Me in 26 letters.

I wanted to post, but don’t have much time before leaving for work..so I decided to whip out the ABC survey that’s been going around the blog world. Anyone that reads this probably doesn’t know much about me aside from being a swimmer, a student and that I struggled with an eating disorder, so I feel like it’s the perfect opportunity to add some variety!

ABC’s of me
A: Age: 21.98 years
B: Bed size: full? my landlords don’t love me enough to provide a queen.
C. Chore you hate: vacuuming. it’s probably the bane of my existence. a chore i love would be washing the dishes! it’s quiet and soothing.
D. Dogs: my family dog is an old, pleasantly plump yellow lab named Candi. I’m hoping to get my own lab soon, but the prospect of med school kind of puts a damper on that.
E. Essential start to your day: coffee and reading blogs, the newspaper, etc.
F. Favorite color: blue
G. Gold or silver: Silver most of the time, but I wear a gold Miraculous Medal (Catholic medal of Mary) everyday. It was my mom’s and she passed it down to me when I was struggling a lot last year.
H: Height: 5′ 4″…and a quarter
I: Instruments that you can play: none!! musically disinclined, thank you very much.
J: Job title: Student/ Sub Shop sandwich artist at Wegman’s
K: Kids: someday
L: Live: Ithaca, NY for school; originally from Hyde Park, NY
M: Mom’s name: Patricia
N: Nicknames: Kim, Kimmy, Kimmer, Kimbo…the list goes on
O: Overnight hospital stays: once when I was around 2 I had surgery on my ears…my tubes fell out or didn’t fall out..or something..I’m still a little hazy on the details. But they had to fix something because I used to get fluid buildup in my ears a lot from sinus infections (I got sick a lot as a kid) and they said my hearing wouldn’t develop correctly if the fluid was there all the time.
P: Pet peeve: unnecessary rudeness. Working in the food industry, I get this all the time. Some people treat you like you are “beneath” them because you are making them a sandwich.
Q: Quote from a movie: “She doesn’t even go to this school!” “Danny Devito? I LOVE YOUR WORK!” Anything from Mean Girls. Used to quote the movie in high school everyday, and watched it many times on bus rides to away swim meets…never gets old.
R: Righty or lefty: Righty
S: Sibling: one younger sister and one older sister
T: Time you wake up: Around 6 am
U: Underwear: any style cotton..lace feels weird.
V: Vegetables you dislike: cauliflower. Recently I was at a japanese place and got vegetable teriyaki. there was something that looked like mashed potatoes on the plate. Naturally, I was intrigued because mashed potatoes didn’t belong. My friend told me to try it, and it was DEF not mashed potatoes. We think it was pureed cauiflower, but it tasted like pureed dirt to me.
W: What makes you run late: sometimes I do this intentionally so I don’t have to endure any awkward silences before classes/meetings start…
X: X-rays: Back for scoliosis, shoulder for a swimming overuse injury, hip, teeth
Y: Yummy food you make: i’m an awesome baker because (like any trained monkey) i follow directions really well.
Z: Zoo favorite animal: penguins are so cool!!! in a zoo definitely my fave. i also really like dolphins and wolves, but most of the zoos around here don’t have any of those..
Anyway, twenty-six facts about me that you didn’t know! And really, it’s just cool to take the time to do these every once in awhile to think about things you normally wouldn’t on a daily basis. I mean, I haven’t thought about penguins in awhile! And the mental image of them happily scuttling across a fake arctic landscape at the zoo brightened my day.
Bonus round: My favorite books are the Harry Potter books, and I’ve read all of them probably around 20 times each (except Chamber of Secrets, which everyone knows sucks). My favorite bands are Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crows, and Coldplay. My favorite food is…anything my dad makes (from awesome fresh Greek food to the best BBQ pulled pork around). And I really want to have two girls, so I can name them Swedish names (Annika and Camila).
That’s all for now! Hope everyone is well. NEDA week is ending today ( I think) and the most important thing I took away from it was that feeling ashamed about an eating disorder only sets us all back; it really is time to talk about it!!
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The one where I hang up my goggles

I’ve tried to write this post about three times over the last two weeks, and I think I’m finally ready to get down to business.

My last swim meet – EVER – was a week and a half ago. I knew going in that it was our last dual meet of the season, so the season would be over. Being a senior, that would mean the end of my competitive swimming career. (Of course I could go on and do Master’s swimming as an adult or as part of a triathlon, but this is the end of the line for me as far as swimming “as a job” is concerned.)

