Nutrition

Acceptance, Willingness, and Committed Action

12 weeks into treatment and this fact becomes more clear to me every day: There are 3 components involved with change- Accepting that it's necessary, being willing to make a change, and committing to do and following through on it.  It's tough as hell. Acceptance:

Everyday I become more accepting of the fact that I will likely struggle with an eating disorder for the rest of my life. However, I don't have to let it rule me and can be in control of my actions.  I accept that my eating disorder is an evil thing that will sneak in at any moment and attempt to sabotage my efforts at recovery.  As hard as it is to admit this, it's what is going to make recovery possible for me.  5 years ago I entered treatment for the first time at the age of 20 with the belief that "I'm going to walk out of the door of this facility completely recovered and never think about me eating disorder again." Well, that certainly wasn't the case was it?  It would be inaccurate for me to think this is something that will go away, however, I know that I can lead a life that will provide the tools and strength to get through this and live a life based on values, hope, and free of darkness.

I can also accept that I do deserve a life that is free of guilt, shame, and loneliness. I accept that some days it will be very hard, but I also know that some days it will be easier.  We all deserve a life like that and it's in our human rights to be happy. But we don't have to be happy all the time; life includes feelings of sadness, happiness, love, and heartbreak.  And we need to accept that.

Willingness:

Lately, the willingness piece has been more difficult.  Yes, I want to get better and beat this (and I am), but often the thoughts do come in that want a return to my old, comfortable, predictable life.  I've been contemplating this blog post for a few days without knowing where to start.  I noticed that if anyone else asked me to do something for them, that I would do it as fast and as best that I could without thinking about it.  However, when it comes time to do something for myself, it's an entire different ball game and there's a realization that I don't think I am as important.  It took committing to my therapist and my peers here that I would post and update this week.

In preparing to update though, I saw pictures of my old self at swim practice and sooo terribly wanted that body back.  My eating disorder told me immediately that I could do all the things I have been working on here- flexibility, social interaction, love, friendship, spontaneity- and still get that body back.  My dietician helped me see, however, that, no, I couldn't. Undernourished, fatigued, and unhappy, my body would not be able to feed my mind enough to let me do those things.  Hence why, as hard as I tried to beat this eating disorder by myself, I wasn't able to do.

I'll be straight up, I've reached my "maintenance weight", which is significantly more than I weighed when I entered treatment 12 weeks ago. Does this petrify me?  Absolutely.  Everyone I know has only known me as I used to look. No one has seen me at a normal weight then lose weight and then return from treatment back at a normal weight. I am incredibly scared of coming back and being judged for how I look--that I will no longer have an identity; no longer be "the athlete" or "the kid with the eating disorder." I am also scared of how to reintroduce exercise without being sucked back into it as I was before.  I am willing to try though.  And I will succeed. Breaking the connections of food and exercise is tough for me; that I have to earn and deserve food in order to be able to enjoy it.  However, being here has greatly helped me with that.  I am now able to lift weights a few times a week and will begin to reintroduce cardio next week.  On the days I don't workout though, there's still no choice that I need to eat all my meals and snacks.

I also realize that I was giving food an immense amount of power.  Literally, the only source of "happiness" on many days came from my dinner and being able to eat it.  But in order to feel like I deserved it, it took sacrifice throughout the day and obsessive amounts of exercise.  That's why it was so hard for me to do activities that would threaten a meal that I had earned, because if something else got in the way of it, what then would I be able to find happiness in? It also prevented me from being truly present with friends- fully engaged and I'm sure made me less fun to be around.  I hadn't seen this need to avoid loneliness by restricting and exercise, as those would make me not feel "left out" because it gave me an excuse of something that I had to anyway.  A necessary obligation to "train and eat right"

Committed Action:

I am committed beating this.  100%, no doubt, absolutely.  I am incredibly unhappy with my body- Coming in, I had this fear that I was just a shallow and vain person for thinking that this was all just a stifling fear of becoming fat. Just having that fear that I am shallow has shown me that there is more to this than just surface appearance. I have been digging deeper and don't have a definitive answer yet, but I know large maintaining factors are feeling accepted as an athlete and a way to not feel lonely.

