Break-Over: What It Helped Me Learn

First I have to say Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing mommies out there.

I know mi madre is one of the most important people in my life, who has always been my best friend, and completely underappreciated for all the things that she does, so I hope she, and you all enjoy your special day.

In my opinion, mother’s day should come way more than once a year…

Anway, I also have to thank you all for understanding about my need for a break.

I was just so sick of thinking, verbalizing and ruminating on my struggles, and it seemed that last week was particularly stressful at work, so put that all together and it equated to a very mentally and physically exhausted CJ.

Sometimes I think the best thing for our health is to just step away and do some self-reflection, which is exactly what I had planned on doing. I can’t say that I was as productive in that particular area as I would have liked, but I did have some time to myself, caught up on my cleaning, enjoyed moments with Ryan, and got ready for my mom to come home; all things that helped me relax in one way or another.

But while I was “gone,” I did have time to pay more attention to my own personal recovery; areas I am totally struggling with and some that I have improved upon due to a few specific changes.

I thought it might be helpful to share my observations since perhaps some of you are in the same boat I am; essentially a crossroads where you decide what you are going to do….stay on the half-assed road to health, or go for it.

  • I am sad to say, but many of you probably could have figured it out, I was still very much in recovery limbo.
  • I was only reaching about 2100 max on my meal plan. (I apologize for the number use but I have to be honest)
  • I was letting ED stop me from eating when I was still a little hungry.
  • I was sticking to more safe choices.
  • Even though my exercise time was decreased, the feelings around it were all the same…I am a loser if I don’t do at least an hour and didn’t “deserve” nutrition.
  • I was engaging in food rituals that Ryan continued to point out get heightened when I am anxious about gaining weight or other aspects of my life.

I really could go on with this list but you all see what I am trying to say, and the fact of the matter is, even though you (readers, e-mailers, etc.) sometimes point out my fallacies in this process, I totally blow them off because I think MY way is the right one.

How many times have I said…

I don’t want to gain too fast so 2500 is way way way too much.

Being sedentary is absolutely out of the question….

Dozens!!!! You have heard me say those things DOZENS of times.

So here are just a few things I have learned, from multiple, multiple, experiences, DO NOT work if you want to get healthy…

(…and I am partially writing these out so I remember to NOT do them….)

1. Letting a caloric number dictate your life.

This requires a bit of explaining because those in recovery should go UNDER their target, despite what ED says. BUT there might be days when you are insanely hungry and you scold yourself because your appetite is larger than your prescribed meal structure.

A lot of people call this “extreme hunger,” and it tends to hit past restrictors with a vengeance!

Your body can only handle starvation for so long and you may have gotten pretty darn good at ignoring your internal signals, but sometimes when you start fueling the fire, or giving yourself nourishment, your body says “OMG he/she is actually feeding me…who knows when this will happen again, I better eat while I can!!!”

OR, some people go into hyper-metabolism mode and they require A LOT more than “normal” to sustain their biological repair.

There are plenty of reasons why you NEED food, sometimes extra food depending on the situation (even non-ED people have days where they eat more than other days….) but I used to tell myself ABSOLUTELY NOT! Your meal plan is “x” and there is no going beyond that.

This is harmful for many reasons and can actually lead to over-eating because as Tessa put it more eloquently the other day, restriction could potentially lead to the feeling of a “binge,” when your body gives in an eats the proper amount, just perhaps in a shorter span of time than you are used to.

Long story short, your body needs fuel to function. Listen to it or it won’t run as it should. Trust me, I KNOW.

2. Keeping a personal scale.

Get rid of your scale ASAP!!

Ryan hid ours for a while, and I don’t remember exactly how it reappeared in our bathroom, but it was way too tempting. Every morning I would step on the damn thing and let it hinder my recovery because it either provided satisfaction that the number wasn’t moving in the upward direction, or ruined my life because I saw a value I/ED didn’t like.

The scale does not tell you your worth as a person, so it is best to just not use it.

And similarly, if you see a doctor or nutritionist, weigh “blind,” or standing backwards.

Letting a number torture you is no fun at all.

3. Surrounding yourself with negativity or triggers.

Sometimes this absolutely cannot be avoided. For many people a family member or environment can be pretty detrimental to their progress but they may not be able to abstain from those things all the time…that is when you enlist A LOT of support, but there are things you can eliminate from your life that may have a poor impact.

I am obviously not bashing blogs because I have one myself, but sometimes people will write to me saying I discussed something that bothered them. In those situations I feel bad, because it is never ever my intention to hurt anyone, BUT if you find reading, watching, participating, etc. in certain things makes you want to revert to behaviors or mimic unhealthy habits, it might be best to just give them up for a while.

No sense in making this whole process any more difficult than it already is!

4. The “I’ll do better tomorrow,” mentality.

I am the queen of this. I hate to admit that, but I totally am.

I get to a certain caloric amount, panic and say to myself, “tomorrow is the day I will start following my meal plan…tomorrow is the day I will choose rest over the treadmill….tomorrow is the day I will eat a scary food…tomorrow I will be more assertive….”

If I keep procrastinating, recovery will never happen for me. It is already a slow process because I have YEARS of damage to undo, but I add to it by avoiding the things that I fear most.

If I keep waiting for tomorrow, I am in for a pretty sad future.

5. Always Playing it safe.

I am all for eating things you like and that make you feel comfortable. If that is how you can accomplish your goals in getting healthy, and meet your exchanges, fabulous. But one cannot ONLY select to have “safe” foods.

