How I Cope With ‘Dem Gains a.k.a. How-The-Eff-I’m-Totally-Okay-With-Having-Gained-20-Pounds-&-Why-It’s-Only-An-Uphill-Battle!
Hello my loves!
HAPPY FREAKING SATURDAY!
I hope you munchkins are ready for a long (BUT VERY HELPFUL & MOTIVATIONAL) one! Pour that latté. Make it a large. Heck, MAKE IT A FREAKING ONE-SIZE-UP-FROM-VENTI (Not sure if that exists, but you catch my drift, right? You are going to need an extra-large coffee to get through this one!).
LET ME BEGIN THIS POST BY TELLING YOU MUNCHKINS THAT, for those of you going through recovery or beginning to take (or to ponder about taking) similar steps, let me assure you of ONE VERY, VERY IMPORTANT THING:
It is STILL worth it & always WILL be.
All the things that I can do that I could NOT do while in the stronghold (ergo, THE FREAKING CONTROL) of anorexia more than make up for any FEAR OR DISCOMFORT associated with weight gain. Let me explain.
OKAY, so imagine you are recovering from an eating disorder. After MONTHS OF THERAPY (INTENSE FREAKING THERAPY) & LOADS OF EATING FOR TWO OR THREE (& FEELING LIKE A SUMO WRESTLER), your energy levels are back up, your mood is stabilizing, you want to go out & enjoy life, you have more support, love & care than you could’ve ever dreamed, you broke up with your scale (& you ain’t even mad bro) and you finally feel like your life is GETTING back in order. From everybody else’s perspective, LIFE IS GOOD. IT’S SMOOTH SAILING FROM HERE ON OUT. YOU’RE STRAIGHT UP LIVIN’ IT UP.
But, from your perspective, IT. IS. TORTURE. No matter how freaking hard you try to correct your negative thought patterns, coping with weight gain while recovering from an eating disorder can be one of the MOST DIFFICULT MENTAL BATTLES OF YOUR LIFE.
Each & every single “You look so great, strong, healthy” can start to wear on you & SUDDENLY, you are reminded that you may not be the skinniest person in the room anymore. Feelings of anxiety, self-doubt & self-hatred can come rushing back to the surface. After years or months of starving yourself followed by months of regaining the weight you lost, there comes a point where you realize that your body no longer looks… UGH, I HATE THIS WORD, BUT I HAVE TO USE IT… “anorexic”. Your bones aren’t visible like they used to be. You don’t look brittle enough to break in two. Your muscles aren’t wasted away down to the bone. Your face is no longer scary looking AF due to the hollows around your eyes or the concave lines where your cheeks connect with your skin. MAYBE YOU LOVED (HECK, YOU FREAKING ADORED) THOSE THINGS OR YOU THOUGHT YOU DID (SUBCONSCIOUSLY?). Maybe you knew you hated them. BUT YOU LOVED & NEEDED WHAT THEY REPRESENTED: THE CONTROL, STRENGTH & PURITY that felt so special & precious to you.
When you decided to recover (BEST DECISION YOU EVER MADE, BTW!), you decided to obliterate these things, to let a protective layer of fat cover your bones & organs, to let your muscles rebuild themselves, to become someone that people & you, yourself could see not just as a sick person but as a NORMAL PERSON LIVING A NORMAL FREAKING LIFE.
ALL THIS TO SAY, WEIGHT GAIN IS FREAKING SCARY.
I am not going to lie. I am not going to sugar coat it. I want to tell you guys the whole truth & nothing but the truth. WEIGHT GAIN IS FREAKING HARD TO ACCEPT. And if you are in recovery & your body image is still making you freaking miserable, REMEMBER that most people who recover agree that HEALING BODY IMAGE IS THE LONGEST STEP OF RECOVERY. Do not be too hard on yourselves, my loves! It may very well take more time for the mind to catch up than for the body to heal & THAT IS PERFECTLY OKAY & NORMAL.
BUT, ALWAYS TRY TO REMEMBER ONE THING MY LOVES: THE BENEFITS YOU REAP (A.K.A. THE BENEFITS THAT COME WITH IT, “IT” being recovery) ARE WORTH EVERY SINGLE FREAKING 0.1 LB. And this is why it is crucial to find ways that HELP YOU COPE & DEAL WITH ‘DEM GAINS (as I like to call them – you gotta have fun with it every now & then, right?).
BEFORE, I TELL YOU MUNCHKINS HOW I COPE WITH ‘DEM GAINS, I JUST HAVE A FEW MORE THINGS TO RANT ABOUT. GAH, SORRY NOT SORRY!
Throughout my journey towards recovery thus far, I’ve realized that anorexia is not really about food; rather, it’s about using food (& the control surrounding it) to cope with pain, anger, fear, sadness, frustration & self-hatred. Whether you are fuelled by a need for control or comfort or by a desire to punish yourself, disordered eating is LITERALLY a coping mechanism.
