A few things have been on my mind lately, regarding those oft-touched upon subjects here: food and weight.
As you may know, I have recently taken up road cycling with a heady enthusiasm. Yesterday I rode 71 miles with my cycling club; today I did a (briefer) 22 mile morning ride on the Jersey side of the Hudson. All these miles translate into a lot more food for this busy body, and I have to admit that it makes me somewhat uncomfortable to have to re-set my appestat yet another time.
What I mean is this: for the last four years or so, ever since I re-established "normal" eating habits, I have had a pretty good sense of how much food my body needs every day. (Disclaimer:
Such knowledge didn't come easy!) Sure, a run here or there could change the equation, but in general I knew how much to eat. Any deviation from that "normal" point for me was an indicator that other things were going on in my life -- non-food issues -- that were somehow getting translated into eating behaviors. Thus I knew, for example, that if I really really really wanted a third cookie, it probably wasn't about the cookie. I could have it anyway, but eventually I would have to deal with whatever issue was behind the cookie-longing in the first place.
Now, however, I'm not sure about that cookie. My rides are making me HUNGRY like I haven't felt in years. So when I come home and finish dinner and still want to eat, I am not sure what that is about. It may be just that I have had a really long ride, and my body is begging me for more food (most likely). But I am uncomfortable with my own hunger, and I am sure that this stems from how I dealt with hunger in the past: it could be that the hunger I feel after a ride is a reminder of how it used to feel when I forced hunger on myself and then chased it down with excess food and a large dose of regret.
Right now, I find it hard to "listen to my body" and distinguish between hunger-that-comes-from-hard-exercise and the memory of hunger-that-sets-up-a-binge. I find it difficult, but not impossible: I haven't slipped back into out-and-out binges, nor have I purposefully sought out hunger for its own sake. At the least, I feel that, by writing about this and admitting it, I am one step closer to getting a better handle on my hunger this time around.
Getting into cycling has reminded me that there are so many areas of my life that have been touched by -- and limited by -- my eating disorder. I would not dared have tried cycling even a few years ago, in fear of getting back into the old pattern of deprivation/binge. But now that I am doing it, and managing my fears as best I can, I can see other ways in which my eating disorder, and even my recovery from it, have constrained my behavior. As the fetters gradually come loose with this one new activity, I wonder where I'll find other sources of growth in my life.