Excuses, Excuses

Excuses. We all have ’em. They can be a convenient way to get out of something we don’t want to do. But sometimes, they can really hold us back from doing something we want or need to accomplish.

I admit it, I’m an excuse-maker. I make excuses about small things, like why I didn’t clean the bathroom. But excuses I make about my health and well-being are a lot more important and unfortunately, I make them all too often.

Excuse #1: I can’t eat as much as ____ or I’ll gain weight…OR I can’t eat ____ without being unhealthy.

I’ve thought these things to myself a LOT throughout my recovery process, especially lately as I’ve been sharing my struggles here. It’s all really a comparison game for me. I see people in my real life and online who either do eat more than I do, or at least claim to eat a lot, and I always think “Well, good for them that they can eat that much and have an amazing body and life. Too bad I’d balloon up if I ate that much.” I know I’ve gotten countless comments on here about how I eat so little but it’s so hard to see for myself when it seems normal or even healthy to me. Four years ago, when I was at my worst, I was eating only a few hundred calories a day. Now I’ve finally gotten away from obsessively tracking every morsel that enters my mouth so I can’t say for sure how much I am eating but I know it’s way more than I was. I also know that it may not be enough, especially since I do workout pretty much every day. And I know there have been many success stories of people maintaining or even losing weight eating more than they used to, so it’s something I do want to ease into myself. It still seems crazy to me that I could be eating much more than I am now and still be the same size.

I might be eating more variety and incorporating more fats, but I still might be lacking in calories.

I might be eating more variety and incorporating more fats, but I still might be lacking in calories.

Excuse #2: I don’t look ‘sick’ so I must be fine.

At my worst, I was a good 15-20 pounds lighter than I am now which is definitely unhealthy, even for someone who’s only 5’1. I didn’t see it then, but looking back at pictures from 4 years ago I can see a definite difference and it makes me sad. Now, I’m at my highest weight ever and honestly, it scares me. I’ve never been in the triple digits so being so close to it is really scary to me. I always rationalize that I ‘need’ to be underweight to look halfway decent because I’m so short. I think that’s just how my disordered mind sees my body, though. I certainly don’t think I look underweight, or sick, or in need of help. But maybe I still am. And there are a few, rare days where I look in the mirror and actually think I look good, or maybe even a little thin, but those days aren’t often. Because I see myself in this distorted way, I tell myself that it’s okay to obsessively eat clean and rarely take a day off from exercise because if I don’t, all hell will break loose (aka I’ll gain weight). But you don’t have to look sick, or be at your lowest weight to need help. You can still be sick while barely underweight or even at a normal weight.

I may not think I look too skinny but maybe I am...

I may not think I look too skinny but maybe I am…

Excuse #3: I need to workout everyday or I’ll lose my fitness.

I always praise other bloggers for taking rest days when they need them, but when do I take a rest day? I’d say once or twice a month. It doesn’t matter if I have a headache, am feeling a little sick or am really busy, I will squeeze in exercise almost every day. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it is when I don’t listen to my body. And it’s also not good when I feel guilty for not exercising. Take this weekend, for example. I’m heading back up to my apartment with my parents to load up all the bigger items I couldn’t get on my trip home Wednesday and cleaning out my apartment so they can lease it out for the summer. I’ll be gone from Saturday afternoon til Sunday afternoon, and besides running errands and taking things up and down the stairs multiple times, I won’t be getting in much traditional exercise. I’m already stressing out about it. Not good. However, I’ve reached my breaking point with this. I’ll be busy this summer with my internship, a 4 week online summer class and just wanting to have fun. So I want to plan out 1 or 2 rest days per week, so I’m not a ball of stress figuring out when I can work out. And taking a day or two off won’t just not kill me, it’ll also benefit me and my energy levels.

I still want to play a lot of tennis this summer, but I won't stress out when I take a rest day (even if it's unplanned).

I still want to play a lot of tennis this summer, but I won’t stress out when I take a rest day (even if it’s unplanned).

Have you ever made any ‘excuses’ that you ended up tossing out? 

16 thoughts on “Excuses, Excuses

  1. I’ve been right where you are, girly. And it’s a process- it really is. I’ve made all of these excuses (and more) and convinced myself of things that were completely untrue. It’s a really, really hard habit to break but I know that you can do it. You’re so much stronger than you give yourself credit for! When you wake up every morning remind yourself that you’re unique and beautiful and that your body doesn’t define that. It sounds silly but it’s true!
    And remember that you only live ONCE…every day that passes is gone forever. What really got to me was realizing that I had already wasted so much precious time stressing over food and exercise and I refused to let those things consume me anymore. It’s not worth it! We’re so young and we have sooo much life ahead of us- we need to make the most of it. (:
    You’re going to have a blast this summer with your internship and I really think that will help take your mind off of this stuff! Good luck getting everything moved out this weekend!

    • “What really got to me was realizing that I had already wasted so much precious time stressing over food and exercise and I refused to let those things consume me anymore.” <— Love this and completely agree! I've started to realize that wasting so much time thinking about this stuff, even if it's not necessarily every day or as much time as I used to spend thinking about it is really not worth it. I am truly happy when I can just live in the moment and forget about the issues I have with my body and just LIVE. So thank you for that reminder!

