Ahh January, the month of abstinence. The month of self inflicted redemption for the enjoyment of the festive season. By the 20th however it seems the whole thing is finally dying down. For me and I’m sure anyone else in the midst of recovery the last few weeks have been increasingly tense. Having to sit out the January madness for those with an eating disorder is akin to telling those who don’t that the are no longer aloud to participate in Christmas feasting but must still embark in the fitness journey in the New Year.
You see I realised long ago that my love of putting my self in physical pain allowed me to enjoy exercise and in turn weight loss in a way that not many did.
Waking up with abs so sore you can’t sit up?
Legs so sore sitting on the loo is painful?
I loooooooovvvve it.
So this very long exercise break has been tough. And so against the advice of my loved ones I thought I was okay to start easing back in to a healthy eating and light exercise routine ( cause ya know bmi 22 and all that.). Reading back that sentence know I see just how ED driven it was. Fast forward a week I had started restricting my carbs to breakfast and my body image was shot. Then the binge monster returned with full force. Lol I’m probably heavier now than I was a week ago.
The truth is that because of my history with anorexia I will probably never be able to ‘diet’ again, and for someone who actually enjoyed dieting this has been hard. I loved embarking on new regimes, it gave me purpose and goals to achieve. But I have realised that even a slight calorie reduction for a few days alters my thinking and my food and body preoccupation goes through the roof. Yes at some point I can make heavy exercise a part of my life again but changing my body shape is, at the moment, not feesable.
The other realisation is very much based around choice. As outlined in her article outlining recovery, Ms Troscianko outlines the necessity sometimes having to overshoot with fat mass in order to restore lean muscle mass to pre starvation levels. I’m much larger than I have ever been, and as seen in the men in the Minnesota Starvation Study, I have over shot my pre ed weight and experienced extreme hunger all the way. The body seems to want to be at a higher weight for a while post starvation and I’m not a unicorn. My body has behaved just as Science said it would through each stage of the process. So I’m choosing to continue following my body and Science by not trying to restrict or knowingly engaging in behaviours to maintain at a weight because I am no longer comfortable. I choose for my body to do what it needs to repair and trust me again that it no longer needs to hold on to every calorie I provide it with. If that means I have to gain even more and then taper back down again? So be it I’ve just got to pull on my big girl pants and live.
So basically I’m doing January inside out this year. Heck I’m doing life inside out the last 6 months, but here’s to hoping it brings more self acceptence and happiness than mainstream ever did.
PS. Thank you Adele for possibly the most beautiful picture known to man.
Weird cravings. ( yes I just had a bowl of baked beans, tuna and beet root)
Sudden attachment to my bottle of gaviscon.
Getting hot and flustered while shopping.
Inability to see my toes periodically.
I’ve seen my mom go through 3 pregnancies. I’m literally her. She actually comforted me with “”I know how you feel” and I knew she did. Lol. Now where are the pickles…..
Because this water retention sucks my recently restored ass.
to quote my mother this evening “I would love to see how you’d look if we gave you a diuretic……”.sexy.
This. Just this.
Ride this recovery wave. Sit with your feelings and eating what makes you anxious. There will be good days and bad. Your body image will be up and down yadahyahdahyah. Some days you can remind your self that it’s a process and “This too Shall Pass”. Other days you can’t even find those rational thinking in amongst the sudden re surge of disordered thoughts. Today was one of them, after catching sight of my now weight restored body in yoga pants and a sports bra I literally broke down, like didn’t want to go. Where once there was a defined four pack and defined arms are now a bloated belly with visible adipose tissue and arms with so much water retention it hurts to lift them above my head. I felt like a fraud. Undeserving of wearing gym gear and definitely not fit enough or skinny enough to attend a yoga class.
Okay so now I can see the ridiculousness of these thoughts, but at ridiculous-o-clock this morning not so much. Not to get all soppy but my mother came in and with what an only be mothers intuition ( or possibly because I looked like such a stroppy cow..) gave me a big hug and told me how much she admired me for getting up each day and just getting on with it. Things are so financially tight and after everything I have but them through the last few years, guilt pushed me out that front door this morning.
Then half way through the class I saw it. Lying on my back , one leg in the air, there it was. My ankle. We then changed legs. Amafagaaaaaad my other ankle. I joke not this is the first time since I started following my extreme hunger and loosely the minnie maud guidelines over TWO MONTHS AGO, that I have seen my ankle bones. Or indeed any thing that resembled a human ankle. Like I cannot express the excitement with which I am sharing this post I have even taken a picture.
I was so upset with the water retention in my upper body and my “Moon Face” that I had not even noticed my lower body. We see what we want to see in life and what meditation and yoga are teaching me is that, cheesy as it sounds, when we stop and breathe we notice the other things. And more often than not, I’m finding that those things tend to be the more positive ones. For example I’m typing this thinking ” great, another example of how backwards my body is. Only you could defy gravity and lose Edema from the feet up”. Being all fatalistic rather than enjoying the fact I have the ankles of a normal homosapian. Heck they could be gone by tomorrow.
