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From Eating Disorder to Nirvana… Someday

I’ve been going through some insomnia recently, which is not unusual for me. About two times a month, I survive for a few days on less than four hours of sleep a night. It’s just a weird thing, and then I go crazy and eat waffles, and I am good as new.  Or as new as I can be.

Surprise! Race photos are enough to scare anyone back to reality.

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So Saturday, I finished Beach 2 Battleship. Then I spent Tuesday in the ER with severe stomach pains.  Certain that I was going to have my appendix ripped from my body, I listened to the Expert (in this case, not an actual expert on the subject, though he doesn’t have his appendix, so that made him a mini-expert… anway.)

Long story short, we went to the hospital. After contrast CT and blood work, turns out I have a lovely colon disease called diverticulitis (it’s disgusting, don’t read about it… really… don’t)… either way, it’s a sh*tty problem to have. All puns intended. Runs in my family. Also, pun intended.

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Kind of laughable since I told Yoda after the race, “Good thing about treating your body like a garbage can? You can eat anything on the race course and be fine!”

(Dodging the lightning there. Boom! ER a few days later.)

So, I follow up with a GI specialist next week, but suffice it to say, the iron distance probably didn’t cause the situation–but it certainly was a big factor that caused the flare-up and onset. Recommendations for helping with diverticulitis? Exercise. I kid you not.  Ah-hem.  Hey doc… ummmm….

Anyway, I felt like death for two days, but woke up wide awake on Thursday night around 2 am.  I was so behind (pun intended) on work (the day job), Swim Bike Mom (Yoda said, “You were suspiciously absent from all things social media for a few days, but I just thought you were taking a break.” Me? Taking a social media break, puh-lease)… and my second deadline article for my new magazine gig was due that day.  So I woke up.  And shot out of bed.

I started working on my magazine article first.  And while I won’t spoil (pun intended…okay, I’ll stop) the topic or the surprise, I will say that I had some pretty interesting revelations during the drafting.

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The revelations slapped me in the face yesterday.  I ignored them on Thursday, of course.

I was taking the boy Swim Bike Kid to the dentist to get his gimp tooth repaired, and I searched my bookshelf for something to read. His current dentist frowns upon cell phone use in the waiting room. I usually thing, Screw ’em, but I thought I’d grab a book for a change.

I picked up my copy of Women Food and God, which I never read more than 10 pages before… and considering the fact that I have been shoving Halloween candy into my pie hole like it was my job, it seemed fitting.

So sitting in the dentist waiting room, I started having Oprah-type ah-ha moments, left and right, reading the book. This book which summary says, “No matter how sophisticated or wealthy or broke or enlightened you are, how you eat tells all.

Oh my.

Now, I read books all the time and sometimes I have these moments… but not that many.  (Other time: Brene Brown’s TED talk here, where I shocked the Swim Bike Mom Army by revealing my introvert status… I push people away.  I retreat.  I swim harder.  I run faster. (Or I sulk, and eat more–depending on the day)).

I have long talked about my eating disorders in a very public way.

Unlike the skinny disorders, I have the opposite ones.

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I eat anything that isn’t tied down.

And even then, I will sometimes just start to gnaw on the object that is tying the other object, and then when that’s free– I’ll eat that too.  No food is too fattening or too safe from me.  When I am binging, I don’t care what food it is.  It’s all fair game. That coupled with the fact that I love a good beer, a delicious glass of wine?

Well, I’m a bloody sugar-buzzed nutritional nightmare.

“But you’re NOT FAT!” people write me, “You’re an Ironman!”  Yes, I am an Ironman.  And yes, I am FAT.  Because in my mirrors and my mind and my head…. I will ALWAYS be fat. Always. (Or at least that’s the role that I am playing—working throught that angle too…. anyway).

But in my mind, no matter how many Ironmans I tackle, no matter how many skinny jeans I conquer. No matter how many long, lengthening sweaters I buy:

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[Ooooh, la la! Voila! Lengthened! …My closet ranges from Size 8 to 20, and if you need a “little” black dress–I have one right in your size. Feel free to borrow any time.]

No matter what, the voices in my head have always been… “fat fat fat.”

“But just stop eating,” I have received that email a few times.

And my response to that?  I have no response.  That makes me just go:

In Women Food and Good, the author writes,

“…compulsive eating is basically a refusal to be fully alive. No matter what we weigh, those of us who are compulsive eaters have anorexia of the soul. We refuse to take in what sustains us. We live lives of deprivation. And when we can’t stand it any longer, we binge. The way we are able to accomplish all of this is by the simple act of bolting — of leaving ourselves — hundreds of times a day” [by binging on food]

Yesterday, I had a particularly rough day.  I was feeling like an Elephant wearing a fat suit.  Shocking to believe I had done 140.6 miles only a week or so before. Unreal.

