Friday, November 30, 2012

Freedom Friday #1

Hey gang--
So I want to start this thing called freedom fridays. Usually it will be where I post my freedom foods from the week, just to share a little motivation to face new/ challenging foods or situations. Feel free to join in and I can link you on here :) Just let me know :)
So why is this first one not even what Freedom Fridays are "supposed" to be? Wish I could say it was for the sake of freedom....but that would be a lie. The reason is because my freedom food today (see previous post about what that is) kind of was an epic fail, but yet in it I got some amazing insights.
So tonight I was supposed to eat chicken fajitas with tortilla and not count them as a fat. I did great at this challenge yesterday having a cookie and curry shrimp and not counting them as a fat exchange, but today...guess my brain just freaked out. Or maybe it's because I have ALWAYS counted fajitas as a fat exchange (well...whenever I am not in treatment because there they don't let you) and also have always skimped on portions (a lovely way my ED says I'm not restricting when I am).
Well tonight I was bound and determined to get it right. In fact I woke up with my lovely perfectionism screaming loud and telling me today would be the perfect recovery day and I would see what the scale did tomorrow (another reason I should get rid of the develish machine). Well, that plan got a little messed up when I decided to sleep through my alarm causing me to rush to class causing b-fast to get pushed back three hours and thus all my meals to get pushed back. Throw in that I am on duty for work tonight and had a program I had to do that meant I only had 20 minutes to not only make, but also eat dinner...and well..things weren't going so perfect with meal timing. So when I sat down for my lovely fajita at dinner, my brain was screaming how I was gonna end up eating later tonight and that could affect scale and thus I might gain a bunch which would make me feel like restricting and then I would just be a how did I decide to cope with this.
The smart, recovery way would have said....then I probably shouldn't weigh tomorrow. Of course, when I am rushed and feeling stressed the recovery part of me doesn't talk so loud and I go to my immediate course of action...ED. So I skimped my portions like normal, but I didn't count the fajita as a fat that's good. But all my perfectionism let me see was I skimped a little on portions (tore off some of the tortilla instead of eating it). Well that meant my weigh-in wouldn't be accurate and if I gained, then it would be even harder for me to get full portions next day. Again...easy way to counter this? Guess I shouldn't weigh tomorrow. How I countered it? My brain began telling me I needed to restrict at my snacks to ensure I didn't gain. Then numbers started flying around my head trying to figure out how much restricting was enough. Anxiety peaked. Heart raced. Mind swirled. Then I screamed (literally): "STOP!"
All went silent. I took a deep breath. In that moment I said screw it. I decided it was 8 pm and my day was starting over right there. Just like my Savior died for me and washed away the memory of my sins, I was washing away the behaviors of the day and starting fresh. Nothing to make up for, skimp for, nothing. It was a blank slate. So I just ENJOYED my full sweet snack. And I gave myself a pat on the back for doing it. Because that means my 1st food of the day was a success and so far today is a success.
So maybe my freedom food didn't go so smoothly, but look at what I learned. I learned how much my perfectionism drives my eating disorder because I want my recovery to be "perfect" and reality is it's not going to be. I learned that on stressful days I need to remember to stop and slow my mind. And I learned how to restart my day. That I have power over my mind not the other way around. I can choose to wipe my slate clean, forgive myself like my Savior forgave me, and just start fresh and new. I figure those freedoms. The freedom from my perfectionism, the freedom from spending the rest of the night trying to restrict, the freedom I will have in days to come as I use this knowledge to remind myself of ways to cope....these are better than any freedom food could be. And how did they come about....because I was imperfect. Yet another freedom..I am free to be imperfect and soak up the joys that brings.
So can restart your day at any moment. Your mistakes don't have to affect another second of your life. Dust yourself off, learn from them, and start over. Perhaps that is true recovery. Not the days we do everything right. But the days when everything is going wrong and we do the right thing. And when we mess up, but turn everything around and finish strong.
What freedoms did you find today?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hey ED....get in the corner

