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How to be healthy again after recovering from eating disorders?

Hey there lovely people.

The title says it all and I think I would just like to open a conversation and hear about others experiences who might be facing the same issue (or faced it in the past).

Long story short, I have started to fall into eating disorders during my teenage years. It started with a diet, lots of exercise and way too much time spent online to learn “how to lose weight”. Quite rapidly, it has turned into an obsession and became unhealthy. I was eating less and less, losing weight more and more, exercising more and more. All of my thoughts were turned towards the ultimate goal of losing more weight. Until my mind and body couldn’t take the restrictions anymore: I started to have binge eating crisis, which has led me to the trap of purging what I would eat. I have struggled for more than a decade with a cycle of anorexia/bulimia, then binge eating once I have managed to stop purging and exercising to compensate the crisis.

It’s been a lot of tears, a lot of pain, a lot of distress. I have oscillated between quite some extremes in terms of weight lost and gained. I’ve hurt my body and still pays some consequences of it today health-wise. For something like 4-5 years, I haven’t been as stuck in this cycle as I was before. I consider myself recovered, but there is still a lot of vulnerability. That healing journey has taught me a lot about myself, why the eating disorders were there, how it functions, and how to get out of it (for me, at least). Today, I do not obsess over specific foods, I do not obsess everyday about losing weight, I do not weigh myself anymore and I can’t exercise intensely either. I have had a few relapses, especially after my brother’s death, but it didn’t last more than a few weeks. I am in a place of having control over this fragility rather than being controlled by it.

My issue today is that I feel like I have yet steps to take in this healing journey, and I’m lost regarding how to proceed. Practically speaking, I wish I would eat a little bit more healthily than I do (objectively, I eat a lot of junk and I would like to take care of my health also on that matter). I am at a healthy weight, but I do not like my body/how it looks like. I wish I could be a little more fit and lost the extra/unnecessary weight that I’ve been gaining for not being active anymore.

The problem is that eating disorders are something I know I can easily fall into. It’s something that can easily be triggered whenever I think about “diet” or “exercising”, or “losing weight”. It puts me into a kind of all-or-nothing mode. To share a more obvious comparison: it is the same as recovering from an addiction. If I start to think about losing weight or getting more healthy, I fall almost immediately into patterns of thoughts regarding “good” and “bad” food, I start to slowly count calories again, then set goals more and more unhealthy… It’s a vicious trap that doesn’t say its name. And even though I am more aware of it when/if it happens, the call to dive into it fully is still very strong. A part of me still regrets being very thin, very fit. I still cry at times when I see my body. I still have these urges sometimes to just “start eating less than 1000 calories a day tomorrow”, but I don’t respond to it anymore.

Am I just condemned to never have a balanced relationship with my body? I wish I could regain a bit of control over what I eat, but in a healthy way, like how people who do not struggle with eating disorders can do. Is that realistic of me? Is this subtle balance something I can pretend to do one day, or even try? Or should I just consider that “diet” and “exercising” are things that need to be away from me, as part of my own “sobriety”?

I have thought about seeing a nutritionist, but to be honest the little experiences I’ve had with them were not good. I’m sure it works very well for people who do not have any eating disorder. But to someone with eating disorders, anything that pertains to controlling how we eat again can be a massive trigger that initiates a relapse. It’s also sad to say, but eating disorders are very misunderstood, including by most doctors, and there are no good support therapy/medically wise on that matter, at least where I live. Somehow, if I hear these “dieting” rules being validated by a doctor, it would mess up even more my “unhealthy” brain, the one that wants to dive into all of this fully, quickly, and too intensely. There is a line that could be crossed in that process, and of course I do not want to fall into all of that again. But how close can I come to it without relapsing?

I’m not sure where I’m getting at with all of this. I guess, if you have been or are in this situation, I would love to hear your experience and insights. To be honest, it is something I feel very alone with. For a long time I have considered that I just need to live as I want and stop wanting completely to have a healthier body. But as time goes on, I realize that I also wish I could take care of myself in the way I am active and in the way I eat. I have yet to figure out the answers. For now, I don’t know if I should just give up completely on this “goal” because of my history of eating disorders, or if I should insist in finding ways to heal further, in ways where I could be at peace with the idea of “diet” (I hate that word, but for a lack of a better one I use this) and exercising. In the meantime, I am not at peace mentally and physically.

