How I Am Handling Transitions Today
So I will be honest here: the past week or so has been rough. Rough in the sense that the future is a little uncertain in several ways, and I don't always do well with uncertainty. I like plans. I like knowing what my next move is going to be. I like feeling comfortable. But I also like feeling challenged and stimulated and excited about each and every day. And this last point is precisely why I am where I am today.
After spending the past two years in Portland, I am seeking some major transitions. Transitions that do not yet have set plans or calculated moves. Transitions that will be anything but comfortable as they begin to unfold. But transitions I have come to believe will push me and create the same beautiful, unimaginable growth I have experienced throughout my time in Portland.
And as with nearly any significant life change, there is naturally a lot of anxiety happening on this end...What will life look like in xx months? What kinds of relationships will I have? Will I feel lonely and scared? Will I be filled with regret for moving away from a routine that has truly become quite comfortable and second nature?
All of which brings me to the purpose of this post...
My track record for dealing with this type of life-altering change has not been the best. Prior to making my last big move to Portland for graduate school, I turned to disordered eating and compulsive exercise as coping mechanisms for the anxiety and depression I was experiencing, all in direct correlation to the transition and fear of the unknown, which I shared here.
Restricting food provided comfort and relief for a mind that was tortured by feelings of inadequacy and fear. And as I saw it at the time, restricting was my only form of control, a common belief among those dealing with eating disorders. And I would be downright lying to you if I said similar thoughts have not crept into my head over this past week. I have not and NEVER WILL claim to be perfect, and disordered thinking can trickle in at a moment's notice when given the right thunderstorm of circumstances. But this time around, I am catching myself.
Now granted, I am in a much different place now. I have walked the long road of recovery, living and experiencing the stark contrast between living a life of barely hanging on by a thread...to one in which I have energy and color in my face and and can think clearly. I'm also a dietitian now and have a responsibility to represent and speak an authentic and healthy truth around food. And given that I truly believe you attract the people who connect with your energy and vibe, I have a much larger network of like-minded, caring friends that create a feeling of community and safety no matter where I am.
Nonetheless, I want to be prepared this time around. I want to have some strategies and tools in my bag of tricks to manage this transition to stay healthy in a way that works best for me. Every day is different - some much easier or harder than others - but here is how I'm handling it:
What I will be doing less of...
- Intense exercise
As I worked to find balance in my recovery between nutrition and movement, I spent time on all the levels of the exercise spectrum. I initially eased into it, taking long walks after school and doing yoga or pilates classes here and there. Then I moved on to obsessions with barre and spin classes where I experienced the power of having an exercise community and would fret if I had to miss even a single day of class. And now I really do a mix of it all - I spin two to three times a week, I do yoga a few days, and I walk in my neighborhood whenever possible. I no longer view intense cardio classes as the end-all-be-all for exercise and stress-relief. Because that in itself is stressful to me. Exercise only leads to stress-relief if the thought of getting to class or moving my body doesn't create waves of anxiety and guilt. None of us have time to deal with those waves, especially during any period of transition.
- Social media
I will be the first to admit I have an Instagram obsession; I begin and end every day scrolling through my feed, liking pics, and trying to decide, "What will I post next?!" But this isn't healthy...especially when you are prone to feelings of anxiety and comparison. And it needs to stop. While I appreciate the community I have developed through Instagram and do often feel inspired by many of the images I come across every day, the app can easily get inside of my head - leading me to believe I should look, feel, act, and live a certain way based on some influencer's beautiful, perfectly-curated grid. Nope. Don't need it. Thus, this week starts the institution of "dedicated digital detox" times where I focus on living outside of my iPhone screen. Today was the first go-around, and I have to say, it felt pretty darn freeing.
What I will be doing more of...
- Maintaining and BUILDING a support system
Growing a group of incredible friends has absolutely been the #1 contributing factor to my blossoming in Portland. Before moving here, I felt incredibly uncomfortable in social situations as a result of both my eating disorder and introverted nature. I retreated from relationships and people that help us feel less alone and terrified as we experience change. Today, my friends are constantly checking in, asking how I'm feeling, and most importantly, keeping my brain in line! My time in Portland has given me the confidence to build this network anywhere I go, and there is no greater gift than that.
To be quite honest, writing this post is a coping mechanism for me...getting out feelings, piecing through the crazy thoughts, and holding myself accountable to anyone reading this. It's therapeutic. And hopefully it's provides some ideas, encouragement or advice to someone struggling with a similar situation, whether it be an eating disorder, severe anxiety, overwhelming and unexpected change - any of it. I love writing, and I believe there is no better time than now to devote time to doing so.
- Being outside
So if you've ever visited Portland, you know the nature scene here is pretty unparalled. We have stunning parks throughout the city, mountains all around, the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge, and the Pacific Ocean just a quick drive away. It's truly magical, and a piece of the Pacific Northwest I will miss so dearly when I do move on. The nature here takes you outside of all the silly details we can easily become encapsulated in. It reminds us that we are, at the end of the day, apart of something SO much greater than we will ever know. It connects us to one another. It makes us feel safe in world that often feels scary.
- Talking to my momma
Even though I already talk to the woman every day, if not twice a day. But I'm a firm believer that no matter how old you are, you can never talk to your mom (or family) too much. Her wisdom and unwavering optimism have gotten me through each and every one of life's adventures thus far.
What I will be doing NONE of...
This probably goes with saying, but maybe I just need to hear it for myself. No cutting calories, food groups, refined sugar, margaritas, NOTHING out of my life.
In the words of an incredible writer and inspiration of mine, Elizabeth Gilbert, "I've never seen any life transformation that didn't begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit."
It's time to face that bullshit head-on, friends.