Hey everyone. So it was back on track this week and back to appointments galore. I can't even begin to express how excited I was to get back to therapy and nutrition. Is it weird that I find a sense of control and sanity from these sessions? I used to dread both therapy and nutrition appointments, but then again that was back before I was actually pushing myself to recover. Now they kind of rev me up with motivation to get through the next week. The week of Thanksgiving without them well....we all see how that ended up. But, back on track, and despite gain at doc on Monday that had me flipped out because I did slip this past week with restricting and overexercising, at N appt today I maintained my weight from before Thanksgiving. I know this means I lost since Monday (oh glorious water weight), and I shouldn't be happy about that, but it also means I can officially put last week behind me. It's just like it never happened.
So onwards we go with recovery. My brilliant therapist made an ingenious discovery yesterday and concocted a plan that honestly is so simple that it works. Basically figured out my ED is a 6-year old. Why? Because that's when I developed it. Plus it speaks in quite simple, uneducated phrases like a 6-year old throwing a tantrum. If I am eating it says "Too much. Stop. No." I mean could we get some complex sentences....even a fragment I will take...geeze just use a freaking noun ED. If I am gaining weight at a rate it deems too fast ED goes "Too fast. Gotta stop. No food. No, no, no. Stop." See the 6-year old now.
Now ED isn't a nice, well-behaved 6-year old. He doesn't play nicely with others and he certainly doesn't listen to authority. Ever seen Supernanny? Picture the worst acting kid you have seen on that show. The ones that curse, spit, kick, and/or hiss at their parents. That's ED on a GOOD DAY.
So what do you did with a 6-year old throwing a tantrum. Do you give them what they want? Do you let them keep screaming? Heck no. You either call supernanny or you put them in time-out. This is the basics of nannying, parenting, babysitting...whatever. Don't give in, put them in timeout till they give up and sit there...1 minute per year of age.
So my therapist new method for me when ED speaks at all (remember, he's not supposed to be in my head right now). Time out for 6 minutes. When he said this...first I laughed...then I realized ED isn't gonna be a kid who sits in time-out for 6 minutes. He is gonna be the one where 6 minutes takes 6 hours. I don't have time for that. So new, new therapist puts ED in timeout for 6 minutes. So he gets to deal with the annoying child ED is and I get peace to get through the day.
It sounds simple, in fact to some it might sound stupid, but it works. Last night I got through a lemon poppyseed muffin and hot cocoa....items I haven't had in years...all because I sent ED to my therapist for timeout. I got through my hardest snack...the dang 5 oz NY style dining hall bagels because once again ED went to time-out.
The good news...eventually the kids settle down and you don't have to use time-out as much. They don't throw tantrums and when they do their 6 minutes takes only 6 minutes. I have hope one day my ED will be like that. Urges will come less frequently and when they do I can quickly dismiss them. But for now ED is sent to timeout kicking and screaming, and I am sent down the path to recovery...smiling and free. This is how life should be.
So how old is your ED? Are you ready to take control of your mind and discipline ED? Starting today are you ready to send ED to the corner?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

All I'm gaining is a whole lotta confusion

I'm just at this point I don't understand myself anymore. I say I want recovery and I do...I want the freedom I know it will bring....but perhaps my view of recovery is skewed. I want to face fear foods, but the fear of them only goes away if I don't gain weight. I want to eat a meal plan, but as soon as I gain weight I want it lowered. It's like I want maintenance, but I haven't even started the journey of gaining to get to that point.

I just don't know how to accept gaining. To become a cheerleader for me eating enough to gain weight. How can I trust the food if it is making me gain weight? How can I trust my body if it is gaining? I just don't understand the concept.

Perhaps its because my whole life food has been taught to me to be a way to keep your weight low. You either restrict it enough to lose or enough to keep your weight the same (if you are at a low enough weight). So to me gaining weight is the epitomy of food being the enemy again, of my body not being able to be trusted. It's been the pitfall every time I leave treatment. I go, spend a few months regaining weight and then as soon as they say it is time to go home I think "Good. Now I can go back to eating healthier." And immediately start thinking of how many less calories I will eat at home while still meeting meal plan. And then I end up where I am now, even more underweight than before and having to go through the weight gain process.

So it's like I need to trust that food will restore my weight....will bring me to a place of health, but that means eating food to gain weight and gaining weight in my mind means I am eating too much. But right now eating enough to gain is just that..eating enough. But then how can I not be scared of food if it is causing me to gain weight...if it is causing my body to do the thing I have been programmed to prevent it from doing.

This is where I get so stuck. I want freedom, I want to be able to eat what I want when I want it, to workout when I want, to be who I want to be....I want freedom, but I just don't want to gain weight.'s not even that. I just don't want to get the distrust of food that gaining weight brings. When I was eating my meal plan and losing weight or even maintaining and eating all these fear foods and still losing or maintaining it was awesome. I was learning to trust food again. I was able to tell myself " can eat these things, lose your fear of eating fats, and look you don't gain weight...your body knows what to do."

