I am so excited about today’s gust post! It comes from Tanya at Vegan Faith. I was blessed to get to spent a good amount of time with Tanya at Helathy Living Summit. She is so sweet and easy to talk to! Her story below is very honest, and very touching. It does deal with relationships with food, so if this is touchy or a trigger for you, please proceed with caution.
A big thanks to Heather for sharing her space on Running With Sass, with me! I blog at VeganFaith.com and I am so excited to be over here today to tell you my story. The really neat thing today, is that this is a brand new story. And one that I have been dying to share for a while now.
For many years I have struggled with disordered eating and low self-esteem. I have never suffered from a diagnosed eating disorder such as binging or purging, but have simply had an unhealthy relationship with food (let’s be honest…what is so simple about that?)
From the time I learned what a calorie was, or even how much sugar or fat or carbs were contained in certain products, I have obsessed over the food I put in my body. It began as a wholesome effort to eat better and more compassionately. But like many things in life, a good thing easily became a bad thing. I restricted my diet to extremes, and then when off the “diet” I would just eat everything in sight.
Throughout each day, I would agonize over the hours. When was my next meal? And what would I eat. I became fanatical as I waited in anticipation for noon each day, just so I could eat again. Meal times were engraved in my mind, and I couldn’t eat outside of those times. I forgot how to eat intuitively and began living only for the rules I created. Many foods were off limits and deemed “bad.” Guilt was associated with eating these “bad” foods. My happiness was determined by the type of food I ate each day.
An unhealthy relationship with food is a slippery slope. You think you are doing great things for your body, and in the end you find yourself in a hot mess. That is where I found myself earlier this year. Consumed by my consumption. Sliding down the slope happened so quickly, yet climbing my way back out is taking much longer.
The first step for recovery for me was relinquishing control over the situation. For me, that was releasing it into God’s hands. Acknowledging he was Lord over all, including my disordered eating. I knew that there was no way I could dig my way out of this one, and I needed a stronger, more able entity. For me, there was no one but God to help me out.
Of course I had to do my part. I had to pray, and continuously remind myself that all things are possible through God who strengthens me. Even in my darkest moments, I needed hope. And I needed to take baby steps to set new habits in place.
Those baby steps will be different for everyone, for me it was listening to my body and breaking the rules. Those same rules that I thought were in place to help guide me, but ultimately steered me in the wrong direction. If I was hungry, I needed to eat. No matter what time of day it was. And when I ate, I needed to stop after a portion, and wait. Sometimes I would drink a glass of water, or sit at the table for at least 5 minutes before getting up. Those new habits helped me to listen to my body to find out if I really was still hungry and needed a larger portion, or if my stomach was full and it was time to move on.
All year I have worked at these new habits, and just recently I have recognized how far I have come. This is what makes my story new. While I still struggle with some of those old temptations, I am better equipped to fight them. I have several Action Mantras that get me through dark periods: “Table, Plate, Chair” “Make an Effort, Not Excuses” or “Social Sweets Only.” But now my all-encompassing theme is this: “Grace and Consistency.” In everything in life I simply try my best to be consistent and when that isn’t enough, I have grace.
Rather than beat myself up over a missed workout or an unhealthy meal, I use grace to allow myself to take a break. I cut myself slack with a reminder that one day will not change the course of my life. What I may fall short on today, there will always be tomorrow. I look at the overall picture saying to myself “Today I may not fit in a workout, but this week I made it to the gym 4 times!” or “Right now I am going to enjoy TCBY with friends, and then later I will nourish my body with lots of whole grains and greens!”
Now I am in a much happier place. Food isn’t my enemy, rather a passion that I continue to pursue and enjoy. I no longer dread exercise, but look forward to it as one of the best parts of my day. I have no regrets that I went through this experience. I have grown as a person, a believer, and a friend. It has made me more aware and compassionate of others who struggle with similar issues. And it has brought me closer to my passion for a healthy life.
On Vegan Faith I share my life and the healthy choices I make every day. Some are healthy for my body (fruits and veggies), and many are healthy for my soul (daily Bible devotions). Meanwhile, there are also those choices that are just healthy for my sanity…like the delicious cupcake I ate yesterday after the 5k! For me it is all about living my life with Grace and Consistency.
QOTD: Show Tanya some love! When it comes to food, in what ways have you learned to listen to your body to have a healthy and happy relationship with it?
*Don’t froget about my raffle for TNT! Great running gear prizes!