To Me.

Let me preface this “letter” by explaining.

This is not to my husband or to my friend.

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I want to start a fitness blog that promotes a healthy mind as well as a “healthy” body. I have been so wrapped up in getting the perfect body no matter what the consequences, that I have forgotten how to live. Fitness can become an obsessive, unhealthy habit when it should be a tool to enhance your life and your health. Is exercise or food the first thing you think of every single day? Do you have certain foods that you have labeled as “off limits” or feel guilty when you eat them? Do you put working out above hanging out with friends sometimes? Or skip going out to dinner because the menu gives you anxiety (not enough “healthy” options)? I know a lot of us struggle with this (and sometimes don’t even realize it) and I’m here to tell you that you aren’t alone.

A good friend of mine recently put it like this: “If a clock is broken, you will only know the time if you fix it. If you pretend it is working fine, you’ll never get where you want to be on time.” I’m here today to recognize this and confront it. The only way we will get anywhere is by spreading awareness and moving forward. I’m not going to tell you to stop exercising and eating healthy, and I can promise you that I will not stop. What I am doing is changing my outlook and approach towards something more attainable and less self destructive.

I have struggled on and off with disordered eating patterns and exercise compulsion for 8+ years. This is my letter giving up the “toxic” part of fitness.

To my alter ego,

You’ve done a great job of teaching me how to push away my feelings and hide my problems. You’ve done a great job of convincing me that I am healthy, my habits might be different but everyone else is wrong, that I’m right and I’m stronger. That’s what you tell me, but I know you’re lying.

You tell me that because I eat now- that means I’m healthy. But I know I’m not eating enough to fuel the 3 hours of intense, extreme, professional level exercise that I do everyday. But that’s okay you say, when I get hungry later I will just eat a lot. Binge? No. Maybe. Then I’ll feel guilty and exercise it off again tomorrow. Repeat the cycle. This is normal, Shelbye, this is HEALTHY, you’ll say. You tell me that the doctors say I’m a normal weight, my blood pressure is low and I’m in great health. I know that’s not true. I boast about my low blood pressure and low pulse, but also know that I get dizzy really easily and tired because of it. My low blood sugar and dehydration have more than once caused me problems since I’ve “recovered”. I physically cannot stand to be in the cold, still. But this is healthy, right?

I don’t know why it took me this long to realize how much I’ve lost because of you during these 8 years. I’m done with sneaking in extra hours of exercise, I’m done with running five miles before getting to my scheduled gym class. I’m done with constantly being so hungry that I have to carry food with me because my blood sugar could drop at any moment. I want my life back and I’ve had enough. I don’t want to hear your voice ever again telling me what I’m doing wrong or what I could do better, because you can always find something. I want to wake up and think about something else other than what I’m going to do for exercise or what I’ll eat that day. I want to enjoy being in the moment, I want to spend time with my friends when I visit with them instead of leaving them alone while I go work out. I want to see my family, I want to spend time with my husband in the morning and actually talk rather than rush out the door to run before he goes to work. I want to be there for my dogs who love me unconditionally. I want to be able to go out on a weekend, have a drink and have fun without having a panic attack about calories and lost sleep (I’ll be so tired if I stay up- how will I wake up to workout?) I’ve already lost so many moments that I can’t get back because of you. My honeymoon, my wedding day, vacations, college. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy any of those things, but I could have enjoyed them much more if I wasn’t so focused on you every second of everyday.

Why do I want to change, you ask? Because I don’t want to live like this anymore. I want to have children and spend time with them, be selfless and not miss one of their sporting events because I absolutely HAVE to run. I am ready to accept that life isn’t all about me. Not about you at least. It’s been a long time and I’m not sure how to adapt to “normal” life, because essentially I have never been normal on my own. What could I do with all of this wasted energy? I could probably be more successful in relationships, work and maybe even find new things to do. Maybe I could enjoy French fries again, my favorite food growing up, without feeling like the world is ending. I want to be myself again, I want to be PRESENT in the moment and connected with the world again. And I know that I can be happy, without you. I’m done with being controlled. I am going to take back and control my life. So thanks for everything (and nothing), but this time I’m choosing to walk away and ignore your possessive, unhealthy comments. This is goodbye.

The Mother Hustler