So there I was, reading Women Food and God in the children’s dentist, and having a moment looking like a spaz monkey.  No longer were the office ladies giving me the hairy eyeball for my incessant cell phone usage–they were looking at the tears running down my face–and the sobbing shoulders.

I just suddenly became so tired. So. Tired. Of. Caring.

“Weight (too much or too little) is a by-product. Weight is what happens when you use food to flatten your life.”

I realized that my stomach–my gut–my extra rolls of fat… are literally always what I am thinking about.  Like crazy. Obsession. Incessant. My day is dictated by what Big Fluffy is doing.  (Big Fluffy is SBM Team Member, Anne’s, nickname for her stomach after having three kids… cracks me up every time…)

What a grand waste of time.  Who CARES what Big Fluffy is doing?!?!  (Now, that is a quote for the new SBM tees.)

Then I read this:

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Ah-ha.

So did I make some grand breakthroughs yesterday? Yes.

Did I solve it all?  But of course I did. 🙂  Of course, not.   But every day is a little more enlightening, and I am closer and closer every day and year to understanding the why behind the 4,500 calorie day.

And no, that was not a typo.  I easily hit 4,500 calories on a binge.  I’m Meredith, I’m disgusting.

In the meantime, I will continue to write (to figure out what the hell I am saying!)… and hop along this path to somehow better.

But I know right now that I care NOT a hill of beans about my gut.  I care about going to pick up my kiddos and having a relaxing night, in the middle of life’s chaos. Last night, I snuggled up to these precious little feeties.  And I am happy to report that I didn’t miss a moment last night…

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…and I’m going to do my best to repeat that tonight.

Have a good night, friends.

31 Comments

  • Marianne

    November 4, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    That was beautifully written. I love how open you are, You are helping so many people with your honesty– not just those struggling with weight issues, but those struggling to understand them. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Colleen

    November 4, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    your honesty, as always, floors me. love that. aaannnnndddd, with Anne’s permission that “who care what big fluffy is doing?” shirt needs to become a reality.

    Reply
  • Meg

    November 4, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I totally get what you are saying. Thanks for posting. I think about my stomach/gut all.the.time. and it needs to stop! No one cares, because they are all busy worrying about their “big fluffy.” Such a waste of valuable time! Here’s to not missing the moments!! And I have ulcerative colitis, so I can related to your shi**y disease 🙂

    Reply
  • Jen

    November 4, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    I’m so glad I read this today. First, I’m so glad it wasn’t a burst appendix or anything more serious! Second, I think you are beautiful and inspiring.

    I also suffer from insomnia, a few times a month for no reason that I can figure out. I also have diverticulitis (I have found that spicy foods like hot salsa, and my boyfriend almond butter, make it worse), and I also have disordered eating tendencies. I think of ED as similar to alcoholism. It’s always right there on the surface. Hello, I’m a bulimic, and it’s been xx days since my last episode. Every other thought I have is about food. All.Day.Long.

    No advice from me, but I really needed to thank you for writing this. You’re not alone, and neither am I. 🙂 I hope that you continue to have “ah ha” moments (I call them light-bulb moments), and that they will lead you to healing and peace. xo

    Reply
  • Larissa

    November 4, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    I totally needed to read this. I have been struggling with the weight gain. I went from being a brand new and loving it runny, and dropping 50 pounds, new mom, to almost no motivation this year. I’m now back at my normal weight, and every look in the mirror is a battle. Never mind that I did my first triathlon with little to no preparation, and totally rocked it, PR’d my 5k finally! All I can see is the clothes that I no longer fit into. I’m going to read the book 🙂
    P.S. your book was the driving factor for my new found love, Thank you!

    Reply
  • Cameron

    November 4, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Your words could easily have come straight from my brain. I thank God every day that if I didn’t enjoy exercise and continuing to make training goals, I would easily be 450lbs with the amount of food I consume. I feel like the weight/food issues have only increased as I’ve aged – I haven’t been able to identify why but I’m leaning towards the stress of family, kids, job, life…..I had a lot less stress 15 years ago and was able to let things go easier but now I feel like I have less control, less time for me and food seems to be my instant “pick me up” but i always feel like crap afterwards if it isn’t whole food/healthy. Keep writing and speaking up Meredith! You represent and say what so many of us feel!!! we will get there; just keep moving!

