Monday, August 27, 2012


I've written that I was anorexic in high school - I think it's pretty obvious, based on my "before" pictures, that I got over THAT problem.  But my disordered thinking about weight (I can always weigh less!) and body image has been hard to shake, even after 30-plus years.  Which is one reason why I stopped weighing myself nearly a year ago - that scale just held too much power over me, in my mind.  No, it's not logical, but that's why they call it disordered, right?

It's also no secret that I've been disappointed with how my stomach looks after my weight loss.  Even at my smallest size, which was about two years ago (during the height of my half marathon training), I still could see my distended, flabby belly showing in every outfit.  While I was thrilled at my smaller body, I hated my stomach.  Cut to now.  I'm not actively trying to lose weight, but I am seeing good changes from all this running - my legs are toning up, and my clothes feel looser, which is great - I'd put on some weight during Hell Year (2011 - my mom's cancer diagnosis and my ankle injury led to some stress eating), and it's coming off without a lot of effort under the guise of dieting.  I just make decent food choices most of the time, and don't feel the need to eat a bag of coconut M&M's on a daily basis any more.

I have many days where I'm happy with my body, and what it can do for me.  I like being able to wear cute clothes.  I think I've figured out what looks flattering on my body, and I try to only wear clothes that I feel good in.  But as good as I feel when I look straight in the mirror, if I catch a glimpse of myself from the side view, those feelings disappear.  There it is, my stomach blob.  Hard to escape it, and I know that even if I were to buckle down and go back to a more rigorous diet, it would still be there - sure, it'd be smaller, but based on how I looked two years ago, it's not going to go away.  I think it's just a sad remnant of too many years of being overweight - my body can't bounce back to perfectly thin anymore.  And that's something that I work to accept - what other choice do I have, really?  I'm not one to continually whine and moan about my plight (well, except for running in hot weather), especially when I did this to myself.

So back to that disordered thinking.  I hesitated to write about this - it's embarrassing to realize that I'm still just one stop away from getting on the crazy train when it comes to body issues. But something hit me while watching the synchronized swimming competition at the Olympics, and it brought it all front and center - hipbones.  Seeing the hipbones on these women - razor-sharp, jutting out - for a moment, I wanted that. 
Team from Spain - hipbones galore.

I pretty much gave up on the idea of ever seeing my hipbones again after I'd lost 100 pounds and they were nowhere in sight.  I wasn't interested in starving myself to see if they'd reappear - I had better things to do, and was enjoying having a fit and healthy body.  The thing is, I still am.  Except, that it scares me to have thoughts like "I wonder if I stopped eating, if I could get my hipbones to appear?" - what the heck???  I thought I was DONE with that kind of thinking.  Besides, I could not starve and continue to run, and I also like my frozen yogurt way too much to never eat it.  But wow...the fact that this thought has entered my mind more than once since seeing those swimmers has made me realize that this disorder is still lurking in the back of my mind.  It doesn't make sense, and while I feel crazy for even entertaining these thoughts I'm sane enough to not act on them, but there you go - apparently some things never really disappear.


  1. I think too that some things never disappear, especially when you have had these thoughts for such a long time.

    I also believe that getting a flat stomach is the hardest thing to achieve through eating and exercising. You often say how good I look and I have to agree that my legs look great but like you that stupid stomach is always showing.

    I can understand your feelings but always remember you have come a long way. You've overcome anorexia and overweight and you look great my friend. It's not just your body but you're a beautiful person from the inside too.

  2. and honestly I think all of us are one step away from crazy.
    it's just we all have different realms.


  3. Hi! My name is Roxie and I have a disordered relationship with food and body image. I'm glad to be in recovery. I know that I am dealing with this on a day-to-day basis and that will never be cured or healed or fixed.

    Sometimes, it is frightening to have a distorted thought/behavior from the old days rush upon me. And it still happens, even after all of this time.

    Courageous post, Shelley. Thank you.

  4. Wow - thank you for this post, Shelley. I learned a lot about you I didn't know - in the best possible way. I didn't know you were anorexic in high school. I dabbled with anorexia after nursing school for a few years. Hard to imagine.

    I can't tell you how helpful it is to hear that you still struggle with the wacko thinking at times. It's easy for me to feel "crazier than anyone else" and more effed up with food and eating. What came to mind as I read your post was something that is somewhere in AA literature - that we're never relieved of of ALL our issues, so we have to accept "patient progress". You're the real deal, Shelley. Your progress is remarkable.

  5. If there is any person, ANY PERSON, who has struggled with weight issues (anorexia or overweight) and does not have some remnant of disordered thinking EVER, I want to meet them. I mean that. It's no different than someone who has given up any other kind of addiction. I distinctly remember a full year after I had quit smoking, we were at a wedding (and this was back in the day when people smoked any and everywhere) and someone at the next table over lit a cigarette and suddenly the thought popped into my head that it might be OK for me to just have ONE.

