Monday, March 2, 2015

Getting Clean

I weighed in today. In one week I've lost 7.8lbs. I slaved every minute of every day of the last seven days to hear that see the numbers on the scale plummet.

And yet, as I sit here tonight, stuffed to the point of nearly being sick, after my nighttime snack of a protein bar turned into a binge of 2 bags of pre-measured pop chips and an apple. All innocuous in their ability to sabotage the work I've done- those things are probably not going to amount to a gain. They fit within my points...but its how I ate them.... feverishly...desperately....stuffing down things I cannot yet put a finger on....things that some cavernous void deep within me....that I need to fill then bury.

I have no hook or special ending for you, in the telling of this story,friends. Just my truth, in this moment. And shame.  Oh the fullness feels shameful. I thought of purging. How I would do it- shower running, fan turned up...toothbrush down my throat....

And I just could not go there...that next level of darkness.

So I'm sitting with the discomfort.

For tonight.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Crossfit Open 15.1 completed...And I Can't Stop Crying

This isn't the post I expected to write....after Crossfit Open 15.1- my first Open.  I figured I'd be expounding on how empowered I felt just to be participating; or maybe how significant it was just to show up because I'm overweight and out of shape- and, really, people, how many fat folks do you know who go to crossfit? Yeah most who are in the "chub club" wouldn't dare.

I've been crying, almost non-stop, since I left Crossfit Mt. Lebanon, this afternoon. A culmination of what may be a lifetime of disappointment and shame, washing over me all at once. And I think, mostly, I'm at a loss as to what the hell to do with these feelings....since my old coping skills (a/k/a stuffing my face) got thrown into the wind Monday morning, when I chose, again, to get clean from eating disordered behaviors. I've been clean now for 7 days...which, frankly,  feels like 100...and  every hour that I don't use food as a baracade to protect me from my emotions is a living f-ing miracle.

As I hung from the bar, struggling to get a rhythm to my swing and the required knee raises, my judge, the exceptionally compassionate and patient Nicholas Cooper, counted my reps, and I felt the full weight of my body and it's flaws and my spirit, which often soars in that space, just sank. I'm so, so myself... for allowing food to control my existence, for watching my body expand in gross proportions and doing little to stop it; for falling off the wagon, after 7 months of dedication, when my Mom died in September, and welcoming back an addiction that I knew I could not afford, along with haphazard attendance at the WODs.

My score for 15.1 is abismal...since, despite working my ass off at each of the movements, I was not able to pull off a 55lb. snatch- the "scaled version" minimum weight. I just could not get that bar from the ground to the air with those plates- 25 lbs. was it. And it wasn't nearly enough. So only my first 15 knee raises and my first 10 dead lifts counted (though I completed another two full sets of knee raises and deadlifts, after the snatch failure, moving on with the Open, as if it would be official). Yeah...I got a whopping 25 reps. That may be THE WORST score in the country....or the world, actually.  

So, I'm a puddle of tears.

And, yet, I'm still clean.

And, I'm clinging to the determination- the sacred battle-scarred woman within me, who whispers that just over this mountain of struggle there is peace and so much potential... She reminds me that the journey is not lost for hardship endured, but is made whole when the shards of my wayward existence, prove necessary, all along, in order to fit precisely together in some fantastic show of promise and purpose and light.

Today I grieve the humiliation and the loss of my story. Tomorrow I will forge ahead.

I am a warrior AND I CAN do hard things.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Chasing My Victory- A WarmUp, An EMOM, A WOD, and a Run...

One of the many surgical rooms where my
 Grandmother would have had ECT- electro
convulsive shock therapy, at St. Elizabeth's
I have no memory of my paternal grandmother.  I was just two years old, when she died of a heart attack, after being released from St. Elizabeth's Hospital,
in Washington, D.C.  She'd been there for over twenty years, suffering the ravages of a lifetime of major depressive disorder.  Years of institutionalization, medication, and electroconvulsive shock therapy had done nothing to ease her pain.  She never made it beyond the sidewalk, outside of the facility, where she collapsed.  She was seventy-two. 

My favorite part of Mt.
 Lebanon Cemetary, along all
of the loops we run, is this. 
Forty-two years later....and I'm running the 800 meter loop through Mt. Lebanon Cemetery
, the buy- out at the conclusion of today's WOD, and my mind finds her. And I wonder if she's looking down on me.  I wonder if she sees how hard I'm working to beat this thing.  I wonder if my efforts can overcome my genetics.  I wonder...oh, how I wonder.