AND, if you are in eating disorder recovery, I can personally speak to the fact that at certain moments of frustration, confusion & insecurity (all of which can be HIGHLY associated with weight gain), everything you have worked up to on your road to recovery will be tested.
BUT, MY LOVES, DO NOT DESPAIR. DO NOT LOSE HOPE. DO NOT PANIC. With the right support, attitude, mindset, mind work & the coping skills and mechanisms that work FOR YOU, you can & YOU WILL push through these road bumps with the most (beautiful) confidence in the world.
The first thing you munchkins should be aware of is that EVERYONE (YES, even me!!) in recovery has moments, even whole freaking days, heck, weeks, when they feel DISGUSTED by their new, bigger body & are dying for the former, smaller one. THIS DOES NOT MAKE YOU WEAK BY ANY MEANS & IT ALSO DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOUR RECOVERY HAS FAILED.
It just means you are dealing with emotions coming to the surface as you slowly make your way out of a very, very dark tunnel, in which you were stuck for TOO LONG & which in some way or another became your “home” or “safe haven”. Now, in recovery, LIFE BECOMES ABOUT GETTING OUT & FINDING A NEW PLACE TO CALL “HOME”.
But, all while searching for the way out of that freaking tunnel & scouting for that new “home” (A.K.A. ALL WHILE RECOVERING), how do I cope with the weight gain, you ask?
LET ME (FINALLY) EXPLAIN!
REMIND YOURSELF WHY YOU CHOSE RECOVERY IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Okay, first and foremost, on those horrible-I-want-to-curl-myself-into-a-ball-&-hide-under-my-covers-&-bawl-my-eyes-out days, I find that what helps me most is reminding myself WHY I CHOSE RECOVERY IN THE FIRST PLACE.
I ask myself the following question: “Kelly, do you want to find yourself in the same pain that motivated you to start recovery in the first place?” I DON’T THINK SO!
I mean… I picture myself at 79 pounds, a freaking skeleton, going up the stairs in the metro station with my briefcase & feeling like I’m about to collapse & die… WOULD YOU TAKE THAT OVER A FEW (OKAY, MAYBE TEN OR FIFTEEN OR EVEN, TWENTY) POUNDS? I would never. EVER. Not EVER.
And so my loves, if ever you find yourself reminiscing about the “good old days” of your eating disorder, you have to complete the picture by reconsidering the FREAKING AWFUL ONES TOO. Dig deep. Get down to the ugly and the dirty deets.
YES, I’m talking about those days you woke up feeling dead. Like a freaking zombie.
Those days when you woke up feeling depressed-AF.
Those nights you cried yourself to sleep like a freaking baby.
Those days you went up a flight of stairs & had to stop to take a VERY DEEP BREATH out of sheer fear of having a heart attack.
Those days you felt so starved all you wanted to do was sleep off the starvation.
AND THEN, SIT FOR A SECOND & ASK YOURSELF IF YOU REALLY, TRULY, GENUINELY WANT TO GO BACK TO THAT. My loves, when you see how freaking beautiful recovery is & how much it will change your life FOR THE BETTER, the answer to that question will always be NO.
And, need I mention that reminding yourself why you chose recovery in the first place should not only be something that you do on your VERY BAD DAYS. It should be something you do every single freaking day. IT’S ALL ABOUT PREVENTION, MY LOVES. Teach your mind that choosing recovery was the best & most sound decision you could have EVER made. And you do not have to wait for a horrible day to do that. Everyday, take a moment to reflect on how far you’ve come, what you’ve accomplished & why all of that is so much more important & worthwhile than a number.
(P.S. ON THE TOPIC OF MIND WORK, some other questions that I ask myself when I’m feeling down are:
What has your eating disorder taken away from you?
What complications have you endured?
How does having an eating disorder impact your daily life?
What you are looking forward to by healing?)
BASICALLY, YOU CHOSE RECOVERY FOR A REASON (OR MANY REASONS!). When time gets tough, REMIND YOURSELF OF SAID REASONS & EMRACE THEM & HOW FAR YOU HAVE COME! NOBODY LIKES TO TAKE TWO STEPS BACK, right? Teach your mind that THERE IS ONLY ONE OPTION FROM HERE ON OUT & IT’S GOING FORWARD! It’s an UPHILL FREAKING BATTLE.
TRY NOT TO FIGHT AGAINST HOW YOUR BOD IS CHANGING. RATHER, EMBRANCE THE CHANGES!
Okay, so this might sound cliché but another thing I find has helped me on this journey is trying not to fight against how my body is changing. This is obviously a mental attitude that takes a lot of mind work, but it can be nurtured through specific thoughts & actions!
