The Games We Play with Ourselves

*This post is extremely personal and hard for me to put out publicly. I am extremely nervous what others may think of me after reading it but I am compelled  to share this with you, I want those that are like me to know they are not alone and I want others to see becoming what you said you never would become can happen to anyone. This is a struggle I have not told many people about and I sincerely hope that you can read it with an un-judgmental eye.

The Games We Play with Ourselves

I looked down at the best frienemy I have ever had and wanted to dance a jig. “101.2” she said, with no voice at all.

I felt like I had just won the game but as soon as I stepped away from her that same game was on again.

The thoughts start, “Could I keep this going? Could I get an even SMALLER number?? What if I lose all that progress and then it ruins the entire world!” …. OK, that was a bit far.

 You all know what I am talking about.

It IS kinda funny... until it isn't.

It IS kinda funny… until it isn’t.

That best friend that we love to hate: the scale. I’ve named mine, The Bitch.

I hate her but can’t seem to stay away from her despite it. I see her dutifully every morning and our meeting might set the tone for my entire day.

Was my weight up?  “Damn it Liz, you shouldn’t have ate two bites off Gray’s plate,”  “you are going to weigh a million pounds if you keep it up, fatty.” “Why didn’t you work out another 10 minutes? You ate a bite of a KitKat you know!”

Was my weight the same or down?  WOO HOOO, I haven’t lost all my progress….in one night.  But don’t you dare take it easy on yourself, Liz. You could lose this and all your work with one simple mistake!

(Give me a break….)

Only I couldn’t give myself a break.

I would preach to women all the time, “step away from the scale! That number is only one factor in your health. Stop obsessing.”

I meant it too. That number wasn’t magical for THEM. They could be healthy without looking at that number. They could be balanced and fit without worrying about that number.

But those rules didn’t apply to me.

One word: Hypocrite.

Am I alone in this??

The rational side of my brain says, “Why don’t you take a baseball bat to your frienemy there, sweetheart, and do yourself and your family a favor-quit being so neurotic!”

The emotional, female perfectionist side of my brain says, “no… You weigh and let that number determine your worth as a person.” “You know if you slip up and gain 5 pounds no one will respect you in your profession! Your husband is going to think you are ugly if he sees that number, girl! You will let others down because if even YOU can’t keep it together then they have the excuse that they can’t either.” “It would be YOUR entire fault if they are not able to keep control”.

Oh, the PRESSURE!! This “friend” sure knows how to “weigh” down my day…No pun intended, or did I?

How did I get here? How did I get to a point where I was so completely obsessed with the SCALE that it would literally REIGN or RUIN my day?  It wasn’t until I posted a picture of myself on Facebook showing off what I thought was a great looking, motivational photo of abs (thinking back now it was just skin and bone *ugh), and then proceeding to get messages from; not one, but THREE women I consider VERY inspiring, voicing their concern about my health that I started to see a  glimmer of a problem….MAYBE.

I didn’t understand all the negativity around the post at the time, but I eventually deleted the picture.

With some not so gentle nudging from one of those great women, the next week I had an appointment with a counselor. …and I STILL didn’t understand why or what I was doing it for.
The counselor listened to me express my frustration, “I don’t understand what the big deal is, I EAT a LOT. I just don’t eat like an average person. I have extreme control over what I eat, when I eat it and how much of it I eat. I know exactly what my macros are for the day and I hit them.”

The counselor let me go a couple sessions like this before she stopped me and said, “Liz, you have an eating disorder.”

I argued with her relentlessly and then left.

I didn’t understand how she could think that, as I was eating as healthy of food as possible.

I wasn’t binging and then purging, or just not eating at all.

This girl loves to eat….but just not like everyone else in the world.

I told her so.

She explained that there are several kinds of disorders and it wasn’t that I was anorexic but that I had a distorted view of food.

When I finally made it back into her office she asked me about the stresses in my life, I laughed so hard I cried!

Stress???

Where did I start??

I was stressed to the nines with trying to run the business, keeping my rigorous training schedule (because if you don’t train 300% all the time you didn’t deserve to eat…*ugh), raising Gray, keeping the house, working at the hospital, cooking 3 different meals for three different people three times a day, running around like a chicken most of the time…. I was losing my mind, my marriage was suffering and my sanity was gone.

… but at least I could see my abs!! Err… or ribs, whatever.

The counselor let me vent it all out and when I finally shut up she just sat back, looked at me and waited.

I remember looking down, then looking back at her and then falling apart.

Shit…

“Liz, you have a problem.”
And those words weren’t coming from the counselor (see how I refuse to use the word “Therapist? )

That statement was coming from that rational, even headed side of my brain that I had shut up and stopped listening to I couldn’t even remember how long ago…

The best thing about that statement, though?

I HEARD IT LOUD AND CLEAR.

What had happened to me?  This isn’t something that happened overnight. I slowly went down a rabbit hole and I was very close to a total breakdown.  I walked around half in a daze most days, only feeling good when I would work out, though I lost that too when I started nearly passing out during training from over exertion and lack of fuel.

Thinking back I don’t understand how I could have ignored it so much, though at the time I was thinking I was just working out so hard and doing so much that I was pushing my limits and EARNING the right to eat. I exuded the upmost discipline and focus. Drive and motivation? I was the walking billboard for it. People needed me to be there to motivate, educate and show them how to work through tough times.

O…. how stupid had the depleted state of my body made me?? Looking back I am appalled. I still am not sure how I managed to get so far down the rabbit hole that I literally made myself ill from being “so healthy”.