The week leading up to the meet was a mix of a thousand emotions, and it didn’t really hit me that it would be my last meet until I was actually there. Rationally, I knew. But my heart didn’t know it yet. When we arrived the day before the meet at the pool to warm-up, I dove in and just felt every stroke for what it was – I didn’t try to make any predictions of the times I would swim based on how I felt. I didn’t try to “fix” my mental lack of focus. I just enjoyed the warm-up and felt present for everything else that is a part of an away swim meet: the bus ride to the hotel, crossing your fingers for a good roommate, watching bad reality television, going to the team dinner and eating lots of carbs, getting to sleep early and then having breakfast as a team in the morning before heading off to the pool for the meet. For each of these I had a sense that it would be my last, and so was able to make very concrete memories of each experience to look back on.

I knew that the one thing my life had revolved around for the last sixteen years was coming to a close, and that these experiences would matter to me, and that I needed to retire the same way I started – with a love for the water and a passion for competing. But I needed to finish with what I’d learned in the last year – that swimming is just something I do and I will continue to do great things when it is over. That I need to carry myself with the dignity and self-respect I’ve learned. And that I need to smile and laugh and cry when I feel it.

My first two races are really a blur now – I was on total autopilot, trying not to feel anything. They went okay, but my speed definitely was not where it had been in the past when I swam my best times. I knew I was going to have to work to pull off a great race in my next one; towards the end, when my legs said they couldn’t kick anymore and my lungs screamed for air, I told them to shut it – this was the last time they would feel it and we were going to finish it. I scored in the event and my time was decent, but I felt the best about the heart I showed at the end of the race.

After that race, I warmed down with a couple of laps and went to rest on our team’s bench before my last two races. And suddenly, it hit me – more than just rationally. Tears started rolling down my face slowly as I fully understood what was going on. I thought about how much strength and courage it took not to give up swimming for the first fourteen years of my career, but then also not to give up in the face of illness and hardship. Though I was never the same swimmer I was before my eating disorder, I did not let my eating disorder or anything else take away the end of my career and finished it out with dignity, which may seem trivial but means so much to me. I got to finish on my terms, not my eating disorder’s. I am so blessed to be able to say that after only beginning recovery about a year ago.

I was sad, and I cried silently for about five minutes. One of my best friends on the team, who also was in her last meet, shared a look with me – but we both knew there were no words. Going into my last race, I just tried to make a concrete memory of the fluid movements and swim gracefully. I was swimming the 100 fly so it’s very dolphin-like and graceful to begin with, but I’ve never been known for my gentleness as a swimmer…more for my intensity and power ;) I think that my broad butterflyer’s shoulders have a lot to do with that. After the 100 fly, a few of my best teammates were behind my block and hugged me as I got out. My coach came over and hugged me, said he was proud of me and that I had overcome so much adversity to finish it out. I had tears in my eyes and told him I couldn’t believe it was all over. Eventually, the meet ended and I went over to talk to my family in the stands. I could tell both my parents had been crying and got to see all the pictures my two sisters (who never come to my meets) had taken. I received congratulations from many parents, and left the pool with a sense of satisfaction and relief.

Yes, I felt some sadness – but I knew that there was so much more to look forward to, so much that the next chapter has to offer. I have so may great opportunities in the works already and have already found a new love – yoga.

Last week, I signed up for our campus’s fitness class membership which allows you access to over 65 group classes/week – including many different yoga classes, spinning class, kickboxing…you get the idea. I went to a yoga class and loved it. I went to a spinning class, which I definitely abused last year during my disorder, and I have to say I honestly was not a fan. I do like spinning classes, but right now I want to feel like I’m giving my body a gift by exercising – not punishing it, like I was obligated to do everyday with swim practice.

So…I’ve been doing yoga about 4 times a week, and I want to run a 10k in april and have been running a little for that. But I check in with myself on a daily basis and make sure that the exercise is something I want to do, something that makes sense – not something I feel compulsive about or I feel obligated to do. There have been a few days mixed in there where I haven’t done anything :) and I don’t feel bad about it. I don’t want to fight my body anymore. I deprived it, punished it, and pushed it too hard for long enough. I know that now is the time for me to make peace with my body once and for all, and yoga is helping me do that. So, I’m sticking with it :)

As sad as swimming ending was, I am so glad it’s over because not only do I have time for yoga now…I have time to do my classwork without feeling so much pressure, I have time to read for pleasure, I have time to watch tv and catch up on blog reading. I just have more time and I really appreciate it and take advantage of it, trying to make the most of the life I have. The first four weeks of this semester have flown by, and it is only a matter of time before undergrad is over and I’ve moved on from life at Cornell.

