Friday, February 27, 2015

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness week, I am writing a little about my story.  It’s a story I’ve told often and have never been ashamed of, and admittedly my struggles have created in me a much stronger adult – though my heart still resides on my sleeve and my feelings are easily hurt.  But I have found that for each year I am healthy, I gain a little bit more perspective on my journey.

In Good Company: National Eating Disorder Awareness Week
I do not own the rights to this image.

In conversations I have had about my history with anorexia and bulimia, people tend to have the same two questions: “What caused it?” and “How did you stop?

Moms of daughters are always more persistent in their quest for answers – understandably so.  Disappointingly, I never have the answers they are looking for.  I don’t even really know the answers myself.

I suppose some people have vivid memories of the first time they stuck a finger down their throat – I don’t.  Many women remember the how exhilarating it felt to their crooked brain to feel the control of skipping that first meal – I don’t.  I don’t remember any of the firsts of my disorders.  It was almost as if it took over my body and brain and my job became to find ways to feed the disease, to get better at it and hide it.

Like most people with eyes, ears, and a pulse, I was – and still am – affected by media’s portrayal of women.  The images of how women are supposed to look, how we should act, and how we must dress can make the most confident woman become self-conscious.  I was born in the early 80s, the beginning of the age of the Cardio Bunny, every other commercial was of Suzanne Summers and her fabulous Thigh-Master, Jenny Craig was begging every woman to call her catchy 800 number to become part of her weight-loss program, and diet pills were dangerous and easy to come by – all of that taught me very early that my body was not okay.  But did any of that alone cause my eating disorders?  No.  Contributing factors to my insecurities and self-hate?  Absolutely.  But not likely the cause.

I wasn’t abused or bullied or abandoned or starved like some of the horrific stories that are being told.  My childhood was probably charmed compared to many.

My mom has always had a battle with the shape of her body – and, for her, I think it can be directly attributed to the way she has been spoken to about it.  When she was a lean and beautiful 16 year old, her dad told her she shouldn’t go anywhere in the bikini she was wearing because of her fat thighs.  Can you guess which part of her body she hates the most?  And, consequently, what my sister and I have always hated about our bodies?  If you guessed our thunder thighs (that I’m not really even sure are that big), you’d be right.  I remember very clearly my dad knowing that weight was the button he could always push with her.

While I have very early memories of exercising with my mom, it was always with the motivation of body-hate rather than caring for the shell in which we live.

When I was maybe five, my gymnastics coach made a cruel comment about my weight bending one of the parallel bars.  I was not a chubby kid, quite the opposite, in fact.  Likely she was making a joke.  But this particular coach had already done the groundwork for breaking me down by teasing me mercilessly about my clumsiness.  I don’t remember if I ever went back after that.  In first grade a classmate said I had a fat stomach – I didn’t; and a lunch lady told me I had a big butt – again, I didn’t.  Those were the first times that I felt body shame – and I still struggle with hating my stomach today.

When I was 8, I remember going through a Babe’s drive-thru with my mom and her friend Lloyce.  I desperately wanted a cookie to go along with my meal.  My mom said no –because I had either had enough sweets that day or, more likely, I was being an asshole and didn’t deserve an extra treat.  As I pouted and sulked in the backseat (putting on a very dramatic show), the woman in the drive-thru handed my mom a free cookie to cheer me up.  Obviously she had no idea that I was acting like a brat over said cookie.  This was the first time I understood the satisfaction of emotional eating, and also pairing together of manipulation and food.

In fourth grade, while I was rail thin (and clumsy to go along with it) I had an enormous appetite.  My parents even introduced me to new neighbors as their “bottomless pit”.  The same year, my sister advised me to stop telling people how much I loved to eat and that I would eat all day and night if I could – she said it was embarrassing.  So then, even though both happenings were quite innocent, introduced to me was food shame.

The end of fifth grade is when I began restricting food, and I was hospitalized for the first time in the seventh grade when my 5’6” body weighed only 89 pounds.  During that 40 day hospital stay, I was in a wheelchair for fear that too much exertion would give me a heart attack.  In 8th grade, I began stealing my mom’s diet pills and in high school I started buying my own.  I was hospitalized again twice my junior year, once after an attempted suicide.  In early adulthood I still struggled, but was much better at hiding it.

There was no one situation that flipped a switch in my brain that made me stop eating or begin purging.  There was no one moment that began it all for me.  And while there were many foundational incidents that contributed to my attitude about my body, depression and addiction are in my genes.  I was predestined to have OCD and a hormone syndrome that makes controlling my weight nearly impossible (likely the reason my eating disorders were so bad during puberty).