But as the weight gain has started....all that trust has gone away. I have begun to move the foods that I have conquered back to the fear realm. I blame them for my weight gain...yet they are the same foods I ate and didn't gain on. So then I blame my body. But it's the same body that took those foods and lost/ now I am just confused. I mean I know logically I am gaining because we have increased my meal plan enough to get my body the calories it needs to gain....but then my brain just wants my meal plan lowered. So what do I do?

I guess I have to keep eating this meal plan and gaining weight till it becomes comfortable...I'm just scared I will hate and distrust food by the time I get to my goal weight. I already do. I'm already scared of certain fruits again, certain fats, desserts....everything. I was fine with these a few weeks ago when I was losing, but I don't want to be caught up in this numbers game. In using my weight as a measure of trust or anything other than health. I just want to be able to eat what I want. I want to conquer my fear foods. I just want to recover....I just don't know how to do the weight gain everyone says I need. Can't I just recover in peace...can't I just eat to maintain and when I am ready gain?

But will I ever be probably not. My team tells me to get comfortable with gaining weight and that it will happen nice and controlled I have to give it a chance and stop controlling what I eat...including trying to play it safe...that's why for a month I am supposed to only be listening to my team's voice in my mind and not let ED's voice or my own play a role (more about this in a later post). But it's freaking hard and I just don't know how anymore.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A bad moment, not a bad week

So Thanksgiving for me didn't go as planned. I did bring what I needed with me and enjoyed more than I have in years at Thanksgiving, but still underate by a lot. I ate when I got back from lunch which I have never done on Thanksgiving, but again was still quite under my dieticians plan. I was honest with her about it and she sent me an e-mail this morning that really got me thinking.

Sure I had a not-so-good Thanksgiving recovery wise, but I can make it a good Thanksgiving by picking myself up and learning that one slip doesn't have to mean a bad rest of my day. I could have done this at Thanksgiving by making up the exchanges I missed, but I didn't. I did do more than I thought I would though so that is good. But today, I can learn form it and get back on the recovery horse. My one bad day, doesn't have to mean a bad week. It doesn't have to last any longer. I can pick myself back up and start over.

So though today has been rough, and I delayed breakfast till mid-afternoon, I am going to get my exchanges in. In fact, its 11:30 pm and I still have one snack, but it's gonna happen. I also added to the lower-calorie bagels from home (lower-cal compared to dining hall NY style). This I was supposed to be doing all week, but I never did. I thought to myself about how tomorrow it's back to the dining hall and its bagels, so I figured I would just wait for tomorrow, but you see this getting back on the horse thing works that way too. Could I wait till tomorrow, and get completely on board then....yeah I could. But I could also start today...I could get through the battle now so tomorrow its a little less of a fight. Plus tomorrow is back to dining hall for lunch and dinner which may be overwhelming and back to the stress of my job and school. So why put another battle onto tomorrow that I can start fighting today.

So you see, your bad slip in recovery doesn't have to last past that one moment. And your triumphs to have can come today instead of tomorrow. That's the beauty of's yours to create. And who wouldn't want to reach the beauty of freedom and recovery a day early? Or end the storm of a slip a moment sooner? So let's hop back on our recovery horse and ride off to the sunset together. It may take a big fight, it may take lots of tears, and tonight for me it may take till 11:59 pm, but it can and will happen. We are strong, and we deserve this. Let's write our recovery stories as victories and leave the nightmares to our abandoned ED.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Meaning of Thanksgiving, Key to Surviving

Thanksgiving....a holiday I for one have never understood. First off, no way in hell did Pilgrims and Indians sit down for some peaceful dinner meal. Second, why the heck do we celebrate people coming over to slaughter a native population. Third, why has America made a holiday so freaking hard for eating disorder people to overcome?

The first and second confusion...I still don't have an answer for, but that third mind has begun to see past it. I had a big realization. Every year I tend to freak out about thanksgiving...what will people think of me, how will people judge the special dishes I have to bring, what if I eat too much, should I restrict breakfast just in case....all of these thoughts constantly swirl in my mind. But this Thanksgiving...I have a strange peace about me...all because of a realization I had.

You see, Thanksgiving has never been about the food. I could say that America has made it about the food, but even then its not about the food. If the turkey burns, or the dressing sucks, we still celebrate Thanksgiving. Because Thanksgiving isn't about the food, it's about family or whoever you spend it with. It's about stopping for one second all the ego-centric, selfish thoughts we as Americans focus on over what we don't have and replace them with thankfulness for what we do. True, the unity and thankfulness comes with a large meal, but the fact that we have food we can eat is something to be thankful for.

