sober lifestyle

Regression

I started weighing myself again.

This is dangerous territory, where someone like me typically dares not tread. I mean, for one, who wants to look at their gnarly, mutant, never-been-pedicured toes? And secondly, when you’ve struggled most of your life with body image issues, to the point of eating disorders and exercise addictions, knowing that number can…(understatement alert!) royally mess with your head.

And yet I marched into the bathroom last weekend and stepped up onto the dreaded measuring device — and into a substantial collection of dust — as if pulled by some irresistible, mystical force.

You know shit is 🤬-ed up when a former anorexic/bulimic starts seeking solace in the scale.

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sober lifestyle

Worthiness

Someone from another life sent me this picture several years ago, and in case you need help understanding why, I’ve drawn you a big red blob.

It’s very possible I’m the one who needs help.

I mean, I was the one who took the very flattering label of “Most Athletic” female — in a senior class of about 500 total kids — and internalized it to the point where it completely defined my identity. This process started long before the (Niles, IL) West Word staff assigned their 1996 Senior Superlatives; I was probably 8 years old (and going by Jenny Wielgus) when I smacked my first home run in coach-pitch softball, and, based on the reaction of the parents in the crowd, instantly decided that sports were MY THING. From that point on, I was convinced my purpose in life was to be a top athlete, and that my worth as a person was inextricably tied to my performance on the field/court.

To be “good” at all, I had to be better than everyone else. Not that those were my explicit thoughts…but sadly, looking back after a lifetime trapped in a “fixed mindset,” that’s really what my belief system came down to.

And then, I walked on to a Big Ten softball team, and WHAMMO!

Literally. 🥎💥🤯

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sober lifestyle

Comparison

One of my favorite parts of recovery is suddenly remembering embarrassing shit I used to do when I was drinking, and then dramatically clapping my hands together in a prayer pose and jerking my head skyward to thank heaven I don’t do it anymore. Sometimes, I even cry tears of joy.

The feeling of relief really does hit that deep. 🙏🏻

Unfortunately, there are also moments when comparing “Old Me” to “New Me” steals joy, rather than inspires it (see above TR quote.)

Those moments almost always have to do with my body and level of fitness.

“You really let yourself go,” I’ll think to myself as I hold a yoga pose, head bent over one of my legs and eyes pointing straight at my upper thigh. My mind will flash back to my CrossFit days, and I’ll start thinking how much slower and softer and lazier I’ve become. The old inner critic starts whispering: Who I am now is not enough…

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sober lifestyle

Success

It’s always tough going back through old photos on my phone. My camera roll is full of emotional triggers, from the head-shaking, facepalming, uncomfortable close-ups of tequilas-on-the-rocks and (dear God!) my face under the influence thereof, to the guilty gut-punch of all those CrossFit gym pics.

You guys, I once won trophies for my fitness! One of them was even made of metal! 💪🏻🏆👸🏼

(I don’t know if you can read the plates in the above image, but that hardware was from a local competition called “Masters of the Universe” that I used to enter every year in my late 30s.)

Sitting here years later, sans six-pack abs, and a good two clothing sizes larger (I would guess…my pandemic wardrobe has been 100% extremely lived-in loungewear), having swapped alcoholism for a sugar addiction, I remind myself for the 10 millionth time that I was not happy as a hard-bodied exercise fiend. Doing muscle-ups and deadlifting 300 pounds and running around in public in a sports bra and booty shorts did not fill the hole inside, just as guzzling booze and buying things and cruising social media and even winning awards at work failed to soothe my restless soul.

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sober lifestyle

Resolution

How many licks does it take to completely blow up your healthy diet? Far too few, I’m finding.

True story: Staying sober during the pandemic has been easier for me than staying in shape.

I mean, thanks to my amazing husband keeping our house booze-free (I can’t in good conscience say “dry” when I’m dragging three recycling bins full of empty diet soda and sparkling water conveyances to the curb every Tuesday), I’ve had the safe environment I need to reach the 18-month recovery milestone, then tack on an additional 12 days (and counting).

However, when it comes to diet and fitness, another huge health priority in my life, I’m afraid I’m no longer earning a passing grade.

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but it might take a formal declaration of renunciation — made “publicly,” here on the internet — to get me to stop eating candy canes and mini Tootsie pops for lunch every day.

