becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.


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full circle.

probably the most-read post i have ever written was about my first experience with cutting weight for a meet. at the time, i had been lifting with my coach for 3 1/2 months and had yet to reach my pre-op weight after almost a year and a half of rehab. 56kg is the low end of normal for me, but since 24-hour weigh-ins allow you to manipulate your “true” weight, it wasn’t a big deal to pee myself into my weight class.

then came my off-season. i ramped up both my eating and my training as we worked on technique, form, and building mass. and build mass i did, in the for of both lean muscle and body fat. this:

august 2013

turned into this:

may 2014

in less than nine months. i’m now squatting what my summer 2013 max deadlift was. and in the process i have, almost necessarily i would think, put on weight.

the struggle for the past few months has been deciding on a weight class. at the georgetown classic i weighed in at 57.0kg – a kilo over for the 56kg class, and that was after a nasty, gnarly cut that i never want to relive. it was frustrating, especially knowing that i still had some body fat i could have pulled, and potentially could have made weight.

i have nationally competitive numbers as a 56kg lifter. as a 60kg lifter – which also happens to be a much more common weight class, for whatever reason – i am a bebe fish in a very large and strong pond. so of course the competitive and stubborn side of me wants to remain in the 56kg class.

my coach and i have spent a lot of time talking about this. STV has caused me to build a startling amount of lean mass in just over a month’s time. and i’m also dropping body fat. yet my weight remains around 62-63kg.

so yesterday i did something i had assumed i would never need to do again in my adult life: i went to a nutritionist.

nutritionist appointments were a part of my regular treatment team/schedule for years. there were times in my treatment history i actually had a better relationship with my nutritionist than my therapist. i have sat in those offices and screamed, argued, cried, cursed, and flat-out refused to do things like eat full-fat cheese or not break my bagel into meticulous, tiny pieces before eating it.

i have also sat in those offices and said things like, “i no longer need 12 cups of coffee to get through my day,” or “i don’t get dizzy every time i stand up any more.” those offices, the arguments and meltdowns and revelations, played a huge role in me healing my relationship with food and my body.

and i never thought i would find myself in one again, after all these years! but yet yesterday, there i was. i had been put into contact with a sports nutrition professor who specializes in part with athletes who compete in weight-classed sports.

it was strange to be in one of those offices and not boiling over with anxiety. it was strange to have no stipulations beyond “i’ll eat anything but olives.” it was strange to be in that position as a healthy person with a comfortable relationship to food and their body.

maybe we can never escape our pasts, but we can look back at them and, when a situation presents itself that shows us how much we have changed, how much we have grown, we can appreciate them and how they molded us.

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carpe diem, and go kiss that boy.

^ words of advice from a friend this afternoon.

this weekend has thrown me on my head, albeit in a really great way. i was explaining to my friend about everything – the guy, the fact that i actually really enjoyed being with him (i never enjoy people!! and i don’t like guys!!), and now the fact that i am useless 23 hours a day. in the half second it takes me to turn a page in whatever book i’m studying from, i get lost in thinking about him and it’s fifteen minutes before i can focus again.

and this conversation with said friend. i blurted out, “i feel like an asshole, i never even felt this way about the person i was going to marry! or wait, maybe i did, and then it got tainted after we broke up and i’ve blocked it out…” to which she responded, “NO! that’s what makes it beautiful. if that hadn’t happened, you wouldn’t be here right now. even if it was terrible and painful at the time. carpe diem, my friend. and go kiss that boy!”

i’m free-falling and it’s terrifying and thrilling and i can’t breathe but i don’t mind.


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olives.

excerpt from an e-mail to my friend, sent about a month ago:

(backstory: i went on a date i didn’t know was a date. with a guy who didn’t know that i actually date females.)

so we went out for a drink the next friday and i’m completely not catching on to the part about this guy wanting to get with me until his tongue is in my mouth and just in case anyone was curious NOPE i do not like boys one bit NOPE NOPE NOPE. not even a little bit. and i try and explain that to this guy and he KEEPS TRYING. like…dude i’m stronger than you are, for starters, so please let’s not play around here. and secondly, please don’t try and convince me that i want to make out with you because trust me i do NOT. that’s like somebody trying to convince me that i like olives even though every olive i have ever eaten has been god awful disgusting. I DON’T LIKE OLIVES OKAY.”

i went to this same friend’s wedding last night. hopped on a 7am flight to hartford, got there at noon, got ready and to the wedding by 7pm. i forgot my hair straightener so i needed to finagle an updo:

Photo 113

 

and i thankfully had a dress that didn’t keep me in lat jail all night:

Photo 118(please excuse my asymmetry and my inability to flex.)

the wedding was beautiful, really intimate and unique and lots of fun.