For me, I find it has been helpful to embrace the newly feminine quality of my body! SO THIS MAY BE TMI, BUT HELLO BOOBS! HELLO HIPS! HELLO LEGS! Buh-bye being a bony skeleton!!!!!! Once again, it’s about teaching yourself that all of these are beautiful & FREAKING LADYLIKE AF! It’s about teaching yourself that you will finally not look like a freaking PEA ON A BOARD when you put on that really cute sheer-best-fabric-ever-tee you bought months ago but could NEVER WEAR because you looked like a legit whale floating in the sea whenever you put it on, not to mention YOU HAD NOTHING TO FILL IT WITH, if you know what I mean!
Recovery is also about teaching yourself how freaking awesome your body changes are because they mean so much more than just “looking healthier”. They mean that you will BE FULL OF ENERGY. FULL OF LIFE. FULL OF DESIRE. FULL OF A NEED TO GO OUT & SEE PEOPLE! These changes mean that you will no longer look like a freaking bone that is about to break in two. & BEST OF ALL, YOU WILL NO LONGER FEEL THAT WAY. Because yes, we look that way to the public, but little does the public know that we are feeling 200 times worse than we look. These bodily changes & you embracing them means that you are leaving behind those feelings of not feeling capable to get up & get out of bed because your limbs are too weak or because your heart feels faint & stepping out of bed will make you feel out of breath (I may sound like I’m exaggerating, BUT I SWEAR, I AM NOT. THESE ARE ALL THINGS I HAVE EXPERIENCED FIRST HAND).
All this to say, my loves, if you teach your mind to embrace the bodily changes, not only because you look better, healthier & more “normal” BUT ALSO BECAUSE SAID CHANGES ENTAIL SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST PHYSICAL IMPROVEMENT, you will realize (well rather, your mind will come to terms with the fact) HOW WORTH IT ‘DEM GAINS ARE. You will start doing all sorts of happy dances (as opposed to freaking SMASHING your scale against the floor to make sure the numbers are right) every time you see a gain & you will feel sad when you see a loss (even if it’s a mere fluctuation of like 0.1 or 0.2lb). YOU WILL REALIZE THAT ALL YOUR HARD WORK & EFFORT HAS BEEN FREAKING WORTH IT AND YOU WILL NEVER LOOK BACK (The only reason you will? TO REMIND YOURSELF WHY YOU WILL NEVER LET ANOREXIA TAKE CONTROL OF YOU. NOT NOW. NEVER. NOT EVER AGAIN!).
AVOID TRIGGERS, AT ALL COSTS – SERIOUSLY!!!
In the same way that we all develop eating disorders for different reasons, everybody’s triggers are different too. Nonetheless, I have found that getting rid of what triggered old & yes, scary thoughts or behaviours has been VERY helpful! Let me explain.
- Wear clothes that you are comfortable in! Do not try to get into (dance & wiggle into) those size 23 jeans that you bought when you could hardly even walk your way through the store or when you hardly had the energy to even try them on in the dressing room. Wear what makes you feel good NOW, not what made you feel good when you were sick (The reality is, IT WON’T FIT YOU THE SAME WAY ANYMORE & that’s a freaking good thing! Embrace it!).
- Avoid unnecessary preoccupation with food by sticking to a regular (& YES, A RIGID, STRICT-AF) meal plan! When I first began recovery, I saw a nutritionist & together, we built a meal plan that would 1) provide my body with all the nutrients & vitamins it needed to function (because no, it was NOT functioning at the time) & 2) according to which I had committed to send photos of my food to my family in order to hold myself accountable (all while providing them with the reassurance that I was in fact eating, respecting my meal plan & on the right track!). P.S. I no longer do the whole “sending photos” thing because at this point, the gains are APPARENT, CONTINUOUS & BASICALLY, THEY ARE THERE FOR THE WORLD TO SEE! (Not to mention, my family has regained the trust in me to know that I have been, still am & will remain committed to my meal plan, NO MATTER WHAT!). BUT, IT WAS SUPER HELPFUL AT THE TIME because it killed two birds with one stone – My family felt reassured & I held myself accountable for everything that was going into my body, even if eating may have been tough at first!
- GET RID OF YOUR FREAKING SCALE & AVOID EXCESSIVE BODY CHECKING! While body checking is often intended to provide some level of comfort or relief, CONFLICT ensues when we are not happy with the number, size or measurement that we see! The scale only gives you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. IT CANNOT MEASURE BEAUTY, TALENT, PURPOSE, POSSIBILITY, STRENGTH, DETERMINATION OR LOVE. Trust me, your relationship is so not worth it. If you’re contemplating a break-up with Mr. Scale & you need that extra little push, HERE IT IS MY LOVES. Breaking up with him was the second best decision I ever made (recovery being the first). You won’t regret it & you will find someone so much better, I’m telling you. HINT: His name is Mr. Life After Anorexia Recovery & he is the best thing that ever happened to me.
