The Rule System

I had a set, OK more like a never ending list, of rule I had to adhere to when it came to eating. Actually, to be honest theses rules dictated my entire life. Like a noose, they choked me of love,  stifled me of joy, and although they were meant to do the opposite, they suffocated me of health. Rules and restrictions are what I lived for 9 years of my life.

The rules started somewhat innocently, I was trying to lose weight that I had gained after an injury that had forced me to be inactive for quite a while. At first, I had to eat “healthy” all week long and then Sundays could be my “cheat” day (sound familiar?). Then I discovered the calories I was burning on my trusty elliptical were the same I was eating, which turned me to eating only low- or no-calorie foods with a cheat day still on Sundays. After hitting a significant plateau and getting frustrated with my boring diet, I made new and more rules to help kick up the weight loss: no eating without working out before and/or after to make up for what I’d eaten, no foods with more than 100 calories at a time, no water because water equals water-weight, and no more than 600 – 800 calories a day (if 1200 was what a person needed for weight loss, than surely 600 would definitely help me lose that F***in’ weight). Basically the only thing that my rules allowed me were to eat apples, lettuce, and carrots and to workout.

Parties were out of the question because one, I had to workout, two there could be food there that I did not want to have to eat, and three alcohol/beer has too many calories that I wouldn’t dare waste mine on (ignoring the fact that I was underage and could get into a lot of trouble). Eating out with friends was a hell no, better yet, eating out all together was a hell no. If I didn’t know what was in it, how it was made, or how many calories I’d be consuming, the rules made it off limits.

Things only got worse when I went off to college and majored in sports medicine. Every class I took focused on nutrition and exercise. I took everything I learned as a healthy guideline and turned them into rules to live by with no wiggle room. I was consumed. There were rules for exercising, eating breakfast or not eating breakfast, for eating lunch or not eating lunch, eating dinner, well I think you get the point. There were rules for literally every situation I would be or could be in. I never really kept track of them all (there was no way of doing that because there were more rules than there were words in Sanskrit), I just knew them all by heart after practicing them for so long.

It wasn’t until I sought the help from my holistic counselor that I gained the courage to break my rules. This did not happen overnight. But one by one I found strength to rebel, proving to myself that these rules did not have as much control over me as I once imagined. I did not gain 100’s of pounds from breaking my rules. I did not lose self-control. I did not lose my friends or the Train. All of which my rules claimed as consequences if I did not adhere to them. What I did gain was health and a healthier relationship with food, self-confidence and strength, love and kindness for myself, and an openness that I never thought I would have.

I am still human and find myself resorting back to old habits every once in a while, but the difference between then and now is I can recognize unhealthy harmful tendencies and act out against them. I feel like such a rebel now on the path of fighting for freedom. And I love it.

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