While Recovering From an Eating Disorder, I've Learned to Detox With Love
Here is what my former eating disordered life looked like:
Monday – Thursday: Restrict, calorie rules, weighing in 20 to 40 times per day, diet pills, low fat, no fat, sugar free, fat free.
Friday – Saturday: Dinner and going out with friends, events, Mardi Gras balls, football games, excessive drinking and eating.
Sunday: Close the blinds, self-loath, binge, purge, more self-hate.
Restrict and repeat.
I woke up Monday feeling lethargic and foggy. The past month has been busy, and I have been going hard, really hard. I have worked hard, played hard, “mom-ed” hard. There has been little time for rest or self-care. After a week of taking care of tiny humans plagued with the flu, exhaustion caught up with me yesterday morning.
Yet, rather than take it out on body and blame it, I honored it. Yesterday, I rested. I actually laid down and took a nap. I sat on the porch and blew bubbles with Marjorie. I ate and I got dressed.
I did not wake up yesterday telling myself I was fat or needed to “cut back.” No, no. I woke up and said, “I need to take it easy this week.” To be able to say that to myself is such an incredible gift. Rather than go to war with my body, I knew I needed to honor it. I needed to love it extra hard.
My eating disorder mindset would have laced up tennis shoes, gone on a run and begun the Monday restriction cycle. My eating disorder solutions never healed the bigger problem. The one thing I needed that I could not give myself was love. Today, I give myself an abundance of love and know when I need a little extra self-love.
Too often when we wake up “feeling fat” or “gross,” we avoid real clothes like the plague. At least, I used to. My former closet carried a multitude of sizes to appease whatever mood I was in: muffin top jeans, “fat” pants, sweats and my favorite, yoga pants. Now, I still live in yoga pants. Can you blame me? I work from home, and I take pride in my yoga uniform. However, I know when it is time to get up and put a real bra on.
Years ago, getting dressed was an emotional roller coaster. I never knew what was going to fit or how my eating disordered mind would react. Would it be happy? Would it be angry or would it be in sheer panic? Usually, it was the latter two options. My body was in constant motion, bouncing from one size to another depending on which cycle of symptom use I was in.
It took nearly three years of solid recovery work for my body to level out. Let’s also remember I had a baby within that time frame too. Being patient with my body as it learned to take in nutrition was beyond difficult. There were many “white knuckle” days where all I wanted was to fall back into my eating disorder, but I knew going back to restriction, diet pills, crash dieting or purging would only set me back further. I had to wait, and the payoff was worth every agonizing minute of bloat and discomfort.
My body no longer jumps from one size to another, and the only problem I have getting dressed these days is deciding on which outfit to wear because I like them all! My closet consists of one size, size me. Whatever jeans I buy today, will fit me tomorrow, next Tuesday and in two years.
My body is my body, and while I may live a bit too hard at times, it isn’t because I am abusing it. It is because I am loving life and every person and moment in it. It’s been a busy month, and life isn’t slowing down anytime soon. I have to carve out time to slow it down, which is a challenge for me as it is for so many of us.
Yesterday, I carved out time to do “nothing.” I penciled in time for me on my busy calendar, which is the most important appointment I will have all month. Recovery is a choice I make each and every day. Yesterday, I chose recovery through rest.
We want our bodies to be perfect all the time. We brutally compare them to others. We expect so much of our bodies, and we forget to give them the one thing they need: love. We all go a little too fast and hard at times. Stop and listen to your body and what it needs. I doubt your body will say, “Please, start another one of those awesome kale shake detox juice cleanses. I love those.” Your body, instead, will tell you to rest, to honor it and above all else to love it.
Live life and detox with love.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.
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