Disclaimer: This is a series of posts about my experiences with anorexia and bulimia. Many of the things I discuss could be extremely triggering if you are dealing with an eating disorder, so please read at your own risk. I am not an doctor or a therapist. I am simply telling you my story. If you are interested in reading the rest of my series on life with an eating disorder, click here.
I debated sharing this post with you because it might be a little insane-sounding. Nonetheless, this was a big moment and realization for me, so here we are.
So, as I’ve
whined about ceaselessly previously mentioned, I gained some weight after my back surgery. The total tally was about 10 pounds. Whether it was the result of decreased activity, changing my diet to go gluten-free, or who knows what else, it doesn’t really matter. The point is, my weight went up. I freaked out. I changed my diet, increased my exercise, and generally threw myself into an all consuming struggle to lose the weight. I wrote about that struggle here. While 10 pounds might not seem like a lot, it has affected my self esteem, my relationship, my social life, and my sanity in more ways than I care to admit. I’ve spent more time crying in the mirror than any grown-ass woman should.
Eventually, I had to put away the scale. I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted no matter what I tried, and it was tearing me apart. I decided to start measuring my various body parts as a way to demonstrate my progress, since I could see that I was toning up. I had to let go of weight as the only way to determine if I’m succeeding in my quest to get healthy. After awhile, I started weighing myself once a month, only on one assigned day. The rest of the time, the scale sat in my closet.
I made the mistake of weighing myself most recently a couple of days after my recent small surgery back in November. The anesthesia took away my appetite, and I ate next to nothing for about 3 days. Oh, what wonderful results the scale and measuring tape held for me that day! I was only 3 pounds away from my normal weight! Of course, as soon as I started eating again, I felt like my weight was going up and was just devastated about it. I have some big events coming up at the end of December that I’d like to look my best for, so I promised myself I was just going to focus on working out, making healthy choices, and put away the scale and the measuring tape. Clearly, there wasn’t much I could do about it in just a few short weeks without making drastic changes.
Yesterday, I woke up and got ready for work. Standing there in my underwear and looking at my abs, I actually felt pretty good about the changes I’ve made. Am I perfect or where I want to be? No, but barre, running, cycling, and healthy food choices are making a difference. My first thought was “I wonder what I weigh?” I immediately pushed the thought aside and swore to myself I would not weigh myself, lest I get depressed about the number. But then I thought, if I think I look good now, what difference would it make to assign a number to it? Why would that possibly change how I THINK I look? This in itself was revolutionary.
I promised myself that I would keep that feeling regardless of what the scale said. And then I weighed myself.
After all that hemming and hawing and hating myself, it’s the same weight as it was right after surgery, the one I thought I couldn’t possibly still weigh. Maybe I did gain some and then lose it again, I don’t know. And yes, it’s a higher number than I’d prefer to see overall, and at first, I cringed, but then I thought to myself “Who the hell is going to notice 3 pounds besides me?” NO ONE, that’s who. No one. Is 3 pounds really worth crying in the mirror and hating myself? Is 10? No.
I’ve been working a lot on positive self talk and on guiding myself to make good choices based on things that have nothing to do with my weight and outward appearance. That’s a pretty hard thing to do when you’ve been doing the opposite for your entire life, but I’m working on it. For example, in the past, I might have said something like “You have to go to barre tonight because you’re going to look like a fat pig in that dress next week if you don’t.” Now, I think that first. But THEN, I think “No, you need to go to barre because it makes you feel good and strong and your back needs a strong core to support it.” If I find myself stressed out and craving a big dessert after a long day, I normally would think “Well, you’re fat anyway and you can’t lose weight so you might as well.” Now, I still think that first. But THEN, I think “You deserve to make choices that make you feel good about yourself. Will this choice make you feel good, or will it make you feel bad?” And I try to answer that question honestly; the answer changes depending on the day.
Eating disorder recovery isn’t linear, and it isn’t easy. I will probably never call myself “recovered;” I’ll be perpetually “recovering,” at least, I hope, since that is better than relapse. It’s a process and something that takes a lot of hard work. No one can do it for me. While some days it seems hopeless and that I’ll never be able to change the way I think about myself, some days are days like yesterday. And then I think, “Maybe not today, but one day.”