9. My schedule no longer revolves around food and exercise. My hunger and fullness has become my body clock. I eat when I am hungry. I listen. I stop when I’m full. I listen. I remember when I was in college and marathon training, I skipped a friend’s birthday party because I didn’t want to eat chips and queso and birthday cake since I had a long run the next day (and I was unwilling to wait one single day to do my long run).
8. No more lies… In that story above, I faked a stomach ache to avoid those “bad” foods, and missed out on a fun night and the chance to love on a good friend. The number of times I said, “I just don’t like pizza or bacon. They make me feel bad.” Who doesn’t like those?! In moderation, they don’t make me feel bad at all. I regret so many of those inauthentic moments.
7. I finally am at peace with food. I no longer see food as “good” or “bad”. Food is just food. It is not my worst foe, nor is it my soothing comforter after a bad day, my savior and idol, or the answer to my problems.
6. I only do exercise and activities that bring me joy, I no longer exercise to punish myself for what I ate earlier that day. I used to have intrusive thoughts that each step of my run was dropping off pounds of fat, so as you can imagine when I wasn’t doing those daily runs, I just imagined all of that fat on me. Now instead, I see myself as strong, and fun, and I picture the sweat just clearing out stress and toxins from my life and joy building inside of me. In the past, I only considered certain types of activity or duration of time a “real” workout. Now, I play soccer, ultimate frisbee, allow myself to walk with a friend, play golf, or do restorative yoga with no judgment.
5. My diet is no longer a bank account with a balance that carries over from day to day or meal to meal. One meal that is more fun treat foods, one day at the county fair, or one holiday where I go to 2 Thanksgiving dinners, does not mean that I will gain 5 pounds. Nor does it mean I shouldn’t eat the next day. I give myself grace from day to day. His mercies are new every morning. I finally trust that my body cannot change that much from one small indulgence or one meal or day of not eating enough. It’s about a lifestyle of fueling myself well.
4. I can try new, fun foods! Like tamales and guac at Costco; the fruit, truffles, or smoked salmon samples at Whole Foods or Trader Joes, a restaurants’ house specialties, new boba tea flavors. I can bake and try new recipes. And…. I can participate in days like National Cupcake Day, guilt free! (Here’s is a friend and colleague’s video from the recovery center she started in the DC area):
3. I no longer compare myself to everyone else (what they eat, how they eat, how they look, how much they work out). I am less critical of myself and others. I give myself and other’s grace. I realize that not every thin person has an eating disorder. Also, not every thin person works out all of the time or doesn’t eat enough, and not every bigger person eats too much. I realize that cultural ideals are arbitrary and bullshit, and thin or fit looking is not something to be jealous of, especially if you are unhealthy or don’t have your priorities in balance. I know now you can be healthy or unhealthy at any size, and it is a good idea to get to know someone’s story and ask questions before I start making any assumptions or judgments. As Eleanor Roosevelt says, “Comparison is the thief of Joy.”
2. Freedom! (with food). I could drink fancy Hawaiian cocktails, eat chicken and waffles, and eat delicious cake at my wedding. I could eat no different than every day ever and not crash diet up until my wedding day. I can go through life and never DIET, or Whole 30, or do whatever fad or cleanse ever again, because I have found a way to live in balance and peace and eat however I want when I want and reject a destructive cycle.
1. FREEDOM! (with body image). I am so peaceful with my body and the most confident I have ever been! I always thought, if I just reach this weight or size or body shape or run at this pace, THEN, and ONLY THEN, I will be happy and confident. I have finally stopped counting and weighing. Only in recovery, I have been my most confident self, loving me every day whether a good day or a bad day, knowing I always deserve to be fueled and enjoy food!
So how do you get to Recovery???
First, you have to STOP and decide that your eating disorder is a big enough problem in your life and that the imprisonment you feel to obsessing and counting and weighing and body checking and comparing and well… you know the list can go on… is just not worth it!
Next you have to admit that you CANNOT do it on your own. You can’t. You need support. You need God’s grace and his bigger plan. You need people who know science (doctor’s and nutritionists) to teach what could happen objectively if you stay in your ED patterns. You may need people to eat with, to hold you accountable for being balanced, fueled, and healthy. You need love and support and cheerleaders. You may need a therapist to challenge those cognitive distortions or higher level of care treatment if you need daily support.
Third, Reach out and ask for help! (Tell one person whom you trust). If you bring your secret out of the darkness and into the light, the secret will lose it’s dark power.
There are so many options for ED recovery. Please reach out if you need resources for you or a friend.
My email is Wendy.LMFT@gmail.com