    Reply
  • Melissa

    November 4, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    omg I needed to read this today, this is what I am struggling with right now. Getting ready to do my first 70.3 in April and freaking out about what I’m going to look like in my Tri kit, and of course then compairing myself to how the other ladies look, the ones who have zero fat on them and wishing I could look just like them. My head and my thoughts are my own worst enemy.

    Reply
  • Shoshana

    November 4, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Meredith – You are not disgusting! I don’t care if you ate 10,000 calories on a binge. I’ve been there. It’s a never-ending battle. I’m just coming out of my second round of my ED rearing its ugly head. It’s been a painful process and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all. I think about my body, my weight, and food all day every day. And it’s ridiculous. Because no one else cares. They are all dealing with their own crap. But we feel like we are walking around with a spotlight shining down on us – an unflattering one at that. However, there are minutes, sometimes hours when I can forget about it and be happy with my wonderful husband and kids.

    Reply
  • Lindsey

    November 4, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Your ability to articulate the thoughts and emotions surrounding disordered eating is incredible. My primary diagnosis was Anorexia Nervosa, restricting type but over the course of treatment, recovery, and “life after” I have made stops in Bulimiaville and Binge Town, and now (almost 7 years later) still find myself waking up in Body Dysmorphia Land most days . What so many people don’t realize is that our issues have very little to do with food and much more to do with anxiety, depression, or one of the other mood disorders. They’re a way of avoiding/distracting/controlling SOMETHING and it’s FRACKING EXHAUSTING!

    Thank you for being so candid and speaking for all of us who can’t quite put the chaos of ED into words. Cheers to living in the moment and being fully present!

    PS: I totally want a “Who CARES what Big Fluffy is doing!” T-shirt.

    Reply
  • Jodi Jacobs

    November 4, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    GET OUT OF MY HEAD!! It’s so weird to see the thought I’ve been thinking for years in front of me. I thought I was crazy. (In all fairness, I probably am) My weight rules my life. It takes up 99% of the space in my head.
    I started going through OA because of this type of thinking. It’s helped A LOT!! Look into it. 🙂

    Reply
  • Melanie J.

    November 4, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Yesyesyes! I feel you, lady! And your timing is spooky, because I was walking today with my RoadID on, where I’ve snitched your quote “Just Keep Moving Forward” as my bottom line and I was thinking today how what I really need to do is “Just Stop Looking Back” because it’s old news. I know I’ve been this weight for a decade. I know it’s destroying my joints. But I walked Sunday, did yoga yesterday, walked today, and there will be activity tomorrow. One day at a time.

    Reply
  • Melanie B

    November 4, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    As someone who has been struggling with a binge eating problem for years this really hit home. I call it the alien and so far no drug, no hormone, no diet, no non-diet has been able to stop the alien when it decides to come. Ironman training only gave me the purge….and now that I don’t have time to train for ironmans anymore I’m simply left with the binge. Trying very hard to love myself anyway.

    This was really enlightening “…compulsive eating is basically a refusal to be fully alive. No matter what we weigh, those of us who are compulsive eaters have anorexia of the soul. We refuse to take in what sustains us. We live lives of deprivation. And when we can’t stand it any longer, we binge. The way we are able to accomplish all of this is by the simple act of bolting — of leaving ourselves — hundreds of times a day” [by binging on food]

    Reply
  • Karen

    November 4, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Love you, Meredith! ‘The struggle is real’ as the cool hashtagging types would say. It is exhausting thinking about food all the time. For me, I know what I should be eating and I just can’t get control of it. I do to a point but always feel guilty about eating junk food as if people are judging me. (really who gives a crap what I eat… pun intended. oh wait that was your joke not mine…) I am forever starting over on the food plan.

    The funny thing is looking in from the outside we all see you as this successful, smart, funny girl who has done all these amazing things. On the inside you obviously are struggling. We are always harder on ourselves than we need to be. You are AWESOME and don’t you forget it!

    Reply
  • Colleen

    November 4, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    While I was training for my first 140.6 I actually had a doctor tell me the reason I had a weight problem was that I “needed to learn about excercise and nutrition.” I explained that I had a 100 mile bike ride scheduled for the next day and that he was welcome to come with me and we could discuss my knowledge of nutrition for the entire 100 miles. Shockingly, he is no longer my doctor.

    Reply
  • M @readeatwriterun

    November 4, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Mere, you are awesome. Your candor with yourself and with us is impressive. You KNOW you’re helping people just by putting this out there. Kudos.