Everyone who struggles with an eating disorder has a different story, a different trigger.  Had any part of my story been different or removed, I likely still would have dealt with an eating disorder.  No one is to blame, not media, not that bitchy gymnastics teacher, and certainly not my parents (who did everything they possibly could, and spent nearly every penny they had on my counseling and hospital bills).

And eventually, just as my diseases started, they sort of just… stopped.  I don’t know if it was that the years of therapy had finally clicked or if the beginning of my relationship with Mr. B was enough of a positive that the negative stuff just began fading away.  Maybe all of my mom's desperate prayers finally worked.  Maybe I was finally on the right anti-depressant.  Whatever it was, I got better (I won’t say healthy, because I didn't even understand what healthy meant until the last few years).

That’s not to say that I haven’t had short periods of struggle throughout the last ten years of our marriage.  But I know how to deal with it now, I know how to talk about it, and, most importantly, I know when and how to ask for help.  CrossFit has been instrumental in keeping me healthy in both body and mind.

While I can’t say for sure what will help or prevent your child’s case (because it is so hard to know what will stick in each person’s brain); I can say this – model positive self-talk for children.  Just as your children will mimic your behaviors and mannerisms, they will copy your words and thoughts and actions – but amplified.  I am not perfect at this.  Just this week, Little K overheard me saying I was fat.  And then later he told me I was fat.  He wasn’t being cruel, he was talking to me how I taught him to talk to me.  And now, I have to somehow make him unlearn that lesson in talking to women (and also himself).

In front of your children – and always – speak kindly about your spouse’s body.  Speak kindly about other people’s bodies.  Teach your children how to be active without teaching them to punish their bodies.  Show your daughters and sons (because eating disorders do not only affect girls) how to eat healthy without introducing them to shame.  Let them understand that what they see in magazines is not real.  Let them see you walk proudly in a swimming suit.  Let them see your stretch marks and cellulite and teach them that those flaws aren’t really flaws at all.

In Good Company: National Eating Disorder Awareness Week
I do not own the rights to this image.

If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder of any kind, please get help.  I know it can be scary.  I understand that when your brain is warped and twisted from the disease, the word healthy is heavily associated with the word fat.  Know that it’s not true.  Your health and your body and your mind are worth saving.

In Good Company: National Eating Disorder Awareness Week
I do not own the rights to this image.

Be healthy.  Love yourself.  And thank you for keeping me In Good Company.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Getting There

Sometimes I forget I’m fat.  Honestly.  Before when I lost nearly 100 pounds, I had a hard time seeing myself as thin and healthy and continued to feel like a big girl even after I wasn’t.  By the time I had finally merged my brain and body, I blossomed back into the chubster that I am now.  And, yet again, my brain is late to catch up.  It’s not that I think I look like a CrossFit Games athlete or anything, but I just forget that I’ve gotten so big.
I will feel pretty confident and then see a picture of myself or spot my reflection after a shower and realize with shame that I look like Pizza the Hut from Space Balls.

In Good Company: Getting There
I do not own the rights to this image.

When I was updating the Before and During page of this blog, Little K happened to spot one of my thinner pictures.  “Who’s that, mommy?”  “That’s me, buddy.”  “No it’s not.”  As I continued to scroll up and my body became bigger and bigger in the photos, he said, “That’s not you, that’s not you, that’s not you, that’s not you.  There you are!”  He finally recognized me in a picture that is less than flattering.

In Good Company: Getting There
Yep, there I am...

Kids are honest to a fault.  But it was a bit of an eye-opening moment for me to realize how he sees me, to realize that he doesn’t even recognize me when healthy.

After two weeks of some pretty significant changes in my diet and exercise regimen, I feel simultaneously great and terrible.

I am fairly restricted in my food choices and, to be honest, I am lusting over the giant batch of untouched margaritas in my refrigerator.  I have forced myself to be considerate of what I am putting into my body – which is exactly what I should be doing all of the time, not just during the Lenten season.

Four consecutive days of CrossFit has left me exhausted and sore, but invigorated.  I have struggled through the fourth WOD (workout of the day) both this week and last, but I am pushing myself like I haven’t been able to do in a long time – if ever.

In Good Company: Getting There
I do not own the rights to this image.

While my journey has always been more about being healthy than losing pounds, it has been reassuring that I am already seeing some of my gained weight come off.  There will be a point when I will stop losing weight, and the progress I see will be only at the gym.  This is why I am focusing on the integrity of my movements, the amount of weight on the bar, the intensity I use, and the amount of time in which I can perform a WOD (so… CrossFit, in a nutshell).