I told the hubby to stop buying these things, too, but the man has as much trouble resisting grocery store markdowns and buy-in-bulk deals (did you SEE the bag in the above picture?) as I do mood-altering substances.

I certainly can’t judge him. Whatever spikes your dopamine! We all have our addictions! And don’t they all seem a little more potent around the holidays, whether we’re out partying with friends and family or cooped up at home in “social distancing” mode?

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sober lifestyle

Victory

I put on a pair of jeans to go in to the office.

They fit.

That is the biggest news in my life, lo these past few weeks.

I’ll give you a moment to yawn, because if you’ve never had an eating disorder or grappled with obsessive body image issues — or, on a deeper level, a lack of self-esteem that manifests itself as obsessive body image issues — you have no idea how intense a love-hate relationship with denim pants can be. You don’t understand what it’s like to have your whole day ruined by that snug feeling in your hips and thighs, which in your head means you’re gross and unattractive and lazy and worthless, when in reality nobody else on Planet Earth notices nor gives a 🤬 about bunched-up fabric around your ass.

You think it’s NBD, or maybe a symptom of batshit insanity, but to me, the simple act of putting on said pants, then feeling comfortable enough to leave the house in them, really does evoke enough emotion to inspire an entire blog post.

Maybe I should’ve called this one “Vanity.” 💁🏼‍♀️

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sober lifestyle

Expansion

What to say about the sky? I haven’t really known, so thus far, I’ve let my pictures do the talking.

The above was taken just a few hours ago in one of my favorite places on Earth: the top of the big hill on the main road into/out of Tyler State Park. The huge expanse of unobstructed, endless openness that greets you when you’ve hoofed your way up that steep incline has an effect that I can only describe as spiritual. Transcendent. Other-worldly. I’d say that the view “takes your breath away,” but unless you’re a world-class athlete, you don’t have much left to lose after completing the climb.

Today’s humid, stagnant morning air had me wheezing even more than usual.

Physically, right now, I’m not…shall we say…in great shape. At 13 months sober, walks in the park are my go-to form of exercise (when I do ramp it up to running, I head to the all-flat canal path). And at 42 years old, with a sedentary job and an increasing affinity for big meals, long naps, audiobooks and Netflix crime-show rabbit holes, I’ve…shall we say…lost some leanness from my old CrossFitting, strict-eating days.

Pre-Climb Selfie on Day 391
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sober lifestyle, Uncategorized

Nutrition

Standing in the checkout line at my local 7-Eleven, clutching a 20-ounce Diet Sunkist in each hand — still can’t stop at just one! — my eyes fixed on the familiar row of baked goods displayed near the registers. Saran-wrapped snickerdoodle cookies and Reese’s peanut butter brownies stared back at me, in all their impulse-buy glory, and a couple of thoughts suddenly sprung to mind.

I don’t think I’ve ever been in this place sober!

I’m so [bleep]ing glad I don’t do THAT anymore!

“THAT” refers to bingeing on junk while drunk, and it’s part of the reason I ballooned up to an unthinkable 176 pounds — thank you, gastroenterologist office, for informing me of that number against my wishes! — before I finally got so disgusted with my gutter-bound existence that I quit drinking on July 7, 2019 — a full 125 days ago.

Back in the bad old days, sweets from the 7-Eleven were my go-to nightcap on more occasions than I can count. I mean, there’s only so much about those occasions I remember, so… You see, tequila started flowing at my house before noon on most Saturdays and Sundays near the end. So while sober Jen held herself to a reasonably strict gluten-free, Paleo-ish diet all week long and never even kept other types of food in the house, those booze-soaked weekends regularly devolved into one big orgy of Swedish Fish, Ben & Jerry’s and whatever ill-advised refined carbs I found up front at the cash wrap and said “🤬 it!” and tossed up onto the counter with all my other bad ideas.

My husband always protested, reminding me of all the other times this DevilDogs-may-care attitude led to my feeling like death for an entire week, BECAUSE HELLO, I HAVE A WHEAT ALLERGY (AND OTHER DIGESTIVE ISSUES WE WON’T DISCUSS)!!! I always ended up with a belly full of gelatinous goo, regardless. Continue reading “Nutrition”