Somehow I have lost this meaning of Thanksgiving. I have always gone into it so scared of the meal and so filled with regret after the meal that I forget to enjoy the time with my family and to be thankful for being able to be with them another year. But not this Thanksgiving, this Thanksgiving my mission isn't to challenge myself at dinner, or to eat a normal amount, or to restrict, or anything food related, it's just to enjoy the time with my family and let what happens with food happen. Will I struggle, probably, but I will remind myself the focus. I will remind myself to enjoy the time with family and there won't be room for ED at that table, my family are the only ones who will fit there.

Perhaps the thought of the food will creep in, but luckily I am bringing some foods with me I know I can eat. The reality is I have a medical condition that keeps me from eating certain things (lack of gallbladder caused complications), but I also have a medical condition that requires me to eat. So I need to adapt and bring stuff with me I know I can eat, no matter what people may say.

But for those who don't have that option here is something else I realized. This is one meal, one meal out of the 365 days in a year. Let's say you eat 3 meals a day (many people in recovery eats 6 times a day though)....that's 1,095 meals in a years. So that is one meal out of 1,095 meals....we really think that 1 meal is going to cause some momumental change in our weight. It won't. Think about even gain a pound is 3,500 extra calories and I don't think we will be having that much turkey and stuffing ;). And if we do, again it's one meal, there are 1,094 other ones that won't be that way and the weight will go away.

But what won't go away is the memories of how that Thanksgiving is spent. You never know what may happen to prevent one next year, or when a loved one won't be able to come to Thanksgiving anymore (RIP Aunt Jenny and Grandma Ruth). So you have this one day, this one moment, this one meal to enjoy their company. To just put food aside, put the feelings aside, and just experience this time with your loved ones. Sure the feelings will come up and that's okay, but just for this one meal, this one day...perhaps we could all let the feelings come, feel them, but not react to them. Just remind yourself it's just for this one meal. I have a feeling we will all be so thrilled with the feeling of freedom, that it may last more than this one day. No matter what though, if we choose to make the focus of Thanksgiving family and not food, communion and not calories, experience and not exercise.....then we will have something to be thankful for. We can be thankful for the courage and strength we have to overcome our ED. For me this courage and strength will come through constant prayer that day, and perhaps some texts to my friends in recovery, but I will fight for my Thanksgiving to be one I will be thankful for. Who wants to join me?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Anybody out there?

So the title isn't really the topic of this post, but I really am starting to wonder why I am even blogging? Do people even read this? I mean I have such a passion to help others through my recovery...yet is anyone really reading? Regardless I come back and blog again....perhaps it's for me. Perhaps it so on the days I struggle I can come back here and look and see how far I've come, and somehow get that spark to keep fighting. Alright enough about that...onto the good stuff.

Thought I would write about something I like to call freedom foods. Many inpatient places or dietitions refer to them as fear foods or forbidden foods. They are those things you have refuse to allow yourself to eat. Perhaps it was a binge food? Maybe it's the cals, fat, sugar, or some other number? Maybe it's because someone told you you couldn't have it? Or maybe you aren't sure why you don't eat just know you don't.

First off, I think it is awesome that these exist. That our minds make lists of things we can't eat. I know, it sounds crazy right. But here is why I say gives us something to focus on other than weight goals. For me numbers are such an obsession so having another focus of my recovery is good. Plus I love list, and I can easily (well in the non-emotional sense) write down a list of the foods I am afraid of.