Its been a tough week.  For the first time since joining Crossfit Mt. Lebanon, at the end of March, I've begun to let my negative inner-voice hold me captive, away from the box.  And with each day, of three that I missed since last Thursday, I could feel the slide of the slippery slope that is the lie of depression.  The one that seduces you into staying on the couch, or under the covers.  The one that tells you that moving your body will hurt too much.  The one that whispers "why bother?"

But the truth- MY TRUTH- is that my DNA, or the 30mg of Prozac that I take, each night, before bed, doesn't decide the outcome of this battle.  I do.  I decide. Every morning that the Good Lord allows me to wake, is a new day.  And its a choice. Not the choice to be happy or sad, as some would claim.  Not the choice to be sick or in remissionNot the choice to be in any of the diagnoses that I may have or even to be clean of the behaviors that may stem from those diagnoses.  Every morning, every hour, every minute of my day, I must decide to move forward, or to be stuck.  Period.  Its not easy, but its very simple.  I cannot help the miserable genetics which have done a number on my brain.  But I CAN decide, despite how I feel, to not let that stop me from living. 

So today, I got out of bed early.  I made coffee for the first time in my life. I put on my workout wear.  And, with the encouragement of some terrific women from CFMTL, my husband, daughter, and eleven year-old son, I went to the box.  The warm-up threatened to undue me.  I seriously considered leaving.  The core work of a ten minute EMOM of V-UPs and jumping jacks, and my staggering through both, winded me.  The WOD that followed found me breathless and full of self-doubt.  But the run...oh, that run.  The 800 meters, that felt like 800 miles. That run... 

As everyone else forged ahead, at an admirable pace, I slowed- with the limitations of weight, which are with me everyday, though less than before.  But this time was different.  This day, this time, I carried her burdens- the ones that took the life out of her.  My grandmother.  Whose name I hold in the middle of my own.  Whose name my daughter holds- Lily.  Lily Mae, they called her.  I carried those burdens, on my back, for Lily Mae-the woman I don't remember, but from whom my soul feels warmth and abiding love.  And I carried, in my arms, in front of me, the hopes, beyond all hopes, that this battle is finished with me- leaving all four of my children a life that is less rough around the edges- less mired in suffering.  As I came upon the steepest climb of the path back to the box,  I seemed almost to be running in place. It felt like I might fall over at any moment. But I promised myself that I wouldn't stop. So I kept running through the back door. And that, that promise to keep going, I carried, with all that my legs could muster, for me. I carried the moving forward just for me.

I'm not sure I have ever felt so winded, as I did this morning.  I struggled to catch my breath for what seemed to be an eternity, long after the WOD was done.  Then I cried.  The cries of generations that want this story to be rewritten.  The cries of a girl who didn't want to show up for her life today, but who did it anyway.  The cries that don't come from the lows of mental illness but from the letting go of stories that are not mine.  The cries that say "I finished." and all that that means for my going forward.

Because I'm going forward.  Oh,Yes. I am. And with each foot in front of the other, the story that is mine becomes a victory.  Today, for all of its struggles.was.a.victory.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Stupidity Ditch- A Place I Hang Out In From Time To Time

 I decided to post, today, after thinking that maybe I wouldn't- because I didn't necessarily have anything profound to say.  But, as I pondered stupidity, in various forms, I decided that maybe I didn't need to be profound this evening- maybe I just needed to be real.

So, here's my "real."

Thirty years of disordered eating doesn't disappear easily...and after several stints in treatment, it may not disappear at all. It may appear around every turn in the road, for the rest of my f-ing life.   But I never fail to be surprised when the first solution, I can create, to every problem, I am facing, at any given time, is FOOD- it is my AK ticking time bomb.

