Recovery from an Eating Disorder: Practical Steps

Hello, friends. I want to let you know up front, where I am at right now is not my finish line. I still have work to do. I know that. I’m taking steps to get there. I think many times, people think any issue can be solved in 10 therapy sessions, and then all is well. But y’all, that’s just not how it works, at least, not for me.

For about a year, I went to therapy every other week, with the main focus being on my anxiety. I showed up, my counselor showed up, and God showed up in amazing ways. I saw many, many breakthroughs and revelation sitting on that couch in my counselor’s office. 

Then, my counselor asked me if there was another area in my life where I was still struggling. Maybe something that we hadn’t addressed yet, because we had been busy tackling the most pressing issue: anxiety. I opened up with her about my body image issues. I hadn’t really told her before about the time spent starving myself. I may no longer be physically starving myself, but my mind is still starving my heart from fully loving my body. I’m ready to be free from that.

So, our focus has landed here. Then COVID hit the world. Counseling via Zoom is very difficult when Internet is not readily available… but I’m doing my best.  Here are some practical steps I have been taking the past year to try and love my body well. 

In terms of exercise: I work out 3 or 4 days a week, instead of 6 or 7. I stick to what I love, and I try not to get caught up in thinking I should be doing more. I like running, yoga, walking, and swimming. I stick to that. If I miss a workout, I do not need to make up for it. I just keep on living my life, y’all.

In terms of food: I eat pretty much the same thing as everyone else in the house. This may seem like a “given,” but it’s not when you’ve had an unhealthy relationship with food. I’ve gone sugar-free, carb-free, dairy-free, plant based, and everything in between. I’ve counted calories, carbs, and containers. I’m over it. I genuinely enjoy my veggies and fruits, so a lot of what we eat IS that, but I’m also gonna eat dessert whenever I dang well please. I no longer track calories, or macros, or containers or points… I just eat real food. (Side note: If tracking is your thing, more power to you. I just know, for me, things get toxic when I track. I tend to obsess, and then when things don’t line up, I tend to be hurtful to myself. So that is why I don’t track. If you can track your food in a healthy and positive way that works for you, then go for it.)

In terms of mental health: I continue to go to therapy. This is a focus for me right now. Although I can practically tell you that I’m doing these things listed above, and that I desperately want to be okay with my body… the truth is I am not. I am all too aware of how my clothes fit and the mommy tummy I still have. So, we’re weeding out the lies and replacing them with truth. I’ve been listening to and I’ve been motivated by these lies for 21 years… I can’t expect to rid them in 21 days. It’s just not that easy. But I’m willing to show up every day, ready to fight another battle towards healing. I remind myself of these truths over and over when the lies try to speak. I know one day, the truth will be louder than the lies. So, I’m fighting for that day.

I hope you will too. You are worth the fight. Your spouse is worth the fight. Your child, friend, coworker, colleague, and teammate; they’re all worth the fight. Let’s suit up for battle, y’all.

A note to loved ones: Maybe you’re reading this, and you don’t struggle with an eating disorder, but someone you loves does. I beg you, please keep showing up in their lives. I know, it’s exhausting. It’s the same old fight again and again. But they NEED you. I remember feeling so alone, even though I was surrounded by people who love me. I hardly voiced anything to them at the time, because I didn’t want to be a burden. I didn’t want to bother anyone with my problems. So, please GO to them. Ask them how they are doing, and listen. Ask them what they need. Tell them the truth. Tell them they’re not a burden. Tell them you will fight this beast with them. Tell them healing is possible. Tell them they are loved. 

If you are battling an eating disorder; please get professional help. Look up some counseling resources in your local area, and call to make an appointment. When you call to schedule an appointment, let them know you’ve got an eating disorder and ask for someone with experience in that area. If there is no one trained in that particular office, ask for a referral. Most offices have a referral list for specific areas of training. You can do it! You really can be free. I’m cheering for you.