So let's talk about how you face these things.
1.  Reframe: The key for me....don't call them fear or forbidden foods. Who the hell want to eat a fear food? Not me. So I cleverly renamed them "freedom foods." A food that will make me feel free....sure I could do that.
2. Use others: Sometimes it's helpful to figure out why you fear the food and talk that out with your team or support. Usually they help you to see why you shouldn't be afraid and that's good to bring into the "experience" of eating it. It also may help to do the food with your friend or someone you trust who knows about your disorder. They can help distract you or talk you through it.
3. Make a plan: At first for me and my nutritionist we just chose a few foods for me to do each week and then worked our way up to one every day and then multiple a day. This is where having a written down list helps. As you conquer each one you can mark it off however you want (I use highlighters, but you can use stickers, scratch it out...whatever works). It is important that your nutritionist helps you with this because sometimes we will want to do the easiest freedom foods first, but it's good to do some really hard ones at first as well, because it makes the easy ones that much easier. Without my N pushing me to do that....I would have never been able to get through the list.
4. Repeat: Now for me it was important to also mark the things I had eaten, but was still scared of. I mean if you eat a freedom food once and don't feel free to keep eating really haven't conquered it yet. In fact, you have to keep incorporating them in your diet or they just come back on the list.
This is where me and my nutritionist developed staples....fear foods that are huge for me and thus I have to do them every week till they aren't so scary. I thought she was crazy at first making me do that...but let me tell works. And it's also really cool to look back and remember how scared you were but now you aren't.
My best example...dining hall bagels. I used to be so scared of these and vowed to never eat them. So of course...they became a staple. At first they were scary, I struggled with not finishing or other ways of trying to get around them...but now. I eat them every day and they are my favorite snack. Now we are working with putting spreads on them to make it more "normal." You would think I would look back and feel guilt about "giving in" and eating these foods...but the stronger my brain gets from the right nutrients...the more I realize how much control I gain from overcoming these foods. It's part of food becoming a part of my life, but not my life.

So tonight in honor of this topic I conquered a huge fear food in a Peppermint Stick Clif Bar. I wrote my nutritionist about it and she wouldn't let me count it as the exchange I wanted to, but I am working on trusting her and her advice. So I had it. And I tasted it. That's important. You can't just eat a freedom food mechanically. Maybe at first if that's what it takes. But to feel the freedom and the rush of have to taste it and the freedom it brings. Sometimes this tasting makes you realize you don't actually like this thing you are so afraid of....but other awakens your taste buds and they can become your favorite things. The later was my experience tonight. And sometimes that one is harder.
It's hard to admit I like food, but I do. It's hard to admit I need food, but that's a reality is well. But hey, recovery is hard.....that's what makes us who push through it so dang courageous.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Taste of Freedom