    Your selections from the book spoke to me as well. I have no doubt you will find your way to who and how you want to be and a more fulfilling life and all those moments you are seeking.

    Sorry about the diverticulitis. My mom’s mom had it and my dad has it. Stinks. Wishing you better soon.

    Reply
  • Tibby

    November 4, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    You write how I feel. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this world. I am sending you prayers. We will get through this. I’m currently in a 3 day binge. However, tomorrow is a need day and I’ll try and take hold!

    Reply
  • Jill

    November 4, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing. As an Athena triathlete and someone who’s always carried extra weight, I’ve been so frustrated that my outsides never reflected my fitness. That I could eat the same as skinny friends and weigh 60 pounds more than them. That when I would eat chips and dip, I could plow through a whole bag and literally not be able to stop eating them. Once I discovered the Whole 30 program, I realized that I’m very sensitive to sugars, grains, dairy, and alcohol. Once I eliminate them from my diet, suddenly the bowl of candy on the desk in the office no longer whispers to me all day long. Once I lost my physical hunger and cravings for those things, it gave me a chance to reflect on my emotional ties to food and to face them directly. But the miracle thing I discovered is that, for me, it is NOT that I lack willpower. It is that I am so sensitive to certain foods that they become “foods without brakes,” foods that I can just eat and eat and eat. The process has been so liberating and has freed me from thinking about food and my body all the time. I wish that you find the same comfort I have as you go through your journey.

    Reply
  • Kelly Pollock

    November 4, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Thanks for being so honest. I’ve had all three eating disorders (binging, purging, anorexia) so I understand the obsession. Right now, I’m down 70 pounds from my heaviest point but I still think about how fat I am. I look at all my race pictures and all I see is fat. The struggle is real, folks, but we’ll all get right, together!

    Reply
  • Erin

    November 4, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Thank you Meredith. Your honesty is so important to those of us who struggle with all forms of ED. We are here with you and for you. I refuse to model the behaviors of my ED for my kids, but I still struggle with the mental aspects. And I struggle every day. Every. Damn. Day. Being an athlete helps. But, when I’m not training for a race or don’t work out one day, I feel like I shouldn’t eat. What the hell?! Like, it’s ok to feed the runner, but not the woman. It’s crazy, I know. It makes NO sense. You are not alone. And there is SO much more to you than your struggles. You are amazing and we love you. Crazies and all.

    Reply
  • Carly

    November 4, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    How many of us read this and said “I’m not alone!”? So. Tired. Of. Caring is an important step towards freedom. Not an easy place to stay, but I think you’ll like it here in the land of Not Caring. Your body does amazing things!

    Reply
  • Kari

    November 5, 2014 at 1:20 am

    Meredith. Thank you for sharing. I so totally understand where you are coming from! I’m on a wt loss journey toward a healthier me. Some days it’s so surreal and I can’t believe I am wearing a 1X top and size 22 pant. I’ve never been a 12 let alone an 8 in my life but at my highest 130 lbs ago I was a size 36 that’s womens size not waist size. Lol. Other days I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror or I look down and I don’t feel as tho I’ve lost much at all. It’s that fat meter in my head! How do we turn that sh..t off when it’s all we’ve ever known? While I’m not YET an ironman, my trainer has convinced me I am an athlete. I’m an over eater too. I hadn’t touched a carb in 5.5 months until I ate rice and chicken for my first 5k 2 weeks ago. Now I’m in dangerous territory trying not to spin outta control. This doesn’t help my self perception at all. I saw a race picture of me in spandex and thought who is that person? She doesn’t look as big as I thought. I don’t recognize this person because that’s not the me I see in my head. Whether we don’t see what we’ve gained or lost, it’s about perception. Seriously, how do we reprogram perception, how do we change the lenses of our glasses to see who we really are? You Meredith are an amazing and inspirational IRONwoman! Give yourself a break and I will work on that for myself too.

    Reply
  • Beth

    November 5, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Ditto to what everyone else has said. When I weighed 50 lbs less, I thought I was fat. I gained, thought I was fat. Lost again, fat. I have been on every diet imaginable. I know exactly how you feel, but am so happy that you are able to share those feelings with us. I am still looking for my aah haa moment. Happy that you are open to finding it.

    Reply
  • SoAnyway

    November 7, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    When I look at me all I see is my wattle and my belly. When look at you all I see is a strong, athletic, gorgeous woman. We need to try to see ourselves through better eyes 🙂

    Reply

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