I wish I was able to stop eating because I’m just bored or feel bad. I wish I didn’t feel the same distress as when I was restricting myself, whenever I don’t have a little treat during the week. I wish I was able to exercise without feeling an unhealthy satisfaction for the idea that in the long run it will help me lose weight. It feels like eating disorders have completely messed up my brain and things that could be healthy and safe give wrong signals to it now. Are those wishes and goals things something realistic and healthy to try for someone like me? And if so, how to proceed? If not, am I just supposed to accept my quite unhealthy body and its effects on my health?

How do we learn to live again with a substance/object that has caused us so much harm in the past? I want to believe that it’s a matter of how we use it, at least in some situations (drugs are another topic). That it could be possible to have a healthy relationship with something that don’t have to be harmful in the first place. But is it my “addict” brain talking, trying to convince myself to get back into all that shit?

Mindfulness applied to eating is so hard, as well as to exercising. I’m not sure if any of this makes sense - for me it does, but it’s hard to describe how the brain of someone who has more than a decade of eating disorders behind is.

Thank you for reading this though if you got this far. I think I don’t expect anything actually. I’m just grateful you even took the time to read. It is the first time that I put words on this while it’s been present for years and years. Maybe it’s just a first step towards more personal awareness, steps and healing?

Have a lovely day. :hrtlegolove:

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I haven’t struggled with eating disorders specifically, but I did struggle with body dysmorphia. I wrestled in high school. In that world, every pound counted. The guys around me went through binge and purge cycles every week, starving for 3 days before a match to make weight and eating give unhealthy meals afterwards to blow of steam. Not making weight meant you couldn’t compete, but it was also accompanied by unrestrained fat shaming from the rest of the team.

I was never good enough to have to track my weight that closely :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes::upside_down_face:, but I thought my 8% body fat should have been 6. I pinched the skin on my stomach and hated the centimeter of subcutaneous fat I felt. I looked at my faint abs and hated that I didn’t have a chiseled 8-pack. I hated that there was space between my biceps and my t-shirt sleeves. It was all so disappointing that I felt working out was fruitless and pointless (believing that the point of working out was to look good and be strong), and I stopped when I left high school. I hated watching my body soften, hated “getting fat,” but did nothing about it out of a feeling of futility.

Fast forward some number of years, by the time I had gained 20 kg from when I graduated high school, I fell in love (or at least peaceful acceptance) with my body. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good. I realized I didn’t have to be carved from marble to be healthy. I was at peace with my acceptance, and happy with not obsessing over pounds on the scale or pounds on a weight bar. I think for me, it was time away from wrestling comparison culture, plus more important things like a career and homeownership, that meant the perfect body was just not as important. I looked in the mirror for the good, not the bad. I started admiring my shape regardless of fat, the size of my arms regardless of definition, and how well my clothes fit. It is really satisfying to look for the good in the mirror :slightly_smiling_face:

These days I could stand to lose about 10kgs to be healthier, but I’m not obsessed with it. I try to remember “progress, not perfection.” I pass up the fast food, I opt for carbonated water instead of soda or beer, and I keep small portions of “relatively healthy” desserts at home so I can take the edge off cravings for sweets. I don’t keep junk food in the house, but I don’t disallow myself junk food. It just becomes a choice: do I want to make the effort to go to the store and spend my pocket money on a bag of chips, or will a handful of carrots get me through? If I choose the chips, or fast food or ice cream, it’s not the end of the world and it’s not the start of a bad habit, it’s a treat. It’s not a default to comfort eating, it’s a proactive choice to comfort eat (if that’s the case) or just enjoy yummy food. When it’s done, I choose to appreciate how good it was, and I look forward to a new day with the opportunity to choose healthy eating.

I know body positivity is a big shift, but it starts with reframing big negative things into little positive things. I’ve found that “good enough” feels better than “good.” How do you look in your favorite outfit? How do you feel when you admit to yourself “I like how I look in this outfit”? How much better would it feel to go from saying “this area of my body could be better” to “this area of my body isn’t bad”? It’s a shift, it takes practice. You may not fall in love with your body right away, but practice complimenting it instead of criticizing it, just in little ways.