Life is going to change a lot, and I think that will be reflected here, too :) Stay tuned.

 

 

 

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The one where there is a crossroads

I’m just going to put this out there, right from the outset – something that is still a mystery to me is the effect of the menstrual cycle on the body.  It’s really amazing how a woman’s body can be so greatly affected by hormones just over a few days to create such major changes – or what feel like major changes, I suppose. For me, I’m still getting used to the regular periods and with that the changes in my body and mind that occur once a month.

How did I ever do this before my eating disorder? No clue. It seems like those two years of skipping periods completely rid my memory of what the monthly visitor’s impact was on the body and mood. So naturally, each month I completely forget it’s coming and wonder why my mood goes from awesome to not-so-awesome and my body starts to feel foreign. Then, I track back dates in my head and start to connect the dots…

Basically, over the five or so days I’d been feeling a growing concern about my body that I decide was rational because I’d gained weight or some irrational disordered thought. Then, I realized it was just some water weight that I always put on around my period. But it still made me feel like crap. And of course, what have I always done in the past to make myself feel better? Either restricted fat or calories.

But this time – I felt like I was at a crossroads. The weight didn’t seem like it was going anywhere anytime soon. Clothes were tight. I have to walk around in a bathing suit on a daily basis, and that certainly doesn’t help! But aside from those facts, I realized I had a choice about how to cope.

A.) Do something disordered. Perhaps feel better about my body, but feel in every single other way possible like crap.

B.) Accept that this is a normal part of a woman’s life (regardless of how much it sucks). Eat normally. Move on to more important things – like eating lunch with friends, learning organic chemistry, and throwing snowballs.

In the past when I’d felt a little out of control as far as my body was concerned, I’d grab hold to any disordered behavior I could – regardless of how I knew the behavior was pointless, how it wouldn’t change my body, and how it wasn’t healthy. I’d grab hold on to anything that would make me feel like less of a failure.

This time – I chose option B.  I like to be able to eat what sounds good to me, when I want to eat. I like to be spontaneous and not have to live by any set of made-up rules. And, even though I’m getting used to some of the aspects of a healthy body I decided to keep going in the right direction. To accept that I can’t control my body – it’s going to take the nourishment I provide for it, and run with that. It’s going to do what’s best for me. Eventually, water weight gain will leave but it will also come back, and if that’s the price I pay every four weeks for health then so be it.

It just gives me a real reason to wear yoga pants to class.

I think the real difference here is acceptance. Acceptance that yes – there may be parts of my body that I don’t like, but realizing that I can love my whole body in spite of that. Because I can appreciate my body for what it does rather than what it is.

A really odd analogy is thinking about the brain/mind in this way. I love my brain for what it does – making healthy choices, making vivid memories, allowing me to really feel a plethora of emotions, and studying with a natural curiosity that makes school work worthwhile. Let’s face the facts here – brains aren’t pretty. They’re gray and have weird grooves and indentations. If I said to myself “There are features of my brain that I don’t like – like the fact that it looks like silly putty, or jiggles in the rear” and made myself feel bad about that and took measures to change my brain’s appearance, I wouldn’t be getting very far. The brain is designed to keep itself as healthy as possible, just as our bodies naturally have protective mechanisms to keep them as healthy as possible.

I know it’s weird. But kind of makes sense? ;)

After so many times picking the disordered path, I’ve finally come to a place where I can trust my body and myself and keep going on the path to health. I think it’s because now I see the differences in the paths – the health path is filled with real memories, friends, family, laughter, learning, and dreams for the future. The disordered path is empty. There is no one there – except for the disordered version of myself. There is no curiosity or dreaming, no laughter or friendship. There is loneliness and hopelessness. That path is one I hope to never let myself wander again.

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The one where I shopped around

I know I used the whole “The one..” thing for my last post, but I like the continuity of using it for titles (and honestly, it just is easier in my mind to come up with a title when it starts with that…weird). Anyway, it’s an inspiration from one of my favorite TV shows of all time – Friends – so I’m going to try and keep it that way ;)

This week has been all about “shoppng around” for me – not at the mall or the grocery store, but with classes. It’s our first week of class, which generally means I have 3-4 classes I’m required to take and 1 elective. Being that I’m a second semester senior and only have one requirement left to fulfill before I graduate (AHHH!!!!!) plus the one lab I’m retaking (epic sigh) I have three electives.