Gonna keep this short and perhaps make longer tomorrow, but too much excitement to sleep with (despite being sick with fever) so had to get it out.
Let's rewind briefly to the hell of a day yesterday. I decided after two days on this plan of freedom and getting portions and honestly not acting in ED at all I should weigh myself (because that's always a great idea...SARCASM). Well let's just say the weigh-in was more than I am okay with and even more than I feared. Luckily I have amazing friends who talked me through the day (granted this of course took me reaching out) reminding me what I have to lose and that numbers on a scale change due to so much in life (you know with such a sketchy number I wonder why I use it as a measure of's completely uncontrollable it seems). So somehow I got through the day. I also managed to get pissed at God because I had given Him control, done what he laid on my heart, and look what happened. But a bigger part of me said to not change my meal plan (seeing as I'm not a dietician), and to stick with the plan for just one more day.
So I woke up this morning and weighed again...BAM! That huge scary weight...gone. And I didn't was of course just water or poo or whatever. So here I was about to throw in the recovery towel because of poo or water....because of a false reality. Even before the weigh-in I woke up with a new motivation to recover. To make this week at home for the holidays the first one in a while where I was truly successful. I packed foods I knew I would need that my family wouldn't have and tried to plan out day.
Let me just tell was amazing. It's the first day at home that I tasted what I think was freedom. I had b-fast and snack before going to the game with my parents and then my mom suprised me with a Jumbo Rice Krispy. No, this wasn't a part of my plan, but I sure as heck wanted it more than my safe triumph treat so that was an easy switch. So I packed it up and went to the game. At the game I got to be in the moment, enjoying time with the family without ED bickering in my mind. I did get a little concerned about when I was going to eat lunch once I realized I had a two hour car drive home. I also had managed to wake up with a fever and cold, so I put my health before my guilt of leaving the game early (was supposed to stay and watch cousin at half-time) and left the game early. I drove one of my residents home and again for some reason ED wasn't there. We just talked about thanksgiving, our plans for break, her aspirations and freshmen year so far. Usually the whole car ride home I am freaking out about lunch, or snack, or something. Or weighing, or my thighs, or whatever. But this ride....nothing.
Then I got home and something amazing happened. I prepared a lunch without thinking about the numbers. I just got my exchanges. In fact, I had my first sandwich since my nutritionist sandwich ban a week ago. I realized in that moment why she banned me from them. I have gained so much freedom from the rut of having to do sandwiches for ED reasons, to getting to choose to do them because I wanted to. Plus, they aren't so scary any more because I have been doing even more challenging meals. It took me no time to prepare my lunch (something at home that usually takes forever as I would compare nutrition labels and all) and I just got what I want based on exchanges. This has come from the practice of having to do this in the dining hall of late due to not being able to do sandwiches and not really knowing what dining hall would run out of or really having the time to pre-plan. When I finished lunch I realized the monumental feat that had just occured. I had just made my first non-ED home meal. I had just eaten my first ever meal at home based on exchanges. I had just practiced recovery in a place so entrenched with ED behaviors of my past. And it didn't stop there.
Later for dinner, parents got pizza. Usually this is a great excuse for me to get a safe meal because I can't eat pizza due to allergies, but tonight I had a craving to try some kind of creamy soup to fix my throat. I looked in the cabinet and saw some light soup my mom had (she struggles with anorexia past and these things tend to resurface due to it). I could have easily done this soup, but honestly I didn't want it. Instead I went online to see what other kinds of soups were out there (been eating diet ones since I was young so honestly didn't know). I gave my stepdad the name of a brand of frozen soup and told him to choose whatever he thought looked best (HUGE step). He came back with split pea soup (btw, delish) and though I did slip up and use the food scale, I didn't take anything off despite it being slightly higher in grams. Instead I enjoyed the soup, counted it as the proper exchanges, and again made a dinner based off what I wanted. ED creeped in as I reached for banana and pb (a big fav of mine, but also big fear despite overcoming it for a good month or so). Again I enjoyed this meal and the company of my family. As I ate, the ED voice was diminished and replaced by amazing conversation and laughter. That's right...I had enjoyment at a meal...a concept foreign to me.
Again this recovery continued. Actually with each victory I almost grew stronger and more eager to do the next. Full portion bagel with a new kind of jam, no problem. Rice Krispy treat without ED chiming got it. Appropriate serving of protein ice cream without weighing....why not?
Sure I am a little scared now, but despite the fear I have a smile on my face. I realized today recovery is possible and honestly it feels so much better than even my best days in my disorder or semi-recovery. I also realized my nutritionist knows what she is doing. This day would have never been possible had she not been pushing me to get my portions, to do exchanges not calories, to eat challenging meals instead of sandwiches, to not weigh foods, and to be more flexible with planning. Had I still been calorie counting, nutrition labels would have been a must. Without my full portions I would have been so wrapped up in restricting enough at meals that ED would have been screaming all night. The sandwich would have never been so easy or enjoyable had I been doing them every day. I would have been a food scale Nazi had I not gotten used to not weighing things. And the whole going by the seat of my pants would not have been possible had we not been working with my flexibility with planning. Oh and how could I forget not worrying about fats in food and only using fat exchanges as ones that are spreadable, pourable, or addable. The rice krispy and not looking at nutrition labels would have never been possible without that.
I can't wait to tell her how good I did. It feels good to feel proud of myself for once....if this is recovery...this feeling of pride, joy, and peace....then I am ready to fight for it. If I could have hope of this feeling coming for the rest of my life (I mean I know there will be ups and downs)....then maybe recovery isn't so scary. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but for now I am thanking God for today and for this tiny taste of freedom.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Outpatient...a privelege not a right

So today my doc called my dad and basically convinced him that I need inpatient treatment due to my low weight and inability to progress. I still am not going to go inpatient, but realized in that moment that recovering outpatient isn't a right, it's something that has to be earned. You have to show the maturity in your recovery to make the right decisions even when no one is watching and to tell your team and learn from the times you don't.
I realized from this phone call I am fighting for the privilege of recovering outpatient (a big motivation for me because I don't want to go inpatient again and be stuck in the cycle of being in and out of treatment centers). Recovering outpatient isn't something I am guaranteed and I can only refuse inpatient so many times before I am forced to go. So I have to make my own little inpatient on the outside. I have to hold myself up to the standards of inpatient treatment. This means full portions, challenge meals, and sticking to my exercise contract. For the most part I do this, but on occasional days my portions slide. Luckily I have a nutritionist appointment tomorrow where we can discuss this and come up with ways to improve it.
But for now I have a new motivation. I want to prove that I do deserve to recover outpatient. That means it is still okay (and compeltely reasonable) to have fear of my portions, fear foods, or eating all of those darn bagels that haunt me in my sleep haha. What is not okay is letting those fears dictate my actions and giving myself excuses to act out on behaviors. Telling myself that doing a yogurt instead of my chocolate milk that is mandated is okay. They wouldn't let me do it inpatient, so I don't get to do it now either. I have to be my own staff person, or I will be sitting in inpatient having a staff person all to myself.
So screw ED and his lies. They can keep coming and I know they will, but they will not dictate my actions. I refuse to let him drive me back to inpatient treatment yet again. No, not this time. This time I am keeping my freedom and recovering outpatient. How am I gonna do this? By letting his fears leave just as quickly as they come by facing them head on. If he screams to not finish my portions, I will finish them. To leave behind or measure my bagel, I will grab one spontaneously and eat the whole thing. To choose a safer meal even if it's not what I want, I will eat what I crave. And you know what it may not be pretty, at times I may fall, but I am gonna pick myself back up at the next opportunity. Outpatient recovery is mine, but only if I earn it. And that process starts now.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Paving the way for your tomorrows