- DO NOT SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE DIET & WEIGHT-OBSESSED. If those people are close to you, explain to them why you cannot be surrounded with those thoughts, influences or behaviours. And if they are not, find it within yourselves to eliminate them from your life for the time being. THIS IS QUITE POSSIBLY THE WORST TRIGGER & can bring back all those scary thoughts that led you to starvation in the first place. AND YOU HAVE COME SO FAR, MY LOVES. DO NOT LET THIS NEGATIVITY BRING YOU DOWN, heck, do not even let it be a part of your life!
Come up with a FOOD IS FUEL mantra that WORKS FOR YOU.
MY LOVES. FOOD IS FUEL. IT IS. NOURSIHMENT IS FUEL. IT IS. LET ME EXPLAIN!
My therapist’s favourite line throughout our first few sessions was “Food is your medicine”. And it’s true. So freaking true!!!! Although I wanted to laugh in his face every single time he said it before I was actually mentally ready to tackle recovery, IT’S SO TRUE.
NOURISHMENT IS A FORM OF MEDICINE, self-respect & love. And recovery is about just that. It’s about learning to develop a healthy relationship with food, BUT ALSO ABOUT LEARNING TO APPRECIATE THE FOODS THAT YOU ENJOY!
As I learned (& continue to learn) more about the nutritional & medicinal values of various whole foods, I began conversing with food on a whole new level! For example, changing my use of food language allowed me to transform my relationship with healthy, good-for-you fats!!!! (WHICH BTW, I was freaking afraid, petrified & HORRIFIED by just a few short months ago).
When I learned that walnuts, for example, are a healthy brain food due to their omega-3 essential fatty acid content, I changed my internal conversation from “OMG these walnuts are so fattening and they’re going straight to my BUTT”, to “These freaking babes are fuelling my brain to help me think clearly & stabilize my mood! These fats are vital for my nervous system to function at optimal level“. AND DON’T GET ME STARTED ABOUT WHEN I DEVOUR AVOCADOS, I STILL THINK “Oh yeah… This is going straight to… the shine in my HAIR, SKIN & NAILS!!!!!!
All this to say, my loves, take recovery as an opportunity to educate yourself about the foods you love. AND THEN, DEVOUR THEM. No, but seriously, approach recovery with a desire to NURTURE YOUR BODY. To give it not only what it needs to survive, a.k.a. food, in any shape or form, BUT TO GIVE IT WHAT IT NEEDS TO FEEL GOOD!
After changing my lifestyle (& it’s only been a little bit over four months), you have no idea how much of a difference it has made in my life. I HAVE NEVER FELT BETTER. I HAVE NEVER FELT HEALTHIER. IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. Not even before the eating disorder took control over me. So, my loves, if there is something you can retain from this coping strategy, it’s to approach recovery with positivity & to take it as an opportunity (as opposed to a setback or a fork in the road) to change your life. To better yourself. To better your health. To make healthier choices for your body, mind, skin & overall well-being! TAKE IT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO BECOME THE YOU THAT YOU HAVE ALWAYS DREAMED OF BECOMING. Yes, it will take work. Effort. Dedication. Motivation. Commitment. DAYS & DAYS OF READING & RESEARCH. But, you have no idea how worthwhile it is. Look at it as though you were studying for the biggest exam of your life. BECOME A LIBRARY RAT – BUT A LIBRARY RAT COMMITTED NOT TO LAW OR MEDICINE, BUT RATHER TO CHANGING & BETTERING YOUR LIFE.
Be PREPARED TO DEAL WITH BODY SHAPE, WEIGHT & APPEARANCE COMMENTS (You will want to freaking kill everyone, but I AM PREPARING YOU, MY LOVES!).
My loves, be prepared that many (PERHAPS) well-intended people will want to compliment you on your accomplishment of “filling out a bit” and looking “so much better” or “so much healthier”. Some may not know better & others may not be able to help themselves because THEY SIMPLY LOVE & CARE ABOUT YOU SO MUCH AND ARE SO RELIEVED & THANKFUL TO SEE YOU GENUINELY DOING BETTER.
The problem? For someone who is still uncomfortable about weight gain, an innocent word like “healthy” can become a FREAKING BOMB that explodes & rains, LIKE LITERALLY POURS, on your “recovery parade”. If this happens, try to remind yourself that IF YOUR EATING DISORDER IS CONFUSING ENOUGH TO YOU, imagine how confusing it is to the general population! A little compassion can go a long way as a distress tolerance skill with these unwanted comments.
In closer & more valued relationships, you may feel more comfortable confronting people about how you actually interpret appearance-basesd comments. AND when it comes to those you may not be as close to, accept that from their point of view (NO MATTER HOW MUCH IT FREAKING EATS AT YOU), they are simply trying to encourage & motivate you to continue on your journey & to remind you that your progress is FREAKING AMAZING (But you know it is, right?).
