Friday, December 10, 2010

Was it ever recovery?

This past year has been one of the most challenging years in my life.  I began exercising regularly, eating a lot more, and battled with being 'okay' with the way my body looked.

My recovery was self-proclaimed.  I'm not even sure why I began calling it recovery.  I wasn't underweight, I didn't need to gain weight, but I did have ED thoughts.  It was easier to call it recovery.  In fact, I think I got into it because I really just wanted to start to exercise and tone up my body.  And I realized that since I was working out a lot, I needed to eat more.  So, I decided to go full hog on this concept that I created for myself.

My body changed with the exercise.  Although my legs and butt toned up, I became 'fuller' looking.  This was really difficult for me to handle.  Since I was eating more, I felt a moral obligation to workout at least three times a week; and when I didn't, I scolded myself.

I also felt an obligation to eat more, not caring if I was hungry or not.  I was in recovery, right?  I started planning my meals down to the apple that I ate for a snack.  I was so continuously obsessed with my food choices, and constantly thought about what I was going to eat and my next meal.  (Which is quite ironic, given the fact that I was trying to get *over* my ED thoughts.)

And then there was the weight gain.  Let me put it this way, I hadn't fluctuated in weight more than two pounds in four years.  Going upwards of the high end of my happy weight was no treat.  It sucked.  It was terrifying.  Especially given the fact that I was never underweight.  Not one doctor ever told me to gain.  Never was I classified as 'anorexic', and not once did I go a day without eating.  I never purged by throwing up or by using exercise.  I probably never ate less than 1,200 calories a day (except here, which actually happened as a cause of my attempted 'recovery').

But the real devil of the past year of 'recovery' has been that I became even more obsessed with food than I ever was.  Thanksgiving was great, but in reality, I don't think or eat like that under most circumstances.  Ever since I started 'recovery' I've obsessed over food and exercise more than I ever have.

Lets not forget that my ED began with Binge Eating Disorder (BED).  The truth is, I've never binged as much as I have in the process of 'recovery' (well, since my BED days).  The reason that I have had so many bingeing episodes is because I'm constantly thinking about and stressed over food, all of which leads to bingeing.  I'm constantly telling myself that "I'm in recovery"and I need to eat.  Really though, do I need to eat more?  I don't need to medically gain weight.

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving I was weighed at the doctor's office.  I weighed in at 116.8 pounds, four pounds over what my usual recovery weight had become, and eight pounds over my happy weight.  My mind reeled, but at the same time I kept my day going.  I went shopping, I did this and that, and tried to push my weight thoughts out of my mind.  Truthfully though, I was beyond annoyed with myself and my weight, and the fact that I had basically had a three-day binge on Thanksgiving.  All I could think about was the fact that I hadn't been this self-concious about my body or my eating habits or my exercise routines EVER.  And I had never been this continuously unhappy with my body.

Was it my attempt at 'recovery' that was driving me insane?  Why was I more fixated on my body image and weight than ever before?  Why did I have to plan every meal way ahead of time and stress out about food?  Why was I not flexible when it came to food choices?  Why did I have to eat out of habit, and even when I wasn't hungry?  Why did I have to have a chocolate-y snack after dinner even if I was stuffed?  Why did I have to work out 3-4 times a week?  Why did I constantly feel like I was losing self control?

Why was I SO obsessed with diet and exercise in my attempted recovery?  Can I even call it recovery?

Thanksgiving was two weeks ago, and since then I've tried my hand at... drumroll please.... intuitive eating.  Needless to say, I like it.  I eat when I'm hungry, and don't when I'm not.  I eat what I want--I was sick last week and made a huge pot of delicious thick soup and ate it four out of seven nights.  Yesterday I had fruit, cheese and nuts for lunch.  And last night we went to see Wicked (!!!), and we came home afterwards and ate Burger King.  We were hungry and it was 11 o'clock.  It hit the spot.  On top of that, I haven't been to the gym since before Thanksgiving.  I feel a little guilty, but not too much.

And you know what else happened since after Thanksgiving?  I lost five pounds.  I debated about putting anything about weight loss on here (I don't want to trigger any of you Loves), but it pertains to the topic, so I apologize in advice.  Okay, wait a tick- I followed my hunger cues, didn't go to the gym, and my weight evened out and I'm happier with my body (remember this post about the gym making me look 'thick', well I don't feel as thick since I haven't been working out my muscles as much)?  Maybe intuitive eating and exercising is something to hold on to...

I wonder... has my head dive into this self proclaimed 'recovery' really sent me into a more obsessive form of ED?  Maybe if I stop making such a HUGE deal about it, and about planning meals and working out I would be happier?  Maybe if I stopped obsessing over 'recovery, ED, recovery, I have ED!", that could that be my real recovery?



  1. I was starting to get really worried at first, but I'm so glad that you're doing better! I should try intutive eating. Yes, overthinking everything can get very bad. I did that today. I kept thinking about food & exercise over and over again. When that happens, you just have to get away from both. I watched a movie, and felt a lot better afterward because I wasn't thinking about either food or exercise. So don't put too much thought into recovery, exercise, eating, or eating disorders. Just live. If you feel like you're slipping again, maybe get a professional to help with those issues? Do whatever feels right for YOU.
    Take care,

  2. Yes, I would still call this "recovery". Sure, You are in a different place from someone who is very ill and living in a treatment center, and what you do have in common with that person is this ED THINKING.

    ED thinking can ultimately cause you to slip down this slippery path and end up being very ill. ED thinking is very cunning, and manipulative.

    The important part is now you are working on this. Who says that battling ED thoughts is easy? Who says that ED thinking is something easily to be beaten? If it is then why aren't we all snapped out of it yet? I am convinced that ED thinking is the BULK of what we have to overcome.

    Weight gain, eating better, and exercising properly is easy part, but ED thinking is NOT.

    So, yes I would say you are in recovery. You may not see a therapist. You may not be in the treatment center. You may not attend treatment groups. I am not in any of them either. But I do consider myself to be in recovery because I WANT TO GET other words, I want my ED thinking to be reduced and I can free up my thoughts to think about other things that are more important.

    Hugs <3

    Like always, loved your post today.

  3. Brilliant post. Thank you for sharing it!! I really really needed to hear it, I think. Best wishes for continuing intuitive eating!

  4. I have so many thoughts! I totally know what you mean...
    Really. Right there with recovery meal plan turns into another guise to control my eating and focus on food rather than weight.
    I ditched it. So far so good, but I have a ways to go...

    However please be cautious. Be on guard. I think it is a common sentiment to feel "maybe I never had an eating diorder..."
    But when it comes down to it you know yourself.
    You know.
    You know?

    That being said.
    Please read "Woman, Food and God" by Geneen Roth.
    You'll love it. ~Missy


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