Part of the committed actions I make are to view and thank my body what it can do; to view my body as instrument, not adornment. I now have the ability to build muscle and get stronger, be more present, function more healthily, and think more clearly.  I can take up hockey again and enjoy or go mountain biking and have the energy to make it through a day.  I also can now let myself take the adventures or go on the trips which the eating disorder prevented me from doing. I'm not just going to walk out cured, but I have the skills to make change happen.

The most anxiety still comes from seeing people I haven't seen in 3 months and returning looking completely different. Yes, it's going to be noticeable and how do I deal with that? Especially with people who never knew I had an eating disorder.  I also need to draw lines between those who I'm accountable to, and those can support me. I had given too much responsibility to friends and strained relationships because of that.

Committing to be willing is the hardest part in all but it the most significant part of change.  To make change you can't just go through the motions, but, as I've said before, you've got to be willing to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Thanks for reading

Tell the truth, all the time, with compassion

Where to begin- it's been a while since my last post.  During that time, things have been quite a whirlwind.  It seems every time I was ready to post again, some new wrinkle would occur and I didn't know where to begin.  Between a mix of work, training, and trying to be a good friend, each has presented challenges. I don't know if I mentioned this in my last post, but recently I realized a few things.  First, I am letting my eating disorder win.  It has a regained a strong hold in my life, one that I had not realized.  It is forcing me to barely sleep, put exercise before friends, think constantly about food, and not allow me to be happy unless I have worked out.  I, alone, could not see this though.

It was brought to my attention that I was a pretty damn crappy friend.  And I am a liar.  But I didn't see it.  To me, I would just tell little "fibs" and validate them to myself as "oh, it's ok, I have an eating disorder, I have an excuse, it's not my fault" and that "it's the eating disorder telling the lies, not me".  What I didn't realize was that these lies actually hurt the people who cared about me! This brought to my attention what these lies were: telling my friends I don't like certain foods, that I'd already eaten, that I got caught up doing other things when I really working out that made me late for something, or bailing on a team workout so I could do some exercise on my own.  While I thought these wouldn't have an impact, they did.

For the first time in a long, long time, I actually have friends... who really care about me.  I've been a little transient since college, and thus haven't developed a close group of friends like I do now.  Even in college, my best friends, amazing people, but they never really understood my eating disorder, nor did I expect them to.  I could tell them, "sure, I'm doing really well!" and be totally lying.  So to be told now that things I had been doing and the life I had been living for years were hurting others was honestly, a brutal reality.

It wasn't until 3 weeks ago this really hit home.  Friends and  I went out for pizza, and while I did great eating the pizza, I was avoiding the crusts, saying I didn't like them.  The next day, I talked to J about this and she asked me straight up if this was true, and I had to tell her, it wasn't... and in fact I had lied to her face so that my eating disorder could win and I wouldn't have to eat the food.  Then, the next Wednesday, I was late to a 4th of July party that I said I would be on time to, but of course, was late because I "had" to workout.  That night, after the party, J and Felipe called me and said they needed to talk to me, immediately.  They came over, told me straight up the impact I was having on everyone and myself, and that it was going to be hard to continue to be friends with someone like that.  Through some tears and conversations, they wouldn't leave until I promised to get help.

Friday morning, I was in the therapists office and let her know evvverryyyttthhhiinnnggg that had been going on. From food to friends to family to exercise to sleep to body weight and medical issues.  Also all my habits and behaviors.  It was in doing this that I realized the incredible number of things in my life that this eating disorder affects. We met again the following Monday and furthered on the same discussion.  We arranged an appointment for the following Monday, and this time she suggested that Felipe and Jessica come as well. She also reached out my nutritionist/dietician and got a lot of feedback from her as well.