and then i got introduced to a nephew of the bride, who happens to be an oly lifter (which is the reason we were introduced), and who also happens to be the cutest human. and very fun to be around.

time warp: when i wrote about this, i failed to mention that the person behind the butterflies (which, yes, are still there to an extent) is of the male persuasion. i’ve only mentioned it to one person, in fact, because it caught me so off guard.

i’ve been attracted to women since i was in fifth grade. yes, i dated guys, but finally coming out felt like a huge sigh of relief, felt so right. that was ten years ago, and i’ve never identified as anything but a lesbian since.

and now this. it’s all really new and strange to me but oddly not causing me to panic per se. i’m just…baffled. confused. hence the text i sent to my friend this morning: “girl. i’m sitting here in the airport with morning-after hair trying to get my life together.”

because after thirty years…maybe i like olives after all.


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we are here.

we are here to drink beer
laugh at the odds
and live our lives so well that
death will tremble to take us.

-charles bukowski

 

the past few weeks i have really, truly felt as if i am living well. i just finished up my last semester of doctoral coursework. i have two good, strong plans for what to do once i pass my quals in the fall. my transition from post-meet to a new, high-volume training cycle has made me feel awesome, physically and mentally.

i laugh a lot.

i go out for burgers and pizza with friends.

i do a little dance before i make a big lift because this sport is fun, darn it!

sometimes i look around and i’m amazed. all those years buried by an eating disorder, and all of the years of restrictive “healthy” eating and vigilant “healthy” exercise veiled as recovery…i can’t believe i was missing out on all of this. last saturday my friend stopped me after i got done training and said, “hey wanna go grab a burger?” and we went and sat at the bar and had burgers and fries and i laughed so hard that i lost my voice.

six years ago my greatest concern was maintaining my thigh gap and burning a minimum of 750 calories on the cardio machines every morning before class. now every day i wake up just wanting to be a better version of myself than i was the day before. i still work hard at the gym, but it’s a different focus, a different energy. i’m an athlete; i love that and i own it.

i’m turning 30 in two weeks and i finally feel like i am living life well, living it fully and the way it ought to be lived. i’m healthy and strong and i’ll always be a work in progress but dammit i am living.


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breaking up with keto.

i had a really easy transition into ketosis. like…weirdly easy. few to no cravings. no fatigue. no debilitating DOMS.

after two months, then, it would stand to reason that i should have been far, far out of the woods.

i had mentioned to my doctor that the past few weeks i hadn’t felt quite right. not necessarily in a physical sense; just really on edge, snappy, unfocused, tired all the time even though i’ve been really good about getting my usual amount of rest…nothing life-threatening but everything annoying.

she took one look at me on thursday and said simply, “cut it. it’s not worth it.”

now to be clear, the caveat with me going keto as a means of seizure control was that if it made me feel like shit, i was done. my seizures are not (as of right now) life threatening, or even really lifestyle threatening. they are just a pain in the ass, and one that won’t go away.

but a strange thing happened once i went on keto. the longer i was on it, the more anxious it made me. i didn’t like feeling like i “couldn’t” eat or drink certain things. i didn’t like feeling backed into a corner. and i fucking missed being able to eat bananas, dammit.

but in all seriousness – it was starting to wear me out, mentally and emotionally. i’m long into recovery from my eating disorder, but that doesn’t mean that certain things still don’t reek of the “old” jenn. and keto was one of them. not that i think it’s a bad lifestyle choice for anyone else; but for me, it wasn’t going to work. because, as i’m coming to learn through trial and error, any sort of restrictive diet is just not acceptable for me any more. as soon as i feel like i “can’t” or “shouldn’t” eat something, the old crevice of my brain gets revved up.

keto forced me to start tracking macros again, watching little columns add up and turn green or red depending on if i was over or under my predicted intake. it was starting to drive me crazy.

my body is not a calculator, it is not a skin and muscle and bone abacus of nutrients. on any given day i am going to want or need or require different things, and i don’t feel comfortable in a lifestyle that tells me that, no, i can’t have some of those things.

so after eight weeks, keto and i have officially broken up. i feel the same physically, but the mental and emotional weight that has been lifted is astronomical. i feel much more at ease now. we’ll deal with the seizures if and as they come. i made a valiant attempt; it just wasn’t for me.

but after i ate some carbs yesterday i went ahead and squat 215# for three singles – so all has not been lost. : )


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NEDA Week 2014.

tomorrow is the first day of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2014. i’ve been thinking for almost the entire month about how i was going to approach it, if at all. and here’s what i’ve come to settle on:

this week is important, for sure. it’s important to raise awareness in the general public, not just about eating disorders and what they are, but also about their prevalence and the problems surrounding getting proper treatment for those in need. a while back i wrote about my feelings on recovery and why i have chosen to remain distant from the ED recovery community. that decision becomes especially apparent during this week. but since every now and again i get asked about how my recovery is going and how it “still works” after several years, here’s what i have to say:

recovery isn’t about this week. it’s not about going on as many NEDA Week Walks as you can find within driving distance. it’s not about buying the t-shirt with this year’s catchy slogan. it’s not about wearing your purple ribbon around fielding questions about what it stands for.

