Tag Archives: eating disorder recovery

Does Recovery Equal Fat

My treatment plan is all group therapy based. I’ve never done inpatient, or residential, and I never will. I know, I know, never say never, but seriously guys, never.

So my experience with recovery, both mine and other peoples is quite limited.

Something I have noticed over the past year is the weight fluctuations of the people in my various group sessions. I find it troubling…

Hitting a bump in recovery and going down makes sense to me, especially if you are anorexic or have restricting tendencies. Even going up makes sense if you are a binge eater.

But someone who is supposedly doing really well with their recovery and the treatment team is pleased with their progress and they are now imparting their recovery wisdom on to the rest of us who has gotten fat, um yeah, I can’t get behind that.

Now granted, I may not be the best person to be judging if someone is “fat” but even I can tell when someone has had a significant weight gain…and if it is in the name of recovery, well, what the hell?

This guy from one of my groups went to residential treatment, or maybe it was inpatient first then residential…whichever it was, he was out of the group treatment for a while and doing a more intense treatment. I’ve read people’s blogs about inpatient treatment, generally you aren’t allowed to exercise, you have strict meal times, and strict meal plans.

This guy, I’m gonna call him J, he used to run a lot and ate once a day. I don’t know what he ate so I don’t know for sure how much or little he was consuming. He is in his mid-forties and had been doing this most of his life. When I met him in group he looked to be in great shape. Yes, I know, looks are deceiving, but I’m just trying to give you a picture here.

So in shape guy, goes to more intensive treatment, when that treatment is done J comes back to group, and J is fat. And I don’t mean a little bit extra but not really all that noticeable, I mean like, lots extra. Lots.

I feel so sad for him. That people he meets now who never knew him before will only know him as this over weight mid-40s guy instead of the runner, the athlete, that he was.

Maybe he is healthier inside, physically and mentally, I dunno, I can’t speak to that.

And he’s not the only one! There is a girl in group who ballooned up. She got so big! Both these people are considered to be doing oh so well with recovery, we are supposed to be impressed with their progress, they are sharing nuggets of wisdom to help guide the rest of us, but all I can think is that they failed. They fell in to the trap. The trap that is recovery makes you fat.

There has got to be a way to recover without becoming over weight! There has to be *stomps foot* because I refuse, abso-fuckin-lutely refuse to go any further with recovery if it means becoming over weight.

I work hard to understand and believe that when my dietician asks me to add a new food to my list of foods I will eat, or to eat more than one meal a day, or to consider drinking a glass of milk, that she is thinking about nutrients, and fueling my body, and stuff like that. But I always think she is trying to sabotage me and make me fat. And I kind of, in a vague way, grasp that my thinking she is trying to sabotage me is probably my ed trying to scare me or trick me in to not changing. On my good days I kinda get that.

But…it doesn’t take away from my fear that she is trying to make me fat.

Now I have two people who have actually gotten fat from recovering and omg the panic I feel whenever I think of either of them. That panic can take me from contemplating having a snack to ordering myself to not eat anything else for the rest of the day because all food will make me fat and who knows which food will be the tipping point that takes me from what I look like now to looking like them.

Envision a big ass wall slamming down and blocking off all food, that is what it feels like in my brain. I panic, that wall slams down, and boom! No more appetite. No more willingness to try to eat. No more openness to the idea that my treatment team is right.

Just a big ass black wall that stops me from getting to any of the things that are on the recovery side of my brain…heck, not even an entire side, more like a little itty bitty section eeked out in a corner with one tiny fluorescent light that barely works swinging over a battered desk and some figure huddled under the desk trying desperately to get work done without being noticed and kicked yet again.

When that wall slams down it takes so freakin long to get it open even an inch, and it is exhausting to try. And part of me doesn’t want to try, because, well, if forcing it open, and working this whole recovery deal is going to end up with me fat well, no, just no, that is not an ok end result for me.

Does everybody who recovers from an ed get fat? Or is it just coincidence that I am seeing it happen right in front of my eyes to people I know? Are they the exception or the rule?

…I just realized that a lot of my posts lately have been very negative and “screw recovery-esque” which has me wondering why I am so defensive all of a sudden…yet one more thing to ponder…

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Apple Juice

Once a week I have a session with a practicum student who will one day be a full on counselor, or therapist, or psychiatrist…I dunno, one of those. He is doing some practicum hours at the program I go to for help and I had the option of seeing him for sessions. It took a while but I eventually decided to give it a try.

We were talking today and he presented me with a challenge. I tend to link exercise (specifically, going to the gym) with food. If I eat certain foods then I have to go to the gym, no matter what, to work it off. The challenge is to break that connection. Also, I always do 30 minutes of cardio then weight work. He wants to see what happens if I don’t do the cardio, or if I lessen it, because the cardio is directly linked to my need to burn off what I ate.

I am not overly comfortable with either of these challenges, but I don’t think he’d suggest them if they were harmful, so I figured I might try.

