Losing the comparison trap.


Painting by Wayne Thiebaud


I turn thirty one this week and with the stroke of midnight on Thursday March 5th, the best year of my life will draw to a close. What can I say? I am feeling both stoked and reflective.

A lot of things happened this year. I got my health and wellness coaching certification. I quit my teaching job to run Super Strength Health. I built a tiny house to live in. I got engaged.

My work felt extremely important to me this year, because time and again people asked me questions like this:

How can I recover?

How can I stop puking?

What can I do to stop binging?

What if my body isn’t good enough? How am I supposed to stop hating it then?

These are brave questions for people to ask. They are beginning steps to living truly fucking awesome lives. They are showing up to get on the path.

My how-to instructions are usually very basic: I stopped starving, puking, never resting, and saying mean things to myself by showing up every single day for many many years with the intention to not do those things.

I woke up as often as humanly possible with the intention to be well, and I think that is the fundamental basis for every other step of getting to discover your best self.

For a long time I tried to be well but failed completely. then I tried to be well and succeeded but hated how disgusting and full of anxiety I felt. It went on like this for much longer than I would like to admit, but the truth is that with consistency, eventually I tried to be well and I succeeded without having to try to think about it so fucking hard. With daily attention, treating myself respectfully became a normal habit, just part of what I do. I don’t believe I am unique or more equipped to do this than other people. I believe this can be your basis for getting well, too.

Today, if I binged, starved, or threw up my food it would simply feel bizaare, counter intuitive, mean, and downright uncomfortable. At one point, not doing these things was a herculean effort, something that took more strength than any of the lifts I have completed, any distance I have run. Now it is second nature. I like myself, so I don’t do mean things to my body anymore, ESPECIALLY when I am feeling already sad. It seemed that it took forever to get the hang of that, but eventually it happened.

I used to think I wished I never knew how thin I could really get. I thought that for sure, the memory of tiny limbs in compact spaces would haunt me, keep me from ever feeling like my recovered body was beautiful or like my health was worth the sacrifice of an eternal, gaunt, and obvious focus on being small.

For a long time it was true. No matter how happy I was that I could engage in my life a little my thoroughly with recovery, I was a little bit bummed that I could never be that thin again.

Today it occurs to me that the most important thing that happened in my 30th year is this:

Through continued intention to be well, I lost the burden of comparison. I stopped comparing myself against other people, which is absolutely wonderful, but I also stopped comparing my healthy body to my sick body, feeling frustrated that I couldn’t be tiny without also being unhealthy and insane.

My comparisons to myself were the most damaging habit I had yet to kick, and when I look back on age 30, through all the amazingness of self-employment and a little home and true forever-style-love, I know that the greatest thing that has happened is that I have arrived in my body, as it is right now, today. I don’t wish I could have the tall and lanky frame that was so publicly admired during my anorexia anymore, not because I think think smallness is somehow evil or flawed when it comes naturally, but because I know that body was not truly mine.

It was not the body I would have if I was feeding myself enough.

It was not the body I would have if I thought about subjects beyond my food and my exercise.

It was not the body I would have if I was showing myself true respect.

Knowing I could choose the body I have now over the body I had when I was much, much thinner is the most beautiful thing that happened in an entire year of completely gorgeous things.

And with that, It’s time to celebrate.