5 Things That Got Me Through Weight Restoration in Eating Disorder Recovery
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Weight restoration was definitely one of the hardest parts of the eating disorder recovery process for me. I am not going to lie and tell you it doesn’t hurt and that it won’t be painful, both physically and mentally.
I remember, the first time I came to terms with it in treatment, there were tears; I remember sitting at the table with my favorite counselor and just crying my eyes out to her about how awful I felt and she said three things to me that I have never forgotten:
1. That my body is a vessel: my body and I need to think of things that it does for me.
2. What has recovery given me?
3. Was I happier in a smaller body?
I did not start to accept weight restoration until I fully grasped these three questions. For years, I put off the inevitable, fought the team on weight restoration and did anything to slow or stop the process. I did not actually weight restore until I was forced to through residential treatment; it wasn’t my choice. Even so, I survived it and I am here to tell you it is worth it. There are definitely ways to make it feel more manageable and less agonizing. I want to tell you what got me through it:
1. Avoid any kinds of numbers, especially your weight.
Luckily for me, I had to do blind weights in treatment. I had no idea how much I was gaining which means I had to let go of that control pretty much immediately and separate myself from the number. You can ask your outpatient providers to do blind weights if you’re not ready to see your weight, which also means no weighing yourself at home. I highly recommend not having any access to your weight because it took my identity outside of a number.
2. Buy clothes that fit and get rid of the sick clothes.
Get rid of all the clothes that feel tight or you just don’t like the way they fit anymore. Having clothes that fit made me feel so much less self-conscious, especially at the beginning. Tip: buy clothes that don’t run as a number and run “small, medium, large, etc.” because it helps separate the worth outside of the number and something more arbitrary.
3. Come up with a coping plan ahead of time, in case you accidentally see your weight.
Doctor’s offices aren’t perfect with blind weights or the temptation might get to you, so come up with a plan on how to follow your meal plan despite it. Have an affirmation such as, “I am more than a number.”
4. Have a meal plan that’s exchanges or guidelines, not calories.
Start to separate yourself from calories so you are not tempted to count them. Start working toward not measuring your food; it helps with it easier to eat. Food is not a number. Food is food.
5. Stop delaying the inevitable — radical acceptance.
You don’t have to like the fact you have to gain weight, but realize it is vital. Trust me: You can’t start making moves in your recovery until you are at a healthy weight and nourished. When I was underweight, I felt stuck and sick no matter how hard I tried to fight it. My mind would not cooperate until I was at a certain weight.
Besides these five tips, the thing that helped me most is realizing I gained so much more than weight and I lost so much more in my eating disorder than weight. When I was losing weight, I also lost my favorite job in the world, the ability to have friends, the ability to go for a walk, the ability to be me. I lost sanity and became a person I did not recognize.
However, when I started to go through restoration, I gained connection and energy. I gained the ability to be me. I gained a sense of humor. The list of what I’ve gained through recovery is endless. My face might be fuller, but so is my life. My clothing size might be more, but so is the number of times I laugh with friends. The most important thing that weight restoration has given me is realizing that I am so much more than a body. My body is simply a vessel for my soul. It allows me to have dance parties and make memories. It gave me a personality besides a carbon copy of an eating disorder. It gave me hope and insight. My weight-restored body gave me the ability to write this to all of you.
Now, on the other side, I can see that things are so much better now that I weigh more. Getting over the initial hump is the scariest thing in the world, but the grass is truly greener where you nourish it. Knowing I am so much more than a body has helped separate me from my body and separate weight from this beautiful process. This process is so much more than the weight gain and I am glad I took that vital step.
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash