Starting Over

I feel like I am five.

I feel like I have to re-learn how to be a normal, functioning person again when it comes to anything in the food, diet or exercise world, and it is really, REALLY hard.

I mean it is obvious I have some issues, but I never realized how different certain habits I have are from what is considered “normal.“

I am starting to become more aware, however, as Ryan tries to help me rationalize, rid myself of the ritualistic behaviors, and essentially break all the “rules” I have constructed for as long as I can remember.

Example: The duration of a meal or snack is not over an hour.

I have gotten much better when I am in public with others, but I have to consciously think about it as I am eating.

…Take a bit, don’t chew it 569486 times, repeat, repeat, repeat.

This drives Ryan up the wall, because at home, I don‘t really care. I have nowhere to be so I can take my good old-time, and sometimes that is a bit too long.

My night snack used to take me over an hour to consume, close to an hour and a half if you counted the prep time, because I have one bowl and one spoon I use, that no one in the house ever touches, tea I have to make and heat up multiple times, a water bottle to fill maybe twice and I like to eat my Clif Mojo bar in very small pieces. I need to savor every morsel by letting it sit in my mouth for minutes on end. I don’t want to “waste” any calories, you know.

That sounds really weird when I type it out, but I maybe some of you can relate to what I am saying?

I know I draw out the snack process for multiple reasons.

When I was heavily restricting but trying to prove to my family how “well” I was doing by eating all my “meals” and “snacks” I almost always had 100 calorie popcorn.

There are a lot of pieces in those tiny little bags, and it seems like even more if you eat it one little kernel at a time, and basically let the things disintegrate in your mouth rather than actually chewing them.

This helped me trick my mind into thinking I was eating more, and I had almost trained my brain to believe I was “full.”

Yes CJ, you are so satiated because you had “soooo much food.”

I relished every second of that damn snack because even if I was still starving, which I pretty much was ALL THE TIME, I needed to pretend I wasn’t.

This system, coupled with about a gallon of water, worked for a while, and helped me remain under my caloric limit, which of course, was the ultimate goal of my day.

Pretty psycho.

Exercise is another element of my recovery that is non-negotiable.

I agreed, or I suppose was forced, to stop running, which I guess I was my compromise, but I am not trying to die and with the cardiac issues that come with this disorder, I could come to terms with the fact that I was no longer permitted to run 6-7 miles a day.

So I now walk and Zumba, but heaven forbid someone suggest I take a rest day.

I can be sick, injured, exhausted, not progressing at all in my journey, and I become a mean beast if someone tries to take away my treadmill.

Last year, when I started to lose weight again Ryan removed the treadmill key so the machine wouldn’t turn on.

I was furious.

FURIOUS!!!

He was trying to make a point that sometimes people take days off. Sometimes our bodies need a day to just “be,” rejuvenate, and relax.

Apparently I am the exception to this because aside from a few days in the hospital, (I was a bathroom exerciser and got in trouble for it multiples times…woops! DO NOT follow my example) exercise is a daily part of my routine.

His argument is I am not really challenging myself, or changing anything about my life and my ED rituals, if I still feel I MUST do it every day.

He has a point. You cannot alter your neuropathways and forge healthier habits if you still participating in the destructive ones, even if they are less intense.

I had always thought “I am walking rather than feeling the need to run, I am making SO much progress.”

This might be sort of true, but I still haven’t really stepped out of the box and taken a leap into a “recovered” lifestyle.

There are a ton of examples of habitual behaviors, ED rituals and rules that I will continue to discuss, but the point of this post is, I wonder if a person can truly get better, and have a more positive mind-set, if they are still quasi-engaging in their old ways?

I see the argument for both sides; my side specifically because there are things I am just not ready or willing to eliminate from my life, but is that holding me back?

I feel like I am working toward “normalcy” but my set of beliefs is completely skewed so it is really hard to gauge.

Hopefully some day I will be free of it all, but it is hard when you feel like you have to erase things that dictated the majority of your life.

Like I said, I feel like I am five, starting from scratch in a whole different kind of school.

Let’s hope my past-over-achiever comes out.

