Sunday, October 30, 2011

Words

Well then. When I decided one day that I was done, that I was no longer excited to bake for TWD, no longer excited to take pictures, no longer excited to blog, I didn't think it would just end. Kaput, one day full throttle, the next - nothing. That result shouldn't have surprised me. So much has happened in the last year and a half that keeping with this hobby was more than a little unrealistic.

You see, it's not just the things I wrote about - starting graduate school, moving halfway across the country, getting married. Every person is constantly evolving, and my evolution lately has just been a bit more... abrupt than I was expecting. And some of it dealt intimately with blogging, baking, the whole shebang.

For the three years previous to April 2010, I was in a nice little bubble. My life was regimented, and it made certain lifestyle choices easier. For instance, I put in more hours at work than many in my position, because I felt it would help with career advancement. (Obviously, I didn't stay long enough to find out if that was the case.) My free time was spent almost exclusively at the gym. The YMCA that I belonged to was stellar given that it was in a podunk town in the middle of Wisconsin. There were pools always open for lap swimming, treadmills, ellipticals, and fitness classes galore. And unlike the powder puff fitness classes here at UNC, these made you work. Your legs would tremble as you left a 60 minute class. I loved it. I was spending 1-2 hours each day doing intensive cardio, probably another hour of lifting each week, and I barely would take two days off each week. Beyond that, I had a ridiculously regimented eating schedule - measuring out my cereal each morning (1 1/2 cups of Kashi H2H), eating carrots (10, I counted every day), apples, and maybe a granola bar (Clif Kids, because they were only 110 calories) at lunch, and then having a bowl of grain + veg + egg or cheese for dinner every night. It never failed.

Can you imagine then that my body image was more than a little screwed up? I worried constantly about how flat my stomach was, whether my collarbones showed enough, if my inner thighs were getting flabby. It was, in a word, neurotic. I can't count the number of times on any given day that I would pinch my thighs or that I would run my hand over my stomach. If I didn't like what I felt, that just added some mileage onto that week.

You know what that regimented lifestyle can't handle though? The complete freedom that comes with graduate school. The time that needs to be scheduled by me, that isn't eaten up by the standard 8-5 job. And with that came problems. It turns out that by stocking the kitchen with enough for two people, I also had stocked it with binge materials. After three years of not giving myself a choice, the abundance made me go more than a little haywire. That actually took time, but in the year since, a lot has changed. I've stopped beating myself up over the occasional emotional / angry / boredom-induced eating that happens. Well, not stopped exactly, but it doesn't give me the feeling that I should figure out how people with bulimia teach themselves how to purge. I made it through a short bout of minor depression. My diet is more varied. And I've grown out of much of the clothing I had worn before. Having to purchase a new pair of jeans last April was hard. Harder than I ever thought. I was always proud of fitting into the jeans I had worn in high school - being the same size for 8 years is pretty impressive. But they didn't fit. And every time I would wash them and have to wiggle back into them, it became harder to justify.

Who would have thought that purchasing new clothes would be liberating? No longer was putting my jeans on a test of my willpower. It was just, well, putting my jeans on. No big deal. And shirts? Well, I didn't like things touching my stomach (unless it was concave / was a sixpack - yes, that was the case most of the time growing up). (And no, even J can't touch my stomach. I don't let him.) So I stopped buying close-fitting shirts and started wearing ones that were more comfortable, both for my body and my mind. And my weight? Well, it turns out that my body was just reallocating mass. I've gained maybe 3-4 lbs, and haven't budged on the scale in a year. But I'm not going to weigh myself regularly like I used to. Even though I know part of it is conversion of muscle to fat, it's much-needed fat. God, that's a hard thing to say.

I still have my weird quirks. I still feel my collarbone, I look for a hollow on my hands, I pinch my waist, I measure my wrists with my hands. But for the most part, I've become more at peace with how I look.