    Of course that was a ridiculous thought but I believe the reason I didn't act on it was because I was so surprised at it's stealthy maneuver into my train of thought. Thankfully I can say 20 years later, I never want a cigarette not ever. But it took me a while to stop thinking about occasionally.

    Very brave to put this out there my friend. I'm glad you shared your crazy and that you share mine.

  6. To be honest, Shelley, I don't think that is disordered thinking. That is having thought of "what if" and then realizing its not rational and moving on - which is totally sane thinking. Also, it is human nature to want things you can't have (in the moment), like hip bones, or millions of dollars but then we realize that we live the life we are dealt and try to make the best of it. And then we realize that we might not be rich or have stick out of our skin hip bones, but we have amazing families, supportive partners, and our health.

    Your thinking is more than not disordered, its inspirational. You are so clear in what you go through/have gone though in your journey, and you share it in a very up front way with your loyal readers. You are probably one of the most sane people I (virtually and in reality) know!

  7. Holy Cow. I thought I was the only one. The rational half of my brain knows that I can never, ever again be the skinny teen who [barely] survived on four saltines and a apple a day, but occasionally I do think "How long would it take to be a size 4 again if I just quit eating?" Thankfully, mercifully, I'm able to recognize those random zinger thoughts as just that - random thoughts. They're buried in my brain cell archives and occasionally peek out, but I don't need to follow through.

  8. I agree. No matter how different the things we've experienced in our past, we're all subject to lingering crazy. I'm really proud of you for recognizing it and blogging about it! You're a brave woman and I admire you!

  9. This is so insightful and honest. And you know, when I saw that picture of the swimmers, I thought it looked wrong. Kind of like 'is that from some horror movie I haven't seen yet?

    On seeing the hipbones--that was never something I thought about. But as a nurse, we use hipbones as a guide for giving shots. I remember when I lost enough weight that I could feel my hipbones. That was quite a thrill LOL.

  10. I have known several women in my life who have had eating disorders, and in some small way, part of that life never escapes them, but like you, you recognize that it isn't healthy and will still have your fro yo.

    Love your openness Shelley!!

  11. Thanks for this post. I think it's clear that the way we program our brains is way harder to change than anything else. It's no more disordered than my thinking I might as well eat however I want and just get fatter because it didn't matter anyway. We all do weird things to ourselves. Moving forward and toward a healthy life for ourselves and doing our best for ourselves is what it is about. We have to be happy in our skin, our lives, our brains. I have to learn to stop comparing myself to others. Easier said than done, my friend. Thanks as always for inspiring so many.

  12. Thank you for sharing this Shelley. As much as I work to accept myself right this very second, and, knowing that self-acceptance leaves plenty of room for improvement, there are still times when I "go there" out of desperation and feeling not good enough. And I expect that I will always have these thoughts, but my goal is that they become fewer and farther in between, just like my binge episodes. Instead of saying, "never again," I reassure myself that I will catch myself sooner.

  13. Those things never ever go away. They just get pushed far down or we find better ways to deal with them (or not... )

    I feel the same way about my thighs and hips. I feel slim and fit and then catch sight of my badonkadonk and feel like the biggest girl in the room - and if only I do X, I will be there. Our minds sure are funny. I read in some book a few years ago that it takes about 4 times as long for our brains to catch up to where our bodies actually are. When you are overweight for many years, that's a lot of catching up to do!

  14. Thanks for posting this today. I never felt I had food issues until I got older even now it's hard to admit the difference between a splurge and a binge.

    and that's a scary pic of that girls hips. wth.

  15. Those hip bones make me think of Avatar. I don't know why. And, it's kind of gross, too thin.

  16. I used to think the disordered weight thinking was just in my mind. It really is scary that thoughts can still creep back in, but it sounds like you are in a good place now Shelley. I have gone through my own issues with binging and starving. We all have to find someway to be happy with ourselves at any weight, but I can't say this is an easy thing to do. I am still learning.

  17. I can see that stacks of people can relate to you re this. As can I.

    I KNOW what I should want and think but can't help yearning for the 'ideal' every so often.

    I agree with everyone though - we may never get past our disordered thinking and all we can do is manage it as best we can. (And I think you've been doing an amazing job of that!).


  18. Understand completely. I don't think it's crazy at all. We (me) may have images of what we'd want to look like. But I'm trying to let that go in favor of just being the best ME I can be. And wherever that lands then so be it.

  19. This is such a relatable post Shelley! You are fantastic and I so admire you. OMG...those syncronized swimmers sure contort themselves into freakish positions don't they?


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