I think balance is the key to living a happy life. It would make sense though, seeing as we are surrounded by balance. Nature is full of examples of perfect balance – night/day, heat/cold, summer/winter, sunshine/rain. Without these elements our lives would be incomplete – they would be lacking something. They say you can’t appreciate the day until you’ve gone through the night, you can never appreciate health unless you’ve been sick. You’ll never know how wonderful the sunshine is until you’ve weathered the rain and storms.
Despite this philosophy I find my life has not always been prone towards balance. I was always a perfectionist – and thus had a very “all or nothing at all” mentality. I would work till I could barely stand, study till I couldn’t think straight and exercise till I had strength to do little else then colapse. Whatever I did I wanted to be the best at it. Very rarely was this done because I wanted to somehow “impress” those around me. No, I did it because I thought it’s what I needed to do. On some deep, primary level I think I must have believe that being perfect would make me happy.
All these tendencies escalated as I became entrenched in an ED. There was no more joy, spontaneity or sparkle in my life. Everything was meticulously thought of, pre-planned and executed. I lost that sparkle, that joy that comes from trying something new or different. The joy was litterlay sucked out of my life and everything became a drugery. At this point I was literally existing – not living.
Recovery was the best thing I’ve ever done. Slowly but surely light crept back into my life. I started smiling and laughing again, I learned that there was more important things than food and weight. I started the road of acceptance of who I was and I learned to appreciate that. I learned to say no when I was asked to do something I genuinely couldn’t, I learned failing at something wasn’t the end of the world, I learned that not doing everything on my do-to list didn’t make me a worse person. In short – I began to learn balance.
Today however I realized something. I was out enjoying the sunshine (summer- I welcome you with open arms) with my youngest brothers and dad. We had some business to take care of in town and on the way to our next appointment we stopped for ice-cream. Or rather they did. I stood by the sidelines and since I wasn’t offered any I didn’t insist. A few minutes later my dad asked “I know you’ll probably say no, but do you want some ice-cream?”.
I froze. The first thing I thought of was – “Man, I have no idea how much sugar and artificial flavoring is in that. I don’t want to pump my body with THAT”. Then I stopped to think “Do I WANT this ice-cream?” I wasn’t really craving it, but I wouldn’t mind something cool and refreshing. And my surprisingly first reaction was the deciding factor in me enjoying a scoop of strawberry ice-cream.
My final decision was based on the fact that I realized the first thing that popped into my mind was a sign of a lack of balance somewhere. Since when was food nothing more then fuel? Since when did everything have to be 100% healthy in order for us to eat it? Since when have small treats like this stop being a part of my diet? I realized that my healthy eating – although motivated by the right reasons – has potential to become extreme and if I don’t make exeptions once in a while.
I think it’s an important point to remember, especially for those who have had ED’s in the past. Healthy eating is great – but BALANCE is crucial for it to continue to benefit you. When you find it hard to enjoy treats and others indulge in on a regular basis – things are getting out of hand.
I’m happy I realized this now, because I always thought I was immune to that sort of thing. Sure others could become obsessive about healthy eating – but I wasn’t one of those people. But as soon as I felt that apprehension over eating ice-cream , I knew it was wrong.
Food should never be feared. It’s good to make smart food choices, but once food becomes our enemy and not our friend – something’s gotta change.
What are your thought on the matter?