What eating disorder recovery was really like

I didn’t know I was so far along in recovery until I heard someone use the term “eating disordered” last week and began wondering if that is a term that even describes me anymore.

I’m not free of behaviors/symptoms 100% of the time…but I’d say about 80-85% of the time I am completely symptom-free. I don’t obsess about food as much. I don’t plan out my binges in advance, and hide the packaging and trash from my husband. When I’m stressed, I am able to remind myself that eating to the point of physical pain is not going to make me feel any better.

I am finally at the point where I can focus on making healthy choices, and eating things that will make my body feel good, without entering the cycle of restricting, binging, then restricting to compensate for the binge, and so on.

The weird thing is I can’t pinpoint anything specific I did to move myself so far along in recovery. Rather, I think I’m in the place I am today because of what I STOPPED doing.

I stopped thinking about food as the enemy. I pretty much stopped thinking about food entirely – or at least, I only think about food in a normal way now (when I’m hungry).

I stopped making my entire life about my recovery. I tried to focus more on doing things that made me happy, and less on recovery/food/weight.

I stopped telling myself that I could only be happy once my eating disorder was gone.

Basically, the more and more I lived my life to the fullest- despite my struggles with food, despite being overweight, despite being “un-recovered”…the easier recovery became. For me, finding life — and an identity — outside of and apart from my eating disorder was the most crucial step in my recovery.

I used to have a blog about food, fitness, weight loss…and later, about my eating disorder. Now I have a blog about my life…and I only write about the aforementioned topics when I feel like it. I don’t think of myself as a person with an eating disorder before I think of myself as a student, a wife, a friend, a writer, a teacher, etc.

Life post-Whole30: Part II

Grocery shopping now sends me into a tailspin of anxiety. My choices feel unlimited once more, which is kind of terrifying after a month of eliminating lots of the foods I used to eat. Although I can now technically eat whatever I want, I don’t want to do that. Instead, I find myself still gravitating toward many of the foods I ate during my Whole30 (sweet potatoes, coconut oil, more fruit, kale) and not wanting some of the things I ate pre-Whole30 (granola bars, shredded cheese, fruit snacks, sparkling water containing artificial sweeteners, etc.).

Any kind of restrictive manner of eating is dangerous for someone recovering from an eating disorder. Someone like me. Last week, I did overindulge a bit: chocolate chip cookies and tortilla chips were the primary culprit. I definitely attribute at least some of the cause to being sick, but I know that part of it was due to that feeling of deprivation that is particularly problematic if you suffer from binge eating disorder like I do.

However…those urges have not come back at all. I’m a lot more focused on how food makes me feel physically instead of how it makes me feel emotionally. This focus is something I was never able to achieve through other diets I’ve tried: veganism, vegetarianism, the Atkins diet, and flat-out caloric restriction.

I suppose this change in mindset is due to the drastic nature of the Whole30 challenge. I cut out so many things from my diet, and now as I begin to reintroduce some of them, I am made acutely aware of how downright awful some foods make me feel. After a month of feeling on top of the world physically (and pretty damn good mentally, too), the awful indigestion I experience after eating dairy and fried foods doesn’t seem worth it. I want to continue eating in a way that makes me feel great, and when I want to eat something that won’t make me feel so great, I want to make a very informed and intentional decision to do so (That last statement is actually one of the goals the founders of Whole30 have for participants!)

I’m proud that through a lot of hard work, reflection, and change, I’ve moved one step closer to a balanced, healthy, and peaceful relationship with food. I never thought completing a month-long challenge that entailed eliminating many different foods from my diet would help my eating disorder in such a meaningful way– in fact, at times, I thought it would backfire and destroy some of the progress I’ve made this year. I’m so glad I proved myself wrong.

Welcome

I have used a total of four (five if you count this one!) blogging platforms in the past ten years or so. I found Tumblr in high school and continued using it throughout the majority of my college years. I met some wonderful people via Tumblr, read a lot of amazing stories, found inspiration and information that impacted my life and my choices, and was, of course, wildly entertained by much of the content in my Tumblr dashboard.

Lately, however, I realized I want to start writing again- not just uploading photos from Instagram onto my blog or reposting things I think are important. Tumblr is a lot of things, but for me, one of its primary features is that of a major distractor from how I actually want to be spending my time on a blogging platform: writing and creating original content. Hence my decision to try out WordPress for the first time. So far, it seems quite user-friendly and pretty simplistic, which definitely appeals to me.

It’s very difficult for me to predict what this blog will be ‘about.’ I’ve had blogs that served as diaries. I’ve had blogs that I used to discuss political and social issues at length. I’ve had running blogs. I’ve had recipe blogs. I’ve had blogs about education. I even attempted to run a blog based on the humorous anecdotes I overhear from the apartment next door.

Ultimately, I hope this blog will be a space for me to write about whatever it is I need to write about. Expect mundane updates about day-to-day happenings and the life of a soon-to-be graduate student. Expect posts about food/cooking/diet/body image/exercise, because I am recovering from an eating disorder and still trying to make sense of all that stuff. Expect to read my thoughts about teaching, the Common Core, privatization/charter schools, NCLB, and technology in the classroom, because I work with children in an after-school program and am on my way to becoming an elementary school teacher. Expect occasional commentary on popular culture and political/social happenings. I think if you are interested in any of the above, you will probably enjoy my blog.

Personally, I have always loved reading blogs that really give readers a glimpse into a person’s world- into their heart, their brain, and maybe their soul. I first started blogging at the age of 12 because I wanted to make connections. I love getting to know people –and trust me, I know reading someone’s blog posts is an undeniably different experience than talking face to face at a coffee shop– and the Internet provides us with a way to get to know people from all walks of life, from all corners of the globe. While I certainly have lots of mixed feelings about technology and the Internet’s growing importance in our lives, it has certainly broadened my horizons and enabled me to learn from people I never would have known otherwise.

So…welcome. Pull up a chair and stay a while. I can’t promise any discernible rhyme or reason to what I will write about, but I can promise to try and keep things interesting and honest.