I would love to be able to say that after 4 years post treatment, I never struggle with thoughts about my weight anymore.
But there is a serious difference between the two trains of thought I could take in my thinking about my weight.
I think I’ve gained weight so now I need to stop eating everything except the very barest essentials. I need to get control back or I will spiral even more out of control. I am worthless unless I can drop my weight again and start following every rule possible that will ensure my ability to be in control.
I need to stop worrying about my weight and simply do the next right thing to be balanced and healthy, but not obsessed. Food does not control my life, nor does what I eat define who I am. I can listen to my hunger and full cues as I’m supposed to, and I can remember that feeling fat is often just that: a feeling, not a fact.
I Choose Train #2.
- No obsessing
- Balanced, healthy choices
- Mindful eating
Mind you, it took me awhile to reach this point. During recovery, I had to eat and eat with purpose, without worrying about where my weight would land. I had to trust that my nutrition was leading me toward my healthy balance.
After I learned how to eat for a balanced life again, it became my responsibility, not my dietitian’s, to maintain that balance in my lifestyle. Rather than living as a child who needs to have my hand held, I am now an adult who can make decisions on my own.
No Obsessing. Balanced. Mindful.
And now I can do that. I can make my own decisions when it comes to food. I remember during recovery asking a friend how she maintains her weight. In my illogical thinking it had always been about my control over food. She truly seemed confused by the question. She told me, “I don’t know. I just eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m not.”
No obsessing. Balanced. Mindful.
The steps to reach the point I am at now were a process. Nothing is learned and perfected overnight.
The fear of slipping back into ED did not go away even after a year.
Now I am 4 years out. November 7 is my 4 year anniversary of going to treatment. When I think of that day vs. this day, I can only focus on thankfulness for the process God walked me thru.
Not all the train stops from that day to this day were happy roses and butterflies. Some of them were downright ugly and manure-smelling. But I needed every landing point to get me to my Right Now.
Train Stops are Celebrations
So whether you are at the stop of deciding if you need to go to treatment, whether you are in treatment, whether you are 6 months out of treatment, even whether you are simply stuck at the stop of constantly obsessing about food and weight – each stop is the step in the right direction.
Know that each day brings you to a new train stop. Each leg of your journey deserves its own celebration.
Every tiny step needs a fist pump or a high five or a toothy grin or an all out party. No milestone in your recovery is too small or too stressful to celebrate. Even if that step is simply gagging down the last bite of food.
I celebrated many over the past 4 years:
- surviving the first night in treatment
- eating breaded chicken in treatment
- joining Snap Fitness with friends
- going out for lunch with friends
- stepping off a treadmill at 27 minutes instead of waiting until 30 minutes
- eating a cheeseburger for lunch
- eating chicken tenders and French fries
- eating snacks in the teachers’ lounge
- wearing jeans again
- wearing shorts again
- running a half marathon
- eating lasagna on a day I didn’t exercise
- not overeating at Pizza Ranch buffet
- enjoying a handful of M&Ms after lunch
- not feeling guilty for enjoying a handful of M&Ms after lunch
I celebrate life because I have life to live. So, I’ll eat mindfully. I’ll eat balanced. I’ll stop obsessing. I’ll live my life full of the good God’s piled on me. That is my focus. No obsessing. Balanced. Mindful.
Work at Where You Focus
Sure, some days it’s easier to keep that focus than others. But usually when I lose the focus is when I’m staring in a mirror.
Hmmm, what does that tell you? It tells me that the mirror is not the measure of my beauty and it is not the measure of my joy.
When my focus is on my physical appearance, that means my focus is off of what really matters. When my focus is on laughing with my boys, on my husband who loves me, on my students in my class, on the teachers in the teachers’ lounge, on the friends around the campfire, on the tasks I have to do, on the blessings that fill my life – when those are my focus, my joy rounds itself out.
God blows up my heart and expands my joy in the life he’s given me.
Because what I had before, the life I lived with my eating disorder, that was life muted. That was obsession, imbalance, mindlessness.
That was not the life God created for me.
So now, Right Now, instead of Train #1, I ride Train #2 with my face out the window and the wind in my hair and laughter in my lungs.
I readjust my focus, make necessary changes to get back on track, and squeeze the ever-loving joy out of my second chance at life.
What Celebrations Have Become
Now my celebrations are not for what I eat. After 4 years, eating is a normalized part of life. (Ok, I still find extreme happiness eating my White Cheddar Grooves every day for lunch.)
What I celebrate now are all the little moments that equal joy. I’m not talking about happiness that’s based on being in a good mood. I’m talking about joy that is tied wholly to God being in control. That joy allows me to celebrate my moments.
- making pancakes for my boys before school
- joking with my students in my classroom
- sitting on my couch at night to read my book
- pushing myself on the treadmill to see if I can go faster than yesterday
- listening to the Dateline podcast while I walk the bike trail (I’ve kind of become obsessed with murder mysteries)
- standing at the top of the hallway with the other teachers at break
- dancing to 90’s music in my kitchen
- experimenting with a meal for my family and then patting myself on the back for being the best cook in the universe
- laughing at the snapchats Benj sends to me while we’re sitting two feet from each other in the living room
- having a good hair day
- knowing my butt looks good in my new jeans, not because someone else told me that, but because I tell myself
So much to celebrate, friends. Wherever you are in your train ride, find your moments to celebrate. Find them.
You might not feel like celebrating, but real joy burrows deep and buries itself in your soul. God lives exactly where you need him – in the moments that matter. And in case you need me to remind you . . .
Every. Moment. Matters.