One of the lowest points in all of this came one day when I was working at the hospital and a nurse I hadn’t seen in a while saw me and exclaimed, “LIZ? Is that YOU?..Honey, have you been ill??” I could tell by her inflection she wasn’t talking about a cold, no, she was talking like… cancer.  Actually, that was the second lowest. The LOWEST came with what she said next, “O.. I didn’t even recognize you; you USED to be SO pretty!” Yup, that was the lowest point ever.

I remember going to the bathroom to wipe away my tears, though I would never admit to that as I have no tear ducts.

So I knew I had a problem.

I knew I body and mind were suffering and sick.

I knew my family was worried and I knew I had to change.

What I didn’t know is HOW to change.

How did I go from obsessing about every morsel of food, every training session…well, EVERYTHING; to a more balanced, healthful version of what I USED to be.

How do you facilitate change? I hate change! I am a creature of routine and ruts.

I like doing the same things in the same way I have always done them.

I had a new thing to obsess about, How do I bring myself back from this place? This horrible place?

Then it dawned on me and it was simple.

As slowly as I had went down the rabbit hole I had to dig myself out of it.

How do you do that? One day and one decision at a time.

It took and, might I add, TAKES daily decisions to choose health and balance over my obsessive tendencies.

I have to constantly remind myself to take steps to avoid going back down that rabbit hole. It is SO easy to fall back into the same trouble again and I would be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with it still today, hell, who am I kidding? This minute.

The therapy ended  barely a year ago.

It seems so long ago and then  not really all at the same time.

Day in and day out, I have to make decisions to bring me back to a state of better health (no, not perfect health). Just BETTER.

I am happy to report that I can now go to a pizza buffet and actually get my grub on without *much* guilt and although I am very well aware of how much I weigh (I am back in a healthy range ) I take it with a grain of salt.

I am stronger and my body shows it. I can work out and feel great during my sessions and I still have energy!

I enjoy my family more and I know they are enjoying having a little bit of the old Liz back. Though, she is not without scars.

I am paying the consequences of my severe personality even as I type.

Psoriasis has invaded me, though I am genetically predisposed to it- I now have it visible to everyone.
My hair (which had started falling out, but has recently stopped)-is so thin I cut nearly 10 inches off trying to save it.
My eyesight has still not fully recovered from the lack of fat (take fat out of your diet for a while and see how well you can “see”), and I have yet to fully regain my ability to enjoy a night out with my husband without “food drama”.

I haven’t even touched on the long term effects this will have on my health.  I am praying that through constant effort I can reverse some damage done to my bones and tissues.

Remember Kelly Ripa, a few years back when she fractured her hip from too much stress and from too much exercise? I wonder how much of my story here she can relate with? The pressure, the obsessive working out, the restrictive way of eating.  I wonder if I was just lucky I didn’t  break any bones from lack of nutrients. It seemed after that incident she wised up and has become a healthier version of herself too. I am happy for her. I am happy for me. But the struggle is nowhere near over.

I take all this in stride. Lessons learned for sure. The things we go through are meant to make us stronger, wiser and in this particular case, I think-Older.

Why did I write about this?

Because I am tired of women running themselves into the dirt over a stupid number on a machine.

I am tired of women deciding their worth based on a number that is really only ONE indicator of health.

Is the scale important? Yes, it can be. But is it the all deciding, all knowing decoder of your overall HEALTH?

NO IT IS NOT.

scale

Being healthy, feeling good, looking good and having the energy to do what you need to do are better indicators of how you are doing than whatever number you see on that scale.

If I had one piece of advice I wish I could get every woman to listen to, it would be that.

How many times have you started a weight loss journey, or tried to start exercising and only judged your progress by the scale? Be honest! Now how many times have you quit because the SCALE didn’t tell you what you wanted to hear?

If you are tired of starting over, STOP GIVING UP. It really is simple:

You want to be healthy, fit and happy?

Educate yourself on healthy foods, like a TRUE education. Learn your food groups for starters!

Be as active as possible.

take the stairs when you can-play chase with your kids-get a gym membership (shameless plug, www.therackgym.com)

Don’t try to be extreme one way or another, just TRY period.

FOCUS on being a better version of who you were yesterday, every day and the rest will fall into place.

Take it from me, LEARN from my mistakes-PLEASE. Love yourself enough to STOP the games. Unless, of course, you want  to play baseball. In that case, I will lend you the bat and we can use your Bitch as the ball.

success

This picture was taken in the middle of me “digging out of the rabbit hole”

In Our BEST health,

Liz Jackson

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7 thoughts on “The Games We Play with Ourselves

  1. Very well said Sister! I don’t know how we got to where we think the way we look is linked to our self worth. But we are here, dealing with it on an everyday basis. If only we could just be happy with what God made us on the inside. I personally struggle with this on every day basis. Kudos for speaking about this!

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    1. I like the goal of eliainmting all stress – but then I wonder if stress can also be a motivator? If everything is always calm, I’m afraid I would become lazy and just sit around and not do much. Is there some minimum level of stress that is OK?

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  2. Awesome post Liz! Brave and empowering on your part……reflecting and eye opening for those of us reading it. Thanks for putting yourself out there. Realizing we ALL beat ourselves up over weight and body image issues.

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  3. I’m so proud of you for having he strength and courage to “get healthy”! I too have been worried about you for a long time, but I wasn’t brave enough today anything to you about it, didn’t feel it was my place… I’m thankful for those three women who did have the courage to talk to you and get you to thinking!
    Keep up the good work sweetie!
    xoxo

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  4. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience with us. This was touching. You are very strong (in many ways haha) keep truckin girl! Thank you again for being brave and also taking the time. Thankful for you!

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