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When I was a chronic dieter, I saw each new diet as a way to start over and wipe the slate clean. It would be as though my recent binge eating episodes never happened, and I was on my way to the body — and therefore, life –– of my dreams.
Of course, that’s not how dieting works. Within a week, I’d be back to my binge eating ways, feeling like a failure, uncomfortable in my skin, unhappy with life, wanting so badly to just be a “normal,” happy-go-lucky eater. I wanted to undo it all and start over.
I’ve since realized our past is what makes us who we are today.
I know it sounds cliché, but it’s so true. Facing a life-threatening eating disorder head-on meant I came out on the other side a much stronger, more confident person, and I’m forever building on that inner strength.
During my darkest times, I was a mere shell of the person I am today. I believe finding the courage to get help and work hard at recovery gave me the push I needed to clean up other areas of my life as well.
We can’t erase the past, but it’s up to us to move forward and create a life which serves us well, surrounded by people who support us.
We can’t undo what has been done, but we can work toward change and get excited about a new chapter of life.
Recently, I made some major changes in my own life. Along the way I discovered when I honor my intuition and make self-care a priority, I feel better equipped to power onward in my recovery journey. It’s as though making difficult life decisions — which often means saying good-bye to people, things, or routines that no longer make sense for us, comforting or familiar as they may be — somehow empowers me to stay the course and be good to myself.
One particular area of life which needed attention was my exercise routine. For years I’d been getting up every morning at an ungodly hour to work out to one of the many exercise DVDs I own. Slowly, I noticed I was getting little to no joy from my morning sweat sessions. It was hard to admit this to myself, but I finally realized I was working out because I thought I had to. I acknowledged I was afraid of getting fat if I stopped.
I also realized I was living according to what I perceived other people’s standards and expectations to be.
For most of my adult life, I was the healthy food and fitness obsessed girl in my circle of friends and in my family.
If I stopped working out so much, what would happen to my identity? What would fill the void?
One day I just decided to stop working out. No more lung-busting cardio intervals. No more weight workouts that left me barely able to walk the next day.
I would find gentle, feel-good movement I enjoyed, and I would let go of this intense fitness lifestyle I’d been clinging to for so long.
I had mixed feelings the day I boxed up my gigantic library of fitness DVDs. I felt a little lost, a little empty, but I also felt proud. In that box, I mentally placed my desire of having six-pack abs, along with any other unrealistic body expectations I was holding onto, and I immediately felt at peace.
It was almost like my body was saying, thank you, breathing a sigh of relief. I also unsubscribed from any hardcore fitness-related social media I’d been following. That alone was incredibly powerful, and did wonders for my self-esteem and the way I view my body.
This new beginning, in the way I physically care for myself, made me wonder what other areas of my life might be in need of some shifting.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in routine or what is comfortable and feels “normal” we forget just how much life has to offer. We forget we don’t have to settle.
Around this same time, I was involved in a serious long-term relationship — serious enough that we had moved in together. Over time, I started to see just how incompatible we were, and the relationship had turned more stressful than joyful. We’d moved fast, and despite my best efforts to work through our problems, they didn’t seem to improve.
It was a hard decision to make, and I agonized over it for weeks, but in the end I listened to my gut and ended it. I knew it was the right decision when I immediately felt relief. I’ll never forget this particular relationship, but my heart is full today as I embrace a new beginning in my love life. I know I’ll use what I’ve learned and experienced up to this point to make my next relationship even better.
This empowering theme of starting fresh has summed up the last few months of 2015 for me. In general, I find myself caring less what other people think. I find myself saying no more when I don’t want to do something, and yes more to things that make me truly happy.
A new beginning, for me, means doing everything I can to make my life how I want it to be. Making my own rules and my own happiness a priority has set me free.
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