Tonight's problem: I'm fighting with this dude.
I used to call him "Peach," when we were inseparable and totally in love, and making out during the breaks at our office, when others were smoking in stairwells or grabbing a latte.  We were often told, by passersby, on the streets of D.C., to get a room.  And we did.  We got a lot of rooms.  And apartments. And then we got pregnant.  And we got married. Yes, in that order.  Gasp.  And, as my breasts were pouring milk, and we slept almost never, and our first child cried her friggin' head off, for hours, every night,  we made out a lot less, and wanted to maim the other person a lot more.  Because, let's be honest- sometimes, when you are really exhausted, the idea of having children is really ONLY a good plan for Christmas cards- so you aren't sending your Great Aunt Betty photos of you, your spouse,and your cat, when you are 42.  But we kept procreating, because, seemed like a good idea to me- the mentally vulnerable partner.  And, really, we are optimists, to a fault.  And, we actually do love our offspring.  Long story short, four kids, and nearly seventeen years later, and we are sometimes done.wore.out.  Like my bladder.  And my shins and their splints.  So, the Peach likes to pretend we are back at the office, where we met, sans children- and snuggle up and watch Downton Abbey, in the middle of a Saturday, except those children, that he agreed to, while caught up in the moment,  keep asking him for money, to pass lacrosse balls in the backyard, to rent movies, use his I-pad, and to buy them new phones because they've broken theirs.  Then loverboy (that guy up there) gets bitter.  And he says a lot of four letter words, out loud, with the windows open...and then the whole night goes to sh**. 
 I really have zero tolerance for grumpiness, since I wait all week, for the weekend, to have my hubby around for two whole days.  So, I'm throwing myself a pity party over his meanness, and what do I do? I start searching for food, in my refrigerator, and my pantry, that will stuff down all of my disappointment and frustration.  Then, when that doesn't work, I start surfing the net.  Not for articles on how to make my husband kinder in five easy steps.  How to be a better wife in Seven Days.  How to Cope When Your Lover's a Dope.  No... I begin feverishly looking for ways to not be fat anymore. To drop a million pounds in 24 hours. To undue everything I hate about my body with the weapons of restriction, starvation, self-harm, loathing and rejection. As if I don't already know how that happens.  As if there is some secret lurking, online, that will enlighten my foggy fat brain.  As if me being skinny will mean that the people around me behave better.  This, people, this nonsense, is what I'd like to call "the stupidity ditch"- a term I coined, when a girl, I met in treatment, whom I loved dearly, would relapse into self-injuring behaviors.  I would whisper, to her "_____, don't go there.  don't fall into the stupidity ditch." The truth is, I spend half of my God forsaken life in the stupidity ditch. 
Friends...for all of my sappy posts on recovery and betterment, which are also very real pieces of my journey, there are about five posts that I need to write, which share, with you, the gut sucking hard that is being human, fat, and warped in the brain, and trying to not be fat, and coping with life, as it comes, (which has nothing at all to do with being fat). 
Some days are just hard.  And sometimes life sucks. 
The End

Friday, July 4, 2014

Breaking The Cycle- Freeing The Next Generation To Soar

"This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions." Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club

"I am spinning the silk threads of my story, weaving the fabric of my world...I spun out of control. Eating was hard. Breathing was hard. Living was hardest.
I wanted to swallow the bitter seeds of forgetfulness...Somehow, I dragged myself out of the dark and asked for help.
I spin and weave and knit my words and visions until a life starts to take shape.
There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn't matter anymore.
I am thawing.”

― Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls 

Today we set aside hours to celebrate, as a country, the freedoms available to us, as citizens of this great nation.  As a child, it was one of my favorite holidays, and one that holds many special memories for me: trashbags of homemade popcorn on a blanket, with friends, at a local park, sparklers (until they were illegal, in the state of Maryland, where I grew up), fireworks on the National Mall after the Beach Boys concert.  My own children, now, have the same fondness for the 4th of July, and anticipating enjoying the sky, all lit up tonight, with them, never ceases to excite me.

My husband, daughter, and I, spent the bulk of our morning, at Crossfit Mt. Lebanon.  As I worked my way through a (modified) WOD, and some a la carte exercises, which I added on my own, I began contemplating freedom, and the significance of the term, for me, today.  I thought about the freedoms I have gained, thus far, this year- recovery from thirty years of disordered eating, or all of the healing that is taking place on my journey, away from body dysmorphia, but my greatest joy is this:

