LIFE WITH ED, PART 8: WHEN YOU TRY TO LOSE WEIGHT THE NORMAL WAY

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.

Thankfully, it’s been awhile since I’ve written a Life With Ed post. I’m happy to report that I’ve made a lot of progress in my recovery, particularly in the realm of my actions. I’ve mentioned previously that the key for me in the early steps of my recovery was learning to control my actions first and then my thoughts later, because the actions were a lot more manageable. So, I’m happy to say that I have not purged since February 17, 2013, the day before my stomach surgery (hey, one for the road, you know?)! I never thought I would be able to say something like that.

That being said, I’ve also touched on the fact that I’ve gained some weight since my back surgery that I’m not happy with. While it was only about 8-10 pounds, that’s a lot for me, and it put me at the highest weight I’ve ever been, which sent alarm bells off in my head and nearly triggered a jump into the deep end. It wasn’t only the weight that was worrying me – it was the age-old battle of how to eat, diet, work out, etc. in moderation without triggering a relapse. Historically, I’ve only been able to maintain recovery if I don’t count calories or track my exercise. I get too competitive and freaked out if I keep track, so I generally just run based on my training plan and eat based on what I feel like eating and hope for the best. It always evens out one way or another.

So what to do when you’re a recovering anorexic/bulimic who wants to lose weight without triggering a relapse?

Well, I wish I could answer that question, but I can’t. I’ve never done it successfully.  I can only tell you about my experience and what I’ve been doing so far. To start, there was clearly an issue with how much I was eating versus how much I was exercising. Calories in vs calories out – basic math, right? So I started tracking what I’m eating using My Fitness Pal, which is a free app and website. At first, it was so challenging for me to get my calories where they need to be because I was used to eating as much as I wanted and drinking tons of beer. Plus, I wasn’t able to exercise very much at that point, so it was hard to “earn” any extra calories with exercise.

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Oh hello, evil eating disorder brain

Let me stop right there. One of my big challenges right now is struggling with the mentality of “earning” my food. I feel terrible about eating on the days when I don’t exercise. So I always exercise. I’ve been working out an insane amount to try and lose weight and not feel bad about what I’m eating. Even though I’m making the healthy choices, I still feel like I don’t deserve them. Yes, I know my body needs fuel, and yes, I know that I have to eat enough to prevent injury and make progress in my training, but that still doesn’t change my thought process before every meal. It’s always a battle. Last week, I forced myself to take a rest day on Friday in preparation for my long run on Saturday because my body was exhausted, but I was a nervous wreck all day trying to keep my calories down even thought I knew I needed the fuel and that I would make up for any “extra” that I ate during the run the next day. That is stupid. I know it is stupid and I can’t help but feel that way. It’s annoying.

As motivating as apps like My Fitness Pal are for some people, they’re dangerous for me. For example, each day when you complete your food diary, it tells you how much you would weigh in five weeks if you ate like that every day. The problem? On days when I burn a ton of calories (like long runs or days when I bike and do Body Pump) and can’t possibly eat enough to catch up, I see these super-low (to me) numbers on the screen and I think “I can totally do that.” Again, it’s a battle because part of me knows I shouldn’t, but the other part can’t help but be extremely tempted to undereat, overexercise, and see those crazy numbers.

Ultimately, what I’ve realized is that I really am just ready to be back to my normal weight and be done with this. I don’t want to relapse, and I feel like I’m mentally torturing myself every day. That being said, it’s not as simple as saying “well, don’t worry about the scale” because regardless of what the numbers say, I feel like crap when my clothes don’t fit or I’m noticeably bigger anyway. Would I love to tell you that I’m one of those people who loves their body? Sure. Absolutely. Can I say that honestly? No. So far, I’ve been able to eat healthy food and a decent enough quantity to feel like I’m at least doing ok and not taking things too far. I guess I just wish my brain would shut off and let me be in peace, for once. That being said, as much as I’m having a hard time with my thought process, at least I have been able to restrain myself enough to keep my actions in check. That was impossible a year ago, so I have a lot to be proud of! Who knows? Maybe this time next year, my brain will be in check too.

LEAVE A COMMENT: Do you have a hard time with the mental of aspect of losing weight, one way or the other?

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