Coming Clean

Can you believe it’s September? I mean, seriously, where did the summer go?

As I sit here at CK’s cottage sipping a glorious glass of Malbec wine, I realize that while I didn’t really “go anywhere” this may have been one of the best summers I’ve had in a long time.

To start, I didn’t MOVE anywhere.  Seriously folks, this was a huge deal for me.  My friends and family will confirm, with great moans of agony, that they’ve been helping me move every spring/summer since I was about 18.  It almost felt weird when Montreal’s moving day (July 1st) rolled around and I wasn’t involved in the confusion.  Almost, but not quite 😉

Since I wasn’t concerned with details such as unpacking or re-sorting out my life, I was able to devote a great deal of my time and energy to cooking and experimenting.  I cooked a lot this summer, and so there was quite a bit of variety to the dishes I would prepare. This led to the realization that me and dairy were no longer as platonic as we used to be.

As much as I love cheese it just wasn’t agreeing with my system anymore, and so I began experimenting with vegan cooking.  While it helped curb my digestion issues, it also broadened my culinary horizons.

I can now say that I truly LOVE vegan food and equally love preparing it.  At the same time, the French in me just can’t ignore the cheese for too long periods of time and so I give in every once in a while.

I’ve learned that it’s all about balance. 😉

I’ve also learned to accept my body as it is.

For a number of reasons, I haven’t touched on this subject, and while I won’t name them, I now feel ready to talk about it on here.  This may get a bit heavy and emotional, so forgive me in advance 🙂

As some of you know, I sprained y ankle earlier this summer. While this proved to be a small physical challenge, what most of you don’t know was of the mental challenges my injury put in front of me.

If you’ve ever read my “About Me” page, you’ll note I touch briefly on my history of disordered eating for mainly personal reasons I’ve never really elaborated on this subject, but I feel the need to now so bear with me.

For many years I suffered through different forms of anorexia and then bulimia, all centralized on my disordered sense of my body image.   It wasn’t until I was 18 that I finally sought help.  While it certainly patched up some of the frayed edges, I didn’t make any sort of breakthrough until I was 20 with the help of my dear friend Tess.

Tess

Some of you may know of Tess as a constant commenter and supporter of the MTL Veggie.  Tess was also my roommate during our 3rd year of university when she confronted me on my disordered eating.  Tess has got to be one of the most kindhearted and compassionate people I know, and she soon became my rock of support for helping me get back on the right track.  It was also at this time that I decided to adopt the vegetarian diet.

Looking back, I realize this was just one more way for me to control my eating habits and I’ll be completely honest when I say it was not very effective at first. I was no healthier than before when I consumed meat.  In truth, I was probably even less so.

However, it did make me aware of on one aspect of my eating: a greater understanding for incorporating proteins, healthy fats and carbs into my diet. Now I don’t mean tom make it sound like this happened over night; that was a learning curve of nearly 5 years.

So, while I made progress, over the next few years I was still controlling of my food intake and feeling extreme anxiety at times when I felt I ate too much.   Very often, I would use exercise as a way to further control my body’s appearance and try to keep myself “happy”.  Essentially I was caught in a cycle of 1 step forward 2 steps back.   I was eating “ok”, but not truly being in-tune with my body, nor ever really accepting my body as it was.

When I sprained my ankle this summer, I was suddenly put in a situation where I wasn’t able to exercise.  I immediately went into panic mode and started suffering  from major anxiety attacks. I won’t get into the nitty gritty details, but it had me feeling defeated, weak, and very sorry for myself.  I felt like I had failed.

But these feelings also made me realize that I wasn’t as over my dark ED past as previously thought.  I realized that it was time to finally try and resolve my issues and move on for good.

One of the advantages to being a part of the healthy living blog community is to be virtually surrounded by all these strong women who have given me different perspectives on what it means to eat healthy.  These people “get it”, and though they each have their own mantra on healthy living, they’re all right in their own way.  Bottom line, they’ve figured out what works for them and for that, I truly applaud them.

