I totally intended on posting this the tuesday, after my rant about things that kept me stuck in unhealthy habits, but if you have read pretty much any of my posts before you will know that I have been combatting a nasty case of disordered eating and exercise addiction for a while, and there were quite a few things that prevented me from moving on with my life in a positive manner.
But since I have done a much better job in the last few months, taking care of myself mentally and physically, I was hoping to share a few of the things I changed in order to get to this point.
So how did I move on from my past failures and fallacy of thought, you ask….
Well, there are five things I found to be most helpful, as I have implemented them into my new life.
1. Find positive role models.
Have you ever been in the lunch room and all anyone talks about is how “bad” they were for eating a cookie last night? Or do you watch America’s Next Top Model and wish you had the long skinny legs of that Amazon woman?
I avoid these situations like the plague.
I loved going to the Healthy Living Summit because I was surrounded by women who had the same goals and values as myself, but were way better at implementing them.
They respected their bodies. They liked themselves, and they were smart, driven, beautiful and a seriously fun bunch! These are the women I now try to keep in contact with because they provide me with inspiration every, single, day.
I also boycott shows, magazines, and media that may trigger me. Sometimes this means not reading certain blogs, even, because I compare myself to others, which is absolutely one of the worst things you can do to yourself.
You are YOU and should lead a lifestyle that works for your health. In recovery that may mean eating more food, exercising less, etc. and comparing yourself to someone who is nutritionally, mentally and emotionally “ok” can be detrimental.
The bottom line is, recovery is not something you can do alone, but you need POSITIVE and HEALTHY influences around you, not ones that reaffirm your old habits.
I definitely learned this the hard way, and it took me a while to understand my need to be a bit media sheltered. Just proceed with caution and be honest with yourself if something is not working.
2. Find a purpose.
My anorexia was really selfish. I focused only on losing weight, maintaining my rigid schedule, meal times and safe foods. I didn’t want to let anyone into my world for fear they would hurt or try to sabotage me (sounds a bit crazy, right!) But then things started happening that made me realize life revolves around much more than my little bubble.
Recently my sister lost a baby. There I was agonizing over the French toast I had for breakfast and she was at the doctor learning she had a miscarriage. Talk about putting things into perspective. My French toast dilemma was in all honesty, silly, compared to what she was experiencing and I really needed to give myself a reality check so I could be there for her.
Thankfully I am at a point in my recovery where I can do that; tell my brain to shut the heck up and move on from my insignificant calorie woes, but there was a time where looking beyond me was unfathomable.
I recommend to anyone who is in recovery to find a cause, volunteer, support a charity, because it can help serve as a reminder that there is more to life than food, weight, and calories. Especially if you become involved with something like breast cancer (which I attended a fundraiser for last weekend) it can show you that health is something to be valued, and cherished, not thrown away. Life can be short and taken in an instant so do you really want to spend your time worrying about a little extra around the middle? I know I don’t.
I’m not diminishing the mental component of eating disorders, because trust me, it is completely relevant, and I do a lot of work in therapy on abandonment issues I have had since childhood. But I also work in alternative education where most of my kids do not have parents at all, and that makes me realize there are people in the world that are far worse off than myself.
Sometimes you just have to take a step back and think, “There is someone out there who is worse off than me. And while today I may have a struggle, tomorrow is anew.”
3. Replace old habits with new ones.
After meals I used to literally run to the treadmill. It was my form of purging; getting rid of all the calories I had just consumed. Now after meals I write.
When my dad told me he got married after his actual wedding already occurred (which I was not invited to) I went for a six mile run, after doing 4 earlier that morning.
See a pattern? I would literally RUN from my problems, anxiety and sadness.
Now I believe in talking with others, seeking out support, journaling, playing games, keeping my mind active; anything other than the destructive behaviors I resorted to before.
Similarly, I would get mad at my husband so I would restrict. Who was this really hurting but me? Ryan wasn’t feeling the hunger pangs that gnawed at my belly all day. If I would have just told him how I was feeling maybe the issue could have been resolved and I wouldn’t have been so physically uncomfortable.
I can tell you from experience, now, that being honest, open, and finding new hobbies is much better than aching legs, bone loss, starvation, and suppressed feelings. My life is much more fulfilling now that I am starting to open up and try new things. It was really hard at first, but like I said, nothing in recovery is easy.
Writing has given me a wonderful outlet, and blogging has helped me make a ton of new friends. Treadmills and being too scared to eat in public are pretty lonely existences, but attending seminars, taking a dance class, and going to happy hour, are definitely a good time.
Please try to get out of the box. It is totally worth it.
4. Let go.
I am terrible at trusting people. This stems back from a long line of disappointment in my life from loved ones and others who have taken advantage of me, but my treatment team was not there to hurt me. They were there to save my life.
As much as I believed my nutritionist only wanted to make me fat, she just wanted to make me survive.
My doctor didn’t want to send me away and make me miserable at a hospital. He was trying to prolong my life.
It wasn’t until I got over the irrational fear that everyone was out to get me that I could actually let go of some of my behaviors and follow through with the recovery process. I am still working on this, and it gets a little better day by day, but it all started with acceptance, and trust. With these two things, you will get much further on your journey to health.
5. Believe in yourself.
This may be the most important tip I give you. Because I have been trying my hand at recovery for years, and failed countless times, many people started to give up. I would push, push, push, everyone away so I could be left alone with my disorder, and eventually they responded.
I did not believe I was worth a life better than one consumed by obsession and negative self-talk. I didn’t even truly begin my recovery until I made the conscious decision that I could be a better person. No one could tell me to do it; I personally had to believe it was inside me. This is the key to getting back your health.
Know that you can achieve greatness. You are deserving of a better life. And although recovery sucks, you can totally do it.