Overshooting in Recovery: Embracing the Change

Over.  Shoot.



When I first heard the word, my immediate thought turned to basketball.  I envisioned a player, lining up for a shot, letting the ball fly, and then having said orange ball soar over the backboard.

Overshoot.  Good attempt, dude!  Nice try!  But sorry, you are nowhere near the goal.

Taking that concept of overshoot, I started reading more about this idea and where it falls in the process of eating disorder recovery.

Being four weeks into full body and mind recovery, there are a number of wonderful changes that are occurring.

I slept for eight hours last night without waking up at 2:31am unable to go back to sleep.

I look at a cookie, and rather than decide whether or not I really want it or how many carbohydrates are in it, I just eat it.

I am able to play with my children and NOT think about how my stomach is growling from hunger.

I can lie down after dinner, snuggling with my son, and watch a movie and laugh and smile and feel warmth and joy.

But with these grand changes come the difficulties.

Bloating after meals, when I feel uncomfortable wearing any type of pants because the elastic waistband leaves red indentations in my side.

The sweat that pours from my back and chest at the most unopportuned times as my metabolism revs up.

The hypoglycemic episodes where BAM! all of a sudden I’ll feel a tremendous sugar crash and need to eat or feel like I will fall over.

There are a number of changes going on right now, good and bad.

Physical and mental and emotional changes are to be expected in recovery.  If there were no changes, then I’d not be in recovery–I’d be in maintenance mode.  But one part of the whole process that is so daunting to me is the idea of the overshoot.  Overshooting my natural set point weight, holding it there, and then letting my body naturally fall where it’ll go.

Why is this so scary to me?  What about overshooting makes me cringe?

The term itself is anxiety producing.  “Over” implies that I am far beyond what is necessary, and me being a person of exactness and precision, I hate that I may actually go over my norm.  “Over” insinuates that I have failed at being “spot on”, that I am not “perfect.”

But what’s so great about perfection anyway?

Overshooting or going beyond one’s normal set point weight in anorexia recovery is a necessity.  The body needs to trust that restriction and famine are no longer in the cards, and internal repairs need to be made to organs and muscles and systems.  Overshoot need not be a negative, and this was the idea that my old dietitian told me.

At the time, I scoffed at the idea.

I thought I could recover by being at the bare minimums because WHY ON EARTH would I want to overshoot and get fat?!?!

Silly Lauren.

There are a number of articles on Tabitha Farrar’s blog that detail all of the “hows” and “whys” overshooting is essential for full recovery, and I must have read all of them a number of times over.  After first scouring and analyzing every bit of Farrar’s words, I still had trepidation that overshooting was right for me.  Why?  Because of the questions: What will I look like if I overshoot?  What will I feel like?

Initially when I first started gaining weight, my mind was fearful and anxious of overshooting.  It seemed ludicrous to think that I’d ever weigh the same I did when I was pregnant with my two children.

But I am coming to grips that that may actually be a possibility.

And I am actually, well, excited.

This seems like a completely absurd idea–how can I go from being extremely anxious to being EXCITED to gain weight???  I kid you not, I am.

I want to see how strong my legs can get.  I want to see if MAYBE I’ll get boobs (ha ha ha).  I want to buy new clothes (yes, I still wear dresses that I have had for 10+ years because the ED made me a cheapskate).  I want to have a womanly bod that is MINE and not an eating disorder’s.

I have been living in a body that was not my own for so long, I don’t even know what my true self will look like.  It’s like I’m going through puberty all over again, blossoming into the person I was destined to be.  And it’s pretty darn exciting.

So yes, I am going to overshoot.  I may feel uncomfortable in my new skin, as I haven’t had thick thighs or a voluptuous figure in recent memory.  But like anything in life, I will adapt.  I will grow with the change.  I will embrace the change.  And I am going to overshoot and not give myself any restrictions or limits to the person God created me to be.

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