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Something that I found extremely helpful was the app noom. It went into the psychology behind why we eat the way we eat and how we can learn to make healthier choices without labelling food as “good” or “bad”.
It can be such a fine line without there being any guidelines. The steps between dieting and disorder get blurred and it can be such and easy thing to not notice.
The thing I loved about noom was the ideas and the support from groups or the coaches.

There’s like this place that people don’t tell you that exists “after” you’ve “recovered” from the disorder where your body wants and craves all the junk and your mind justifies it that “if I stop then what if I lose control again?!”
Nobody talks about the struggle after the fact of what happens if you want to create a healthy routine or feel the need for whatever health reason to diet?!

The importance of not labelling foods but educating that “i need less of this kind of food” I think was something that made an impact. It wasn’t denying the things that you enjoy, it was just focusing on the fact that “well I can still enjoy one of these once a day” instead of having all of them at once.
And what happens if you do eat all of them at once?! Nothing… hah! Nothing happens, because you’re human and sometimes humans do that. And then we reset ourselves tomorrow.

Who knew that actually addressing the psychological relationship between ourselves and food could be such a huge step in repairing our relationship between our mind and our body.
Plus there are soooooo many fun recipes out there. I really enjoy trying new things and flavours (except seafood! That can go to hell lmao), and I thought I’d be stuck eating rabbit food and having zero flavour.
I guess that’s why I also love things like hello fresh where you can choose the lower calorie options, but there’s still soooooo much to choose from and such yummy food.

Yes, it does take time to make the journey to being able to reconnect your mind and body, and yes there will be days and moments where it feels like it’s all coming back up again, but it gets a lot easier. It’s definitely realistic!

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hi Micro,
Here with a weird idea (as usual hehe!)

If there are some terms that are commonly used that are problematic, can you ty conceptualizing your body and food as something completely different? Think of your body as a newly discovered palace, and food as the colours you get to apply to it. Instead of good and bad foods, give junk food a colour, healthy veggies another, and try to maintain balance that way? So it’s not a matter of things being “right”, but maybe you want your palace to be a primarily a rich chocolately brown colour or whatever your fave colours are (did you say once you liked some chocolate reddish flower?). And that would be your main colour, but no colour looks good by itself, so there has to be complementary and contrasting colour to give depth and interests, even if it’s monochrome. This way it’s okay if you had a day full of blue - ice cream and cake and a burger, because that is one colour, on one day. The day after will be a day of less-blue foods.

No clue if this idea makes any sense… I may have to trial it myself and see if it is applicable to real life hehehe.

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Hello Micro
Alright this is a topic I am somewhat familiar with although I am by no means an expert. When i was a teenager (which is not that far back) I had a similar experience as you did. There was this one day when I suddenly started to be self aware about how i looked. before that i didnt really care. I simply would wear whatever was comfy and eat what I liked. Didnt excercise much, only at school and stuff. But then somebody called me fat and I started to look at myslef differently. (Ok this is embarassing but i also started watching anime at the time and if you know how guys in anime look like… yeah like suber six pack and stuff… that was my goal. I thought that is what a real person should look like… ahhh I know I know I am super embarassed) I started to see all the flaws I had. I wasnt fat but I wasnt fit either. i thought my hair looked weird. i didnt like the things I wore. Simply put i didnt like the way I looked.

Long streak of excercising, videos about food, starving myself, obsession with my looks… you know the drill. Once I cried because I received a haicut i didnt like… and I was a 16 year old guy… yeah. It was bad. I lost like 15 kg of weight in a few months. I had a lot of ups and downs over the years. I eventually got better. But it took time and it wasnt sudden. I am going to try to give you the best advice I can for both being healthy and to not let your thoughts about how you should look destroy you.

  1. its a combination of diet and activity. Its 60% diet 30% activite 10% other stuff. roughly. Genetics is also important. 2. its not so much about what you eat but how much do you eat.
  2. one of the easiest ways to reduce sugar in your diet is to avoid sweet drinks. Thing like Cola, Sprite or Mirinda. Water, tea and coffee are fine. 4. eat more times a day in small ammounts. 5. not eating can actually cause you to gain more weight in the long run. Thats because you body realises its starving a lot of the time so when it gets food it wants to save up on the nutritions. 6. You dont have to run or go to the gym to lose weight. Just do stuff. Walking and swimming are the best. I think you might know some of these already but hey its what I know. As I have said I am no expert.