Hey everyone--
Sorry been crazy busy with exams this week, but am squeezing in some time here basically to keep me from working out, but also because I love my readers :)
Anywho, I remembered a coping tool today that helped me so much in taking the plunge into recovery and one I desperately need to bring back. Basically it comes down to this. My biggest fear with this recovery process is that I will reach my healthy weight and still have disordered eating behaviors and no "cushion" of weight to gain in case I balloon. Of course this is an eating disordered thought and food can't cause you to balloon, but I am starting out here in recovery, so baby steps with what I try and get my mind to believe.
Well I know the perfect way to prevent this from becoming a reality. Basically any behavior I have (especially with food) I have to determine whether I want to do it the rest of my life. If I don't, then it's got to go. Not only is this a great way to get through meals and snacks (at least for me), but it also helps me see each meal and snack as a way of painting a better future for myself.
I think so many times we as eating disorder patients get wrapped up in the numbers our docs throw around. Whether it be weight, meal plans, calories, nutrients, labs, temperature, blood pressure, what ever it may be, it all becomes a swarming mess in our head. I cling desperately to numbers as some measure of control, so when one goes different than I want it sets me back a whole lot. So I need to find another focus of my recovery, and for me that is in trying to see it as a positive thing and not something to fear. So if each meal and snack is a way to make a better future for myself, then I have a reason to push through and get all my exchanges and such.
So there are two ways to go about it. One is the way I did it to get the motivation to even start this true recovery. I made a list of how I wanted to be able to eat eventually. Things like making choices based off desires and not numbers, finishing normal portions, eating out at resteraunts, eating without planning, etc. Then next to that list the behaviors you do that prevent that from being a reality. Like for me with the making choices without numbers, I couldn't do that when I was calorie counting so I knew calorie counting had to go and here I am now rocking the exchange system. It's just nice when you are first starting out to see how changing your behaviors can bring positive outcomes.
Next though comes in the moment use. To me this is hugely important right now because in the moment is where I get myself into trouble. For example, the biggest thing I struggle with now is my mandatory bagel snack. Every day when I go to do my bagel I want to leave some behind. This started all when my nutritionist had me give away my food scale. Now my mind goes off about how my bagel could be too big and thus I need to leave some off for "safety." It even gets so tricky as to say..see that piece is burnt, or soggy, or lacks flavor, or is colored weird, etc etc with excuses of why to leave it behind. But on the nights I push through and finish the whole bagel this is what I do. When I am about to rip off a piece to not eat I stop and ask I want to forever have to rip off bagel pieces. Can you imagine? When I go out with a boss/co-worker/friend to a bagel shop and I have to leave some behind because of fear. Well I for one don't want to do that, which means right here in this moment, I need to set myself up for that future by eating my whole bagels.
If even that concept is too hard for you right now feel free to steal something I had an aha moment about. Basically the way the body works with meal plans (especially in weight restoration) is you eat more and then your body adapts to that intake so you have to get an increase. So here is what I say to myself when the voice that I will balloon gets too loud. "I may balloon this week, but next week my body will adjust and I won't balloon and I will forever be free to eat/do x, y, z." To me one week of ballooning is worth a future full of freedom. I won't remember the weeks I balloon, but if I never get over my fear of food, I will remember the opportunities I had to overcome. The chances I had to pave the way to my tomorrows. I don't know about you, but I for one want to look back on the opportunities with a smile on my face, knowing I used each one to paint a brighter tomorrow.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Step Back to Go Forward

Sorry I have been away everyone. I really was struggling this past week with a lot of things and it was spilling over into my food so I had to take a step back from everything, regroup, and jump back on the horse. It just seemed like life was moving too fast and I couldn't keep up.

