Staying Strong During Recovery
Americans spend a whopping 60 billion dollars annually on weight loss diets and products annually*. With that being said, I think it is safe to assume each of us knows someone at any given moment who is trying to lose weight or eat healthier. Try opening a magazine or the newspaper, turning on the TV, or listening to the radio without coming across a weight loss ad. We live in a society that is constantly bombarded with the idea that thinness needs to be high on the priority list. We live in a society that glamorizes and often requires us to fit a certain body type.
Living in this kind of society is difficult enough for a “normal eater,” let alone someone in recovery from an eating disorder. When I first left treatment where diet talk was strictly prohibited, I remember being completely shocked and hyper aware of the constant, never ending food talk. It felt overwhelming. It made me feel like there was something wrong with me; like I was the outsider going against the norm. Recovery can be a lonely place for this reason. To make things worse, sometimes when I voiced my struggles and politely asked others to limit diet talk around me, it often backfired. Or people might comment about how I was eating “unhealthy” if I had poptarts for breakfast. That was difficult to hear considering I just spent months retraining my brain to be okay eating similar fear foods.
Luckily, over the years I have developed a thicker skin and come up with some strategies to help me deal with this ever present trigger. Here are some ways to stay strong in your recovery while living in a diet-obsessed world:
-Unfollow health/diet centered social media sites
-And follow sites that promote recovery and all body types instead. For example:
The Body Positive (http://www.thebodypositive.org/)
Project Heal (http://theprojectheal.org/)
Body Image Movement (https://bodyimagemovement.com/)
Beauty Redefined (http://www.beautyredefined.net/),
-Change your perspective – there is nothing more freeing than no longer having to obsess over weight and numbers
-Remember your recovery is about YOU and nothing can get in the way of that
Your body will take care of you and settle at it’s healthiest weight
-In order to keep my metabolism revved up, I have to keep eating
-Make a list of all the things you can do now that you were unable to do while caught up in the eating disorder
-Take a moment to appreciate how much more time you have to dedicate to new hobbies, school, work, relationships, ect.
-Remember your body needs adequate fuel
-Go grocery shopping with a supportive friend or recovery buddy
-Wear clothes that are comfortable and flattering to build a better body image
-Use your voice. Be assertive and stand up for yourself when necessary
-Set boundaries - even with family members if needed
-Remember people are most likely so caught up in their own eating habits that they don’t even notice anyone else’s
-Dieters are probably jealous that I can eat whatever I want in moderation
-Remember what is right for me isn’t always right for others… And that’s perfectly okay!
-Remember photos in magazines are airbrushed, photo-shopped, and distorted
-Try to catch yourself while making comparisons and then reframe that thoughts.
For example: “That woman is so much thinner than I am. I wish I had her… insert body part here.”
Reframe: “I worked really hard to regain my health. Everyone’s body is different. The only person I need to focus on is myself. I am so much more than a number on a scale or the size of my jeans.”
-Write some positive affirmations and keep them in your purse or hang them on the bathroom mirror
A goal weight is an arbitrary number; how I feel is what’s important.
Food doesn’t have to be the enemy, it can be healing and nurturing.
If I am hungry, I am supposed to let myself eat. Food is what keeps me alive.
Here’s a list of 101 body positive affirmations for more inspiration - http://bingeeatingtherapy.com/2012/06/101-positive-body-affirmations/
-Make a list of things you would rather be than thin.
For example: thoughtful, kind, intelligent, ambitious, creative, fearless, honest, independent, authentic, charismatic, energetic, intuitive, passionate, insightful, empowered, trustworthy, ext.
Even though it can feel overwhelming and nearly impossible to live in this diet obsessed world, it is important to keep in mind there are ways to make it happen and put your recovery first. For me, it feels incredibly empowering to know I do not need to allow others to influence the choices I make for myself today. I spent way too many years caught up in my eating disorder to waste the precious time I have now worrying about weight and numbers. If I can do it, with time and a little practice, you most definitely can do it, too.
Kelsi Cronkright is a 28 year old woman in recovery from both anorexia and alcoholism. She is currently in the final year of her social work degree and has plans to use her past experiences to help those with similar struggles. Kelsi also has her own personal blog (Progression Obsession), is a writer for Libero Network, and hopes to break the social stigma in involved in what it means to be an addict