I am fortunate to have such a great support system.  Mr. B is genuinely interested each day in how my WOD went and is quick to praise my progress.  My close friend Sar is also one of my CrossFit coaches, and just having her aware of my goals and invested in my progress has been keeping me accountable.

As I write, my right calf is on the verge of cramping, my shoulders are knotted up, my ass and hamstrings are sore, and I have no drive left in my hips; yet I am considering going back tomorrow for a fifth WOD this week – because the feelings of strength and pride far outweigh the exhaustion and sore muscles (it’s also the first WOD of The Open, which I have yet to register for).

In Good Company: Getting There
I do not own the rights to this image.

And while I would love to share an entire bottle of wine with myself, I won’t.  Because eating well makes my body and mind feel good.  I’m not at a point, yet, where I can eat a cookie without eating nine.  Maybe by Easter, but I have a feeling this road I am on right now will be longer lasting than just 40 days.

Be healthy.  Push yourself.  Thank you for keeping me In Good Company.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Kelsey Lately: Words and Rambles

I have had so much on my mind lately that I haven’t been able to get anything out into sensible words that make paragraphs that logically flow into one another.  So another Kelsey Lately it is.

Kelsey Lately: Words and Rambles
*disclaimer: I cannot promise you there will be any rhyme, reason, or systematic approach to what follows*

{During my Girl Scout cookie binge, I threatened to punch Mr. B when he tried to take my cookies away.  Really.  I just felt like you should know that so you could feel better about yourself.  I suppose that’s really a testament to the addictive and brain-altering properties of sugar.  I haven’t consumed any sweets for seven days and I’m finally out of my fog.  The first two days made me feel like I had quit smoking all over again; I was grouchy and my brain was extremely cloudy.  So, while I am still craving a giant bowl of ice cream – and have been dreaming about eating donuts – I’m not inclined to punch anyone in the esophagus over it.

And aside from not getting the dogs walked, Lent is going really well.

{I CrossFitted four days in a row last week, as promised.  By the end of day three, my legs were dead.  My everything hurt.  On day four, my hips had nothing to give to the never-ending rowing that was thankfully part of a team WOD.  But I love it.  The three days of rest at the end of the week made it seem more bearable.  But I’m excited for this week’s WODs to start.  I’m ready to build endurance and be able to go to CrossFit four days in a row without having to take daily naps – because I literally napped every day last week.  I know that soon I will have enough built up energy to feel like I can still work hard on the fourth day.  I’m ready.

{Little K recently had to get glasses.  And I think he’s the most adorable thing ever.  I not-so-secretly love that he and I are both bespectacled now.

Kelsey Lately: Words and Rambles

Kelsey Lately: Words and Rambles
Bespectacled Us.

{I also think that Little K is an adorable little a-hole sometime.  Because, let’s face it – all kids are a-holes (some more adorable than others).  But I recently discovered that when I had been asking him to put his clean clothes away in his room, he was actually throwing them in his dirty clothes hamper.  I’m embarrassed to say that it took me a little too long to realize why I had been having to do so much more laundry.  But when I found nine (nine!) pairs of folded socks mixed in with his dirty clothes, I was pissed.  He didn’t even try to hide the evidence.  He tried to deny it, but is a terrible liar.  Sigh

{As Mr. B was driving in heavy traffic yesterday, I was trying to give him directions.  After he couldn’t hear me the third time, I was super irritated – because selective hearing.  “Oh my God.  You need a hearing aid.  Seriously!  How can you not hear me?”  I glanced back at Little K, who had somehow found a pair of ear-phones at exactly the right moment.  When he knew he had caught my eye, he smirked and said, “I didn’t want to listen to you yell, so I put these on.

Kelsey Lately: Words and Rambles
Funny little stinker.

{At CrossFit, the very day after a humiliating incident with an over-flowing toilet, I embarrassed myself, yet again.  I guess I wasn’t really embarrassed, more like everyone was embarrassed for me.  It was the last WOD of the week and I was lacking in clean workout clothes.  So I wore the yoga pants that are really emergency-only pants – I know you have some of those too, the ones that have a hole in a seam and creep down when you bend over, but that work in a pinch.  As I was rowing, my coach was sitting behind the rowing machines giving cues about using hips and rowing harder (I was ignoring him, by the way).  I was super worried about my pants so I said, “C can you please not sit there?  My butt crack hangs out of these pants and I really don’t want you back there.”  For the record, he owns the gym and can sit wherever he damn well pleases.  I hear one of my friends say, under her breath, “Oh my God, Kelsey!”  C said, “I didn’t see anything.”  “Well it’s not out there yet, but it’ll sneak up on you!” I said.  Honestly I just didn’t want anyone to see my ass.  Luckily, my pants stuck to my sweat and all eyes were spared that day.