I took a look at my watch around 8pm and realized I hadn’t eaten since, well, a lot earlier, and what I ate was something that would be classified as a snack only if I was being generous. I hadn’t exactly planned for today to be a “no eating” day, it just sorta turned out like that. And before you get all “uh-huh, yeah right, heard that one before!” I swear it is the truth.

So I had a dilemma. I was silently congratulating myself for getting so far in to the day on so few calories and thinking I’d make some tea to help ease my way through the rest of the night when I realized that was not pro-recovery thinking. sigh. I tried to think of what to do instead, I mean obviously the opposite of not eating is eating, but what, and how much, and do I really want to?

When I don’t eat for most of the day, or eat very little, I feel…proud…like I have accomplished something. I feel like if I eat something than all that work I put in to not eating (if it was a planned thing) will be wasted. If it wasn’t done on purpose, I feel like this unexpected boon of a calorie deficit should not be ruined by eating something.  It’s like…I managed to do something a lot of people don’t do, and this thing that I did, this not eating, is getting me closer to my goal of being skinnier, so why throw that success out the window just because pro-recovery people think I should eat more often.

Does that make any sense? I’m probably not explaining it well…

So I’m sitting in my living room, trying to decide what to eat, and how much, when I glance at my tea mug and see my glass of apple juice sitting beside it.

I don’t drink my calories.

The exception to that being when I am sick and I have apple juice. I actually really like apple juice but it is a thing only allowed when I am sick, and not a little sniffle sick, but full on sick.

When I left work Monday that is where I thought I was heading. So many people at my work are sick, suuuuper sick, and I left work with a sore throat, congestion, and a general feeling of ugh. So I stocked up on kleenex with lotion in them, throat lozenges, DayQuil, and some apple juice. I ended up not getting a sick as anticipated, which is a good thing, just some congestion, tiredness, and minor body aches. Thing is, this means no apple juice.

The glass of juice I poured earlier in the day was from when I had just got home, made some tea, poured a glass of juice, and sat and relaxed with a book. I thought when I sat my body would realize it wasn’t being forced to do anything anymore and would sink in to sickness.

It didn’t.

Which again, is a good thing, but now I have this juice and I can’t drink it.

Or can I?

If this had happened in the past and I decided to drink it the trade off would have been one of two things:

(1) drink the juice and go to the gym

(2) drink the juice and don’t eat anything else the rest of the night

There is no other option, if I drink calories then something has to be done to mitigate the damage.

This time I decided to try something new. Why not drink the juice and not go to the gym aaaaand eat something?

Could I do that? Is that allowed? Is this a thing that can be done?

I’m sure other people drink glasses of juice and still eat dinner and don’t go rushing off to the gym..right?

So…maybe I could also.

It took some coaxing, some lifting of the glass but not quite making it to my mouth, then trying again, before it happened, but eventually, I drank the juice.

Then I went to the bathroom and worked really hard at not throwing it up.

Then, after not throwing it up, or running off to the gym, I made myself something to eat, something that had all the food groups. Practically a miracle.

And now I am sitting here, trying not to focus on the food in my stomach, the laxatives and various other supplements in my cupboard, or my packed and always ready to go gym bag.

Fuck.

Why is this so hard? Should this be so hard? I don’t think this should be so hard. But I find it incredibly hard. I’m such a wimp, finding something like this hard. What kind of challenge is this, really, in the grand scheme of things? This is a thing normal people do every-fucking-day. If they can do it then so can I…right?

Intrusive Thoughts

I’ve heard a lot in recovery about this whole “ed voice” and “intrusive thoughts” deal. Basically, there is your voice, and there is the eating disorder voice, your voice gets drowned out a lot by the eating disorder voice. The eating disorder voice is pretending to be your friend, pretending to want what is best for you but it is actually telling you to do things that are bad for you, it is hurting you.

When you think about engaging in any of your eating disorder habits, that is your eating disorder voice. When you have negative self-talk, or you hurt yourself, or you resist getting healthier, that is also your eating disorder voice.

Some people in group have described their eating disorder voice in such a way that it sounds as if they legit have a second voice in their head, a monster scary voice, that orders them around and they either succumb to the voice’s demands or they fight back.

I have never really understood this idea because I don’t have some scary monster eating disorder voice yelling at me to do or not do things. I just have my own thoughts, my own ideas, my own thinking in my head, and that is what guides my choices.

Because of this I often wonder if I really do have an eating disorder, I mean, how can I have one for real if I don’t have this scary voice in my head, right?

For the last couple weeks I have made a ground meat, mixed veg, pasta, mix, all combined with a tomato pasta sauce. It is boring as fuck to eat, but it does take away the decision on what to eat if I am supposed to be eating but am tired, or can’t make a decision, or just plain don’t know what to do. If I top it with a bit of shredded cheese it becomes a miracle meal in that it contains all 4 food groups. It is something my dietitian approves of, even if I hate eating it because of the pasta, and the bland taste…I suck at cooking, sigh.

So I have a tupperware container filled with this meal in my fridge, just waiting to be eaten.