Leave a Biology major the choice to take whatever they want for three classes…and you have one seriously confused Biology major.

Since I took and loved my creative writing class last semester, I gravitated towards English classes. I signed up for a more advanced poetry writing class, which was at a popular time and so narrowed my other choices quite a bit. So In addition to that, I was enrolled in “Drugs and Society” (which sounded relatively interesting and I’d heard good things) and Ancient Egyptian Civilization.

Confession – when I was younger, around 5 or 6, I was obsessed with the Ancient Egyptians. I had tons of books on them and a healthy fascination with the pyramids, hieroglyphics, mummification, the pharaohs…the list goes on. Anyway, at that point in my life I asked my mom what kind of career a person could have to go to Egypt and study that pyramids. She told me that I could be an archaeologist, and that is what I decided I wanted to be! That is, until I learned that there are spiders and scorpions in the pyramids and that dream was out.

Naturally, Ancient Egyptian Civ is right up my alley – and the professor is amazing. He’s youngish, funny, and has presence. So that class is in.

Drugs and Society came right after my instant love experience with Egyptian, so admittedly I had high expectations. If my Egyptian prof was so great, why wouldn’t this one be? After all, drugs can’t be made boring! They have a mystique that is inherently interesting.

If anyone could kill drugs, this professor could. He spoke in a monotone the entire time. And so, that class was out, to be replaced by an Intro to comparative lit class that I’d try out the next day before my poetry writing class.

Long story short, the comparative lit class also crashed and burned as well as the poetry writing class, which I am definitely sad about. The professor was extremely uppitty about poetry and really critical, which is not something I was looking for in a class. I kind of just wanted to chill and write a few poems…but that wasn’t in the stars for her. The comparative lit class was just plain boring, and this is my last semester so I decided not to stick with classes that weren’t interesting.

So, I set out yet again to find two electives that fit my schedule and seemed interesting and not too hard. Keep in mind the senioritis-factor here.

I found Human Bonding – which I’ve heard great things about, and which has one of my best friends in it. So that’s in. And a history class called Ancient Greece – from Homer to Alexander. I have always loved history classes and figured that since I loved Egyptian so much this one could be good. I haven’t been to either of these classes yet, but I’ve seen the syllabus for each and I’m just going to stick with them.

Aside from that, part of our team is tapering right now (the group I’m in) which means we’re resting for a meet that’s next weekend to end our season. One of us – whoever swims the fastest – will go on to compete at the championship meet at the end of the season.

Before classes started, all i could think about was how much I wanted to swim at the championship. I have swam at it all three years I’ve been on the team, and I’ve been a finalist at the meet multiple times. But right now – I’m feeling a serious lack of urgency. I find myself day-dreaming about what life is going to be like after swimming, almost in a fantasy-type way. I’m so excited about being able to do whatever I want. And I kind of want that to start in a week and a half (after our last dual meet, which my group is tapering for) rather than at the end of February, which the other group is getting ready for. I’m just excited to be able to do things on my terms – go to office hours that I miss because of swim, go to yoga or go for a short run or to a spin class with my friends, read on my couch. I’ve felt physically fatigued this week, which is a normal phenomenon of the taper period but also makes me wonder if my body and my mental focus can even last another month.

Of course, I want to swim fast at my last meet…if next weekend ends up being my last meet ever. Instead of drawing conclusions from these feelings I’m having, I’m just kind of letting them flit around. If I was having these feelings last year or three months ago, I would have blamed myself and called myself “lazy” and a whole host of unpleasant things. Now I realize that it’s healthy, feelings are just feelings and wanting to be done with swimming doesn’t make me a bad person. It just means I’m curious and want to expand my horizons.