When it comes to have to feel more comfortable with your body here is what I have learned. 1. Dont look in a mirrow too much, its not healthy. 2 wear the clothes you like and try to care for yourself. It doesnt matter no one is gonna see it. Style yourself. When I buy something new, i dont care what others are gonna say. I know it looks great (which honestly is maybe not that true… at least fashion police dosnt think so :upside_down_face:) 3. Dont compare yourself to how others look. Or better yet, dont compare yourself to people online. Photoshop does miracles and half of those people dont look like that irl. No matter how beautiful you are, everybody has those moments when they look into mirror in the morning and say " who the hell is that?" 4. Try to stay healthy and care for your well being. Health comes first. 5. I always imagine my favourite heroes in dire situations for some reason it helps. Like Leonardo De Caprio in Revenant when he has to sleep in the belly of a bear covered by blood and dirt. He sure as hell doesnt look like he played in titanic there :upside_down_face:

Ok I hope some of this has helped you Micro at least a little. If not I am sorry. I hope things will get better for you soon friend :slightly_smiling_face:

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Dearest @Micro, I am so proud of you for sharing this with us. The instant that you did, it became impossible for you to be alone. You’re now surrounded by people who hear you, who love you, who care, who share in your feelings, and who will be with you every step of the way. I hope you know just how worthy you are of all this love. You’ve been fighting this for so, so long, but you’ve never been alone. You just didn’t know we had your back yet. :heart: I have read over your post a lot. Whether the things I say are helpful to you or not, I hope you’ll receive the most important message: I see you, I hear all of what you’ve shared, and I still accept and care about you without hesitation.

To put words to something that’s burdened you for so many years, to ask with such an open heart whether there is hope, looking so earnestly for the healing you know you deserve, it is all so touching. You have done such incredible work to get this far and that is something you should absolutely be proud of. If you want to know if there’s hope for things to get better, consider this: the version of you struggling with this just half a decade ago wouldn’t believe how far you’ve come by now. I can’t even imagine how relieved the teenage you would feel to see who you are today. Who knows where you’ll be in just another couple of years? What I can say for sure is that God, yes, there is so much hope for things to get better.

It’s completely okay not to know where you should go from here. You’re moving into unfamiliar territory but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I actually view it as a pretty good thing, it’s a sign that you’re committed to rising to this challenge and leaving behind old ways of thinking. I believe that there are new, better things out there for you. I think you’re right when you say that this may be the first of many steps towards even more personal awareness and healing. This path should be walked carefully, of course, because vulnerability should be treated with care. When you wonder how close you can get to the line before you’re pulled back into the all-or-nothing way of being, I worry for you. Not because I don’t think you’re capable, but because I have been there and I know how hard this balancing act can be. So when I talk about this I want to be careful too, I want you to know fully that this place is completely safe for you to be open and honest. We’re not going to try to hold you to account for missteps, we’ll be encouraging you to keep moving despite them. We’re going to love and accept you every step of the way. I know how vulnerable these parts of us can be. I’m so grateful that you trusted us with them. You’ve worked so hard, through all the tears and the anguish. You’re doing such a good job already. I hope that sharing this has already brought you some amount of peace, and that a few more steps can help to grow that.

You’ve started an important conversation, and I really hope you’ll continue to talk about this. I want you to see how many people around you want the best for you, and I want you to get the support you deserve when times are hard. You’re not alone. To that end I’d like to share some of my experiences too. I’ve also, in large part, recovered from addiction. In this sense I resonate a lot with what you’ve described here. I see you talking about having to fight off being called back to it, using words that I swear I’ve used too. The phrase, “it’s a vicious trap that doesn’t say its name” hit me hard. You have done so well to recognise how this can operate. This process was so tricky, with the constant attempts by the addicted pathways of my brain to worm their way back into my thinking. It was always something like ‘now that we’re better, we can start to reintroduce things slowly, right? We don’t want to go without it forever, we just had to take control back. Now we’re fixed, we can have just a little.’ It’s damned nefarious. It can be so difficult to prise something like this apart, to disentangle the healthy and normal levels of engagement with these things from the constant tugging back to our difficult history with them.