  2. Oh Ashley,how much I can relate to this.

    I am just as short as you and tend to think “Oh,I don’t need to reach a normal weight,I’ll look okay anyways because,you know… I am so short”,but honestly,that’s bullshit. I am scared of a healthy weight because I don’t wanna look “chubby” or anything,yet my friend is 5″1 as well,looking amazing AND IN THE TRIPLE DIGITS. And my ex-auntie is even shorter,super tiny and at a higher weight than my personal “goal weight”.
    I am not joking,girl,when I say your mind; your anorexia is LYING to you again.
    You will never look “chubby” or anything at a healthy weight,no matter how short you are. Also,you have to keep in mind that muscle weight and the weight from fat are different – and since you DO work out,you shouldn’t worry about that too much – to the contrary,you should rather be afraid not to have enough fat in your body if you want your period back. As you possibly know,in that case,it’s all about your body fat percentage…

    Talking about workouts – I know the problem.
    I am pretty obsessive when it comes to exercising myself,but you know… It’s getting better. I admit that I’m still abusing exercise when I feel bad sometimes,but I am slowly learning to enjoy and appreciate exercise as a way to make me feel better and more confident about my body.
    It’s hard,but I would advise you to do it like I did some time ago: Stop. Not completely,that would be too hard probably,but cut back on what’s bothering you the most – in my case,it was the urge to do cardio each and every day to “justify” eating – yup,silly,but you know how it goes… Anyhoo,I still kept doing GENTLE {!!!!} yoga/ stretching exercises in the morning and it felt surprisingly good. My body was thankful for the rest,and I felt stronger than ever before.
    After two weeks or so,I felt ready to do some more again and slowly introduced strength training back into my schedule,then cardio {15 minutes max!} – and that remained my way to move TILL NOW. And you know what? – I have gained NO weight. No weight AT ALL! Despite eating more,actually. More fear foods {UNclean foods},especially.
    Crazy? – Maybe. But true.

    To conclude the novel:
    EAT what you enjoy.
    REST because you need it.
    STOP believing anorexia.
    All right? 🙂

    • I am sooooooo happy for you that you’re being more mindful when it comes to exercise now! It is still scary to take a full rest day but I really believe that what you said about taking a break or at least just focusing on less intensive exercises will actually make me feel stronger and less run down.

      And I wish no one would have to relate to my struggles but I am so glad there are other girls out there who are my height or shorter and look awesome at a healthy weight or are working their way to a healthier weight after struggling with wanting to be underweight for so long! It really helps me feel better and knowing that I can look great even if I am heavier!

  3. Hey Ashley! I (like the lovely Kat up there:) ) am also 5’1”, and not to make for comparison etc. (I am so in that comparison camp) but I have almost always been in the triple digits, the only time I dipped into double was at my lowest. Even at my highest, before all the stupid ED stuff started, I was happy and had friends and was considered to be at a healthy weight. Yes, at our height it is really easy to justify that gaining weight is unnecessary because 5 lbs shows up more (on either spectrum) than on someone who is taller. But let me stress, you will not be seen as unhealthy because you won’t be unhealthy. Your body will love you for giving it extra love. I wrote a post once about how you don’t have to be underweight to be sick, just like you mentioned, because its true. Did you know that your brain uses 20-25% of the calories you eat, just to think and function?? It is so so important to make sure you eat enough to make sure your thinking is clear and has all the superpowers to finally kick any lingering, angry thoughts out!! I’m not going to say to stop exercising for the rest of your life, but yes rest is very important!! I have had to take many rest days in a row because of an incredibly busy 6 weeks, and it was really hard in the beginning but you know what? My body adjusted, my head feels clearer and less anxious, and despite eating the same amount (slash sometimes more) I haven’t gained 42197238 lbs like the stupid ED was telling me I would. Resting allows your body to start finding out its natural hunger again-so long as you allow yourself to listen. Often, exercising but not eating enough puts your body in “starvation mode” (which is why you hear stories of people stabilizing/losing after upping intake), and you simply don’t feel hungry therefore thinking you are eating enough. Your body figures out a way to hold stable because it stores what it can to make sure you survive. Its easy to be deprived even when you don’t feel like it! Letting your body find its natural rhythms is hard, but worth it.

    okay okay Im starting to ramble. If you ever want to shoot me an email, feel free! I am younger than you -almost a senior in HS, but you are such a sweetie and I know how you feel. Excuses excuses, fears mixed with conquests, wanting to let go but wanting to stay healthy (shoot Im even vegan too). Rest days are terrifying -I have been known to have mental breakdowns on rest days, but they are so worth it. Eating is worth it. Healthy weights are worth it.

    And above all, Freedom is more than worth it.