I’m heading to the library to review my organic chem before my lab lecture today. I didn’t learn much the first time around, so I’m just going in with an open mind and going to try to learn slowly this time. That’s all for now! :)

 

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The one where I ended therapy…

Today is a really special day for me – for a variety of reasons. Today is the day of our senior meet, our last meet at our home pool as a senior class. For the seven of us that survived four years of varsity swimming (out of an original fifteen), it’s a culmination of the thousands (yes, thousands) of hours spent toiling away at something we loved, something we were good at, and something that shaped our lives with it’s ups and downs. I spoke with my uncle on the phone last night (he played football for four years at Cornell) about how life changes after sports go from something your life was geared around to something you do entirely for enjoyment, leisure, and freedom. It’s a major transition, but, after sixteen years of swimming, one I am ready for. It’s something I will undoubtedly miss, but hopefully will be able to fill the space with activities I don’t see as a “job” or a “chore” – which is what swimming became more often than not.

Swimming was my thing. And still is, for the next 2-4 weeks. But after that – as my best friend said this morning – it will be “the end of an era.” I won’t have to drag myself to a workout at 5:30 am. I won’t have to jump into an ice cold pool when all I want to do is lay in my bed and read. I’ll be able to golf, to snowboard, to run, to bike, to walk and hike without feeling like I should have gone swimming instead. When I (undoubtedly) get the urge to go and splash around in the pool, that’s exactly what I’ll do – there won’t be any yardage or time goals anymore. There will just be the thrill of diving in the pool and the elation I feel moving in concert with the water.

I won’t spend countless hours at the pool with my friends anymore. But I will be able to see these friends for coffee, a movie, a glass of wine or a girls night in. Or even a spin or yoga class. The friends I’ve made at every level of swimming will stick with me forever. You can’t get up at 5 am to go work your buns off on a saturday morning without bonding ;) That is something I will never forget about my experience, and for which I am extremely grateful.

So – I’m sad but happy. Being honest, I’m more happy than sad. Swimming has been great for all of the reasons I mentioned and many more, but it has also had it’s severe downs and been extremely difficult to continue both physically and mentally. As much as I love competing, at some level the pressure became too intense. It may have been when I decided to be a one-sport athlete, when I first saw swimming as something I was good at instead of something I loved, or when I started swimming D1 and it turned into a job. That pressure is something I will not miss, but I am proud that in spite of that I enjoyed myself, dreamed big, worked my butt off and made memories I will never forget.

Aside from that, today is big for me because I ended therapy (and treatment with my nutritionist) yesterday. While I was on break, I thought a lot about therapy and treatment. Before I left, I knew that I wouldn’t be having an appointment for about five weeks and decided this would be my “trial run” for not having that support anymore. I didn’t think that I needed it anymore, but I wanted to be sure before making that decision. So I went home for the holidays and on training trip and came back to school and I can honestly say I feel good.

Eff that. I feel freaking AMAZING.

This is not to say that if I was going to therapy I wouldn’t feel so good. However, I have the support I need now with my friends and family and have complete faith that support will be there if I need it. And the truth is – I don’t want to give my eating disorder any more of my time. Over the last year, it took away so much. I’m not going to give it anymore.

At the same time, I’m not naive. I realize that I am predisposed to disordered behaviors and will be vigilant about guarding against them. Normally, what I begin to notice is an increase in obsessive thoughts about food. I know that if this starts to happen, I need to be honest with myself and take a look at what I’ve been doing. Right now, I am not having obsessive thoughts…about anything. This is probably the first time since elementary school that this is the case – be it about grades, swimming, my (ex) boyfriend, food, my body, or a bad situation.

I love feeling this freedom. I love feeling good inside. I love the acceptance I have of myself. I have limitations and I’m not perfect. I’d rather sit on my couch with a cup of coffee and a good book than be out saving the world every minute of every day. I’d rather eat honey nut cheerios than kale. Sometimes I’d like to come home after class and roll into bed for a glorious nap instead of studying in the libe. I’d rather enjoy my exercise instead of feeling obligated or compulsive about it…even if that means not exercising on a given day. I’d rather study less before a test instead of getting myself so completely stressed out that I’m burnt out when the test is over.

I decided to stop therapy because I’m confident in my ability to take care of myself, and I’m looking forward to using my new independence. I trust myself for the first time. I trust myself to make good decisions but also allow myself to make mistakes. I trust myself to take care of my body and be healthy, but not be obsessive. I trust myself to say yes when I should – answer the phone when a friend calls, go out for coffee or dessert, go out to a party I want to go to, to ask for help when I need it or offer help to someone else. But I also trust myself to say no when I should – to do work when I need to, to stay in instead of go out when all I want to do is relax, to protect my boundaries from people that take advantage of my willingness to help, and to take an unplanned rest day from whatever exercise I had planned if my body is not wanting it.