That all being said, I know that it’s possible. An addicted brain is lighting up neurological pathways that it’s used to, following the paths of least resistance, as brains do. Over time we can start to amend those pathways until the least resistant paths are closer to what we truly want. Over time we might build up brand new ones entirely. That chapter of my life has a happy ending, and one that I hope can bring you some hope: Now I don’t even like the thing I used to be addicted to. I’ve found better ways of meeting my needs and I’ve ultimately discovered that I never actually got what I wanted from it in the first place. I really, truly believe you will be the one talking like that someday.

You have done such great work figuring out where these difficulties have come from, what they look and sound like, how they function. It is such a good thing, to really know ourselves. I hope you know that every last piece that you’ve discovered and named is worthy of love, too. It is all you. Some of these parts bring challenges, but that’s okay. We can work with that. They don’t invalidate a single good thing about you at all. Your tapestry is a rich and varied one. Such is life. In a practical sense it helps too; the better we know what underlies these patterns of thought, feelings, and behaviours, the better poised we are to manage them.

I know that your subject line is asking about how to lose weight and be healthy, but I think there’s an intermediary step that may be beneficial. It absolutely wouldn’t be easy, nor is it a matter of just flicking a switch, but I think it bears mentioning that you and your body are already wonderful exactly as they are right now. If your body image could be shifted to see things this way, that you are already so great as you are, then everything else would be a bonus. Then your goals could be about what you want to give to yourself. This may be a helpful protection against the all-or-nothing brain that wants you to believe that you’re not worthy until you’re x or y. You’re already worthy, and you would be no matter what shape or size you came in. You’d still be Micro. These words are true, but I know they won’t feel true and that’s the difficulty. Maybe, if done gently so as not to be too triggering, this could be one way to continue healing.

I don’t know how much this will resonate with you, and if it’s not of use then that’s okay. I also want you to know that I don’t mean to speak for you or your experiences, not one bit. I can’t know how you feel in these moments, I don’t know what kinds of words might help, and if none of these do then that’s okay. When you look at your body in the mirror, those familiar voices will likely have a lot to say. The inner critic has an obsession with imperfections, and it’ll make those familiar false claims: that the way you are isn’t good enough, that you’d only be worthy if you changed this part or another… But why are they the only one who gets a voice? Only the rudest, jerkiest voice is allowed to talk? Maybe other voices would love to retort back. Um, excuse me, rude voices, who exactly is Micro meant to be changing for? Whose concept of perfection are you even referring to, and why is it so narrow and exclusive? Isn’t it true, rude inner voices, that Micro is actually doing pretty frigging great? Haven’t you seen how far they’ve come?

There’s so much more to you than their words. You might be able to consider how despite it all, your body has miraculously brought you to where you are now. Together you have survived, together you are able to make such an incredible impact on the world. It has been impossibly hard at times, but somehow it is your fingers, held up by your arms, your torso, connected to your brain and heart, that type out your messages and light up the souls of so many people around the world. There’s so much power in your body. What I wish for you is that one day you’ll be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say ‘I love you so much’ no matter which part you’re looking at.

I know that body image isn’t the only thing you’re fighting against in this. How this interweaves with health is particularly difficult. I can’t overstate how hard I know this must be for you. Every day must be riddled with triggers and I can’t imagine how it’d feel to be inundated with these constant calls to move backwards. It must’ve taken so much to learn to cope. I’m impressed by the work you’ve done to figure out where these feelings and patterns of thought have come from. That is essential, valuable work that you’ve done for yourself. I think it serves as wonderful evidence that things can improve further too. You are versatile, I have no doubt that you can do it.

With all of this said, it feels important to me that I mention that this isn’t the sort of thing I think people should have to go through without assistance from experts. When you liken it to addiction you’re spot on, it’s real and serious and you absolutely deserve help with it. I’m so sorry about the bad experiences you’ve had with nutritionists and doctors up to this point and I’m not going to tell you to try that again. You’re absolutely right, their level of understanding can be woefully and harmfully insufficient and I wouldn’t want to risk having something so vulnerable being discussed with people who aren’t ready for it. I know that there is a large body of research on this set of struggles and that there are people out there with the expertise and wherewithal to help you, I just wish I knew how to get them to you. I have one idea. You already have one foot in the door, having seen a qualified mental health professional recently. I’m avoiding specifics for your privacy, and I’m not entirely sure if you’re still seeing them, but could you possibly get in contact or talk to them about this in an upcoming session? These people tend to communicate in networks, so if there’s a specialist in this field near you then they may be able to refer you on. Even if you met with such a person in online meetings, I think that would be just fantastic.

