I named the subject of this week’s post after a researcher/storyteller whom I admire very much. If you have not seen her TED Talk abut being vulnerable, take 20 minutes of your day to watch it.
Vulnerable: (adjective) susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm
When was the last time you were vulnerable? When was the last time you let yourself “be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen?” – Brene Brown
For me, that was this week.
I talk very openly about how I like my nighttime snacks. It’s one of the reasons that I love macro-counting, which allows me to build in treats each day so I never feel deprived. With 8 weeks until my show,
it was time to get really serious about my pattern of after dinner eating. Yes, I can still have a meal 6 whenever I want, but sometimes my meal 6 sometimes ends up a bit larger than I intended.
Sometimes it’s because I am hungry. I am definitely in a full-on calorie defect of about 300-500 calories a day, depending on my activity level that day. A few nights a week, I eat dinner and am hungry an hour later because my body immediately uses that food to refuel the training I just put it through. So sometimes, that night hunger is seriously LEGIT. But sometimes it is just a pattern. And when I discover a pattern in my life, I know well enough that there’s a reason for it – and that reason usually has to do with feelings, not ice cream.
After 35 years, I’ve lived enough life to know myself pretty well. I am well aware of the type of personality I was born with that allows me to easily fall into patterns, sometimes healthy, sometimes
unhealthy. When I was in high school, I was always looking for a way to fit into my social circle of smart, athletic girls who were popular and well-liked. I never really felt “a part of” during that vulnerable
time in my life. I never really felt good enough. It was during that time where my first (of many) patterns developed: disordered eating. It was a sad and dark period in my adolescence where I would not eat at all during the day and would binge and purge at night. The cycle allowed me to numb my feelings, so I didn’t have to feel them. I engaged in this behavior for about a year. Finally people were looking at me, and telling me how skinny I looked. I liked the attention, even if it was negative attention. It made me feel like I belonged. My behavior eventually became unmanageable. I withered down to about 110 pounds (I am 134 pounds today) and my parents gave me an ultimatum: get healthy or no college. I knew I wanted to go to college, so with some outside help I was able to arrest my disordered eating. When I went off to JMU that fall, I was able to leave that pattern in the past, but I picked up some others along the way. I had the disease of “more” because “more” was always better. In my twenties, I did a lot of work on myself, so for the most part all of my patterns and numbing are gone. Sometimes minor issues still crop up, but I know myself well enough to look at the feelings behind the behaviors to find out why.
This week I posted a sign on my fridge that reminds me of my goal, and I posted a picture of it on social media, to connect to others. I was
vulnerable. I try to be as real and transparent with others as possible. I work hard, and it is hard sometimes. It’s discipline and sacrifice, and sometimes I struggle. I am a real person just like you. I try. I fail. I try again. I always try again.
So when I posted that sign on social media, I did it without caring “what people would think.” I didn’t care if people saw me as weak. “Why can’t Mary get control of her eating and be PERFECT during prep.” I didn’t care at all if you judged me. Go for it. It’s none of my business what you think.
I posted this sign to help others. I never want anyone to think that I have it all figured out, because I don’t. I am far from perfect, and I use my imperfections to help me grow.
Here are some of the comments I received on Instagram:
“Same for me!! I’m good all day and then I’m trolling for dessert!”
“Clean eat all day…SUGAR CRAVE AT NIGHT! Stop the madness.”
“Lol. Me Right there. All me.”
“No comment because I sooooo agree.”
“I’m right there with ya! Between 8-10pm the struggle is real!”
The list goes on. I even had someone approach me this week to share with me some feelings she had about her nighttime eating which she
believes may be disordered. While my pattern should not be confused with “binge eating” which is a very real and serious eating disorder, it’s
still a pattern that I am uncomfortable with.
What feelings am I numbing?
*The pressure I put on myself to do well in my show.
*The pressure I put on myself to balance everything in my busy life.
*The pressure I put on myself to do it all, even though no one expects me to do it all.
All of my feelings are derived from my own thoughts.
Life is HARD sometimes, and as humans we look for ways to cope.
So, just for today, I am going to sit with my feelings and just feel them. I’m not going to look for comfort in an extra scoop of peanut
butter with chocolate chips. I am not going to allow my pattern to stand in the way of my goal.
I want to help others. It is always my goal to inspire and motivate. This week my goal is to share with you the real me so that you
can allow yourself to share the real you with someone you trust. Maybe there is a pattern in your life that you know keeps cropping up. A
pattern you tell yourself each morning that you’re not going to engage in, but by lunchtime you’re back at it. It’s OKAY. Allow yourself to
feel your feelings. They are just feelings, and they are fleeting. Allow yourself to be vulnerable today. You just may help someone else
in the process.