I’m hitting that stage now…
The stage where no one does a double take to look at how gaunt and thin my face is…
The stage where I have to clean out my closet because the waistband on pants leave red indentations around my stomach…
The stage where my face is a bit fuller, my arms are a bit meatier, my legs are tight in my jeans…
This is the stage when anxiety will normally hit.
I am getting too big.
I am getting too fat.
I am getting uncomfortable and gross and messy and sloppy.
But who am I getting “too big” or “too fat” or “uncomfortable” for?
My husband could care less if my stomach protruded and fell over the tops of my skirts.
My children would actually probably prefer if I had even more fat on me because I’d then be that much more comfy to lay on while we watch TV at home.
My brain says I am uncomfortable, but what’s more comfortable: having a satiated, full stomach or having a stomach that is growling with hunger and fear?
The past few times I’ve attempted to fully recover from anorexia, I’d hit this stage of recovery, get absurdly anxious and return to old patterns and behaviors.
I’d start “eating a bit more healthfully.” I’d “watch my carb intake.” I’d “add in just this one exercise because it’ll help with my weaknesses in lifting.”
Eating disorders have a crazy way of sneaking back in there when you are at your weakest.
So I am being extremely vigilant to acknowledge when I am feeling a bit out of sorts (i.e. Double thinking eating a chocolate chip cookie because I’m afraid of gaining weight) and then trying to actively do something contradictory to what I’d normally do (i.e. Eat the cookie and then another).
I’m trying to rewire my brain. I’m trying to create new, healthy patterns about food and exercise.
This past Thanksgiving day was no exception.
Can I just tell you, my anxiety around Thanksgiving was ridiculous. I was waking up at 2 or 3am in the days leading up to this celebratory holiday. Why? THE ANXIETY. I’d have to eat two big meals in a span of eight hours, one of which would be a Chinese buffet (and that hefty meal was dinner, a few hours after having consumed a glorious Thanksgiving lunch at my parents’ home). And I couldn’t workout like a mad woman for hours beforehand. I couldn’t restrict food intake in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. And I’d have to eat normally and, well, be a sane person the day after Thanksgiving.
I’m going to get huge.
I’m going to get big.
I’m going to get insanely bloated and gross
Those were my initial thoughts.
But then I took a deep breath. A very big, deep, belly breath. And then I prayed and asked God for His strength. And then I thought about what I wanted to see happen this Thanksgiving.
I wanted to laugh with my children without having to worry about the amount of calories in pumpkin crunch.
I wanted to talk with my mom and not have one eye on her and another eye on the green bean casserole that I’d want to get seconds of but would be too scared to.
I wanted to be present and celebrate the life I have. I wanted others to know just how grateful I am for their presence and love.
It was a “fork in the road” kind of moment. I could take the path towards recovery (which would be challenging) or I could divert towards comfort and old habits (which would ultimately lead me towards the eating disorder).
I chose the harder road, the one that would lead me towards health and wholeness.
Granted, it was HARD. It was hard to do the opposite of what my brain was saying I SHOULD be doing (“Why are you eating more dessert?!”), but the more times I rejected that voice and actively did something that would anger and irritate the eating disorder in me, the more empowered and strong and whole I felt.
I loaded my plate at the Chinese buffet.
I ate my son’s leftovers.
I ate more ice cream when we got home.
I am not going running for hours today.
I laughed with my mom.
I laughed with my kids.
I laughed with my husband.
I’m hitting that hard stage of recovery right now, but I am pushing forward. This stage of recovery is vastly different than the initial “I am at a low weight and just need to think about eating all the time.” Right now, recovery is much more of the mental battle than it is the physical. I’m actively identifying the restrictive voice and crazy food and exercise rules, and one by one, rewiring and changing their negative messages.
Food is not to be feared.
Food is not to be earned.
Exercise is not punishment.
Exercise is not compensation.
I have a life to live, a purpose and a calling…and I’m going to need all the chow fun, beef broccoli, pumpkin pie, turkey and stuffing to get there.
Onward and upward!