Three months ago I never would have thought I’d be in a position to even contemplate stopping treatment. I’m so grateful and so lucky to have worked with the most amazing people. Will I miss my therapist? Yes. I’m going to miss her snark, her perspective, and the humor she allowed me to see in life. She is one of the main reasons I was able to get myself back, to feel alive again – and that is the best gift anyone could ever give another person. I’m sad that I won’t be able to see her on a weekly basis, but only because I genuinely like her as a person and saw her more as a mentor/trusted adult than a stereotypical therapist. I’m going to keep her posted via e-mail, so if I need her I can still get in touch – which is another nice support net I can utilize if I need it.

I think before I graduate I’m going to write her a baller thank you note (as well as to my dieticians, who put up with a lot of complaints and some anger from me over the last year). I personally feel that a well-written, genuine note is a much better thank you/gift to someone than an actual gift. A gift is nice, but kind words can change a life, stick with someone forever, or merely make someone’s day brighter.

School starts Monday – AHHH!! My last semester at Cornell. Updates soon :)

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Over a month…

since my last post! I can’t believe it’s been that long but ’twas a crazy series of events. I took my last final, finished up swim practices for the semester, went home for Christmas, went to Puerto Rico for our swim team training trip, flew back to school and continued training (despite the freezing temperatures and snow in Ithaca) and have had two swim meets. Without classes, the training hours are long everyday and training is more intense – I’ve felt stuck in the perpetual cycle of swim, eat, sleep, repeat every day.

The reason I’d been staying away from my blog – aside from being busy – is that I’ve been trying to separate completely from my eating disorder. Ever since I had to take time off from swim for my concussion, I have been intuitively eating – which appears to really have made a difference in my recovery. It definitely was not easy in the beginning and I’m sure there were a few days that I did not eat as much as a should have; however, now I can honestly say I have re-learned my hunger cues and that eating what my body wants is much more important than what I think my body should need. Life is so much simpler now – for the most part – and obsessive thoughts have declined completely. Throughout the holidays, during training trip and even now I feel more confident in myself and for the first time (probably EVER) I can say that I like myself.

All of this probably sounds really fast or too good to be true, but that’s how it happened. It hasn’t been all “rainbows and butterflies” but now I realize that blaming myself for a negative situation gets me nowhere! It’s really about reacting in a positive way to negative circumstances.

Since so much happened over the break, I thought I’d just list everything as it comes back to me and not in any particular order:

  • I got my grades back, and was ecstatic to see that I’d made Dean’s List again!
  • I have always loved baking, and returned to that love when I went home. I made toffee oatmeal cookies, double chocolate biscotti (my fave with a fresh cup of coffee) and Christmas cookies with homemade icing.
  • I ate cookies. And chocolate. Without feeling “out of control” and stopping when I was satisfied. Not in secret. And not feeling guilty.
  • Instead of swimming every day while I was home, I went to the gym and ran on the treadmill a couple times but also took about 3 days completely off (over ten days).
  • I was supposed to fly out for PR on December 27th, but ended up getting to spend two extra days with my family because of the blizzard that hit the tri-state area! :)
  • Even though I could have gone to swim practice or the gym, I decided to go sledding in said blizzard instead and had a blast
  • My older sister got engaged to her boyfriend of six years! In spite of our differences, I could not be happier for her. Maybe this will let us put our past behind us? My younger sister and I will be co-maids of honor in her wedding, which is extremely exciting. They just set a date of October 8th of this year and there is a ton of planning to do between then and now!
  • I got a “nook” for Christmas – the Barnes and Noble e-Reader. I didn’t ask for it but WOW I absolutely loveeee it!! I have always been an avid reader but didn’t read much during my disorder because I couldn’t focus – happy to say that is something I have overcome and I’ve been reading like crazy :)
  • I swam in my first meet of the season against Yale and was happy with my mindset about the races.
  • I found out that I didn’t get the job in Boston. However, it is completely true that as one door closes, another door opens. Recently I’ve been searching for potential opportunities and have found a lot of jobs that I think will be a better fit for me during my gap year(s).
  • I’ve applied to about ten jobs in the last week, which has required lots of resume updating and switching around, lots of cover letter writing and lots of online applications…in addition to communication with the people writing my recommendations. AKA a crap load of work. And I’m not done yet! I’m trying to get a bunch done before classes start next week but I am so excited about the places I could potentially be next year!
  • I learned to laugh at myself again.
  • Watched my favorite team the New York Jets and my future husband Mark Sanchez beat up on the New England Patriots (FINALLYYY)
  • Realized I kind of like being a rebel when our team went to a sketchy Puerto Rican club and I enjoyed myself to no end (alcohol did its part here).
  • Realized it’s okay to eat sugary cereal and fell in love all over again. Life is so much better when you eat things that taste good.
  • Also fell in love with cheese…again.
  • Became exponentially more comfortable in my own skin and more confident in my abilities. I laugh more now, can concentrate on tasks and don’t doubt my instincts.
  • Had an awesome time while doing all of this!