    • It’s so reassuring for me to know that there are a lot of girls out there (like you!) who have awesome bodies but don’t stress about the number! That’s the place I want to get to, where I don’t care if I’m in the triple digits or weigh more than I did when I was 16 (which is only natural, anyway!) And it’s really eye-opening to know that our brains use so many of the calories we eat. I know at my worst I was dealing with not being able to focus and I know that there’s a definite connection between calories consumed and disordered thoughts. When I have eaten more, I noticed that the thoughts became less prevalent so it makes perfect sense to me now!

      Honestly, I just love everything you said here. It really helps to know that other people have been through the same things, survived and have gotten to a much healthier point physically, mentally and emotionally. I almost never meet people in real life who I know have been touched by an eating disorder or disordered eating which is why I appreciate this blogging community so much!

  4. What a lovely post. I don’t know what you are completely going through since I have never had an eating disorder, but I have had disordered thinking. I think you are such a bright person that has so much to share with the world. Keep up being amazing!

    • Disordered thoughts of any kind can be so consuming, I hope you aren’t dealing with them anymore because they are just so hard to push through sometimes. And thanks for the encouragement!

  5. Aja says:

    I totally get all of those excuses. Number 1 I still have some issues with, but I’m getting better. Rest days are hard but I’m starting to embrace them, really. Try to give yourself one rest day a week. For a while my rest days were a yoga sesh. It helped my muscles repair a little more and I didn’t feel like I was resting so much.

    • I like the idea of doing yoga on my rest day so it feels less overwhelming. I love yoga anyway and don’t do it enough so spending one day focusing on just that will probably help me feel a lot better.

  6. This is such an honest post, Ashley, and I am glad you were able to open up and share these thoughts. While I don’t like the fact that you are struggling, I DO like this post because I feel like it was written by your healthy, rational voice. Deep, deep down, you know you are not well and that you are not eating enough to fuel your body. It’s hard because the eating disorder voice is always trying to creep in and tell you that you can’t eat more, that you need to exercise more, that you don’t need to gain weight, etc. I can understand how difficult it is to feel like these two sides of your head are constantly at war. It’s tough. But you must keep fighting back. Keep using your rational, logical voice and little by little, it will get stronger until the ED thoughts are silenced, or at least much quieter. It takes awhile, and is most certainly a process, but you can do it. You will be free from this one day.

    • I have to agree with you that this came from a healthier place than some of my previous posts! At a certain point, it just gets too hard to keep denying that you have a problem and you just have to start fixing it. I know it will be hard, but the freedom one day will be well worth it!

  7. I definitely know what you mean about the excuses–I used them FAR too often in the past. But please try to remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being in the triple digits in regards to your weight–even if you are only 5’1. I have gained about 20 or so pounds since my lowest weight, and I feel so much better!! No, it was never my intention to lose weight, but it wasn’t until I gained some weight and overcome my disordered eating habits that I was able to look back and cringe at how skinny I had unintentionally become. And to repeat what Lacey has already said, it is not only your body that needs calories, but your brain as well. You simply CANNOT think as well without a sufficient amount of calories. You seem like such a sweet, intelligent, and caring person, and I truly do want you to be as healthy as possible!! As for feeling the need to exercise each day, I still sometimes struggle with that. But remember that your body does need rest days, and you will NOT gain weight just because you skip exercise one day. There is so much more to life than obsessively exercising each day and trying to eat a “perfect” diet, and stressing out about those things will only cause you pain and misery. Still, I am glad that you are able to at least realize that your thoughts and excuses are irrational; that is a step in the right direction:) Try to (1) slowly increase your calorie intake each day, maybe increasing your portion sizes at each meal, (2) not worry about eating a “clean” diet 100% of the time, and (3) take a rest day at least once a week. I know these suggestions are FAR easier said than done, but I challenge you to work on them. Try to respect and care for your body, and remember that food is not the enemy–it is what will allow you to grow and develop into an even MORE amazing and strong person. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or simply want to rant about something. I know that I don’t really “know” you, but I have had my fair share of orthorexic eating habits, and I want you to be free of your disordered thoughts and to live a healthy and happy life:)

    • I really love the tips you’ve given me here, since they seem a lot more manageable than trying to completely change my habits overnight. And I think I’ve started to make a little progress with some of those goals. I took a rest day yesterday and I didn’t have too much anxiety over not exercising. I also enjoyed dinner out with my family over the weekend and even enjoyed some non-vegan gelato just because I was in the mood. And I think slowly increasing my intake every day or every week will help it feel a lot less scary, and a lot easier to keep up with!

  8. I am speechless. Wordless? I love the way you are opening up. Recovery is like an onion….you keep peeling at layers until you realize how restricted you are being….I recall being SO proud I ate an apple…you get it. You are peeling another layer in this post.

    I just relate to you so much….I am so so so much older and so NOT want you to be my age and still dealing with this insanity. Ditto for me about reaching out…https://www.facebook.com/melissamiller.faith.hope.love you can be honest with me.

    • It really is like an onion! I had a similar experience with an apple early in my recovery, only I was so upset and disordered that I refused to eat it and threw it at the wall. I look back now and realize just how restrictive I was, only I didn’t see it then. Someday, I hope to look back on this moment and not recognize the person I was because I am finally free. And hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later.

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