Finding myself where I am right now (aka self-care is hard)

I deleted all the Crossfit people and bloggers that I used to follow on Twitter today. It was tough. I think unfollowing Elizabeth Akinwale was the hardest (you’re still a goddess Elizabeth!!).  Some of you, my loyal readers, may wonder why I did this. Isn’t this a Crossfit blog? Even though I’ve been focused on other things, and prone to disappearances for long periods of time, isn’t this still a blog about getting back to Crossfit?

It was. But at the moment it isn’t. And I don’t know what the future will bring. Because at the moment, I’m just working on today. And this is f*cking hard. I like to have goals. I like to have ambitious goals. I even like to have goals I don’t achieve.  Because, sometimes failure seemed like a comfortable place to hide..or to avoid by not actually really trying to reach those goals.

But this isn’t an unhappy post. At the moment, I’m cool with where I’m at. I’m fine with being on a journey that will lead who knows where. One that may or may not involve my beloved barbell (who I’ve just named “Barbie”, like right this minute..I can’t believe I didn’t name her before…but I digress).

This journey started when the doctor told me, in no uncertain terms, that I had burned out and I had to stop everything. Everything – including Crossfit. And rest. I’m a terrible rester..or at least I was back then. Since then I’ve had to focus on myself in order to recover and I’ve had to get to know myself better. I’m also terrible at introspection. I think I was always worried that upon closer inspection that I wouldn’t like myself. And it turns out, that there were quite a few things that I didn’t like about myself, and there were quite a few things that I was doing to myself that I didn’t like.

One was the constant striving for perfection, to be the best..and to meet societies beauty standards, because finally then, I would feel comfortable in my own skin. Yes, for most of my life, my skin and outward appearance just felt like it didn’t fit the me I wanted to be. So I tried to change it..Oh my g*d did I try. Atkins, running, Paleo, Weight Watchers, only carbs, only protein, only carbs in the evening. For almost 25 years I convinced myself that eventually I would find the right thing. What I found was no weightloss and a completely messed up approach to food.

Once I accepted the fact that dieting wasn’t working and my obsession with working towards a goal that I will never achieve was taking up a ton of my mental energy, mental energy that I needed to recover from the enormous fatigue that comes with burnout. I decided to stop dieting. Cold turkey. Not – I’m just taking a break and then I will get back on the latest fad kind of stopping – as in the last diet I was on in 2016 was the very last diet I will ever go on kind of  stopping. And I did. Since January 2017 I have not started, and by consequence, nor failed a single diet.  I started allowing myself to eat whatever I wanted to eat.  Of course this came with the fear that I would gain weight. And I have.  I also thought that if I let myself eat whatever I wanted, eventually this would plateau and I would magically morph into a healthy eater.  It didn’t and I haven’t, not yet. I’m still not at the place where I use food as nourishment for my body. I still use food sometimes to calm the anxiety of whichever random thing I am suddenly anxious about. But I don’t obsess about what foods I can’t eat. Going out to dinner is no longer a nightmare of searching the menu for that one thing that I can eat (and normally this was skinless chicken breast, which is simply put, torture). A bowl of cereal in the morning, is just a bowl of cereal, not the start of a carbohydrate feed-my-face-a-thon.

But letting go of dieting and striving to lose weight has brought with it things I’ve had to face, like gaining weight. Which has terrified me for so long that I have to do a lot of self talk not to fall back on old patterns. But what I’ve noticed now, is that I’m calmer about it, I’m nicer to myself about it. I work through it and I don’t quit quitting. I breathe. I go talk to someone. And I accept. I accept who I am and what I look like right now. I try not to let it stop me from enjoying vacations or going out with friends. Although sometimes it does, but as time passes, this happens less often.

Being in this place is hard, it feels like limbo, it’s taking a long time and I’m used to succeeding or failing much faster than this. But as my friend just said the other day, “we often mistake “self-care” with “indulgence” and it’s not. Self care is hard”.

He is right. But right here, where I am right now, I’m willing to keep trying – even though there is no guarantee of success at the end and it may lead me to be a completely different person than I thought I wanted to be. But that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

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