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20 thoughts on “Starting Over

  1. some thoughts:

    1) an hour for eating??? that is not normal CJ…and i say that with all my heart…this is why i’m so different from “ED ” people…i eat my food too fast…just to get it freaking over with (i’ m a robot…i don’t care about or savor food…i eat it fast and get severe gas becuz of it….i’m more about worrying if the food is “perfect” etc etc…
    if u were in inpatient… u r not allowed more than like 30 mins max for a meal, 10-15 mins max for snack

    2) i only walk each day
    depressing 😦

    3) my breakfast this mornig felt SO wrong….with my bowels so bad, i feel guilty for combining lots of things and eating grains first thing in the morning after rolling out of bed…so i feel guilty cause this morning was a new spur of the moment thing that i didn’t even want…but just had to “add ” the calories (which feels wrong, cause people say to “eat what u want” and be “free” about it)…but it was a big complex mess of nut butter, fruit, milk, cereal, etc…and i did DOUBLE the cereal serving (for anyone)…which feels wrong cause i should be be more gradually adding food and grains people say …but instead i just load it on in one big way without being “gradual”….i suck….if someone else told me this i would tell them they are crazy…but i just feel so different cause i have these severe bowel issues and i’m not helping myself…

    • Oh trust me girl, I know my eating habits arent normal which is what my husband was trying to point out; that I need to work on those things to beat ED fully.
      I am really sorry you put yourself down so much for eating a very healthy bowl of cereal, fruit, and dairy.
      I can assure you, your version of what other people eat, is very distorted. When my husband or sister pours their bowls, it is basically overflowing and both of them are slim and athletic.
      You CAN do this. You and I both need to start telling ourselves that!!!

  2. There are definitely ED rituals I take part of… I can relate to the hour-long snack/meals. I noticed this the other day and, actually, it’s not really a bad thing to take small bites SOMETIMES. Usually, at night, I would quickly eat all of these bad foods and just feel awful afterwards. The night binges because my BODY was STARVING. So, when I began to put more into my diet… I actually chewed my food and concentrated on it. The taste, smell, texture… Things I didn’t care about before because all I could think was CALORIES CALORIES CALORIES. So, when I do eat… I try to sit myself down with NO technology or distractions and enjoy all of my food. Savour it. It’s not the enemy and that’s one of the hardest things to overcome.

    • I one hundred percent agree that changing your mindset from food being the enemy to it being essential and delicious is one of the hardest things to change. you are so brave and so strong. I hope you are doing well!

  3. Hi CJ. I am a long-time reader, first-time commenter…and I wanted to say that my heart breaks for you – only because I have been there. To answer your question: “I wonder if a person can truly get better, and have a more positive mind-set, if they are still quasi-engaging in their old ways?” – the answer is (unfortunately) absolutely not. I struggled off and on with all of this for 15+ years, and it would always cycle back “on” because I never truly got rid of ED behaviors, even though I thought I was doing so much better. I finally got to a point where I had to give up exercise (rather than just reducing) and it was the most horrible, painful, yet HELPFUL thing I have ever done. I too thought that exercise was a non-negotiable part of my life, that I HAD to do it to stay sane – but it was a decision I made (yes, myself) when I realized I wanted my life back more than anything. No, it was not easy. There were days that I just wanted to scream and cry and crawl out of my skin. And no, it doesn’t get better quickly…but it does eventually. I believe that all things happen when they should, and that I needed all of those years of suffering to prepare me for that step (if that makes any sense). I can now look at all of that suffering as a blessing, because it made me the person I am today. I still struggle some days (as all human beings do), but I have my life back. I was not the exception to anorexia, I think we all use that as an excuse to not recover and live with the comfort of these coping mechanisms. Keep pushing yourself. Forgive yourself. Trust yourself. You can do this.

    • I am so sorry you had to go through this way of life. It really is a horrific existence and I dont understand why is it so darn hard to let it go. You are very brave to share your story and I really appreciate your support and encouragement. Thank you for reading, thank you for commenting and thank you for the advice. As you probably know, I need all the help I can get! ❤

  4. If there is one person in this world that I know can do this, it’s you CJ! 🙂 You’ve made a lot of progress thus far (hello just blogging about all of this is truly amazing..and takes a lot of strength and courage)!! Keep your head high because I know you can do this. You are a smart, beautiful, strong young woman! 🙂

    Ps coffee/tea/Neiman Marcus trip soon? 🙂

    • Thanks hun! I appreciate all your encouragement 🙂
      and let me tell you, retail therapy might have to happen, like PRONTO.
      Lets get something on the calendar girl!

