Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Variety Over Gain

I saw my dietician this morning for the first time in three or four weeks. Surprisingly, after my tough session with R last week, it was a pretty positive thirty minutes. She and R had spoken briefly since Friday so she was aware of the situation, which made it easier and much less awkward than I'd expected. She promised that she would never tell me I can't come back and see her, although we acknowledged that there has been a serious lack of progress over the past eight months and that changes need to be made.

So, taking into account that the future of my treatment situation is still very much up in the air, J and I talked about some realistic next steps. One possible suggestion was to concentrate solely on increasing variety rather than calories. Obviously weight gain will still need to happen, but I think my brain needs a change of focus. When weight gain is emphasized so heavily all the time, I tend to shut down and tune out all recovery-related recommendations. Right now, my brain can't get past a place of I don't care about anything else, I just don't want to gain weight. I'm becoming more and more willing and ready to diversify my eating habits, however, especially since I'm starting to see/feel the effects of an extremely limited and minimalist diet. But I still get hung up on the idea that more food = weight gain every time. Again, I'm not trying to abandon weight gain altogether, just shift my focus so that gaining isn't front and center in my mind every time I sit down to eat. Selective blindness, if you will. Does that make sense? I'm not feeling articulate today.

J also talked about turning points - like what would need to happen that would convince me to change. And honestly? I don't know. I've been fighting this thing on and off since I was in middle school. Over the past seven or eight years, I've been at low weights, I've blacked out on the treadmill, I've been hospitalized, I've been pulled out of school, I've lost an internship that I wanted, I've made both my parents cry too many times, I've wasted thousands and thousands of their dollars on treatment, I've had myriad ED-related health complications, I've lost touch with countless friends and family members, the list really goes on and on. I don't know how you define "rock-bottom," but I've definitely had moments that felt pretty damn low. So my point is, I'm not sure that anything would become a transformative lightbulb moment for me, and change my mindset for good. I've had periods of wanting recovery, but it never lasts. The only solution, really, is to grasp at what I can and do my best to hang in there. Right now I'm feeling like I can work on variety, so that's what I'm going to do.

If this is all sounding super negative and defeatist, I don't mean for it to. I'm actually feeling pretty positive and motivated - definitely more so than I was after leaving R's office on Friday. I hate having everything so unsettled, and hopefully my appointment with him this week will help me put a more concrete plan in place.


  1. You're not sounding negative to me!
    I want to let you know that even though your mind is protesting on gaining weight, you have to remember that your body is going to take whatever weight you gain and most likely convert it into muscle weight, and a bit of essential body fat (which is necissary for living and functioning properly... hardly noticable though).
    Don't worry! You are going to be fine, and you already have such a positive outlook on life. There is hope for you on your recovery journey :-)

  2. No worries, it didn't sound negative at all! It sounds like a good solution for the time being to focus on variety of foods, rather than calorie-increases if that's just too stressful. Maybe with a shift in focus, it will help ease the anxiety around food in general, and you'll be able to gradually move into calorie-increases in the future. It sounds like a good short-term solution (although long-term, you'll likely have to address the actual calories as well).

    I agree, that it's hard to have that lightbulb moment sometimes, so I think your strategy of just hanging on and going with it sounds good. And if you're motivated to shake up the variety of your foods, that's definitely a step in the right direction. Progress, definitely. I really struggle with variety as well, and notice often how much it impacts my daily life, interaction with friends, professional outings, etc. I think it's awesome that you're feeling motivated to shake things up. It takes a lot of courage and insight to not only notice limitations, but also be willing to address them. You can do it!

    I hope you can resolve things with R soon, it's always hard to feel unsettled about treatment-related stuff. Take care, and have fun with adding some variety!

  3. Anything that shakes up your rules/routines is progress, in my opinion. Have you read much about CRT, Cognitive Remediation Therapy? It is a new hot thing for EDs, and it actually seems pretty promising, especially if rigid/ritualistic food rules are an issue for you. I don't know if the set-shifting games some therapists use are always that effective, but the basic approach of finding some way to increase set-shifting abilities (increasing the variety of your foods is a perfect example!) seems pretty legit to me. I am NOT a professional but this post really reminded me of what they talk about in CRT.

    Let us know how this goes, I think it's great that you're thinking about changes you can make, take it a step at a time and you'll be amazed at how far you can go. ;)