I have health tips, I think everyone has a few, but I’m sure you already know whatever I could say and I don’t think that’s what you need. What I really want is to start to embed the message that you’re good enough right now. You’re already in peak condition, maximum awesomeness, optimal Microsity, you’re already perfect. Anything you do to work on your health is an addition to your greatness, not a correction of a fault. Activity and eating in certain ways can make mental health struggles easier to manage, and gosh is that tricky in this context. I know there are a lot of reasons that this in particular is hard. But I think it helps when your motivation is that you want to feel better, for yourself and nothing else. Maybe with this as the foundation a new pathway for these things can be paved.

Eating habits are such a hard thing. You’ve spoken about how trying to control them, or being told how to control them, can be triggering for you. I don’t want that at all. I would love to instead focus on reframing these things. Regardless of what we eat and how much, I don’t think it is ever bad enough that we deserve to punish ourselves for it. You’re fighting something very serious, something deep and incredibly challenging. I want you to know that it’s okay to be imperfect in how you do this. Some habits will be really hard to unlearn and that’s okay. You’re not out there killing anyone, you’re just trying to get a handle on your health while in a war with your brain. You deserve to be on your own side as you do so. When you’re able, I hope you’ll choose to be kind to yourself and tell yourself that what you’re doing and what you’ve done is okay. These brain signals aren’t hardwired, it’ll take time but they can be adjusted. Trust me when I say that I know you can do this. You’re already winning this battle, just look at how far you’ve come.

You are not at all condemned to the place you are in right now. So much can still be done, I promise you. It’s entirely realistic of you to consider that this could get better. It may take some time, but it’ll be nothing like filling a well with one cup of water at a time. As you progress you will get better at it too. The all-or-nothing brain will try to attack sometimes, but that is also okay. It’s something we know will happen, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’ll still be a good person, worthy of love, regardless. Slow, steady progress can be a wonderful thing, and it can become unstoppable. You can have a healthier relationship with your body and with food, and if your past successes are any indication of how it will go, then I’d say that you certainly will. :heart: And to be specific, a healthier relationship by your own, self-chosen terms, because none else matter. What helps you is what will be best. The peace you deserve is not as far off as you think. It may feel like you’re at the base of a mountain sometimes, but truly, you’re most of the way to the top already. You have already done so well.

One last thing. When you’re dealing with something like this that’s so pervasive in your day-to-day motions and so ever-present in the mind, I think it’s important to produce loving environments where you’re able to feel safe and protected from judgment while feeling vulnerable. One example is right here with your HS fam, we’ll always be here to support you unquestioningly. I’d love it if you had a place in person that’s similarly safe and caring, too. If there’s a room that you can designate as a safe place from anything and everything triggering in this regard, I think that may come in handy. Home is the place to recuperate, and so it really must feel safe. The more space you can give yourself to be protected against judgments, the easier it may ultimately be to see the truth: that you’re wonderful and worthy right now, exactly as you are right now.

I’m very grateful that you shared this. If you want to talk more about any of it at all, you’ll have so much support. You spoke about recognising the source of these struggles, patterns in how they eventuate, how you’ve come to know yourself better as you explored this, there is so much. As always, you are under no obligation to elaborate on any of this at all. Just know that you’re completely free to, and that no matter what we’ll be here. We care about you very much. :heart: You are so loved, Micro. Thank you for all that you do for us, for me, for the community. You are the exact opposite of alone.

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My ADD and limited time make it nearly impossible to read all the above, but from what I did read, there are a lot of wonderful words of support, and shared experience.

There’s definitely not a one size fits all formula for harmonizing body, mind and soul, yet I believe that’s a pretty significant part of finding comfort in a lifestyle that suits your physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Diet is integral to lifestyle, but it doesn’t need to dominate, or cause anxiety.

I’ve quite literally lost and gained a ton, or in European terms, 907kg over the years. I lived with breathtakingly horrible body image issues. I starved myself sick, then would regain 100 or more pounds. Over the years, I did manage to gain and lose less weight per episode, but things really came together about 15 years ago and my weight has plus or minus 4 or so pounds ever since.