Doing the dreaded burpees, last Saturday,
while Tom and I finished required singles
Cooking a paleo breakfast for her
parents, this morning, after
open studio at the box.
See this girl, here? She is my daughter- the product of all of my good intentions.  From the moment she entered the world, I fought to make her life better than my own. Despite struggling with the demons of  constant weight gain/weight loss, I worked to shelter her from language and habits that teach self-loathing and disordered eating.  I never, ever discussed my feelings, as they related to my body, in front of her.  If I had nothing positive to add, I said nothing.  We pleaded with family members, who had issues of their own, to refrain from using words like "diet" and other self-deprecating dialog, when she was in their presence (family members who considered me a complete nutcase for worrying about such pettiness).  I knew, in the very core of my being, that when you are a child, surrounded by women who  express hatred toward themselves, that you begin to believe that you, also, must be terribly flawed and unworthy.  I knew,firsthand, that a good percentage of eating disorders (though not all) are learned from the behavior of care givers- and I didn't want one more kid to grow up in the hell that is numbers driven, weight obsessed, and filled with nothing but agony and disgust.  Lily is 16 years old, and she has broken the cycle that at least two generations of women, before her, were enslaved by.  She has never dieted, has no eating disorders, and spends most every day, now, actively pursuing her own fitness goals- through Crossfit- goals which she is killing, on a daily basis.  In addition to the WODs, she spends time to practicing moves which she struggles with, or needs to improve, and two days a week, she completes a second workout, in the evening, with Crossfit Teens.  This week, she began a serious overhaul of her nutrition, and has chosen, on her own, with zero input from her parents, to begin eating 'paleo',
Lily, post work-out,
July 3rd
being cognizant of food labels, sugar content, and the quality of the ingredients she is consuming- in an effort to strengthen her body and increase her potential for mastering difficult exercises. 
I am not a perfect parent.  Far from it.  My children experience my mistakes and will, no doubt, fight to overcome some less than beneficial habits that they may have inherited from me.  But my daughter, who stood to profit the most dysfunction, statistically speaking, from my battle with eating and body dysmorphia, is free from both, and headed in a very empowering direction, with health and fitness.  Life is a process..and there are no guarantees.
Though, there are always going to be obstacles that our children must learn to overcome, on their own... by mirroring, to your children, loving self-talk and acceptance, you are then freeing them to focus on all of the other aspects, in their daily journey, which can absorb that positive energy, and, inevitably, allow them to soar.

Are you a parent (or a role model) to a young girl, or boy, who needs to hear you speak loving kindness about your body?  How are you breaking cycles, in your life, that sought to hold you in bondage away from joy and happiness? How are you free, today?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

We Get By With A Little Help From Our Friends....

 Last Wednesday, along with my good friend and her family, who were visiting us from Florida, we loaded up the cars and headed to Sportsworks- a  hands-on, sports facility, run by the Carnegie Science Center.  Our children spent hours enjoying the Body Cam, the Bounce, the You-Yo, and the rock wall.
Seth, working his way up the rockwall.  Such
a feat for him, but he keeps trying.

As it was nearing 5:00, and everyone was getting tired and hungry, we headed toward the exit at the front of the building.  All of a sudden, my 7 year old son, Seth, stopped and did something that has stuck with me, ever since.  He began cheering for a kid, about three, who was making a valiant attempt to scale his way to the top of that rock wall.  He had stopped about twelve inches short of being able to ring the bell, at the very top, and Seth kept saying "keep going, little boy.  You can do it...You are so brave...Hold on!"  And I thought about how that kind of support, what my son was dishing out, is the very foundation of kindness- its very soul, and how awesome it was that my kid, who is, in many ways, an athletic underdog, had the instinct to encourage a stranger, at doing something that he, himself, cannot yet do.

I thought, after that afternoon, that I'd be writing about the opportunities I have had, as of late, to cheer for people whose abilities soar way above crucial it is to be on the giving end of encouragement,  when you feel like you need so much of it yourself...but then today happened..and I needed to share it with you...

This morning, found me face to face with a WOD that threatened to swallow me whole...
 3 Rounds, for time:
150 singles
50 air squats
25 kettle bell swings 
I have shin splints, and the compression socks I purchased, yesterday, aren't making much difference....after the first round of singles, I knew my legs could not take more jumping...then there were the squats- they. just. burn, period. And kettle bell swings? Coach Brad was having none of my attempt to use my normal 18lb. kettle bell...he insisted on the 26 pounder, which was scarey....and way out of my comfort zone.  

Pretty blurry- but after that WOD, what would
you expect? Tim, Nicci, Amy C. and myself.
soaking wet, with sweat, but feeling great
to have survived- on my way back home. 
Though I was able to switch from jumping to the rowing machine, during round 2, I could tell that I was already way behind my classmates, so the fear took over...suddenly I wanted to quit..and maybe vomit...and the negative voices in my head kept taunting me ...telling me how stupid I looked and how I was just not cut out for this...I so wanted Brad to rescue me with a scaled version- to cut me some slack- I kept staring him down, pleading to him, with the weariness of my eyes...I was down to my last round, and the whole of the 8:30 group surrounded me ..the attention, when I am struggling, is so difficult for me to accept, but typically at these points, I'm in too much pain to care..Then Amy C. showed up on my left side, and Tim on my right side, and out of the corners of my eyes, I watched as they began squating next to me, in solidarity...encouraging me to press on.  Even though my senses were in overdrive and I was fighting for every rep, a part of my soul, stood outside of my body, in those moments, and saw breathtaking beauty there- in the agony on my face and in the kinship from every single member in that space.  Until my last kettle bell swing, I was in despair,  and as close to crying as I've ever been, working out, but to witness the humanity in that box today? That is hopefulness in all of its glory, folks. And it's how I'm getting by- one WOD, one set, one rep, at a time.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