  5. I have been through these exact days, almost 8 years ago. If you are doubting recovery, look at me today. Yes, I still have some ED tendencies, but I have broken the majority of those bad habits i used to have. I am able to go out to a restaurant on a whim, even suggest it. I’m able to take several days off in a row without thinking about “how am I going to burn off all those calories” train of thought. It’s tough, I know, and although I never went into treatment, I probably was very close.

    There is so much more ahead of you CJ; so much for you to accomplish and make memories of. I know you can do it. Always there for you lady. ALWAYS.

    • thank you for the encouragement!!! its so nice to know someone understands, even though I would never ever wish this horrific condition on anyone. I am always here if you need me, as well. Don’t you love the blog world for allowing us to make friends, even if we are 3000 miles away 🙂

  6. Although I am weight restored, got my period back, and outwardly am completely healthy, I must say that I find myself reverting back to my ED behaviors almost on a daily basis. While they aren’t extreme (no huge caloric restrictions or excruciating exercise sessions), they’re still there. I still try to fill up on diet sodas and gum in hopes to avoid that extra snack to hold me over before a meal, I still feel the need (notice “need,” not “want”) to exercise, and although I can eat almost any food out there without much hesitation, I still find myself preparing the same breakfasts and lunches every day because I’m used to them and know their calorie content by heart and somehow feel they “work for me” better than something else would. It’s hard to admit all that because everyone thinks I’m doing so well, and while I’ve made significant progress, I know that my daily life is nowhere near what it was before my ED. (I don’t ever remember thinking about food so much before my ED — food types, food calories, food schedule, eating vs waiting it out debates, etc.)

    But… I do think it depends on the person. I think most people can change their life around while others may get better, just not 100% and may struggle from time to time or with little things. What your ED stems from is probably a good indicator of whether or not you’ll fully beat it or if it’ll be a shadow in your life forever, I think… but anyway, keep up the good work. You’re doing your best and it’s hard, but it’s worth it 🙂

    • thank you for sharing your experience. i am glad you are in a better place but i am sad that you are still plagued by the negative thoughts. it really stinks to live this way sometimes. thanks for the comment, girl i really appreciate it!

  7. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read rileymyers on my site and her post to encourage others (http://www.gwynetholwyn.com/eating-behaviors/post/1707639) but her experience with the siren call of exercise certainly made me think of some of your struggles.

    Basically if we’re not hugely divergent in our thoughts and actions, then the brain rule of “nerve cells that fire together wire together” just insidiously lets the ED hijack everything all over again.

    And you said it better than that: “You cannot alter your neuropathways and forge healthier habits if you still participating in the destructive ones, even if they are less intense.”

    You are making huge strides (much bigger ones than a 5 year old could muster in fact!). The two-steps forward one-step back process of recovery only makes you that much more capable of maintaining and more resilient and permanent remission.

    • thank you for the encouragement, and no i had not read that thread, although i have grealty appreciated that there have been a good deal of questions about exercise and reocovery lately. it makes me feel like i am not alone and i am getting quite a bit of useful knowledge! thanks gwyneth, for all the help. you are a blessing!

  8. That was a great link to post by Gwenyth. I know CJ exactly what you are going through with the exercise. I have def cut back from before I was in treatment but still compulsively have to do it. My fiancee was yelling at me that God forbid one day I don’t wake at 5:30 to work out. He’s worried about when we have children or how I will deal with life when it happens to get in the way of my “routine”. I say I will change when this time comes, but I know I need to do it now. My mother is worried sick about having an “anorexic” looking bride which only adds to the pressure.

    • oh hunni, we can do this together. it really is so hard, and i cannot imagine what it would be like to sleep past 4:15. its crazy to think that there are people out there who forgo those early mornings all together and maybe fit in an exercise session after work. i am hoping someday i can be that person. good luck on your journey. like i said, WE CAN DO IT TOGETHER!

  9. Ah! I spoke to soon… I just commented (for the first time) on another post… but completely hear you on this one! I especially like “…Take a bit, don’t chew it 569486 times, repeat, repeat, repeat” Doing this, eating at a normal pace in public, can be like pulling teeth for me! This and the must-savor-every-bite mentality that draws meals and snacks into hour-plus marathons really speak to the “anorexics love to eat as much as they love to be hungry” idea. Right now I “practice” normal eating just enough so I can do it when I must, but still retreat to behaviors when life permits. ie. almost every night. Must. Push. Harder.

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