I don't really know what brought it all on. Perhaps trying to push myself to recover too fast got me scared...maybe it's because my recent weigh-in showed that I really was on track...maybe the stress of school or work...I'm not sure. All I know is everything seemed to be spinning out of control so I began to slowly cling back to my eating disorder. Pieces of food started being left behind, choices of food started to be made based on numbers not exchanges, things that had become so easy to eat were forbidden again, and then I started to sneak off to weigh myself. All this did was make the spiralling and loss of control seem more and more present. Then Wednesday I broke down to my pastor about my deep seated self-hatred.

I have never told anyone how deep my self-hatred is. All the horrid things I say to myself about myself. He said some amazing things to me. In fact while he was praying he said something I have never told him...he said, " I am hearing that you think you are undesirable. Jess, there is nothing undesirable about you. Coming from me as a are brilliant. There is a light about you that just glows. Jessica you are beautiful." He also referred me back to a verse that hit home to me a year ago when I became a Christian. It's Isiah 43:4 "Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life." He said...."Jessica that is what you are. You aren't these things you say to yourself. You are precious. You are honored. You are loved."

I came home that night so revved up and ready to get back on board and fight this battle. Well...that only lasted the night. The next morning I was up with all the temptations of ED following me. Luckily I also had therapy and discipleship that day to knock some sense back into me. I shared at both meetings the fact that I realized I didn't want to be a vet anymore. That instead I felt called to service animal training. As I shared and as me and my disciple prayed God revealed even more what He wants to do with my life. I was filled with an eagerness to do everything to recover. I had something to fight for. 

Then my therapist, as always, kept hitting roadblocks with me. He finally looked at me and said do you want to die or do you want to recover. Put that simply recovery was the only choice. He then said..."Then you are going to have to gain weight. That's what it comes down to." I realized it was my fear of doing that and the fact that it finally happened (after over a year of my docs trying to make it happen) that had me feeling out of control. So with new motivation and understanding I felt ready to get back on track. 

Again, this lasted all of a night. The next morning I was back on the scale and back to freaking out. But towards the middle of the day I just stopped. I took the time to stop my mind and stop doing. To just try and be still. I took a step back and looked at the mess my week had become. Sure there wasn't restricting, but so much fear was driving my food decisions, so much self-hatred was swirling about, I felt like I was the on the edge of tipping straight back to restricting. But I had this new future ahead...I had things to fight for. So I stopped and set up the list of things I needed to do. I planned out the next few days of food and prioritized what I needed. 

1. I needed rest. I had been pushing myself so hard and had gone back to not eating my snacks during the day because I wanted to feel hunger. all this did was cause me to be up till midnight or later eating. So I was desperately sleep deprived. 2. I needed to start making decisions based on what I wanted not off of rules. Thus I pre-planned some scary foods in for the next few days. No swaps could be made unless it was something safe for something challenging. 3. I also planned on eating every 2-3 hours as my nutritionist said to do....this I am still working on. 4. I made plans of things other than exercising and weighing myself to do. 5. I went back to God and prayer. Turning to Him when I felt overwhelmed. 

So it's Sunday now. I caught up on much needed sleep and have done my scary foods. I have a weigh-in tomorrow and I refuse to let it freak me out and cause this spinning to happen again. The moment I start to feel too overwhelmed by the weigh-in I am going to take a step back. I am going to put the emergency breaks on and go back to the basics: pre-planning and scheduling meals and snacks, reaching out, and praying constantly. 

It's hard and sometimes even scary to stop and take a step back. Especially when everything seems to be spinning out of control. But if you are in the middle of a tornado you aren't gonna try and drive forward to get away because it will follow. You are gonna go in the opposite direction of the path. You are gonna step back. 

Just remember stepping back and looking at the situation isn't the same thing as moving backward. Instead it is taking a breather so you can keep moving forward. So next time life has you feeling out of control or your recovery seems to be blowing away just stop, reasess, figure out what you need, and then start going again. 

To some it may seem that me going back to planning out meals is regressing, but right now I need that structure back so I can keep moving forward. In fact, right now I am not really trying to move forward, but just to keep my recovery going. I'm not pushing any limits or new boundaries right now or facing any new foods. I am just doing what I can to maintain this recovery I have. And sometimes when life seems out of control you need that part of recovery to feel sane. The understanding that it's okay to not keep pushing new limits but just to experience where you are....look for a blog post about that soon. Recovery is a journey, not a enjoy the ride.