P.S. HEALTHY DOES NOT MEAN FAT!!!!
TEACH YOUR MIND THAT THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE THAN A NUMBER!
I know, the way I say it, makes it sound easy. But it’s not. Teaching the mind just about anything is the hardest thing in the world. Your mind can be your best friend but it can also be your worst enemy (& when it is, God help you, right?). But, with the right amount of effort & mind work, you can teach your mind to value certain things & not to overthink others.
The number on your scale went up this week? WHO THE HELL CARES!
Do you feel good?
Do you have energy?
Are your vital signs on track?
Did you eat lots of really yummy & healthy food this week?
Did you see your family & friends?
Are you feeling mentally stable?
Do you have something to look forward to?
Are you in tune with your emotions?
Did you make healthy choices?
Do you feel like you made progress?
YES.YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. & YES X 100!
So what is that stupid number worth anyway? Are you really going to let it dominate your thoughts? Haven’t you been through enough domination? (LAWL, that sounds so Fifty Shades of Grey of me, but you catch my drift). All this to say, my loves, that numbers are freaking SUPERFICIAL. They are useless. Weight fluctuates for a trillion different reasons & when you finally make the decision to recover, you will realize HOW MUCH (SO FREAKING MUCH) YOU HAVE TO EAT IN ORDER TO REALLY GAIN WEIGHT & KEEP IT ON (Oh & you will also realize how freaking amazing it feels to keep it on & WORK IT!).
YOU ARE NOT FAT. YOU ARE NOT FAILING. YOU ARE NOT WEAK. YOU ARE NOT GIVING IN TO “RECOVERY”.
YOU ARE HEALTHY. YOU ARE SUCCEEDING. YOU ARE FREAKING STRONG. YOU ARE MAKING RECOVERY YOUR B.
AND MY LOVES, remember that gaining weight is not just about a number, BUT IS A FULLY CONSTRUCTIVE PROCESS OF CREATING A NEWLY BEAUTIFUL, CAPABLE & DEPENDABLE BODY FOR YOURSELF!
When anorexia took control of your life, you freaking lost the ability to depend on your body, heck you lost the ability to depend on yourself to take care of your body & YOUR MIND. And now, you have finally regained the ability to STEAL THAT CONTROL FROM ANOREXIA. Embrace it. Commend yourself for it. ADOPT A NEW LIFESTYLE, ONE THAT WILL BENEFIT YOU PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY, NUTRITIONALLY, EDUCATIONALLY & SOCIALLY. Use what you have been through (HELL, I know) & channel it into positivity. And DECIDE WHAT THAT POSITIVITY MEANS FOR YOU.
For me, it meant starting a blog to share my recipes with you, to let you into the ugliest, saddest, most heart wrenching details, traumas & experiences in my life, to answer your questions about eating disorders, mental health & nutrition, to HELP, INSPIRE & PREVENT OTHERS IN SIMILAR (or on the verge of being) SITUATIONS & then, it meant starting to vlog TO LET YOU INTO MY DAILY LIFE, TO SHOW YOU WHAT BEING IN RECOVERY TRULY ENTAILS, to show you that it’s a day job, BUT TO SHOW YOU THAT IT IS THE BEST JOB I EVER HAD!
And so, whenever you feel like that number is eating away at you (NO PUN INTENDED), at your mind & at your poor little heart, breaking it in pieces, STOP. QUESTION WHAT YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED. QUESTION WHERE YOU ARE IN YOUR JOURNEY TOWARDS RECOVERY. & MOST IMPORTANTLY, RECOGNIZE THAT THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE THAN THAT STUPID NUMBER. You are REGAINING YOUR LIFE, AND BEST OF ALL? YOU ARE FREAKING ALIVE (NEED I SAY, MORE ALIVE THAN EVER?!).
That should be the most important thing in the world.
ADOPT DOABLE DISTRACTION TECHNIQUES.
My loves, first and foremost, let me begin by saying that DISTRACTION TECHNIQUES WILL NOT, I repeat, WILL NOT, cure any underlying issues that may be at the root of your eating disorder.
BUT, BUT, BUT, they will help you avoid behaviour use, which is incredibly empowering. Distraction techniques will allow you to recognize & acknowledge that you also deserve a break from the eating disorder thoughts & behaviours.
URGES ARE TEMPORARY & THEY DO PASS, I PROMISE!!!! While they may return every now & then to freaking haunt you, it will lift your spirits to be able to conquer urges when they present themselves. And this is why you need to determine, through trial & error, WHAT WORKS FOR YOU & WHAT ACTUALLY HELPS DISTRACT YOU FROM SAID THOUGHTS.
For me, it helps to read, to blog, to watch TV even, to listen to music, to call, text or message a close friend or a family member, to do research on health or skincare products AND YES, SOMETIMES, EVEN JUST TO TAKE A NAP & DISCONNECT FROM THE WORLD. Sometimes, I need it. Sometimes, you will too.