Honestly, I’ve been really enjoying myself on a daily basis. Yes, there were things that didn’t go so well. I didn’t get the job I was hoping to get. But I realized that everything happens for a reason! This can even apply to my eating disorder. Before my disorder, I was anxious all the time, worried about all the “little things,” did not like myself and never enjoyed myself. I thought to enjoy life I had to achieve tangible goals in swimming and in school. I had no idea that life is not about these things – life is about so much more. It’s about taking a day off from working out to go sledding with family and friends. It’s about taking joy in work and play. It’s about really feeling happiness instead of accomplishment, and following your heart and intuition. It’s about kind words and laughing until you cry.

I hope everyone is experiencing these things in their lives and looking for the good. More posting ahead from me!

 

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Finals finals finalssss

It’s that time of the year that every college student dreads more than any other – finals time. I’ve been ridiculously busy the last week or so with all manner of exams, papers, projects that I’ve barely had time to do anything else. At this point, however, I’m rewarding myself with a much needed study break tonight :) which will consist of a.) this blog post and b.) watching whatever Christmas movie ABC family is featuring tonight. I caught the end of Miracle on 34th Street last night and was amazed when I looked at the TV guide info and saw that movie came out in 1994…when I was 5 years old? Craziness. I guess I am getting old.

The past week or so I’ve been cautiously working my way back up with swim practice – I was [finally] cleared last Tuesday and started out with half an hour of easy swimming. Each day I’ve added ten minutes and added in some intensity. It’s hard to come back and see all my teammates not struggling with some sets that I’ve found difficult, but at the same time I know that I just need to be patient and give myself some time.

I would also like to take a moment to kvetch about my upstairs neighbor. I live in what is essentially a big house with a bunch of different apartments in it. I’m on the second floor of three, and so there is an apartment directly above me. Unfortunately, the floor must be reallyyy thin because when my neighbor walks around up there it sounds like he id deliberately stomping. I know this isn’t the case, and that’s not what bothers me because it’s not really distracting once you get used to it. BUT today was a different story! I’d been sitting at my desk studying for awhile when I hear some singing coming from his apartment through the floor! Now – I’m not the most high maintenance neighbor. But it’s FINALS TIME for pete’s sake!

You know what they say – “The music isn’t too loud…You’re just too old.”

I’d like to think that means I’m wise beyond my 21 years, 9 months and 4 days.

I want to write about something before I see my therapist tomorrow, whom I haven’t seen in three weeks for a variety of reasons. First, we had Thanksgiving Break, then she was sick and then she was at a conference. And I haven’t had an appointment with my nutritionist since before Thanksgiving either. Normally, all of this would bother me because part of recovery is “showing up” – you have to make these appointments and go out of your way to get better.

The thing is, though, that over the last three weeks I think I’ve made some really great progress…without really trying. I just feel…content. I’ve been studying for finals, yes, but not stressing. I’ve been taking care of myself. And the strangest thing is – I feel a lot better now that I’m not following a meal plan or counting my calories. I’ve just been eating what I want to eat, when I want to eat, and trusting my body and its instincts.

Sure, it hasn’t been perfect. There have been a few times where I’ve had to go longer than I’d like without eating – for example, when I was driving from Boston to Ithaca. However, instead of using the missed snack/smaller meal as an excuse to restrict I just ate more when I got to my destination.

And the best part is – I didn’t think twice about it. I didn’t stop to think “Is eating all of this going to make me gain weight/is eating this going to help me lose fat and gain muscle/is eating this best for my health/is eating this the best choice?”

I merely contemplated what I wanted to eat and ate it. And if I got hungry later, I did the same thing. And I’ve been doing that for the last three weeks. And it makes me feel so…normal. It’s almost like I’ve really let go of a lot of the parts of my disorder that were holding me back.

