Tackling Eating Disorders

*The following post was written by Brooke Beneze and all of the views expressed in this post are hers. As her brother, I absolutely am thrilled that Brooke wanted to come on here and talk about a subject I have very little knowledge or experience with. The beauty in people is that everyone is different, even if they share the same blood. Brooke and I may have slightly different methods for our own health and wellness…but we are both enjoying the journeys that we are individually on. So, of course, I support her and this post wholeheartedly. Enjoy!

Hello! I am very excited to be here! I am Cal’s younger sister, Brooke, and some days, I think we couldn’t be more different. This is why I volunteered to write a post from a different perspective. I really don’t like juice cleanses, food rules, and I don’t feel the need to exercise five-to-six days out of the week, though there was a point in my life when I let those things define me. While I believe Cal’s journey is incredibly impressive and his dedication is inspiring, I think I speak for many when I say that I also think he is CRAZY! All that money?! How many workouts per day?! I couldn’t do it. With that being said, he’s mentioned several times that this is his story and he isn’t trying to tell others how to lose weight.

Everyone goes on a unique journey when it comes to weight loss, body image, and self-esteem. I remember in the fourth grade, one of my best friends made a comment about my looking at food labels before I would eat a snack, and I guess that’s my first memory of when my obsession began.

I don’t think I ever had the healthiest relationship with food and the worst of it was probably from the ages 18-20. I counted EVERYTHING. I counted the calories of the gum that I was chewing, I weighed myself every single day and felt like a failure when I didn’t lose weight and I would never eat a dish if I didn’t know what was in it. I even remember going to bed very early because I was hungry and wanted to just time-warp to breakfast. Today, this behavior is called Orthorexia. I wasn’t Anorexic, I wasn’t Bulimic, I never binged, but I was incredibly restrictive to the point where it was very difficult for me to have a social life and actually like the person that I was in any capacity other than my appearance. I was holding myself back all because I let a number on a scale determine my self-worth. The lowest weight that I ever got to was 101 pounds. And now I weigh about 20 pounds more, I can definitely say I don’t ever want to go back to those days. All of the counting, rules, depression, and isolation was not worth being “skinny.”

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Nearly seven years into my journey, it wasn’t until last October that I gave up counting calories for good. I gave myself a break exercising, too, and I’ve never felt more free. The crazy thing is, I think I’ve actually lost weight, but I don’t really know since I stopped weighing myself, as well. It took me a long time to realize that my habits were detrimental to my mental health. I could never be satisfied with myself and I wasn’t very fun to be around, either.

These days, my goals and my lifestyle are very different. I’m still learning and getting better every day, but I feel like I’ve got a better grasp on balance. I focus on making myself feel good and fueling myself with primarily whole ingredients, while still allowing myself to drink lots of wine sometimes and have a piece of bread at dinner without feeling guilt. Sometimes I do still have weight loss goals, but I feel like it’s more important to just eat some more veggies and less packaged stuff, move around a little bit more, and let my body find it’s happy place. Ultimately, no one really cares about how much you weigh or if you have abs. Most people just want to see you be the happiest and most confident version of yourself.

Now, I want to help others! I want to help people that have had a negative relationship with food in the past, and/or peers that, like myself, work a 9-to-5 desk job and are just starting to become interested in beginning an exercise routine or meal prepping. With so much information out there and different methods being thrown in your face all of the time, it’s really daunting to get started.

My brother is very unique and extremely driven. For him, he can handle exercising as much as he does and being very strict with his diet. For most other people, however, his habits aren’t very realistic. Cal is absolutely fun to watch and his progress is astonishing already, but no, you do not have to do what he does in order to lose weight.

Cal, keep doing you as long as it makes you happy! Thank you for giving me the space to tell my story and offer a different perspective. I began this by saying that I feel like we’re awfully different people, but there’s no denying that we are both also very long-winded, driven, and “fitness-y” people, as well. Love you, brother!

Finding Your Motivation

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So, this is a post idea that I’ve had for a while. I feel like everyone has those times whether they’re in the gym struggling to finish a workout or they see that donut in the break room that looks oh so tempting. Either way, when you feel a moment of weakness or feeling like you can’t do it anymore, remind yourself of why you started.

I want to state this first and foremost. You should want to be making healthy lifestyle changes FOR YOU. It sounds cliche, but the practice of self-love and being happy with who you are is most important. As I’ve stated over and over again, this is NOT ABOUT RESTRICTION, IT IS ABOUT MODERATION. We all get that great feeling when we work hard and see results because our hard work and our discipline paid off. But anyone who has made the kind of lifestyle change that I’m in the process making knows that everyday wasn’t so easy. There were some days that you wanted to quit, to stop…to go back to the person who was saying, “this was the year you were going to make changes.” So, sometimes, doing everything for you isn’t enough. Whatever that extra external motivating factor is can help you push through on your weaker days. What gets you out of bed early in the morning? What’s your 11 out of 10 that makes you get your feet on the ground and go out and do something? For Tom Brady, it’s the fact that 198 players were taken ahead of him in the 2000 NFL Draft. For me, a couple of times, it’s been women.

Before you read on, please watch the video above. In fact, if you decide never to take in any information from this blog ever again, at least watch the video. A friend shared it with me a little over a year ago and from time to time I watch it sometimes as a reminder, sometimes for entertainment…and sometimes to show a friend who needs to see it.