BASICALLY, do anything (that will distract you) OTHER THAN ACCEPT MENTAL TORMENT FROM ANOREXIA. Like seriously, just tell that B to peace the eff out & do anything & I mean, ANYTHING that will keep those thoughts at bay! (AND IF THEY COME BACK, CALL ME. I’LL HELP YOU MAKE THEM GO AWAY!).
Surround yourself with POSITIVE support & WITH PEOPLE WHO LOVE, SUPPORT & ENCOURAGE YOU.
My loves, if there is one thing I can suggest, it’s to REDUCE your exposure to people who are weight or appearance obsessed! Surround yourself with people who are uplifting & encouraging of YOU & of others, in general. You probably have enough trouble with criticizing yourself. You do not need further exposure to negative talk. Positive people will help you appreciate your inner & outer beauty. They will help you recognize & acknowledge your progress, even if some days said progress is qualified by REALLY LITTLE BABY STEPS!
I also find it helpful to have a role model, someone to talk to & look up to, whether it be someone who has recovered from an eating disorder or someone who simply owns body confidence.
My loves, RECOVERY IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING IN THE WORLD (I can only imagine how freaking beautiful LIFE ENTIRELY FREE FROM ANOREXIA is), so please, seek out the influences & the people who will HELP YOU REMEMBER THAT IN TIMES OF HARDSHIP & VULNERABILITY.
And please, ACCEPT THAT HELP! Allow yourself to be open, honest & free with people you trust and verbalize your feelings without fear of judgment even if you currently feel the following: “I gained five (or ten, or fifteen) pounds & I’m fat & I hate myself”.
DO NOT ASSOCIATE YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO WILL HINDER YOUR PROGRESS OR YOUR RECOVERY IN GENERAL. As selfish as it sounds, put those people on the back burner. FOCUS ON YOU. FOCUS ON GETTING HEALTHY. FOCUS ON GETTING BETTER. You are worth so much more than people who try to bring you down. You need to surround yourself with positivity, encouragement, motivation & love. Anorexia has already made you go through a great deal of negativity, letdowns, setbacks, demotivation & self-hatred. YOU DO NOT NEED MORE OF IT, MY LOVES.
ALL THIS TO SAY, during recovery, HAVE THE ABILITY TO SEEK OUT THE LOVE & SUPPORT OF THOSE WHO YOU FEEL WILL GIVE IT TO YOU & WILL DO SO, GENUINELY. And these should be people that you feel comfortable with, that you are able to communicate with, that you are able to be open with, and that you are not afraid of being honest & freaking raw with. You are worth it. So worth it. Don’t let anybody or anything make you think differently. PLEASE!
STICK WITH YOUR EATING DISORDER TREATMENT PLAN, REGARDLESS OF HOW MUCH PROGRESS YOU SEEM TO BE MAKING!
Do not neglect medical appointments, therapy sessions & do not divert too much from your meal plan. These behaviours can make you susceptible to relapse, especially if at the same time, your body is changing & starting to return to a healthy weight. You must remain committed (EVEN IF IT SEEMS LIKE EVERYTHING IS ON TRACK! The reason is on track is because you’ve been so committed, so keep at it!!!)
AND, my loves, I have experienced this FIRST-HAND – WHOEVER CRITICIZES YOU, OR TRIES TO PUT YOU DOWN FOR BEING “TOO MOTIVATED”, “TOO FOCUSED” & “TOO COMMITTED”, SAY GOODBYE TO THEM. Literally. I know, goodbyes are hard. BUT DO IT. You have no idea how liberated, relieved & freaking amazing you will feel. You’ll only really know once you do it. Once you take that scary-AF step & say goodbye. BUT THEN, SUDDENLY, YOUR LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. CLEAR. & YOUR COMMITMENT IS STRONGER THAN EVER.
And MY LOVES, if ever you find yourself in a situation where you feel like you don’t have a strong stable support system from day one through day four thousand & I don’t know what infinity (one that will motivate you to stay on track & to stay in line with your treatment plan), call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me! NO BUT SERIOUSLY, I AM ALWAYS HERE. ALWAYS.
BE KIND TO YOUR BODY & RE-LEARN HOW TO LISTEN TO IT!
Stopping to fight your body by FEEDING & NOURISHING IT should go hand in hand with a willingness & a freaking strong AF desire to be kind to it & RE-learn how to listen to it (Yes, “re”, because you probably used to listen to it, but anorexia stripped you of that ability, along with the 190489482 others when she took control of your life).