You Can Do Hard Things...And Other Lessons My Kids Learn From Crossfit

 "When you thought I wasn't looking"
When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator,
and I wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you feed a stray cat,
and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake for me,
and I knew that little things are special things.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I heard you say a prayer,
and I believed that there was a God to talk to.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I felt you kiss me goodnight,
and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes,
and I learned that sometimes things hurt,
but it's alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw that you cared,
and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I looked....
and I wanted to say thanks for all the things
I saw when you thought I wasn't looking.
Author: Mary Rita Schilke Korazan

When I first embarked on my journey towards a healthier me, in January of 2014, I began creating signs to display, in different rooms of my home, that would serve to encourage me. My favorite of the signs is one, painted on canvas, which has become my mantra.  It reads "You Can Do Hard Things."
I forget this, and need to be reminded of its truth,  I CAN do hard things.  The evidence of which, I had seen, in the last six months of 2013, when I challenged many of my fears, by taking an improv class, completing
our local Citizens Fire Academy-
scaling ladders, including a 100+ foot doozy, though I am terrified of heights, and swimming in open water, in the Carribbean, with 10-15 foot reef sharks (yes, they have big teeth and yes, they could have eaten me for lunch). 

Believe it or not, Crossfit is harder for me than all of those things, and fear swells inside of me, every time I enter the box.  But I do it anyway.  Yesterday morning, I awoke with dread- knowing that I had a challenge to complete, and I was really behind.  On Tuesday, those of us involved in the "ninety day challenge" were instructed to supplement our WODs with 90 double unders, every day, until Saturday at 1:00.  And if you could not yet do a double under, you must substitute 250 singles.  That's 1500 singles total, for me, and, friends, that is no joke.  It ended up being a busy week, getting home from vacation on Sunday, and hosting a college friend and her family until Thursday morning...So by yesterday, I had only completed 480 of the required singles-and I knew I was in trouble.  At 11:05, I sauntered into 427 Washington Road, along with my hubby and two of my four children...feeling less than enthusiastic about the jumps.  So I did the only thing I know how to do- with such a task- what I've learned, from the coaches and my colleagues at the box: I broke the 1,120 singles down into sets of 25 reps.  And slowly, but surely, after warming up on the rower, I began to chip away at the goal. 

About half way through, I started to smile...
not only because it seemed that I just might endure, but because I had become
acutely aware that my children were getting a most invaluable lesson,
through all of this.  Though they were busy completing challenges that they had set for themselves,
I knew that they were absorbing all of the other magic taking place in the room, as well.  Silently, they were seeing their parents, who are overweight and out of shape, struggle to overcome the insurmountable task in front of them- no complaining-no apologies.
  They saw their parents determined to better themselves, without consciousness of how they looked or how simple their feats were compared to other, more elite athletes in the room.  They witnessed the power of not giving up....the joy of finishing that which seemed impossible just an hour before.  And I thought about the poem, which a friend had copied for me when my oldest child was just a baby.  And I thought how I'd rewrite it for this occasion:


When you thought I wasn't looking
I saw how crossfit athletes come in all shapes and sizes, but are all very powerful
And I knew that strength was better than body type.
When you thought I wasn't looking
I saw members of a box, young & old, black & white & in between, cheering one another on

And I knew that humanity is kind, and caring, and together is so much better than alone
When you thought I wasn't looking
I saw how you struggled to keep jumping
And I knew that if you could do it, so could I.

When you thought I wasn't looking
I saw how you stopped to catch your breath, and you wanted to give up
And I knew that you can always start again

When you thought I wasn't looking
I saw how you could have gone home, but you persevered
And I knew that you only fail if you quit.

When you thought I wasn't looking
I saw a Mom and Dad who are trying very hard to overcome difficult habits
And I knew that its never too late to pick yourself up and be better than you were before

Eventually I finished the goal, dripping sweat, but feeling fantastic.  It was a difficult morning, but, my kids getting these kind of lessons?  Totally worth 1,120 singles.