{I decided to try to make my own sandwich bread, using my grandma’s roll recipe, but replacing the white flour with whole grain.  It was disgusting.  A disgrace to my grandma, really.  But, despite a loaf of bread that looked like a turkey, I still feel pretty confident in my bread making abilities (I just need to find a better recipe for loafs).  So on this snowy evening, I made homemade whole wheat baguettes along with the Pioneer Woman’s Broccoli Cheese Soup.  Each recipe had a miniscule amount of white flour per serving, but I didn’t really feel like it was breaking Lent, seeing as how there is white flour hidden in much of what we eat.  Both turned out deliciously, though Mr. B would prefer the soup to less chunky (I thought it was perfect).  Little K thought the soup as all-around disgusting.

Kelsey Lately: Words and Rambles

Kelsey Lately: Words and Rambles

{Through the generosity of some of our wonderful friends, we took Little K to his first KU Jayhawks basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse.  For Mr. B and I, it was a little like taking Little K to first communion.  We were so excited, as was he.  If you’ve never experienced a game at Allen Fieldhouse, go.  I get chills every single time I watch the opening traditions video.  Little K was absolutely thrilled to tour the impressive museum, take a picture with Baby Jay, and to cheer on the team.  After the game, I asked him to tell me about his favorite part of the experience.  His answer?  “The niminims.”  For those of you that don’t speak 5-year old, that’s M&Ms.  Out of the whole night, his favorite part was the small $5.00 package of M&Ms.  I guess at least he didn’t say it was having to go pee 800 times – but that was probably a close second.

Kelsey Lately: Words and Rambles
A chip off the ol' block.

Kelsey Lately: Words and Rambles
Our little Jayhawk family.

Kelsey Lately: Words and Rambles
It gets LOUD in there, earplugs are necessary.

Kelsey Lately: Words and Rambles
Baby Jay with Little K

{Little K started gymnastics at the beginning of the month.  Our hope is that he will improve in balance and coordination.  Because he’s my child, he could cut his arm off in a circular padded room.  I also hope that he makes gains in confidence and bravery.  The balance beam terrifies him and he told his instructor that he felt like he was going to fall and break his head open on the uneven bars.

Kelsey Lately: Words and Rambles

{After a debate about 50 Shades of Grey with friends and strangers on Facebook (you know, I really have not missed it at all this week – Instagram is a completely different story), I decided I was absolutely the most liberal of my close circle of friends.  My stance is not that the books are well written – quite the opposite actually, or that it’s an excellent story – it’s not.  My points were that there is so much worse out there.  I don’t really find the movies or books a faith issue.  It’s about fictional characters who are into some kinky shit – one has a horrible past and the other grows out of being a shrinking violet.  The psychological evolution of the characters fascinated me.  I don’t intend to see the movies, simply because the books weren’t good enough to make me want to see the movies.  I guess my frustration with the opposition lies in opinions and misinformation being shoved around by people who haven’t actually read the books or seen the movies. 

Then my friend Sar sent me a link to an article by Jamie the Very Worst Missionary (click here to read it – I’ll wait).  Here was my response to her:  “Touché.  She is absolutely right.  It gave me a lady-boner and made me have more sex for a while.  I think the points about loving Ana’s character more than Christian’s are spot on.  I remember saying when I read the books that if a man wanted that from me I would have run far far away.  He’s not the hero of the books, she is.  And it’s the money and rocking hot bod that make it seem acceptable.  So, while I still don’t think it’s the worst thing out there, I get the opposition.  Man, I hate being wrong.” 

I may hate being wrong, but I love having friends who are my friends despite where we stand on certain issues (and friends that love me regardless of texting them the word “lady-boner”).

{I believe in stricter gun laws.  I am very left-winged.  However, I married into a family of gun-slingers.  So finally, after being with Mr. B for nearly 13 years, I asked him to take me out to his family’s ranch and teach me how to shoot.  He was a little afraid I was plotting his demise because of my sudden interest.  But really it was because I read Jen Mann’s book People I Want to Punch in the Throat (which I loved), and the chapter about her mom’s group going to the local gun range made it seem fun.  So Mr. B and his brother taught me to shoot a 12-gauge shotgun, a Ruger .22 pistol, and a Glock 9 millimeter pistol.  I will admit that it was pretty fun (particularly when I hit the targets).  I won’t be hunting any time soon (read: never), and I still believe in stricter gun laws.  But it was fun.