I have found that doing yoga has helped me with all (YES, all) of the anxiety & depression associated with my eating disorder. For those of you who have never tried it, yoga is such a beautiful thing. It literally attunes you more delicately to your body’s capacities & limitations in strength & flexibility and puts you in this calm, soothing mindset, one in which you can ponder about your progress & about your goals, without ANY OTHER CARE IN THE WORLD. Of course, even though it is not the most strenuous workout out there, it should not be done too soon (& your doctor will most probably prohibit it, anyways!). It should only be done when you start to feel more energized & when your body weight is starting to enter what would be deemed as a “healthy range”.
AND, when you find that your body feels tired, weak, exhausted, overworked, exerted, STOP. STOP MOVING. STOP DOING. STOP BEING ON THE GO. Relax. Accept that yes, although you are recovering & feeling much better overall, you are still not at your healthiest point. You are still not at a healthy weight. And internally, you are most probably still not where you need to be (after all the damage anorexia has caused to your organs). And this is why, when you feel ANY, and I mean, ANY, of the above, you need to listen to your body and take a breather. Take a break! It’s okay to CHILL OUT & DO NOTHING.
BTW, research has shown that many people recovering from eating disorders ALWAYS feel like they need to be doing something, like they must always be “on-the-go” & moving. AND OF COURSE, it’s great that you feel (both physically & mentally) like you have all the ENERGY in the world to do so, BUT it’s also super important, HECK IT’S CRUCIAL, for you to realize that you are human (Yes, don’t worry, it does not make you any less Superman/Superwoman for getting to where you are today) & that you will sometimes NEED & DESERVE A BREAK (AND MAYBE EVEN A FREAKING DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE, ya dig?).
And, lastly, (YES, YOUR BRAIN IS PART OF YOUR BODY, BTW!), IF YOU FEEL EXHAUSTED MENTALLY, this is also your body telling you to stop.
To stop & ponder.
To stop & reflect.
To stop & ask for support & help.
To stop & MINDWORK.
To stop & question.
To stop & REALIZE AND RECOGNIZE HOW FAR YOU HAVE COME.
To acknowledge your progress.
To be freaking proud-AF of yourself for said progress.
And to embrace that although you may not be where you need to be MENTALLY, YOU HAVE COME A HECK OF A LONG WAY & there is no turning back.
DON’T LET YOURSELF. DO NOT. I repeat, DO NOT LET YOURSELF TURN BACK. You were controlled, heck, freaking dominated, for long enough. NOW, you are in control.
And so, when you feel like you have 2 million thoughts going through your mind & you don’t know how to put them in order? Stop. Breathe. Think. Acknowledge. Recognize. Realize. & Most importantly, PAT YOURSELF ON THE SHOULDER REAL FREAKING HARD. You did it, my loves. You are almost there! You’ve accomplished too much to EVER look back!
TAKE THINGS SLOW, IF YOU MUST!
MY LOVES, taking things slow does not make you any less strong than if you were to take the highway (ERGO, TAKE THE SERVICE ROAD!). No, but seriously, when I was first exploring the idea of recovery, I remember sitting with both my therapist & nutritionist as we attempted to determine what the “ideal” treatment plan would be FOR ME. We came to the conclusion that given that taking the fast route is one of the BIGGEST risk factors in anorexia relapse, what I had ALREADY been through & how SEVERE my condition got, the best thing for me to do would be to approach recovery SLOWLY & GENTLY.
What does this approach entail, you ask?
Basically, I COULDA,
SHOULDA, WOULDA approached recovery in such a way that I freaking devoured everything in sight (Legit like the cookie monster), without knowing how much of it or what was actually going into my body (nutritionally & physically). And let’s be honest, had I chosen that approach, I probably would’ve reached my goal weight (& then some) by today. BUT, I probably also would’ve relapsed, or come very close to it. The idea behind this approach not being the “best one” for me was that it would not only shock my body physically (Given that it was SO STARVED), BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, IT WOULD SHOCK ME MENTALLY.
In fact, for any of you who have “dieted” (I FREAKING HATE THAT WORD!) OR who have gone through points in your lives where you were being conscious of your weight, you all know that there’s a HUGE difference between seeing the scale go up (or down) by 0.5 or 1lb a week, as opposed to seeing it go up (or down) 2 or 3lb per week. At the end of the day, yes, those 2-3lb are NECESSARY, CRUCIAL EVEN, but it does not mean you have to rush or race to get there. It will come, all in due time. You need to acknowledge that yes, recovery is about the physical & about getting your weight back to a healthy point, BUT IT’S ALSO ABOUT CARING FOR YOUR PSYCHE & CHANGING YOUR LIFESTYLE.
In fact, as I’ve told you munchkins numerous times, I took recovery as an opportunity to RETAIN AS MUCH POSITIVE FROM THE MOST NEGATIVE (WELL, ONE OF) EXPERIENCES OF MY LIFE. I learned to make healthier choices, nutrition-wise, but also with regards to my skin, my mental state & my overall well-being. I chose to change my lifestyle. I chose to start taking care of myself & my body in ways that I NEVER HAVE BEFORE. I chose to read, learn & educate myself about food, nutrients, health, self-care, self-help & mental illness.
