not been healthy for me personally, and not for you either. I haven’t opened my reader this past week and it’s amazing how much freer I feel. Don’t ever give up hope and every time that irrational voice in your head pops up, tell it who’s boss by doing the exact opposite of what it’s urging you to do!

  10. squigglefloey permalink
    January 19, 2012 1:27 AM

    Would never think of you differently. Instead, thinking, “Oh– she’s kinda like me” 😉

  11. January 19, 2012 6:11 AM

    Lauren – So, I read this post yesterday (without commenting) and have been thinking about it off and on ever since. First off I want to say thank you for such a brave and thought provoking post. To eat normally – to not obsesses about food. To me this has been and I think always will be one of life’s greatest challenges. I’m not sure where I stand on the issue because my day’s have always been filled with a bit of food obsession and control (some of which is healthy – too much of which is not). So, this post makes me really stop and think about that. I want these things for myself too. But, while I figure myself out and maybe one day I’ll write a post on the topic inspired by you (of course) – I will say that I plan to follow your blog all the more to watch you on your journey towards ‘normal’ eating and finding balance.

    • January 19, 2012 4:39 PM

      I totally encourage you to write about it. Even if you just do it for yourself and don’t end up publishing it. I started that post thinking I wouldn’t actually share it with anyone but when it was all done, I thought it was too important not to share.

  12. January 19, 2012 8:38 PM

    Lauren you are SO amazing!!! Thank you for writing and posting all this. I know it wasn’t easy. I honestly had to start letting go of comparing myself, because 1. I don’t think anyone that posts a 100% clean diet can be sticking to that and be truly happy and relaxed 2. I think I can be healthy doing my own thing! I also realized how much food I was wasting by “eating healthy” because I’d be like “Oh I can’t eat this leftover chinese food… It’s already “bad” enough that I ate it for dinner!” UGH! It’s about portions and balance, not restriction! It’s a fine line but it sounds like you’re finding the balance for YOU 🙂

    • January 19, 2012 9:24 PM

      And thank you for reading, Liz! You’re so right, a 100% clean diet isn’t realistic. And wasted Chinese food is such a travesty. Balance is the key word 🙂

  13. January 20, 2012 8:27 AM

    You are awesome. I’m glad that I’m not the only person who struggles with food and wanting to have a normal relationship with food. Great post.

  14. Christine permalink
    January 21, 2012 9:18 PM

    What you are feeling is EXACTLY what I feel everyday. I also think about food all day long and I wish that I didn’t. At times, I’ve tried just eating intuitively but it’s also lead to binges and jeans that fit too tight. I’ve tried to move away from the “extreme” healthy lifestyle. I cut out meat for a long time but would literally have dreams about it at night. So this year, meat is back. I think a lot about a specific healthy blog. I know that you read it. The writer decided to move away from her disordered eating by becoming a vegan. You know who I’m talking about. I always thought “Wow, she is cured!” but now, putting meat back into my life, I am starting to see things differently. Personally, it seems like one form of disordered eating has replaced another. That’s what I did when I cut out meat. “I’m being healthier” is what I told myself and others. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay that I enjoy meat. It’s okay that I eat cheese. It’s also okay that I had a bowl of fruit loops for breakfast. Moderation, right?

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