I figured out that the more I fought with my urges to binge or do the opposite, the more they fought back. In other words, “fighting” them was convincing me that they had a lot of power, and I also had a history of being defeated by them. Another way of saying it is, if you anticipate a struggle when you attempt to change a habit, there absolutely will be a struggle. With struggle comes emotional exhaustion, and that’s when the habit will say, “so you thought you could get rid of me? Well, hell no!”

I had an adolescent puppy who always yanked on the leash, often changing the direction of pull incessantly. He ignored me completely. He was large, so it was a struggle to hang on to him. One day, I stopped and just waited for him to quit dancing and pulling every which way. I didn’t say a word to him. I just looked at him. He finally got curious about my strange behavior and sat down in front of me. Then I gave a slight tug on the leash and slowly started walking. When he started trying to stray, I responded with another gentle tug. Almost immediately, he was a changed dog, and never did any more yanking and trying to charge off every which way. The entire relationship change, and he seemed able to read my mind, and was very good at doing whatever I asked him to. It was a change of energy between us. He responded to gentle guidance, but when we started out, my mindset was that he was an overzealous goof. I realized that I anticipated a struggle, and he obliged by creating one.

I equate the dog’s initial behavior as similar to the emotional response that occurs when trying to change a habit. The mind starts to struggle in all directions in resistance to that change. As with the dog, a moment of clarity and a gentle nudge in the right direction can accomplish far more than going to all out war with our own mind.

Negative thoughts or habits have no power other than what we give them. Approach a puppy with anxiety and anticipation of a struggle, and that’s probably what will happen.

One strange thing I came to realize about maintaining a steady weight was that when I tried to match the ideal weight according to the charts, it never seemed to work, yet I found it much easier to remain a bit under weight. I’m okay with that, especially when I consider all the research related to how calorie reduction increases life span. Mice live as much as 50% longer when their calorie intake is minimal. I also found myself feeling better after I quit eating meat. I have more energy and feel as though I have a closer relationship with my heart.

I found that the more I ate, the hungrier I got. It’s kinda weird, but a stomach filled with a large meal wants to stay full, and registers a very strong protest when becoming empty. The feeling of satiety lasts much longer when the stomach is used to having smaller meals. I don’t know why I’ve never heard the diet experts explain that.

Maybe the negative association with the word “diet” can be mitigated when you consider that everyone is on a diet. It might be balanced, very poor, excessive or deficient, but if a person eats, they are on a diet, or you could say they have a diet. The word “diet” gets a bad rap when people get in the habit of believing it means deprivation.

Consider that a person is composed of life experience, faith, love, talent, compassion, hard work, learning about relationships, empathy, environmental effects, DNA programming, integrity and much more. There’s a whole lot to a person! In addition, we’re perpetually a work in progress. Considering all that we are, all we’ve been through, all we’ve accomplished, and all the parts of ourselves that need to be nurtured, groomed and tweaked, how much of our emotional well-being should be based on whether we’re too heavy or thin?

Beyond self-acceptance, self-appreciation and gratitude for all the things that are right with us, and aren’t wrong with us is highly therapeutic. Strength comes from a healthy relationship with self. There’s a lot to be said for treating yourself as you would treat others.

Turn off the anxiety related to diet. You’re fine just as you are. If you want to sculpture your body so it’s more to your liking, do it at a pace that’s sustainable. Rather than fight your body and habits, give them a gentle nudge, gentle enough to let the resistance trigger remain asleep.

When you feel love for someone, or a pet, or even the Divine, take note of what you feel in your heart. When you make decisions related to how you will manage your body, check for resonance with that heart center. Your heart may say that eating a piece of chocolate cake is a good and comforting thing. It may also draw you to some raw vegetables. Who knows? One thing’s for sure, the strength that channels through the heart isn’t limited, and it’s there for you as well as for others.

When unwelcome urges manifest, take a moment to clear the mind and feel the source of peace within. Repeat as necessary.

I think succeeding for the past 15 years has more to do with abiding by this philosophy than specific weight management practices.

The books and experts would probably say that I’m doing it all wrong, but I’m just following my instincts. I feel pretty good. My blood chemistry indicates everything is doing well. I’m going to stick with what works.

You are a beautiful instrument of Love. That would be true even if you had horns and a tail.

Thank you for being here. Wings

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