And the strangest part is – I stopped working so hard at recovery. For the longest time I was trying to push myself and would berate myself internally if I was obsessing over food/feeling guilty about my meal plan/etc. because I wanted to just be better. I wanted to be rid of my eating disorder so badly that I wasn’t giving myself room to just be. All of that anger got me nowhere fast and left me feeling badly about my body and myself, all the time, which inevitably fueled the cycle of disordered behaviors.

I don’t know where exactly I crossed a line, but I can trace it back to not being able to exercise after my concussion. The first week or so I was a mess. I felt like I couldn’t eat the things I wanted to because I wasn’t exercising.

After about a week of that, I realized that YES – people DO get hungry when they don’t exercise and are just chilling on the couch. More importantly, I was getting hungry. And as my concussion didn’t get better and I was out of exercise for a total of three and a half weeks, I just started eating what I wanted to eat when I was hungry. If I’m being completely honest, I did do something without my nutritionist’s “permission” – she had told me to make sure I was getting a certain number of calories since I wasn’t exercising, but I decided to trust my hunger instead. I’m fairly certain I averaged around what she said, but didn’t count because I don’t want those boundaries in my life anymore. Counting also requires measurement of food and thinking about nutritional facts, and that is just something I don’t want to waste my mental space on anymore.

It’s almost like once I stopped trying so hard and just trusted myself, I let go of a lot of what was left of my disorder. This is not to say I’m perfect; I still get thoughts, but I catch myself and instead of beating myself up over it I move on. I’ve made mistakes, and I will continue to make mistakes, but making myself miserable over things is not going to get me anywhere.

I feel so much more…healthy. I feel vibrant. And to be honest, since I haven’t been to the nutritionist I haven’t been weighed in over three weeks and I haven’t even thought about weight gain or loss. I’ve been thinking about finishing up my classes, sending in my application to graduate (YESYESYES) and thinking about Christmas and what I’m going to be doing next year. I’ve been thinking a lot about the job I interviewed for and how much I hope I get the phone call saying they would like me to work for them next August. I’m thinking about the people I love and how relationships always have some form of difficulty – but in the end it’s worth it to be close to people rather than be afraid of getting hurt. I’ve also thought about myself and what I want to do and the kind of person I want to be. For the first time – maybe EVER – I haven’t scrutinized my reflection in the mirror. In fact, I like what I see. I accept that there are parts of my that aren’t perfect, but they never will be, and there are physiological reasons for that beyond my control.

My eating disorder doesn’t fit anywhere in any of those things. I’m ready to let go of the misery, of the self-deprivation, of the constant fear and anxiety.

I’m ready to just live my life – to eat gingerbread pancakes with butter and maple syrup (which I did this morning after a tough practice-woo!), to spend time with the people I care about laughing and making memories, to move on with my life and do something bigger than me next year.

As a side note – I got some really great news on Tuesday that I didn’t share with anyone. I thought about telling my mom, but realized I want to have something that I accomplished be just for me – I don’t want recognition for it. It’s nice to know it, just for myself. But I figure that saying it on my blog is NBD because I don’t keep secrets here – haha. Anyway, I wrote a poem awhile back for my Creative Writing class…I posted it here too, but I don’t remember when…probably September or October. I had to write a sonnet, and chose to write a “good-bye” sonnet to my eating disorder. I really liked the way it came out, and shared it with my mom. She encouraged me to submit it for publication, but I didn’t really take her seriously.

About two weeks after that, I got an e-mail from a Cornell listserv for a women’s literary magazine calling for submissions. Their mission seemed in line with what I had written, so I sent it along with a little description about the meaning and how many women eating disorders affect in the U.S. I didn’t think much of it, and completely forgotten I’d even submitted it until Tuesday, when I received an e-mail from the editor.

The first e-mail was a mass e-mail to everyone who had submitted work for the magazine, saying that they’d had lots of submissions so they had to be very selective – most people’s work hadn’t made it into this magazine, but they thanked everyone and encouraged everyone to submit again in the spring.

The second e-mail I got was one congratulating me for my work being selected to be published in the Fall edition! This e-mail brought tears to my eyes because I never even considered that – writing the poem was rewarding, but I just didn’t think it was good enough to be published. I feel honored to be recognized in such a way, and also so amazing about being able to do my part to spread awareness about eating disorders.

Wellll that was quite a long post, so if you made it to the end – thanks!! :) Hopefully everyone is enjoying the holiday season as much as possible thus far.

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