Mondays after work I usually have enough time to go home, chill for a bit, have a cup of tea, then head out to a weekly drop-in group. A couple Mondays ago I had to stay late at work and didn’t have nearly as much time. On my drive home I was calculating how much time I would have at home before having to leave again to get to group and I remember thinking I had the perfect reason to not eat before going, because there wasn’t enough time to make anything. Then out of nowhere I thought “good thing I have that pasta meat dish I made, I have enough time to warm up some, eat, and still get to group”.

Where the fuck did that come from?? I don’t think things like that. If anything, I think the opposite, I think “hey, time is tight, perfect reason to not eat!” and I am glad I have a justifiable reason to skip eating. A reason that I can use as a defense if anybody asks me what I ate, or if I ate.

So it would appear that if I have intrusive thoughts they come in the style of thoughts encouraging me to eat.

That is so messed up.

Next thing you know I’m going to have a random thought to throw out my diet pills, or not binge, or not burn myself.

I don’t know what, if anything, having this intrusive thought means. Does it mean I am getting better? Does it mean all the thoughts I feel are just me are actually my eating disorder and this one random healthier thought is the real me breaking through? Is it just a fluke thing that will never happen again?

I dunno. And I don’t know how to figure it out. I just know it freaked me out and has left me wondering, and ruminating, and dissecting, what happened ever since.

Meal Plan

I was given a meal plan to follow, starting August 23rd.

So far I have sucked balls at following it.

I have an appointment with the nutritionist this coming Wednesday and I am dreading having to tell her I failed.

I have all these legit reasons for why it hasn’t happened yet, why I’m not following this meal plan, but I think she won’t see them as reasons, only excuses.

I couldn’t start following the meal plan the same day I got it because I didn’t have the food in my place to be able to follow it. Then I went out of town and my eating was all over the place because of being away. When I got back I had gained 1.5 pounds and I had to lose that before I could start some meal plan that had me eating more on a daily basis then I usually do. I can’t start off a meal plan when I am up on the scale, how will I ever lose that weight I gained from the weekend?

Hey now, don’t go judging my logic, it makes sense to me!

Then I was finally down on the scale but still didn’t have the right food in my place. Add to that the whole high potassium thing I’m going through. I can’t just eat what I want I have to be checking the potassium levels of everything and I gotta say, that is screwing with me.

I like spinach, spinach is high potassium, I am no longer supposed to have spinach, but I can’t just swap in some other type of lettuce where I would normally eat spinach, so now the choice is do I eat the spinach anyways and get some dark leafy greens or do I not eat any type of lettuce?

le sigh.

I’m having this issue with a bunch of foods.

So yeah, I have this meal plan, and I’m not following it.

Today was my first real attempt to follow it. I didn’t do great, but at least I sorta tried, that maybe counts for something…

I didn’t eat within 1.5 hours of getting up (that is rule number 1 from her), but I did eventually eat (which sounds stupid but isn’t). When I eventually ate something it was an actual meal, with food groups!

I had a two egg omelette with 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese inside. I topped it with 1 tablespoon of salsa (which I am trying to figure out if that counts as a veg serving…), I also had toast (that is an easy one for me), and a yoghurt (NOT an easy one for me). I was also supposed to have a fruit and a meat, but maybe the egg counts as a meat? I’m not clear on the rules…wait! I just checked, the eggs do count as meat so score for me!

I couldn’t fit a fruit it with that meal, it was too much food already, but I ate a nectarine about 3 hours later.

Then I went to work out for a couple hours.

Then the big dilemma.

When I got home from working out I didn’t want to eat. I wasn’t feeling hungry, I was feeling like any food I ingested would be taking away all the gains I got from my work out, I didn’t want my work out to be wasted because I ate after, ya know?

So I literally paced my kitchen, back and forth, back and forth, do I eat, don’t I eat, should I eat, should I not eat, I’m not hungry, I have been told my hunger signals suck and I need to eat on schedule, I already missed the scheduled time to eat so no point in eating now, eating now is better then not eating at all, I’ve eaten too much today, you haven’t eaten as much as you promised you would when you were given the meal plan, food will make me gain weight, you need to fuel your body, I don’t want to eat, it doesn’t matter what you want, I am in charge of what my body gets, you have to give your body what it needs, I don’t need more food today, yes you do, I’m not hungry, you’ll feel hungry soon and you might binge then, I could just go to bed early, you’ll sleep better if you eat something first…and so on…

Eventually I settled on something, and ended up with a meal that had, get this…food groups! And not just one!

I had a small tortilla wrap with some coleslaw (no dressing), home made turkey salad mix, and a small amount of shredded cheddar cheese.

That is grain, meat, veg, and dairy, all in one!

I ate it. I still wasn’t feeling hungry when I ate it and eating when I don’t feel hungry goes against everything I believe in doing but I said I’d try to follow the meal plan and so far I haven’t and eating this meal put me closer to following then not eating would have done.

Honestly, I still wish I hadn’t eaten anything. I’d be feeling better about myself and not paranoid that as I sit here typing that food is turning to fat and making me bigger.

But at least this way I can go to my meeting next week and say I sort of, kinda, in a way, tried to follow the plan.