Kelsey Lately: Words and Rambles
Before: I'm not so sure about this.

Kelsey Lately: Words and Rambles
After: It was freezing cold and they did not want to take a picture.

That’s all!  Like I said, no rhyme nor any reason to this post.  But with so many words and stories swirling around in my brain, it was necessary.

Thank you for keeping me In Good Company.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fat and Lent

Friday at work, an adorable little girl came in selling Girl Scout cookies.  I adamantly told my coworkers that I would not be buying any cookies because I have no self-control.  I stupidly went to the front desk and after seeing the pictures of the cookies on the order form, I started writing a check to pay for five boxes of cookies.  I left with my bag of bad decisions and vowed not to open a single box.

Before Mr. B got home from work that night, I had eaten an entire box of Carmel Delights.  I was going to try to defend myself by saying they are tiny boxes of minuscule cookies (and it is sort of close to my cycle); but who am I kidding?  I tried to lie by omission by saying, “I spent $20 on Girl Scout cookies today.  There are four boxes in the cabinet.”  I felt too guilty and fessed up about my bender.

Fat and Lent - -- In Good Company
I do not own the rights to this image.

I’ve successfully gained a shit ton of weight.  It’s not muscle.  I feel gross, and I keep trying to motivate myself, but I keep sucking at the follow-through.  The last time I stepped on the scale was a few weeks ago and it told me I was a depressing 220 pounds (only God knows what I'm up to now).  Yet I still keep making terrible choices.  My willpower is broken.  I say things like, “I got this!”  And I mean it, but my initiative only lasts momentarily.
Fat and Lent - -- In Good Company
I cried when I saw the last picture of myself.  Cried.

Now it is Sunday, and I have inhaled an impressive disappointing shocking horrifying undisclosed amount of cookies.  I keep doing that – sabotaging myself.  I will have a great week at the gym, and start to see some strength progress, and then I eat my weight in sugar and start hating myself all over again.  I ended a 51 hour binge this afternoon when I went to hear my close friends speak about their recent service trip to a Haiti.  Fitting, right?
Fat and Lent - -- In Good Company
This happened.  Really.
I do not own the rights to this image.

{  This Wednesday will begin the Lenten season.  Typically I give up something that will help me with my personal health goals – like chocolate.  The way I see it, I was gifted this body, and caring for my body also honors God.  Often I give up Facebook, only to replace it with an obsession with Pinterest or Instagram or Twitter.  But I started thinking about all of the areas of my life which I am lacking in honoring the blessings that have been bestowed upon me.

So I came up with a list.  A list of the areas I want to improve upon.  A list of places to improve upon.  A list of things that I have been given and am thankful for, and want to be intentional about nurturing.  The list is: Body, Health, Mind, Spirit, Faith, Marriage, Family, Friends, and Pets.

I then added ideas on how to nurture and love each area.  Subtracting or adding actions for each one.  I suppose, if you want to get picky, not every area is a sacrifice, but it is being purposeful, and they all take time, and they all are acts of loving intently.  Some things are quite simple – maybe just something I need to remind myself to do.  Some are more time-consuming.  My hope is that this Lenten season will pour into the rest of the year.

This is what I settled upon:

Body – Do a CrossFit WOD 4 times each week.  No exceptions.

Health – No pop, juice, alcohol, sweets, fast food, chips, or white flour.

Mind – Sit down and write 2 times each week.  No exceptions.

Spirit – Pray daily.

Faith – Go to church on Sundays when in town.

Marriage – More bow-chicka-bow-wow.

Family – No Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Time Hop, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Friends – Send one card each week.

Pets – Walk the girls 3 times each week.  No exceptions.

I almost gave up peanut butter, lattes, and BuzzFeed.  But I couldn’t.  I just couldn’t.

I showed my list to Mr. B and then asked him his favorite part.  He answered my question by repeating my question.  “Easter,” I deadpanned.  }

Always an over-sharer, I guess I’m looking for a little accountability.  I haven’t felt of any use to anyone since gaining weight (because I’m not success story anymore).  I want to be in body, soul, relationships, and spirit.  Because I know I need these changes, I am beginning Lent tomorrow instead of Wednesday.

To help me, I found a really great weekly to-do list that I can schedule in my acts of intention.  The bright colors satisfy my artistic self, and the time blocks really feed my OCD needs.

Fat and Lent - -- In Good Company
 I do not own the rights to this image.
To print your copy, click here.

I hope that this season will be a season of dedication to change – a season of prayerful intentions – a season of developing self-control (the Fruit of the Spirit I’ve always lacked).

Thank you, as always, for keeping me In Good Company.

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