When that meeting came, Jess and Felipe expressed their concerns about what had been going and validated everything.  It was at this point that my therapist really got serious.  She said based on what she has heard from my friends and what my dietician had told her, as well as my weight, my behaviors, my emotions, my look, and everything I had told her, that she wanted me to go back to an inpatient facility.

I at first laughed, like, yeah right, like that's possible at all.  Then I saw that she wasn't really suggesting it, that she was serious about it and already had information on where she wanted me to go. I looked at my friends expecting them to be surprised to, but instead they just quietly nodded in agreement.  I couldn't believe they all thought this.  I don't look that bad!  I don't feel like I'm sick enough or thin enough to be there.

I went out to my car and through a couple tears and deep thoughts, began to realize the possibility.  I called both my parents and their responses were, "please please go."  Apparently they had been saying this and advocating it for a while now, I just didn't want to hear it I guess.

So I accepted it.  After a process of getting admitted, I fly out to Denver, Colorado, on Monday, where I will be entering the Eating Recovery Center for the next... however long it takes.  I'm going to have to take time off work which is really hard, but I have a fantastic boss who listened when I sprung this on him at 4:30 on Friday afternoon and supported me 100%.  I had to get in on Monday, and not later in the week.  If I didn't, I would have lost all my momentum to get better and probably gotten worse.  Already, I've noticed myself doing behaviors that I had been trying to eliminate--I guess to let myself be a sick as possible so it actually looks like I should be there.  Sick right?

I know this is long, boring, and most people probably stopped reading a long time ago and I don't blame you.  But here are the benefits I am going to get out of going back to treatment, fully committed this time to conquering this F-ing eating disorder for good:

  • I'll get my relationships back--with family, friends, and with exercise and foodMy heart will get stronger (literally) and I'll no longer be at a risk for failure.  As I've mentioned before, I currently can't get it really elevated

    My testosterone will increase and I'll be able to build muscle, etc. etc.

    I'll actually have time in my life to do other things besides, work, exercise, and cook

    I'll be a better employee

    I'll be able to think more clearly, learn better, and absorb more information, which will improve both my social and professional lives

    I will be a better friend.  I will be honest, caring, and someone to be counted on.  This will take time to prove to my friends again, but I have no doubt that someday I will be able to do this.  To those friends reading this whom I have lied to or hurt, I am sorry.  I am really sorry. From here on out, I am going to be the friend I've always wanted to be.

    And there are so many more.

I will also have a support team to come back to, something that was missed last time I was in treatment.  Not only do I have a fantastic support group of friends, I have a therapist, and nutritionist waiting who have gone through this entire thing with me.  I also have my friend and triathlon coach who can help me reintroduce exercise in a healthy, non-compulsive or obligatory fashion, and monitor me.  And help me learn to enjoy exercise, not make it something that I'm a failure if I don't do.

When I do come back, I will look different.  All I ask is that you please don't judge me, but help support me in my fight to be the real, honest, sociable, caring, fun Chuck, that I want to be.  Not "eating disorder Chuck"

Thank you all for reading.  I don't know much about inside the clinic, so this may be my last post for a while. I almost hope that I don't have internet access, as that's another thing prevents me from the sleep I need and more.

Be good to yourselves and hug the ones you love.  I ask for your support, whether you read or not, and hope you don't judge me any differently.

Thanks y'all! I'll be back soon.  And if you're in Denver, pay me a visit!

Chuck

Uniquely Normal

How do you define normal? Is normal something it’s good to be?  Of course not—we are all unique, all different, and each have our own special abilities and strengths.  However, there are some times when each of us as unique individuals come together to do normal things. Where am I going with this?  Well, first off, it’s the first time in a while I’m not just writing a race report so that’s a good start!  But I’ve had some talks with some really good friends lately that have been helping me put a lot of things in perspective.  One of the things I was reminded of was a previous blog post I did where I realized that I can’t let my eating disorder define me.  I can’t let the eating disorder be an excuse for justifying my behaviors.  Like, “it’s ok that I’m skipping swim practice to workout on my own—it’s because I have an eating disorder” or, “I’m going to eat dinner on my own instead of with friends because my eating disorder is making me do it, so its fine.”  No, it’s not fine.

