Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tell Me

I am in need of some anti-ED inspiration right now. I want to know your recovery stories - what you tried, what worked, what didn't work, what set you back, what sucked ballz but ended up helping in the end. Is anyone else addicted to calorie [or insert: fat, protein, carb] counting? Or was addicted but managed to quit? Did people exercise in recovery? Did you find a way to feel "healthy" without exercise? Did you weigh yourself? Did you discover something new about food/weight/scales/calories/working out/life? Something new about yourself? Did you "outgrow" your eating disorder, or did it take grasping and clawing and blood, sweat, and tears? Was it a BIG MOMENT or a slow unfolding?

Literally anything. I do not care if your recovery took six weeks or six years or sixteen years or if you're still in the thick of it. E-mail me if you don't want to post. I just want to not feel as stuck and bored and alone as I do with this beast right now.


  1. Sorry if this gets long, but I wanted to post it as a response in case anything I said hit home for someone else, or we could open a dialogue about stuff. I'm really sorry you're struggling right now. As you know, I've also been addicted to calorie counting, as well as being obsessive about the components of said calories. Also exercise, weighing myself, and eating "safe" foods. I currently am struggling to do WR (I'm eating enough to maintain, but despite adding food to my life, my weight will not go up), but the aforementioned things are pretty well gone except for the exercise bit (which is way better than it used to be). A few things I've realized have helped me:

    1) I had to change foods entirely from my disordered eating foods. Maybe it was a brand change, or just not eating certain things anymore. But I had to get into the habit of eating things where I didn't know the calorie count. This was hard, as I knew the calorie count to nearly everything. There are certain granola bars I cannot eat anymore, but I've found new, also tasty ones where I don't know the calories.

    2) Along those same lines: A friend of mine in treatment busted my ass when I said I didn't think I could give up calorie counting. She said "it takes effort, an actual action to see the calorie count of things. You need to stop yourself from turning the package over and looking. That's an active choice. If you want to stop counting, you need to stop making the choice to look at the calorie count." She was absolutely right. That's hard. But it IS possible. Now the only time I look at the calories on food is to make sure I'm getting enough of said food to be a sufficient snack or meal. That being said, it's a rough estimate and I never add up the numbers.

    3) Variety, variety, variety. This has been huge for me in the last year. I had to force myself to practice being okay with any food put in front of me. I had to tell myself over and over that "this will be okay. Don't try to guess calories, just eat it and enjoy it. It's one meal/snack. It will be fine." It's hard. I won't lie. But with a ton of practice, I can go to any restaurant or potluck or person's house and I'm fine. I try all sorts of different foods. My weight has not changed from eating what I considered "scary" foods, or a meal or snack. Bonus: there are some really tasty foods out there I had never tried and are now some of my favorite things! There are no "bad" foods. Seriously. Working on the mindset that food is simply food, not a moral choice, makes life so much easier.

    4) Mix up what I eat in some way every day. I pretty much keep breakfast, lunch, and snacks roughly the same on weekdays because I'm lazy about prep and it's easy. My SO and I try to mix up dinner all the time. We may eat something two nights in a row if we have leftovers, but we never make the same thing more than once in a week. Additionally, I change up all my meals and snacks over the weekend. This helps me to avoid getting into a narrow window of what I allow myself to eat. I can deviate from stuff at the drop of a hat because I've practiced it. This has been hard. Don't think I'm saying it's easy. Really.

    5) I don't weigh myself. I have my therapist weigh me blindly and she calls my RD with the numbers. However, even if you don't have an RD (which I know you're not crazy about having), I would suggest taking your scale to Dr. P and asking if she will weigh you periodically and just keep track of your weight for you. I gave my scale to my therapist and she just keeps it in her office to weigh me.

  2. 6) I add rest days to my schedule, and I do still struggle with the exercise part.

    7) This has been most obvious to me while in a relationship (and living with said SO), but it has made a HUGE difference for me. When I'm obsessing over food, the "right" foods, what my intake looks like, weight, etc. I'm not pleasant to be around. I'm never in-the-moment with the people around me. There's always that tape playing in the back of my head. For me to maintain a healthy relationship on my part, I need to be focused on us when we're together. Also, I get really bitchy when I'm hungry, and that has caused tension in the past. I also sleep better when I'm eating enough, and that's good for both of us--otherwise we're both awake because I'm tossing and turning. It's the same with my friendships. When I'm in a recovery-brain-space, I'm more present with my friends and family. This has proven to be more rewarding and fulfilling than any false rewards anorexia ever gave me. When I'm with friends, SO, etc. I want to just be with them, not them+AN.

    These are the things that have helped me. I don't want to give the impression that I have it all figured out, because I don't. I still struggle with these things at times. There have been a lot of tears over this stuff. I just have to keep practicing and being vigilant about it. It does get easier over time, and the little blips of ED-thoughts I do have get shorter and less difficult as time goes by. It's incredibly freeing for me to not be obsessed about these things anymore. Indescribably freeing.

    You are not alone. It sucks. However, I believe in you, and I believe you can get rid of this beast. I can guarantee you there's a much freer life on the other side. You can do this! Also, don't forget that I'm here anytime--text, email, anything. Take care, dear!

    1. thank you! so much of what you said rings true. I have had that same realization - that I am a nasty, cranky, unhappy person when I'm starving and fuzz-brained, and I hate when I let myself get that way. breaking up routines and trying new things definitely has helped in the past and I need to be braver about making variety the norm. I still struggle with exercise A LOT too.