The Irish Mammy is a well documented species. The lesser know Irish Granny is an even more fascinating one. It could just be a trait of getting older but the irish Granny is not one to beat around the bush. Talking about how I felt my body had decided to recover and my brain was really not comfortable with it and there for could not take credit for my progress this was what I was greeted with ( lol at the fact my family now think of me as having 2 separate identities…). Not to mention that this conversation occourred in the cafe of a well known irish mental hospital. What is life?
I spoke about extreme hunger in my last post and how it has been vital to reaching near weight restoration. But today is one of those days the change is just too much. Body image is at rock bottom and fighting the urges both to restrict and binge is exhausting. And I guess I am struggling with the knowledge that I am now no longer distinguishable as being slim but yet my eating disorder still occupies most of my thoughts. Like what is on the outside dose not match how I feel inside. And any one watching me will now think I’m just greedy for the amount I am eating, and it’s getting harder to tell my self “you need this food” as I no longer see my self as ill.
This article is fascinating https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hunger-artist/201011/starvation-study-shows-recovery-anorexia-is-possible-only-regaining-weight. But what I have feel is that now I’ve gained weight and the anorexic rituals and OCD tendencies have lessened, my ADHD, hyperactivity, Low mood and depressive tendencies have worsened and I haven’t yet lost the constant constant inner monologue. I guess that it’s just bringing to the fore the fact that my mental health isn’t great and many my anorexia was a coping mechanism for the dealing with them.
I just ate 5 bowls of cereal. Not just cereal but piled-as-high-as-my-bowl-will-permit-oats-granola-musli-and-honey-poured-on-top-cereal. Oh I forgot there was an apple somewhere in there as we’ll but to be honest it was kind of lost in the massive carbathon that was my breakfast. What is scary is that this is a regular occourrence. Sometimes in the morning AND evening.
If you haven’t experienced extreme hunger before I cannot explain how distressing it is/was. This fabulous lady describes it brilliantly here http://everythingeatingdisordered.tumblr.com/post/75096643327/extreme-hunger-in-recovery-from-a-restrictive. It struck me to day that I would possibly not be at this stage in my recovery and most certainly wouldn’t be nearly weight restored without it. Don’t get me wrong it was not fun My life for a few weeks there was eating, sleeping and crying over the fact that all I was doing was eating and sleeping. There was the bloating and stomach pain and the water retention that was so bad I couldn’t put my runners on and I couldn’t bend my legs. I tried to ignore the hunger and would take my sleeping tablet and go to bed only to be told by my family the next morning that I had been up eating porridge and watching gossip girl with my sister at 2am. I even had a bite to eat with my brother at 3am one morning after he had been out and I have NO RECOLLECTION OF THIS. I tried everything to stop this eating during the day time. My anorexia was screaming at me but my body just kept eating. Sure for the first few days I embraced it and the ed noise was gone but a week in I was sitting with my nutritionist bawling my eyes out convinced I was becoming a binge eater.
We actually went through my diet and meal plan and for the first time we calculated the calories ( during my disorder it was not so much about total calories so much as restricting my self to ” negative calorie” vegetables and sugar free jelly and as common to most eating disorder suffers, over a period of time became terrified of carbs, even my beloved beet root was to calorific). I was shocked to discover what I thought was excessive was actually below my BMR and with my restriction in the previous weeks my body was rebelling. I tried to get back on my meal plan and increase my calories.
It didn’t work. I was eating more than ever and all my body craved was oats. Porridge, muesli, oatcakes, I was inhaling it. I joked it was karma for restricting them for so long. But inside I was in chaos. It was like being two people at once my body was like a feral animal frantically scavenging for anything and everything I could get my hands on but my brain was still firmly disordered and rejecting recovery. Even now nearly 2 months later I am terrified this is never going to stop, that I’m going to keep eating upwards of 6,000 calories daily and keep gaining and gaining. I have no idea what my set point is as I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t restricting/compensating for my intake. It is starting to calm down and happen maybe once every 48 hours, I’m staring to feel some satiety after them and I’m now craving things such as mince, quinoa, nuts, chocolate and eggs which is a bit of a relief and I’m hoping that this means the weight gain will taper off soon as protein and fats are vital for the restoration of the brain, the last organ to be restored ( I can now do things like read entire articles in magazines without having to re read each line like a gazillion times #winning….).
It’s got to the point where I’m looking at what my family are eating and thinking ” how the hell are you satisfied after one bowl of cereal?!?!?!?!” And I feel totally out of control. But then I’m living a little more normally each day. And I’m genuinely belly laughing on a daily basis, multiple times a day. So is it that my eating disorder that has lost control and my body that is giving me life back? I baffled and it’s exhausting. I just long for normality and this feels so abnormal. If you haven’t discovered youreatopia.com this is what I’m coming to terms with