Many of you know I basically follow a paleo diet (for me that’s no grains or legumes) and I work closely with my nutritionist to monitor this.  But something that was brought to my attention lately was—is it a good idea for someone trying to beat their eating disorder to be following a restrictive diet?  While I truly enjoy eating paleo and can’t really think of anything I would change, I thought this was a very good point.  It’s preventing me from going out with friends for dinner or other social situations… and maybe I’m just using it as a way to hide my eating disorder behind another diet/lifestyle. So as these conversations occurred I decided I should talk to my nutritionist about it.

Her response: HELL YEAH you need to go out and live life and enjoy time with friends and eat WHATEVER you want in those situations!  That’s normal!  And I also need to eat more!

Basically, she and I talked and while she is a proponent of paleo, as am I, she wants me to have those “cheats”, to not worry and go out with friends , and to just do some “normal” things.  She amended my meal plan to include at least one BIG cheat a week (or I should say “normal” meal).  For as hard as I train and for as strict as I eat the rest of the time, this cheat is mandatory (I’ll be honest, just writing this has my mind telling me “you’re going to get fat because your writing this”, but I’m ignoring it!)  But my other biggest fear hasn’t been “this isn’t paleo” but more “eating this will make me fat”, but I’ve got to get over it.

I also had a great conversation with my friend Jess and she said some things that really moved me and pushed me:

So did I do it? Hell f-ing yes.  I had a burger. At a restaurant.  No turkey burger, no lean buffalo burger; a real burger.  With cheese.  And avocado.  And sweet potato fries!  Do you know the last time I had a burger at a restaurant (a real one)?  I do.  9th grade.  My friend Anna’s birthday, and it was at Glory Days Grill and had 3 cheese and was delicious.  Then I became entrenched in my eating disorder and hadn’t had one since.  Well I did it.  And I’m not dead.  Here’s the burger I got from Square 1 Burgers here in Tampa!

And you know what?  I put in some serious mileage and training over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and I actually left this meal still starving!  Haha, I’m going to need a bigger burger next time… or maybe a pizza?

I’m looking forward to embracing life even more now!  I’m finally starting to make a good group of friends here in Tampa who I get to train with and I also got to hang out with them all on Friday night at Meghann’s place.  Living life less restricted but still being me is what life is about.  I’m never going to be 25 and single again! (Although, I’ll gladly change that “single” part lol)

So besides that, I’m redistributing my meals throughout the day, SERIOUSLY focusing on pre and  post workout nutrition, and overall sleep!  Training has also been really solid as well—Rock the W!

  1. What’s the best burger you’ve ever had?
  2. How do you feel about just letting yourself live and simply not stressing over useless things?

Headwinds

This Monday is the Boston Marathon, for which I qualified, registered, and had planned to race. Until last Monday. I’ve done something to my knee and running on it doesn’t feel good at all. Admittedly, it’s getting better and feels ok today, but do I risk a month (or years or lifetime?) of recovering if I decide to do the race and create some irreparable damage? Two weeks ago I had my half Ironman. Felt good after the race, recovered well, and didn’t do any running until Friday, focusing fully on biking and swimming. Oddly, though, I woke up Friday with some weird pain in my knee. Strange I thought, but after a good trainer ride that evening, I had a great run off the bike. The next day, I had a long ride scheduled, so a friend and I headed out on the Suncoast Trail for 51 miles. The course was straight out and straight back basically. We had a moderate tailwind on the way out, but as we turned around, we could see a storm rolling in. The winds picked up and it was a hard ride into a headwind the whole way back! We got 50 miles rain free… and 1 were we got drenched. So much for my brick run outside. I got home and did the run on the treadmill instead and everything was good. Although, I could still notice my knee.