What's crazy is how this has spilled over into other parts of my life. I feel more attractive on a daily basis. I have more fun when eating out with friends. I don't worry about that second (or third) glass of wine. Actually, before this I probably wouldn't have even had one glass of wine. And it's removing one of my greatest fears about having children. Other than that whole "something that big is coming out of what? Um, NO." I never wanted to subject myself to something that would so completely mess up my body. Scars, stretch marks, and never-going-to-be-tight-again stomachs. Widened hips. Sagging boobs and butt. But now? Well, big deal. If we want children, those side effects will be nothing compared to the end result. And those side effects should never be the deciding factor when considering having kids.

What does this have to do with this blog, other than giving a reason for some of my neglect? Well, I still obsess too much over food. Despite knowing that I could always have that second cookie tomorrow, I must eat it today. You know, in case it wasn't there tomorrow. My brain still needs to rewire itself, become less driven by these sorts of things. So a few months ago, I purged my Google Reader of most of the food blogs I read. Now it's primarily design / wedding / lifestyle material, although I have a handful of food blogs I read for dinner inspiration. Soon after the RSS purge, I decided that I wouldn't bake things I didn't actually want to eat. TWD has been great, but I've made recipes that I know I won't like. No matter what, I will never like flan. Or creme brulee, most ice creams, anything with figs, and most of the intensely sugary recipes in the book. And yes, it breaks my heart that I was so close. After 3.5 years, I had four months left. I would be one of the few who had been there nearly from the start, faithfully baking and making each week's recipe. While that was one reason to stay with the group, it wasn't enough.

So I might blog again. Will it be here? I don't know. It might be baking, or more savory. It might not even be food related. I can't predict what will happen, especially since I've begun writing my master's thesis. I will finish at UNC after next semester, with our plan of going back to Wisconsin once it's all done. Beyond that, my life is pretty loose. I need to be more okay with that, because I truly feel that it will make me a better, more well adjusted person in the end.

I am keeping my Twitter active, and have been, so here it is for those who are interested: TWITTER

17 comments:

liz said...

I've been thinking a lot lately about how one develops a healthy perspective of food and eating. I think because now I have a child, and I find myself wondering how to instill healthy perspectives when I have none. It seems almost impossible from my standpoint.

So happy to hear that you're gradually finding a balance. I'm excited to read again if you ever return.

Y said...

A brave post. I hope you blog again in the future, no matter what the subject matter - whether it be baking or otherwise. I've always liked your writing voice and the person behind that voice. x

Becky said...

Glad to hear that you're finding healthy relationships with food and with your body! And I'm glad to hear that you're still going to be around on Twitter--I would miss you if you left!

Nancy/n.o.e said...

Ah, I can see why you'd stop baking + blogging - your reasons make a lot of sense. I'm sure your experience is not uncommon, especially among food bloggers. I'm glad to have met you through TWD and your blog, and I wish you ALL the best from here on out. I'll keep up with your news on Twitter!

Krafty Like A Fox said...

Thanks for sharing. I've lurked here for ages, and I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes (so to speak). Thanks for trusting the blogworld with your story.

I hope you come back to blogging some day, about whatever.

AMJ said...

I have been reading your blog since I found it last spring, and I have always found it- and you- so inspirational. I am a chemical engineering undergrad who has developed a (sometimes unhealthy) obsession with baking and running (and procrastinating...), and I had no idea there were others out there just like me! Thank you so much for sharing, and I look forward to reading whatever you choose to share in the future!

sarah (SHU) said...

oh caitlin -- thank you for this honest from-the-heart post! i understand so much of it and as you know my TTC issues brought so much of it to life. you sound GOOD now and i'm so happy for you! and i am excited about the hint of maybe someday future kids :) sending <3 from across town!

Kayte said...

