Falling off the wagon

Today's workout went well. It doesn't sound like much of a statement, until you know that the past few days have been some of the most frustrating and depressing workout days I've had since January. I fell off the wagon—hard—and I'm the only one who can plop my ass back on it.

Sometime around Wednesday, I stopped paying quite so much attention to what I was eating. Those of you playing the home game know how much of a struggle trying to relearn healthy eating habits has been for me. Without vigilance, without care, I repeatedly forget to eat. For someone who struggles on a daily basis to get her calorie intake up to 1600 Kcal/day, the lack of vigilance and care means the difference between a finished and unfinished workout.

I don't have a large margin for error, even on good days.

I was exhausted after Thursday's workout, but it never occurred to me to do a quick calorie count. I went in to the gym on Friday with a bad sense of foreboding. I'd been distracted that morning, hadn't had a decent breakfast (or, much of any breakfast, to be honest) and was quite concerned about my ability to finish weights and cardio.

What I often don't tell you guys is that every time I go to the gym, I think—sometimes idly, sometimes not—of quitting. It took me a few weeks to realize that my quitting thoughts were almost talismanic: somehow knowing that I'm free to quit at any time, but choose to keep going (sometimes even just to the next rep or next step) makes it easier for me to keep going.

I'm not there because someone's forcing me to be. In the end, I'm in the gym because I want to be there. I want those results, and I can't get them by staying home.

Still, I think of quitting almost every day.

On Friday, it was different. I wasn't careless, but I was sloppy. As I moved from set to set, I noticed my rest breaks were growing longer and longer, and my energy levels just weren't rebounding. Halfway through the weights workout, I sat down at the lat pulldown machine for the second set and realized that I had to stop. I had, literally, nothing left.

When I put the weights back, I knocked a 35-pound dumbbell off the tree. It missed landing on my foot by a scant two inches, and it scared me. Had it landed on my foot, it likely would have broken bones. I tidied up my equipment and got the hell out before I could hurt myself…but did I remember to eat when I got home? No.

It took me until Friday evening before I realized what was wrong. At that point, I did my best to tamp down the voice that said "Don't eat that! You don't need that!"—and began to eat. A lot. Not a lot at once, but often: every couple of hours at the most.

At first it was rote, but as the day progressed, I started seeing normal hunger reactions again. My body wanted food, and a lot of it, and now, wench! By the end of the day, I had actually consumed 2000 Kcal—virtually a non-binge record for me—and I was in a bit of a panic because my body still wanted more. I wasn't sure how to interpret the want.

One voice in my head screams that it wants food, because food isn't just sustenance, it's comfort and solace. The other side screams Don't touch that! If you start eating it'll be just like before, and you'll never stop! Live long enough with an eating disorder and food becomes more than just a purveyor of sustenance; it becomes solace and comfort and devil and bane, all at once, and all previous trappings of normal consumption fade away in comparison.

One of the worst parts about recovery is trying to distinguish between when your body wants food and when it needs food. Sometimes it's hard to think over all the shouting, and sometimes it's easiest to block out all the conflicting opinions and just eat nothing at all.

* * * * *

Yesterday, amidst what felt like tidal waves of food, I went back to the gym and literally toughed out a workout. It was pretty horrid, but I did it; no skimping, no getting down off the machine early.

I felt like I'd won something.

Today, I went back into the gym, and faced the scale. I knew what was likely to be coming, and the scale bore my suspicions out: two pounds heavier since the day before. Just a spike, undoubtedly caused from all the extra food I'd had to put in my system. I reset the scale to zero and got on the nearest elliptical machine, because it was the right thing to do.

So I screwed up. Big deal. Everyone does. In the meantime, I've done the best I can to counteract that—regular doses of good food, and plenty of sleep—now the only thing left to do is pick up and keep going.

Today was easier than yesterday, and if I take care of myself, tomorrow will be easier still.

I'm free to quit.
Doesn't mean I'm going to.

Random #1 from Danno: "That's why I like it [lacrosse]. It's tough, but not bloodthirsty. Basketball is a gentleman's sport played by thugs. Lacrosse is a thug's sport played by gentlemen."

Random #2:

Amy: Strangely enough, weight training has done more for my sense of confidence than virtually anything else I've ever tried.
Amy: I learned something interesting about myself - I'm never going to be the tallest or prettiest or anything like that, but I am one. tough. bitch.
Amy: Knowing that somehow makes lots of other things easier.
Danno: It's just self-confidence. Some girls have long legs or tiny butts. You have forty-pound ovaries. You could play hockey.

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