When I came home from my freshman year in college, my mom politely told me I had gained too much weight by saying, “you have the body of a 25 year-old.” Sure, plenty of 25 year-olds have amazing bodies, (and this 26 year-old aims to get to that point) but I knew what she meant. And I needed her words. I wanted her words. It wasn’t malicious, it was tough love and I understood. That day, June 5, 2011, I went and joined a gym and by the end of the summer I had lost 20 pounds.

So, you might be asking yourself, “why did Cal include this clip from ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ in this post?” First off, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” is in my top two for favorite movies and anyone who has never seen it should watch it. Second, I first watched this movie coming home on an airplane from my sophomore year of college. I was still in good shape, and towards the end of my spring semester, I started dating this girl. Let’s call her “Jodie.” To preface this, Jodie is not her actual name and Jodie and I are good friends to this day. She reads “Rebuilding Rome” and we’ve already discussed everything I’m about to talk about.

I first saw Jodie going home from the fall semester in 2011. We were at the same gate heading to Boston, Massachusetts. I saw her “Dancing Devils backpack and her headphones in her ears and the huge “f-off sign” she had on her forehead. I was hoping we would somehow sit next to each other on the plane. Of course, that didn’t happen. When it came time to return the Tempe, Arizona for school, this girl was once again at my gate. I saw this as a sign of fate. Once again, though, she wasn’t sitting next to me on the plane. Determined, I made an effort in baggage claim to just say SOMETHING to this girl. So, luckily, my checked bag came out first and I purposely let it pass her. I bumped into her and said “sorry” as I reached for my bag. She said, “it’s okay.” And off I went. At that point, I figured, I’d never see this girl again.

Fast forward two months later and it’s a Sunday evening and I’ve just come out of the campus convenience store with a protein shake. I was crossing the street to my apartment complex and I hear a group of girls talking loudly behind me. Naturally curious, I looked behind me and it was Jodie. I thought to myself, “I’ve run into this girl too many times for it to be a coincidence, the universe is telling me something here.” So, I pretended like she had a Boston accent (she doesn’t) and I turned around and I asked, “are one of you from Massachusetts?” Jodie enthusiastically raised her hand and proclaimed, “me!” I introduced myself and got her first name. Somehow, with her first name, her college, and where she was from…I was able to find her on Facebook. I messaged her and we set-up a date.

Things went well with Jodie and myself for a little while. I liked her and she liked me. But, at the time, we wanted completely different things from each other and that’s why we crashed and burned after about a month. I’m not going to get into all of the details, but there was a bad night, there were feelings hurt, there was an exchange of clothes, and there was about a 90 minute closure conversation about a week before the semester was done. I went home on a flight, and “Crazy, Stupid, Love” was on the in-flight movie. The father and son’s names were Cal and Robbie. My dad is Robbie and I am Cal. So, the scene I attached above hit super close to home, especially with the ending of myself and Jodie being so fresh. I felt like fate had meant for me to see that movie and see that scene at that time of my life. The quote that hits hardest for me is, “…and I promise you this, too, Cal. When we’re done. This wife of yours, she’s gonna rue the day she ever decided to give up on you.” Now, Jodie was not my wife, not anywhere close. She was a college fling. But, I was hurt and I was young and I was looking for motivation. It was that scene in that moment way up in the sky that I decided that summer was not going to be a fun one. I was going to work golf course maintenance everyday, waking up at 4:00 AM and working till 2:00 PM and then I was going to go to the gym after that. Everyday. There would be no days off. I swore off girls. I swore off everybody. She was going to rue the day she ever decided to give up on me. That was my mission. And it worked.

Before I go any further, I want to say that my last couple of sentences were not a healthy mindset. I was not clearheaded. You should take days off. You should have an outside life. I had a miserable summer. I worked so hard on myself physically that I broke down emotionally in the middle of the summer. Don’t get me wrong, I had other motivators too. I had a tryout with the Arizona State University football team that I was training for and used that as my reason for working so hard to outsiders who I didn’t want to know my true reason for being so dedicated.

Over the years, Jodie and I dated briefly on and off. I always came back to see if she had changed, and she always came back…for reasons I still do not know to this day. There was a day years later when she asked me, “Do you remember that day we were moving into the same apartment complex and I saw you and I was on the phone with my mom?” This was after my summer from hell. I said, “yeah.” Jodie replied, “do you remember where I told her I had to go and I hung up the phone to say hi?” I replied, “yeah.” Jodie then paused and said something to the effect of, “well when I saw you, I looked at you and thought, ‘damn.'” That was the exact thought I wanted her to have when I left school the previous semester. A few years later, Jodie moved back to Massachusetts and I, at the time, lived in Arizona. She was in Arizona for a week visiting friends and she reached out and told me she wanted to hangout. There was one evening where we were hanging out and she looked at me and asked, “What do you think we would be if we lived in the same area? Do you think we’d be together?” I gave Jodie a long look and I gave her an answer she didn’t want to hear and I didn’t want to say. I replied, “If I look at it, at the end of the day…I don’t see us ending up together for the long haul.” It broke my heart to say that. What hurt even worse was her reply. Jodie said, “I don’t feel the same.” Four years later and I accomplished the goal I set out to. Though, it didn’t feel like an accomplishment. I wanted her to rue the day…back then. I cared about this girl now. I learned so much about myself through my ups and downs with her. That was the last time I saw Jodie. She and I still communicate regularly.

So, that’s one story I have about finding your own personal motivation. I have more and I will feature another one at some point here on “Rebuilding Rome.” Be sure to check out the page tomorrow as I give my Week 4 Progress Report and give you the inside scoop on next week’s posts. Happy Sunday!