What I Do When the Eating Disorder Tries to Creep Back In
If you are reading this, I am assuming you have either overcome an eating disorder, or are currently in the healing process, and I just want to say... YOU ARE DOING AMAZING!
But the truth is, eating disorders are like addictions, and even if we overcome them, those nasty monsters are still going to come knocking at our doors every now again with the promise of happiness and fulfillment from being "thin" again. Lies. Lies. Lies. But since we spent so long believing those lies, we must now train ourselves to detect when they are knocking on our doors and creeping back into our lives, and then develop an action plan to kick them out FAST. So this post is dedicated to you warriors fighting through eating disorders and striving to leave free and healthy lives!
My eating disorder began when I was around nine years old, about the same time my OCD really started to show itself, and when my mother began talking about calories and weight loss at the dinner table. Since my personality is naturally bent towards cycles of obsessions and compulsions, it found an outlet in food at an early age. Obsess over being thin and physically perfect. Compulsively track calories, binge to make up for the starvation, and purge to make up for the binge. It took me 10 years to finally get help, and another 2 years to finally break through to healing (I will talk about that process in another post). I now consider myself 2 years free of an eating disorder! And that is something to celebrate!
But the truth is, although I have trained my brain through cognitive behavioral therapy to redirect my thoughts from disordered eating patterns, the ED still comes knocking at my door from time to time. Thankfully, I have learned to detect when the ED is trying to rear its ugly head in my life again, and I now know what to do to get myself back on track to healing. PS. For the remainder of this post I am going to call the eating disorder "ED." It's easier to disconnect from it when it has its own name. (:
I know ED is trying to creep back in my life when I begin to have restrictive thoughts towards food again that sound like "You cannot eat that or you will get fat" or You need to eat more or you will lose your booty gains and be unworthy of attention from your boyfriend." But I have learned what triggers these thoughts to leak in -
If I am becoming too rigid with any other part of my life, especially my fitness program, I start listening to the "should" voices instead of my own heart, like "you SHOULD be going to the gym today you lazy bum. You SHOULD be eating more. You SHOULD be eating better food. You SHOULD not be training that way." And then that unhealthy rigidity begins to bleed into my relationship with food, causing restrictive thoughts and anxiety.
I am fully aware that rigidity and discipline work very well for some people when they are trying to reach their goals, but it tends to carry me down dark paths of obsession as my brain's chemical makeup is prone to this kind of behavior.
So when I start to notice ED getting loud in my life, I do the exact opposite of what he is telling me to do. I reorganize my training program so that it aligns with the movements my heart and body are naturally craving, which trains my brain to accept that I can EAT what my heart and body are naturally craving.
So how do I battle ED and win? I choose to love myself more, to listen to my heart over his ugly voice, and to put myself first. Love always wins, even when battling an eating disorder.