It has been about six months since my last ED-specific update, so I thought you were due some deets. In summary, there haven't been any drastic changes, just more of the same chugging along, hanging in there day in and day out, and coming up for air periodically to discover that I am getting further and further away from my anorexic self all the time.
Areas of note:
Rigidity: The last time I updated about this in January, I was still writing down my intake and weighing myself semi-regularly; I had cut the ritualistic daily weighing, but was still checking in a few times per month and letting the number dictate my intake/mood/sanity. Sometime over the spring, completely without planning or preparation, I stopped writing down my daily calories and exercise - which is something I had been doing religiously for years. And around the same time, I stopped the weighing for good. My scale is sitting patiently collecting dust under my bathroom sink, and I haven't touched it. These two changes (no tallying calories and no weighing) have been HUGE for my recovery. It's not that I stopped counting calories; I still do, in my head. But I stopped physically writing down my intake and exercise each day and that alone has lifted this burden off my shoulders, loosened some leash I didn't even realize I had myself on, and allowed me to chill the f out in almost every way. I am still probably way more rigid than the average non-ED person (though part of that is just temperamental; I am pretty rigid and Type A in most areas of life, not just food) but there have been small yet monumental changes for me here - I am way more liberal with rounding my calories, I don't fret about what my weight will do day-to-day, and I am more willing to adjust my self-prescribed mealtimes for convenience/hunger whatever.
Ditching the scale and my daily weigh-ins has probably had the single biggest positive impact on my ED recovery in years, after sort of stalling out for a while and settling for "healthy enough." I can't believe I didn't take this step sooner.
Things to work on: Loosen up further on calories, and eventually quit counting altogether while relying more on hunger cues.
Body Image: This is the one where I have probably made the most progress. I can genuinely say that I do not hate how my body looks right now, and most of the time I am basically, genuinely fine with it. Just six months or a year ago I was falling apart emotionally on a regular basis over how "fat" and "disgusting" I looked; haven't had any such meltdowns in a long time. But more than that, I can just tell that my mindset around the whole issue has totally shifted. It's hard to describe, and it's not necessarily that I don't want to be skinnier anymore (I usually do still wish I were skinnier). It's more that I have accepted that can't/won't ever be as skinny as I want. And instead of that realization being completely devastating, it almost feels like a relief. I'm not built like a waif. I'm just not. And I think for the first time in my life, I have stopped fighting that. I no longer have this vague idea in the back of my head that I'll get there someday. I know I won't.
Another aspect is that as I've moved past this desire to be thinner thinner thinner no matter what, I've become more interested in being strong and fit and healthy. Part of this has been me rationalizing the fact that I can't run all the time anymore without injuring myself/causing other health problems, so I've started to embrace other, non-cardio types of exercise—mainly strength training—but also just in general, I am starting to see the benefits/appeal of forms of activity that aren't necessarily calorie-torchers. For one, I have gunz for the first time in my life since I started lifting a few months ago and actually stuck with it this time. I gotta say, lifting weights (lifting real weights, not pink 2 lb dumbbells) has changed my body more in six months than years and years of running ever did. Suddenly I can see muscles in my arms that were never visible before, and for the first time in maybe ever I am actually happy about a change to my body that did not involve losing weight.
Which brings me to...
Exercise: So this area is a mixed bag for me. Yes I have made some progress, but I also struggle mightily with the exercise compulsion, probably more so than anything else ED-related right now. It's ironic actually, because being healthier and eating better has almost fueled a tendency toward excessive exercise over the past couple of years. I no longer feel as though my sole reason for working out is to burn calories and lose weight; it's more this sense of feeling healthy and alive and wanting to capitalize on all the things I couldn't do when I was sick/malnourished/in pain etc. To an extent, I definitely still feel like I have to "earn" my food, but less militantly than before. I like the idea of working out hard/fueling myself appropriately. In theory. I probably still undereat a tad for how much exercise I get, and I probably still work out a little more compulsively than I should, but the underlying mindset is healthier than it used to be, if that makes sense. I want to feel strong and athletic, not necessarily skinny, and it feels much more wholesome than it ever did before.
At the risk of making this sound rosier than it really is, I still require myself to get a certain amount of cardio per day whether through running, biking, swimming, hiking, etc. and it is still really really really hard for me to take days off. When I hurt my foot and couldn't run, I switched to swimming pretty excessively and killed my shoulders. So then I switched to biking a ton and hurt my knee. And now here I am with a sore foot, sore shoulders, and sore knees, and I am still scheming ways to get a workout in. So, clearly not out of the woods yet on the exercise piece.
Things to work on: Taking days off, listening to my body, not working out while injured, and figuring out how to eat normally even when I don't burn a ton of calories.
All things considered I'm doing pretty okay. The ED doesn't dictate every aspect of my life in the same torturous way it once did, but it still dictates quite a bit. I still have a nervous habit of adding up my calories over and over again in my head throughout the day, even when I know what the tally will be. I still would love love love to lose 20 pounds. I still care about all this stuff way too much. But I'm doing better.