AND BEST OF ALL, I chose to start a blog as an outlet and as a form of therapy that would allow me to share all this newfound knowledge WITH THE WORLD. WITH YOU, MY LOVES. WITH MY SUPPORTERS!
And so, when making the decision to recover (Or contemplating said decision – BTW, stop contemplating. IT IS THE ONLY OPTION & IT IS THE BEST ONE!), sit down to think & ask yourself what will work best for you.
Are you the type of person that will experience feelings of shock, self-doubt, worry, self-hatred & even disgust, if you see your weight going up too quickly & approach recovery from a “fast lane” point of view?
Or, is your condition not at such a severe point (both physically & mentally) that you believe you can overcome the feelings associated with weight gain & not let them affect your mental state?
I chose option one. And I have to say that ever since DAY 1 OF RECOVERY, this approach has worked seamlessly for me.
Yes, the weight gain has happened slowly.
Yes, there are weeks where I have plateaued & where it seemed like the weight was no longer going to go up.
Yes, I still eat REALLY HEALTHY (& avoid red meat, saturated fats, refined sugars & junk food).
BUT, objectively (well rather, empirically), THE NUMBERS ARE STILL GOING UP. THEM GAINS ARE STILL THERE.
I HAVE SO MUCH ENERGY.
MY VITAL SIGNS ARE WHERE THEY NEED TO BE (and by “where they need to be”, I totally mean “in the normal range”).
I AM NO LONGER HIBERNATING.
I AM HAPPY.
& MOST IMPORTANTLY, I HAVE REGAINED COMPLETE & UTTER CONTROL OF MY LIFE.
And yes, all of this, while taking the service road.
So, my loves, all this to say, IF YOU DECIDE TO TAKE RECOVERY INTO YOUR HANDS & TO DO SO WITH A “SERVICE ROAD” APPROACH, CONGRATS! (Congrats if you choose to do it from the fast lane too!).
This makes you STRONG.
This makes you EMPOWERED.
This makes you BRAVE.
This makes you FREAKING AWESOME.
And yes, it means your recovery will take longer. BUT IT ALSO MEANS THAT YOUR RECOVERY WILL BE PERMANENT & WILL TURN INTO A LIFESTYLE CHANGE.
It means that you will have time to work on yourself, to teach your mind to love your body & to love YOU.
And all while doing that, that empirical data (Yes, your weight) will consistently climb. BUT you will hardly even notice it! You know what they say… time heals everything. And for those of you who are suffering or who have suffered from an eating disorder, I am sure you can agree with me that having anorexia is literally like being in the WORST, MOST CONTROLLING, OVERPROTECTIVE RELATIONSHIP IN THE WORLD. And this, my loves, is the reason why the time has come to END IT.
And last but not least, remember that just as you must contemplate constructing a NEW, BETTER YOU after anorexia, you have to construct a BODY for yourself too; one that will be WHAT YOU NEED IT TO BE to live & MOST IMPORTANTLY, to be alive to catch up on all that you missed out on while anorexia controlled you.
Neither this NEW YOU nor your NEW BODY can be created overnight. You now have the ability to take things into your own hands & there are a million and one possibilities for what you can now let & help your body become. It is no longer trapped in the dangerous & very vicious cycle of being SKELETAL & WEAK.
But, my loves, RECOVERY TAKES WORK. COMMITMENT. DEDICATION. SELF-LOVE. SELF-CONFIDENCE. DRIVE. MOTIVATION. SUPPORT.
And, I KNOW, with sheer freaking confidence that YOU HAVE IT IN YOU. I just know it. I believe in you so hard.
Now, all you need to do is find it within yourselves to BELIEVE IN YOU TOO.
The rest? History!
ALL THIS TO SAY (& Yes, I know it was a freaking LONG ONE), you have made it WAY TOO FAR & WORKED WAY TOO HARD TO GIVE UP NOW. I cannot emphasize enough that glamorizing the eating disorder only opens the gateway to relapse.
Sure, the ED may have served a purpose for you for a long time, BUT, DON’T FORGET THAT IT STOPPED WORKING, which is why you decided to start your healing in the first place.
So, babies, if ever you find yourself wishing you were thinner or that you had not gained weight, know that you are also wishing for all of the pain, struggle, misery, depression, isolation, anger, frustration, tears & broken heart the eating disorder left you.
AND YOU MOST CERTAINLY 200% DO NOT NEED ALL OF THAT. You are worth of a life freaking worth living.
EMBRACE THAT. AND PLEASE, LET YOURSELF LIVE IT!
OH & did you really think I’d tell you munchkins ALL OF THIS without showing you THE RAW EVIDENCE OF ‘DEM GAINS?! Here are LOADS of progress pics!!!!