Sunday came, I got up to do my long run, and realized it was already 10AM, so being that it’s pretty hot in Tampa, I put it off till the afternoon and set out that afternoon for the run instead. Guess what—it’s even freaking hotter at 4:00 than at 10:00. The heat didn’t bug me too much, but I knew the run would be hard from the get go. I was physically tired from the previous 2 days and felt that as I headed out. As I got onto Bayshore, a straight road than runs along the water, I found myself plowing into a headwind in the blazing sun. Every bit of me was just like, “dude, turn around and head back now”, but I was getting my 18 miles damnit. I finally hit the turnaround, but my pace was all over the place for the run. Haha, when my coach saw the pace chart he was just like wtf did you do??

I made it back though and felt great about myself—longest run I’ve done since November. But back to my knee—when I woke up on Monday, it wasn’t feeling too hot and pretty swollen. 2 weeks before the Boston Marathon. Wonderful. 30+ miles in 3 days didn’t help probably.

So since Sunday, I haven’t run at all. Just bike, swimming, and water running. I got a new bike trainer which is awesome so it’s making riding a lot more bearable, but this knee needs to heal… and quick! I don’t want to go run Boston and F myself up for the rest of the year… or more. It’s Monday… ask me again on Friday! I’ve been trying to get my rest, icing, nutrition, and supplementation spot on and I’m sure it’s helping. But it’s one of those, “Really? Now?” kind of moments. I just damn sure want to run this!

But the more I’ve talked about with a lot of people—coach, family, friends, I don’t think it’s the best option for me right now. I’d rather be a damn good (and healthy) triathlete than a decent (and possible injured) marathoner. Plus, I can be a good marathoner by being a great triathlete. So who wants to run a marathon with me after triathlon season? I’m thinking about the Richmond marathon in November (where I BQ’d in 2010) and planning to smash my time there!

I hope everyone had a good Easter—mine was spent on my trainer lol, but I did go see the Hunger Games, made some BBQ Turkey in my slow cooker, and had a Cadbury Crème Egg!

Solid enough right? Plus, the day before was the Final game of the NCAA Frozen Four here in Tampa—the championship for men’s college hockey. I was able to snag a lower level ticket which was awesome, for a great deal! The key is just to show up a little after the game starts when the scalpers won’t be able to sell the tickets anyway! So please, say a prayer for me and hope that these winds change and blow in my direction for being able to run healthy for a long long time.

  1. What would you do? Would you run the race? Or are you already?
  2. Favorite Easter Candy or tradition?
  3. Chocolate bunnies: ears first or no?

HITS Ocala Half Ironman Race Report

Not my greatest race, but certainly a solid result and a confidence booster heading into this season!  This Sunday I raced the HITS Half Ironman in Ocala, about 2 hours from my house in Tampa.  While the race wasn’t huge, it still had a solid turnout and was very well run.  They actually had every distance possible—sprint and Olympic Saturday and a half and full Ironman on Sunday.

Leading up to the race, I was a little bit anxious—I’ve been training well, but no huge bike-run bricks to this point.  This was a great way to open the season, see how my body reacted, test my fitness and skills, and race my first triathlon as a member of the Wattie Ink Elite Team and an XPMultisport coached Athlete.

The week prior to the race, volume was still the same until 3-days before, where I began the “Felipe no-taper taper” which isn’t really that “taper-ific” ha.  Saturday I did the AM workout, then ate, and headed up to Ocala where I got my packet, checked out the scene then headed to the hotel when I kicked it and tried to relax.  The damn people in the room next door were so loud—I have no idea what they were doing, but it was alternating between loud TV and loud music… or yelling at the kids.  Luckily, they went to bed early I guess.  It also rained pretty hard Saturday night, thus I was very glad I opted not to rack my bike the day before.

Sunday morning came fast and early.  I packed up everything and headed out the site which was about 30 minutes away and ate in the car.  I’ve been trying new pre-race meals, since a bagel is now out as carb source being that it’s not paleo by any means.  What I’ve been doing and really liking is white rice mixed with full fat coconut milk and some protein powder.  I guess that’s basically rice pudding, but seems to sit well in my stomach thus far.  Once at the race, I racked my bike and met up with 3 other Wattie Ink Athletes who were racing as well.  These guys are beasts—I think they finished overall 1st, 4th, and 7th.  Not to mention Felipe, my coach, was racing too.  Honestly a pretty stacked field!