However I still couldn’t get past my own body issues and my ever increasing panic and anxiety due to my not being able to run the calories off.  The official term is called body dysmorphic disorder.  I called it my own personal hell.  Basically, I didn’t “get it” and what healthy living meant to me just yet.

I then spoke to a very sweet, honest, person who simply asked me: Jess, have you ever just told yourself to accept your body for how it looks? To accept that what your body was before was unhealthy and unrealistic?

Cue the light-bulb turning on.

I’ve gone through many different treatments and therapy sessions over the years in an effort to recover from my ED, and not one of the many medical professionals I spoke to just told me to accept and love my body as it is.   Maybe it never occurred to them to do so or maybe they were scared it would send me the wrong message.  Regardless, when that wise friend of mine said that to me, something inside me “clicked”.

In Caitlin fashion, I forced myself to look in the mirror every morning and say: You are beautiful. Your body is amazing.

With conviction I might add.

If you’re ever feeling “bloated”, “fat”, “flabby”, whatever, can you please just try that?  Try it and see how it makes you feel.

Anyway, slowly but surely, I came to not only accept my body, but to also love my body. For the first time in many, many, years, I am proud to say that I love my body and I love the way I look.

I now not only eat healthy, but I also have a healthy appreciation for food and what it can do for my body.  Rather than control portions or restrict items, I simply enjoy the foods that I know are good for me and also make me feel good with reckless abandon.  I eat to give myself energy, but also pleasure.  Eating is now a pleasurable experience for me.

Finally, I “get it”.

So when I say this has been one of the best summers I have had in a long time, I truly mean it.

I’m so sorry to have bombarded you with such a long blog post, but the words just appeared on the page.  Apparently, I felt the need to “come clean” and get the words of my chest.

I also need to thank CK, Tess, my wise friend, and the rest of my friends and family who stood by me this summer; their support, acceptance, and willingness to help me made me realize I didn’t have to do this alone.

This post is dedicated to them. Thank you.

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About Jess @ MTL Veggie

Jess, the face behind The MTL Veggie is a vegetarian, athlete, marketer and Torontonian turned Montrealer. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, photography, running, yoga, skiing, and of course blogging. The MTL Veggie recaps her recipes, restaurant reviews, and what it's like to be a Leafs fan living in Montreal (hint: scary at times).
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6 Responses to Coming Clean

  1. I loved this post – how true the words are that you spoke! We have so many similarities it is unbelievable!!! It is hard to tell yourself those things every day, and I try to, especially when I get mad or frustrated about something. The funny thing is, I can be upset about something completely different, but the negativity always somehow goes to my self image. Ugh.. horrendous!

  2. Tess says:

    @Chelsea: what you said about negativity turning into feelings of self-consciousness is sooo true! I also find it happens when I’m tired or sick, and don’t have the mental energy to love myself. It’s amazing how much of this is really just in our heads.
    @Jess: your bravery inspires me every day. To have watched you struggle and make consistent, marked progress through the years speaks so much to your strength and commitment. I’m so happy you’ve finally been able to find balance, and more importantly, love for a body everyone has known to be beautiful for as long as they’ve known you 🙂 I LOVE YOU!!!!!

  3. Gena says:

    What a deeply moving post. You ought to be so, so proud of yourself, Jess, for the remarkable evolution you’ve made this year. I feel lucky to have witnessed some of it!

  4. wow, thankfully you have Tess, what an angel.
    i can relate SO MUCH to your story and your struggles. its amazing finding tough girls like you that can lead the way for so many others. your advice is brilliant and i really hope that more people find your blog and can learn as much as we all do ❤ ❤

    xoxo

  5. Thank you all so much for your kinds words, they mean the world to me 🙂

  6. Susan says:

    Thank you for writing this post Jess – I needed it! I promise not to look in the mirror without telling myself I’m beautiful. And I’m SO happy that you’re finally feeling content in where you are. You deserve it!! xoxo

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