I have found that obsessive focus on food and my body seemed to always occur to fill a void when something was missing in my life.
Looking back at my disordered eating patterns, I realized every time I would go through a breakup, I would start dieting and plan my next fitness goal. Focusing on my body and controlling every calorie consumed and burned, was my way of avoiding the feelings of pain, discomfort, change and the unknown. I put on a mask and wore it well.
It’s no surprise that most of the time after training hard for a fitness competition or goal, I would spiral out of control mentally and emotionally, finding myself more depressed than ever. And it seemed the only way out of this state was to shift my focus back to the next goal, which always had something to do with food and my physical appearance.
If I was feeling anxious, I would diet harder.
If I was feeling sad, I would exercise more.
So when I made the decision to stop dieting and running my body to the ground and get my health in check (physically and mentally), all of the pent up emotions and feelings I had numbed and avoided came rushing back, which was no surprise.
I felt like I was drowning.
It was hard enough letting go of the dieters mentality and obsessive focus on my body, but I also now was forced to face issues that I avoided for years, head on. Even though there was much resistance, I was determined to break the cycle.
I took it one day at a time and one foot in front of the other.
I stopped numbing with food and trying to manipulate my body size and began listening to my bodies natural cues. I began practices like intuitive eating, meditation, positive affirmations, kept a gratitude journal and joined a support group. I let go of rigidity and control and allowed my body to change naturally even if that meant weight gain, in order to heal and become healthier.
When I felt lonely I would reach out for support.
When I felt anxious I would do something that brought me peace and calm, like yoga or being in nature.
When I felt sad I would do something creative that brought me joy, like writing or planning a weekend trip to visit my family in New Hampshire.
I stopped running.
I stopped numbing.
I stopped escaping.
I began speaking my truth.
Speaking my truth and showing vulnerability by sharing my story, encouraged others to do the same and I’ve been able to reach and help other people who’ve been wearing masks too. The more vulnerable I became, the more empowered I felt.
Although I will always have a love for fitness and whole nutrition, it doesn’t consume my life. I eat ice cream without guilt, I skip the gym to walk outside on a beautiful day, and I FEEL my feelings; the good, the bad and the in-between.
I am open, I am honest, and I am living authentically.
I no longer need to focus on my body to feel a sense of purpose or need a mask to cover up my truth.
XO Peace & love, Stephanie