      On your friend's point about calorie counting: I guess I would push back a little because counting calories is actually very much NOT a choice for me - that's the whole problem. It's automatic and instinctual. My brain can dig up the calorie counts for most foods faster than it can remember my own phone number. So it feels like at this point, continuing to count is actually more a kind of complacency and inertia. It's the stopping counting that would take the conscious choice, the extra effort... because to me, still, an apple = 80 calories instead of an apple = JUST A FUCKING APPLE. And it's not just food, although that is what my brain has learned to latch onto the most; I keep track of my car mileage, my running mileage, my menstrual cycle (I could probably tell you the number of days between almost every period I've had for the past year...if you really wanted to know...), my grades, my budget, etc all with close to the same level of precision, so partly I think it is a little bit of my brain's natural ocd-ness. I think this is where the variety could be my biggest tool just by changing food combos and such so that I don't automatically know my daily tally at any given time, but yeah. This one has me totally stumped.

      I think stopping weighing may have been the scariest but also one of the most freeing things I've ever done, glad you found it helpful too. thanks - you are the best.

    2. oh! and I forgot to mention that the thing about being present with friends and family - YES! I had that experience recently actually when I let myself get too hungry because I skipped a snack then wouldn't eat the "non-safe" food available while out with friends, so of course I lied, left early, and ate by myself. And that is not the kind of person I want to be - only half present and frantically planning out to avoid the social food so I can save room for my planned, safe food. So the fact that you are actually in a relationship and actually eat dinner with him and actually are making it work while in recovery, is hugely inspiring.

    3. Thanks K! I'm sorry that experience happened, but I'm glad you were able to recognize that it's not what you want for yourself. It has been both a struggle and also easier in some ways to live with him and have him know basically everything I eat on a daily basis.

      About counting calories--I definitely get where you're coming from. I have a similar obsession with numbers. That was a big part of me changing brands of everything and not trying to ballpark numbers. Also, the variety of food has helped so much. I totally gave up my previous "safe" foods and switched fruits (or the way the fruit came), veggies, type of bread, everything. There are so many possibilities in the snack aisle! It's scary and exciting at the same time. I'm so glad you're not weighing yourself and have those numbers out of your head. I hope you're able to get out of the calorie counts very soon also, although it's way easier said than done. You can do this!

  3. Just have to say - I have SO MUCH to say here! I just haven't had the time to sit down and write it all... but I will come back!

  4. Hey K! I'm a regular reader, but I think I've only commented a few times. We're in pretty similar places in recovery, and I love how real you always are about the hard parts. I'm sorry things are particularly difficult right now.

    Alie's point #4 really resonates with me. I've found that I fall into food and exercise routines very easily, and that these routines very quickly becomes ruts that it's hard to get out of, and then deviating in any way from the routine becomes scary. So I have to make an effort to mix things up. A one-off substitution / challenging food / restaurant meal / whatever is not enough; I have to keep changing things up and resist the temptation to develop "safe" habits. Similarly, if I let myself take the same walk every day for a week, or whatever, I will very quickly *need* to take that walk every day; it's much better to vary the kind and amount of activity I get. I also totally agree with Alie's point #7, and being more social helps with spontaneity and breaking up routines, too.

    Otherwise... I'm right there with you on the addiction to calorie counting, and right now it's not a habit I'm trying very hard to break. I think it would be REALLY hard. I've had periods of not counting calories, and even now I can "turn off" that part of my brain for a night out or a short trip or something like that, when counting would be difficult, but it definitely ramps up my anxiety not to have a running tally.

    I can't do any formal exercise because it is way too addictive. I walk a lot in my everyday life, and I use that to feel "healthy" and not like a total slug. To be okay with not really exercising, I had to kinda do exposure therapy on myself. I quit cold turkey and HATED IT HATED IT HATED IT for a while, but after a surprisingly short time I got used to it, and being less active became the new normal and thus okay. (This is the upside of the "easily falling into routines" thing, I think.)

    I am still actively figuring all this out (despite having been weight-restored for >3 years!!!), so I'm eager to hear if you come up with anything that helps.

    Best wishes!!

    1. re the routines - yes! same!! Sometimes I'm not sure if new restaurants/food outings/ etc whatever are so hard for me because of the food part, or just because of the break in routine part. Same with exercise. I get hooked on routines super easily and breaking out of them is really really tough.

      I can do the "turning off" my calorie counter occasionally too - typically for a night out and almost always involving alcohol rather than food because drinks are sooo hard to count unless you get like, beer in a can. I usually will still have a rough count in my head, but am somehow able to "let it go" for the night and tell myself it's a special occasion/one-time thing and move on. But I could NEVER do that for just a typical Tuesday or whatever, you know?

      I had to quit exercise cold turkey for a while too due to injuries/other health stuff, and it was H-A-R-D and awful and then it got a little easier, but was never "easy" or "normal" for me, and I went back to working out as soon as physically possible. That is something I still really struggle with.


  5. Hey Kaylee,

    I think you know most of my story
    So I will just share with you the things that keep me going when I feel like I want to give up
    My family
    My long suffering family
    Who have moved heaven and earth to get me well
    They are my back bone
    My strength
    My foundation
    My dogs
    Those two furry friends have saved my sanity many times
    Good friends
    These are just a few

    Hang in there Kaylee
    I am rooting for you
    You are one special lady x

    1. thank you Ruby, you are so sweet :) I feel the same way about my family.

  6. I still seek out stories of redemption and reawakening to keep me company-- mostly non-ed related things, the atlantic has a lovely series wherein they talk to writers about how they got where they are, and i esp love this-- "I guess I was worried I’d be found out, that it would be embarrassing. It was, to begin with. I felt like such a fraud, such an idiot. The whole sensation of sitting around making things up felt pretty preposterous. And then, almost immediately, it felt brilliant. Things opened up for me emotionally, somehow. Some joy came back into my life.

    1. love this - going to check out the atlantic now