First of all, hugs. Second of all, more hugs. Third of all, even more hugs. Okay, you got the hugs part. Now, no...you can't stop blogging as I would miss your written word. Yes, I am a Twitter buddy, but it's not the same. Your written word is a creative outlet for you as you are creative when you think, create a post, write it down, make us all smile and giggle...that can be anything, doesn't have to be about food...so I'm okay with you looking for another writing assignment for yourself besides food, but I'm not okay with you leaving. Just so you know. Come back soon...you have enough in your life that is fun and interesting and exciting and just ordinary everyday that we all love. See you soon. Oh, and more hugs for you and some for Annabelle.

shaz said...

Good luck on your journey Caitlin, and thank you for such a heartfelt post.

Dana Treat said...

Caitlin, this is a very brave post. Thank you for sharing your journey. I have had a (somewhat) similar post in my head since I started my blog and just don't have the right words to write it with. Bravo to you and best to you.

Brooke said...

What a wonderfully honest letter to your readers. Happy that you were able to open up to us and share your vulnerability and truth. Not easy. But you did so beautifully.

Thank you for writing. I look forward to seeing where you pop up next!
Brooke

pxilated said...

Last January, I had a similar internal diet/food revolution and likewise stripped my Google Reader of all the baking blogs in exchange for lifestyle type ones. I kept your blog though. I really like reading what you have to say, be it about baking or life or whatever. I don't have a Twitter account, but I hope that if you decide to write again, you'll give us a link to the new posts here so I can keep up. Cheers.

Jessica said...

Your post resonated with me on many levels - as TWD wraps up, I realize that I do want to continue with the weekly Julia baking for the community aspect. BUT, I need to seriously clean out the blog reader for reasons you have well articulated.

What I really want to tell you is that I hope you will continue writing - I always enjoy your posts, no matter the subject. We've had more than a few TWDers stop blogging for various (good) reasons, but the ones I miss the most are the ones who made me laugh and think with every post. I've never really clicked with using Twitter, but I might have to start checking it more than once a month.

Best of luck to you in all that you do!

Me! said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog, with a twinge of jealousy with all your gorgeous pics of stuff you've baked so it's been sad since you haven't posted in a while. I'm glad that you are finding a better balance in your life. I imagine this was not an easy post to write. I hope you'll be inspired to blog again, whether it's baking, something else or random ramblings.

Maggie said...

There's so much I could say about disordered eating - my own, and the signs I've seen among friends and family. As we were saying on twitter, does any female in America escape this?? I would seriously like to know, because it makes me sad that we all struggle with this... I still measure my breakfast every morning; not sure at this point if it's habit or some fear that if I stop, bad things will happen, LOL.

I'm in a MUCH better place than I was in my early twenties, though, and my hope is that I'll continue to make peace with my "flaws" instead of finding new ones on which to fixate (e.g. wrinkles :/).

I used to weigh myself every day, too, and then feel despondent or elated the whole day because of the number, even if it was only .5 difference. Thank god I've stopped that. In grad school, I just didn't have the time to prioritize my looks (or health- that part, not so good). Now I just can't make myself care like I used to; I wonder how much of my issues were tied up in dating and self-esteem...

My issue now is finding a balance between not caring at all and feeling physically unhealthy and being weight/health obsessed and feeling mentally unhealthy - surely there's a middle ground, right?? Anyway, I'm trying to find it.

I will admit - a small part of my disinterest in having kids is the whole losing control over your body thing... but there's a LOT more to our decision to remain childfree; but that'd never stop me if it was the only reason, it's just a perk now. :)

Molly said...

Hey Big,

I think finishing my Master's thesis has made me want to blog more. I've been really pensive, and writing about the stuff makes me stop thinking about it as much.

I was talking with one of my friends from high school the other day, and in the past year so much has happened, and so many plans have been derailed it was hard to keep up.

I don't know why being a woman seems to come with so much pressure about our bodies and our appearance. I understand the need to be fit, it leads to being able to do fun things. I do not understand the expectation to be skinny, because it seems like a moving target, which is a size smaller than the current size.

Keep in touch : )

Molly : )

LoLy said...

Good Luck and Thank you for sharing :)