recovery isn’t about being a spokesperson, spouting information, or sharing your story. it’s not about NEDA symbol temporary tattoos or scale-smashing parties. all of those things might exist within your recovery, but they do not define or signify it.

i’ll tell you what recovery is. recovery is about being a fucking warrior. why? because it’s hard as hell. you’re going to have to fight every goddamn day, hour, minute to keep doing what you need to do to emerge from the rubble of a decimated self-concept.

recovery is about taking responsibility. before anyone starts throwing shade at me and calling me insensitive: the biggest turning point in me moving from sorta-kinda-in-recovery with a side of relapse to full-on recovery was taking responsibility for my actions and my reactions. people are going to say shitty things, do shitty things, shit is going to happen. just because something is upsetting or “triggering” does not mean you are bound by some invisible contract to react in a way that engages your eating disorder. begin exercising your human right to make your own choices and to rise above habit and reactionary decisions. which goes back to the idea of being a warrior – force yourself to rise above the situation and come out stronger.

and finally, at some wonderful amazing point in the process, recovery becomes about not needing your eating disorder as a definition of yourself. you no longer need to cling to your diagnosis like a security blanket, because in sloughing off the skin of your disorder you have uncovered three dozen things that are infinitely more important to your idea of self.

recovery is a 365-day-a-year engagement. this week might be a little booster for you, a nudge or a reigniting of the flame, but recovery doesn’t only come out of its shell during these seven days in february every year. enjoy this week and use it in the way that best furthers your endeavors, but go out and be a warrior every day from here on out.


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thoughts on my first keto carb-up.

a lot of people carb cycle with keto. my coach and i decided that, after i had been solidly in ketosis for a few weeks, i should probably do so as well.

i also decided that, after 3 weeks of livin’ the keto life, my first carb-up was going to be lenient in terms of “cleanliness”. because sometimes, a girl just needs some damn golden grahams.

here’s what i have to say about keto, participating in a weight-controlled sport, carb cycling, and everything in between: they test your commitment to recovery, 157%. if i wasn’t soundly and solidly sure of my place in recovery, i would have gone off the rails a long time ago. but that doesn’t mean that i don’t see the dangers inherent to this life.

and as i was cruising through the aisles at kroger on thursday – center aisles i hadn’t pushed a cart through in three weeks, since eating keto pretty much means you live on the outer edges of the grocery store – i suddenly remembered all of those times in college that i would go to the “grocery store” on campus and buy 40$ worth of junk food – food i never “allowed” myself to eat otherwise – and cart it back to my dorm, curl up in my desk chair, and inhale it all in under an hour, pausing only to slip to the bathroom to purge, make room, eat more, throw up again and again until my eyes were so swollen i could barely see and my low back would seize up and spasm continuously for the rest of the night.

this sent panicked warning bells off in my head. and it did make me pause, somewhere in the cereal aisle as i had second thoughts about the golden grahams in light of lucky charms, and think:

a big step in accepting this ketogenic diet as a diet, not a “diet,” has been reconciling the notion that it is not the same as disordered eating. and i know there are people out there who knew me when and are giving me side-eye through the computer screen, and that’s just fine; you just keep on side-eyeing. and i’ll just keep not having seizures.

the important part is that i would not be able to do this if my relationship with food was still fucked up. when i was sick, as soon as i mentally made a food “off-limits” that food would instantly rise to the top of my “to binge on and throw up” list. and rest assured, that was a LONG ASS LIST.

so how is this any different?

as i shuttled my cart around kroger, i didn’t feel any rising panic or intense anxiety. i knew what i wanted, and i knew that, for that 24-hour window, my muscles were going to have a damn field day filling up on glycogen they hadn’t seen in almost a month. i was looking forward to it, sure, but it was serving a purpose.

what it wasn’t was a tornado of frenzied bulimic shopping where i would quite literally grab anything i could get my hands on and throw money at the cashier, not even waiting for change, just so i could get the hell away from people so i could start eating right fucking now in the car on the walk back to my dorm in the bathroom stall at the mall.

and before i go i will say one last thing about my glorious carb-up that helped me squat 5×5 @ 155# on friday: when your body hasn’t had more than trace carbohydrates for three weeks…that initial carb bomb is gonna be a doozy. although coach was unimpressed by my 3.3kg gain, i thought it was pretty laudable. eat all the carbs; retain all the water!

this has been a long-ass post.