Over the past few weeks, I have received a number of questions regarding my recovery journey, with specific questions focused on the re-feeding process, overcoming my exercise addiction, and becoming comfortable with my body's set point.
One email I received was from a sweet, strong gal who wanted clarity about these aspects of my recovery. This is what I told her.
My heart aches knowing the pain you’re going through, but I am so hopeful for your healthy and happy future.
Recovery is an ongoing process, and I’d be lying if I said I never had ED thoughts anymore, but to be honest they VERY rarely cross my mind these days. I have bad body image days, and days where I feel insecure, but I no longer attribute those thoughts to ED. Everyone experiences these feelings! I attribute these tough days to life, stress, and being a normal human being. ED still pops into my mind in times when I am feeling alone or overwhelmed, but I do not act on these thoughts anymore. To be honest, I haven’t been tempted to return to my disordered habits in MONTHS. I just don’t need them anymore, I have found other ways to cope. My life is so much better without ED. So yes, I occasionally have thoughts of ED, but they are rare and they no longer hold power over me.
During my re-feeding phase of recovery, I was RAVENOUS all the time. I would finish a meal and be hungry 20 minutes later…no joke. This is because your metabolism is FINALLY getting the fuel it has been begging for throughout your restrictive eating phase. You’re putting fuel in the tank, so your body is using that fuel within seconds to try to rebuild your body and restore itself. This is totally normal, and I promise it doesn’t last forever. Your body is merely making up for lost time! So don’t fear, you won’t always feel like a bottomless pit. But for now, listen to your body and FUEL it when it’s telling you it needs it.
Exercise was a crutch for me throughout my disorder - always something I could rely on to keep ED around. Because of my reliance on exercise, I cut out all forms of working out for 6 months. When I finally agreed with my medical team that it would be safe (mentally and physically) for me to begin working out again, I started SLOW with walking and yoga. I would only do light intensity exercise in order to challenge myself to refrain from entering the “I must burn calories” mindset. Once I became more confident in myself, I began to go back into the gym and do weight lifting. I had to reteach myself that I love working out because it makes me feel good, NOT because I “had” to do it. Only after weeks and weeks of light workouts did I start cardio again. You have to be careful with this and make sure you’re staying balanced.
A tip I have for you, when you choose to start working out again, is to write your workout before you begin and have someone you trust look over that workout with you to make sure it’s reasonable.Holding yourself accountable to ONLY do the exercises on that list is crucial, because when ED starts to tell you that you must do more, you have to stay strong and walk away knowing you treated your body well and that’s enough.
My recovery team agreed on a weight for me that I have now ended up exceeding. This weight is more than I have ever weighed, and that’s okay because I have truly never felt so healthy. I thought that the weight my doctors agreed upon was unreasonable, but now being over 10 pounds heavier than that weight, I realize that the number does not dictate when I can be “done” with recovery. When I reached the weight my team decided was “healthy” for me, I still felt trapped in ED. It wasn’t until I let my body decide where it felt best that I truly escaped my demons. So don’t worry about that number, whether it’s an overshoot or not, because ultimately your body will tell you where it feels best.
I am so happy to know my account has shed some light on your journey. Thank you for allowing me to become a part of your recovery. I am sending all of my love to you! Fight hard, sweet girl. It’s so worth it.