This morning I watched the Today Show on NBC as I sat in a waiting room. Naturally, there was a Halloween special. As a child, I loved both Halloween and the Today Show. Morning routines throughout the year included drifting in and out of the living room where my mom sat listening to Katie Couric. If a topic interested me, I joined. As a result, there's a sort of affinity I have towards the Today Show. Similarly, Halloween holds a nostalgic glee from my childhood years. Each year, I looked forward to the holiday where candy was a free-for-all and my biggest woe was figuring out which of the numerous costume choices I would sport. Plus, I got to stay up late on a week night. My friends and I would gather after school and roam Elm Street (yes, my town really did have an Elm Street popular for trick-or-treaters) until our baskets (and mouths) couldn't hold much more. Then, we'd regroup at one of my friend's house where we'd lie out our candies, count them, and trade for our favorites, all while eating slices of pizza. There were no rules on this day, and I felt a blissful freedom.
Today, I watched the Today Show and two of my favorite things were wrongly matched. The Halloween Special outlined "Halloween Workouts" and "Low-Calorie Treats" to avoid the assumed rampant fear of weight gain that comes from one of the most fantastic days of the year. I'm here to say there's no need for "pumpkin squats" and, quite frankly, it saddens me that "pumpkin" and "squats" are put in the same sentence. Our bodies can handle a day of freedom, and a life of freedom is so much better. In the eleven years of my eating disorder, I spent the majority of my time worrying about every one of my actions. I lived in the panic these messages reinforced. As a result of this anxiety, I lost the happiness that used to come on October 31st. Yet, I have worked hard to regain this in my recovery. I can say for certain: this is better.
This life is better than living by rules that take it from you. It's okay to be okay -- to take care of yourself by having fun, rather than by living in fear of the food/feelings/experiences/changes that won't hurt you. Because they don't. All of the years of my childhood where Halloween was filled with candy and pizza and laughter never killed me, but instead gave me the memories on which I happily look back. I will trade any number of "low-calorie treats" for that. It isn't just for the candy that I refuse to listen to the Halloween special (though that's an added bonus), but for the bliss I'd have to hand over by conforming to the fear society says will keep me safe. It's just a trick, I choose the treat.