The water was wetsuit legal and gorgeous.  It was a straight out and back swim.  I’m pretty sure looking through the finishing times that it was longer than 1900m (1.2 miles).  It’s all relative though, and to not go into too much detail, let’s just say my swim sucked.  Lots of work to still do here.  When I finally exited the water, I grabbed all my stuff and headed out on the bike.

The bike  was a big loop, mostly, so it was different the entire time.  If you remember, this is where I got lost about a month ago, so it was nice to see where I should have been riding lol.  I passed a fair number of people and finished the bike in 2:43:00, which came out to a little better than 20.5 miles per hour.  The course was mildly hilly and had some wind here and there so I was pretty happy with that split.  I also focused on eating more that I previously had in my races and focused more on the timing of the nutrition. Or one split I used some Chomps, which I like to break up the monotony of gels, but this cost me a little time trying to open those little packs and squeeze each one out.  The little Larabar that I had was crucial though—definitely a good call.  I also had UR in the water bottles which was a good calorie source and has some protein in it as well, which is really important as you get into longer distance races.

I rode back into transition, threw on my shoes and headed out of the run.  Felipe had given me very specific instructions- first 6 miles at 7:00 min/mile pace and then I was allowed to race.  I pretty much nailed this, but it felt so weird!  It was so hard to hold back in the beginning.  The first 3.1 miles were on trails, in the woods, basically running on sand which was not easy and not fast.  The rest of the run was on hot roads in the Florida sun and was basically rolling hills the entire time with heavy winds.

At mile 6 I was able to let go and began to average around 6:40s for the rest.  The fatigue of the sand and heat had me hurting but I kept repeating my mantras to myself and basically said “don’t be a bitch, run harder”.  I was able to pass a lot of people on the run…which is no surprise considering where I came out of the water haha.  I cranked out the last .8 miles at around 5:40 pace and flew across the finish line- pain looked as always.  Surprisingly, I finished a lot better than I was expecting relatively.  I didn’t realize how many people I had passed.  My final run time was a 1:28:00 flat—not bad for being forced to run 7:00’s for the first 6 miles.  Only about 1:20 slower than my half marathon 3 weeks ago.  Solid, solid.

I ended up finishing 16th overall and first in my age group.  But my stress wasn’t over.  Not only was I to eat more during this race, Felipe made it very clear that when I crossed the finish line, I would have a Coke.  No questions asked.  Intuitively, this makes sense.  Your body is so F-ing trashed after an intense race like this, that those incredibly concentrated sugar sources are actually a GOOD thing to have.  Tell that to someone who hasn’t had a real soda in like 3 years.  Luckily, he gave me a couple days heads up to prepare mentally, and ya know what?  We sat in chairs at the finish line, smashed, and enjoyed a cold, glass bottle, of Coke (well, it was like Feipe’s 8th.)  It was good—although I feel good in saying it didn’t make me at all want to sit and drink an entire 2-liter.  One was fine and then I moved on to real food.

Overall it was a good race.  I finished in 5:04:00 overall—I wanted to go sub 5 , but with that swim, that was going to be impossible.  Plus this race was a “feeler-outer” to see where I stood to start the season.  Congrats to the Wattie guys and Felipe who all freaking beasted this race.  I’m pretty happy with 16th and can’t wait for Ironman 70.3 Florida in a couple months!

But I need to get through the Boston Marathon next month first…

ALSO- The newest Episode of Fearless Nutrition Radio is out!  Listen to it here on Itunes.  This week we had a listener Q&A and an interview with pro triathlete James Cotter!  Please check it out and let us know what you think and leave your questions for the show! http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fearless-nutrition-episode-3/id497895841?i=112194060

Thanks for reading guys!  Let me know if you have any questions about the race!

  1. What’s your next race?
  2. Ever enjoyed a coke after a race? Or what is your immediate psot-race go-to choice?