This is another habit I am really terrible at breaking. I tried to convince Ryan I could absolutely gain the necessary weight and become a more whole individual by eating mostly veggies, fruits, lean protein and some whole grain carbs. He didn’t buy it and neither should have “healthy CJ.”

ED will totally make you think 0% fat everything, egg whites and lettuce are sufficient enough to achieve a more balanced lifestyle, but it is kind of the opposite. By avoiding certain foods, it still gives them the stigma that they are BAD.

I know at one treatment facility I was in we had to have a challenge carb at EVERY meal.

When I first heard this rule I totally rebelled.

No f*cking way was I going to put a cookie to my lips; vanilla pudding, FORGET IT!

But when those things miraculously appear on your tray, and you want to call home or see your family that weekend, you just start to comply, and honestly, those items are pretty amazing, which is exactly the reason I did not want to pick them.

I let myself believe if I actually enjoyed those items I would have to eat them all the time! And maybe initially I did want a White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookie every day, but that was because I maintained the idea that I would never be allowed to have them again, once I left the hospital. If you let go of that restriction and judgement, the cravings kind of subside and will only happen occasionally.

I am DEFINITELY working on relinquishing those pesky food judgments, and I hope you do too.

6. SECRETS

My good friend once told me I was only as sick as my secrets and she was absolutely right.

ED thrives on isolation and irrational thoughts, which sometimes can only be broken by talking to another person. If I didn’t have Ryan to tell me how crazy some of my beliefs were, I would be way worse off than I am now…

But he can’t help me if I don’t give him an accurate measure of where I am in my process.

If I am sneaking extra minutes on the treadmill, or removing food items from my meals, he doesn’t know how much of a struggle I am having, and can’t really help. If I am open and honest with my backslides and behaviors, he can often assist me in assesing WHY my anxiety is heightened and I feel like I need them to cope, or hold me more accountable.

Sometimes we need a little nudge in the right direction when a digression occurs, and that is absolutely fine.

Thinking you are more powerful than your disorder, however, is not.

There are a few other things I find to be extremely detrimental to the journey toward health, but since I have already written a novel I think I should save them for another time.

If you are having difficulty making progress, consider a few of struggles listed above. Maybe you are doing some of those without even thinking they might be harmful.

No one deserves to live like this; trapped by an internal monster that makes you feel so horrible about yourself, so DON’T LET ED DO THAT TO YOU ANY LONGER.

Take back your life and smile again.

Obviously I am talking to myself, but also to you, because like I said, no one should be deprived of their happiness.

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6 thoughts on “Break-Over: What It Helped Me Learn

  1. 7. Weight gain sucks, but HAS to be achieved, no “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts” about it.

    You can still maintain a slim figure, but it will no longer be sickly skin and bones that embarrass yourself and those around you or make you look like you have AIDS. I have gained about 25 pounds in a relatively short amount of time in my recovery. I have maintained my current weight since December, and while none of my old jeans fit me, I only had to go one or two sizes higher and shirts and dresses still fit the same.

    Gaining weight as fast as I did was probably the best decision I made. I didn’t look at calories or anything, I simply ate what I wanted, pretty much when I wanted. And I somehow managed to turn my brain off when I did this because I didn’t want to hear the negative self talk. I’m n ot saying that everyone is able to do that, but I feel like there is definitely a connection between weight and mentality. The more starved you are, the more irrational you are. The healthier you are, well, you guessed it: the healthier mentality!

    So you’re right with not letting calories dictate your life and not saying “tomorrow I’ll try harder” because that is just prolonging your recovery. I know you’ve said it before how sick and tired you are of being sick and tired, but when I said that at the beginning of my recovery, I meant it with my whole being… I couldn’t take the stress of an ED anymore and just surrendered myself. I hope you can do the same.

    • You make a fabulous point as always. That is a mentality I certainly have to break…that recovery is possible without weight restoration. I often convince myself that life can go on with me in a malnourished body but with a rational mind and that is just not the case. Thank you for the reminder 🙂

  2. I am so happy that your break from blogging provided you with some insight in recovery! I have been recently struggling with my recovery as well, in that I am so focused on not going over a certain calorie number, exercise, and other things. I am so happy I finally got rid of my scale, I do “blind weigh-ins” and thought I was doing so well, when my doctor informed me I lost weight! I was thinking there is no way I am eating way more blah, blah, just goes to show I won’t get “fat” on a higher amount of calories and less exercising. I can totally relate to the “I’ll do it tomorrow” mentality and it needs to stop, I’ve been doing a lot better with that thinking lately, so I’m happy about that! I basically agree with everything you pointed out here. Great job on coming to these realizations!!xo

    • Lisa I am so glad to hear you are doing better, but very sorry you had to go through those rough patches. Recovery certainly is not stars and rainbows but it is getting through those hard times that will make us stronger in the end. Just remember the scale cant tell you your worth as a person, and I know you are a fabulously beautiful person inside and out!!!

  3. I loved this post. I can relate to almost everything you have mentioned here and I especially can with number 4. Always thinking that I’ll do better tomorrow is a powerful tool that Ed uses on me that tricks me into thinking I am okay and moving forward when in reality I’m still stuck. Thanks for posting this, I think it’s great and very eye opening<3

    • Thanks, Tayla! I hope you can remember you are worth a happy today, and stop waiting for tomorrow 🙂 Good luck in your journey, girl. I know you can do it ❤

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