In a world of wellness, obesity, eating disorders and starvation, holistic healing and western medicine, it's extremely complicated to know what's right, what's wrong and how the hell to find a balance without going crazy. Majority of the population are on extreme ends of a spectrum, struggling to become more in tune about their rigid mentalities in a world that profits off their increase. We suffer in the inability to find any individual mentality at all. Between fat phobia and the rising issue of orthorexia, our society has a general problem of finding a middle ground and being able to stick to it.
The "all or nothing" ideal is a relatable battle. Black and white thinking happens to most people in different areas of their life. I personally have gone through it in two very different ways. In the beginning, when I first started restricting foods in an effort to maniple my body and found myself (a year later) emerged into the "whole30" culture, I had to say no to everything in order to maintain control. My initial calorie counting wasn't satisfying me anymore. I went from eating a pretty balanced diet to tracking every food I ate. Each calorie I burned was noted.
I had begun to lose weight and knew what I was capable of. In hindsight, this is likely when the eating disorder had become full-fledged. It got stricter, cutting out six plus food groups gave me rules to handle extreme diet changes. Yes or no, good or bad, healthy and unhealthy. I could not decipher an in-between and the physical results I saw resulted in addiction for a body that wasn't healthy at all. I was hurting myself and I didn't even care, let alone know the consequences of my actions.
Through the process of reintroduction, I slowly gained hunger cues and when I FELT like I actually wanted to eat, there was less guilt around fulfilling the need. I actually began to enjoy the act of giving my body what it asked for - a connection I had lost for years. And, I never realized how horrible I'd been feeling in the disorder until I began to climb out of it. I became so used to the physical sensations associated with anorexia that I genuinely displaced the true perception of health.
This experience taught me a lot about the common opinions of health in a diet and weight-obsessed society. It showed me that the billion dollar industry was growing from a continuous lack of personal trust. We gave the power away in an effort to look like something that doesn't exist.
My definition had been so warped, based on numbers and an image. I forgot what it was like to stay up past 10 and not be exhausted or walk outside without freezing. I didn't remember what a grumbling stomach felt like or that food provides powerful energy. I had demonized the act of eating for so long that the mental side effects always outweighed the physical torture. I had accepted the uncomfortable state of being for a quieter guest inside my head. Adopting to the requests, believing this was my new "life."
When your actions become more linked with how you feel, instead of how you look, the cards change. No one feels good when they heavily restrict and no one feels good when they eat continuous junk food. Extremes are not sustainable, but they are often practiced in the world today. That being said, if changed needed to come, I would stay connected to the middle. I have to ground myself in a balanced outlook. For me, holistic wellness includes much more than the foods you eat and the exercise you partake in - it is not a wellness culture disguised as diet culture. It is individual, it does not have rules, it does not have guilt, and it does not have shame.
Accepting that some days I will do things that the eating disorder despises, like having dairy free ice cream and go to a bar with friends, but other days I will exhibit tendencies that ruled me 6 months ago. I will eat a salad, go running and stay home alone. The difference, however, is all in the intention. I was tired so I relaxed and I was craving spinach so I made a salad. My body felt like moving. For the first time in my life, I have begun a journey of self-discovery. Not for a career or a romantic relationship, but for my body, for understanding it and respecting it. It was natural, honest, and intuitive.
Highly underrepresented in a profit-driven world, this type of wellness is no advertised, but it saved me. Getting to a place that allows me to care more about how I feel than how I look.