Post # 1
I’ll preface this quickly — From age 9-17 I had really horrible body issues and I was hospitalized several times for my anorexia.
It’s been YEARS since I felt like I was sick, and I haven’t had any body issues at all. Well- until a few months ago. I went back to school recently and gained a lot of weight. Ok so maybe not a lot- but I went from 115 lbs to 128 pounds. I’m short, so it makes a significant difference. Anyway- I went from working a physically demanding job to sitting all day. I walk an average of 25 miles per week, so I’m not entirely sedentary.
With my impending engagement, I would like to lose weight, but I am terrified that I am going to slip into those all too familiar unhealthy habits. I don’t know how to find a healthy balance. The second I think about losing weight my mind immediately goes into controlling anorexia mode. I can’t think about losing even 1 pound without feeling completely nuts.
Anyone else trying to figure out how to lose weight normally after overcoming an eating disorder? Did you visit a doctor/therapist first?
Post # 3
@MissCoffeeBean: So I am kind of in your boat too. I wish that I had a better answer for you. I had/have anorexia/bulemia from age 11 to present. I’ve been ok for a few months but I don’t want to jinx myself. I used to be a competitive swimmer up until about 2 years ago. After swimming ended, I did lose quite a bit of weight (15-20lbs). But I regained some of it, because I lost too much. I did it by cutting out soda (even diet), artificial sweetners, and most alcohol. I also began running about 30-40 miles per week and lifting weights. And it made me crazy and I kind of relapsed into bulemia.
I did work with a nutritionist for a few months about four years ago and I lost some weight with her. I’m never overweight, but I’d rather be skinnier always.
I’m trying to accept that my body is changing (not a teen anymore). I also got metabolic syndrome from my years with anorexia and my thyroid is kinda crapping out. A nutritionist might be helpful, but please BE CAREFUL!
Post # 4
@MissCoffeeBean: Hi there, thank you for sharing your story. It’s so interesting you posted this because yesterday I was browsing and came upon a thread about bees who had dealt with eating disorders. I also struggled with an ED back in college – over 10 years ago now. Its hard for me to offer advice, because I hate feeling “preachy” when it comes to body image/eating/weight loss issues, because what worked for me may not work for everyone. I can tell you that I truly believe that dieting does not work for anyone.. it’s a quick fix, but it’s centered around restriction (whether that be calories or types of food you can eat) which does NOT help us in recovery…it sets us up to be obsessed and to eventually fall back down the rabbit hole (this is just my opinion, but it seems to be pretty consistently what a lot of people who have had EDs experience). I highly suggest therapy! It helped me a lot when I was still sick, and I still go once in awhile to address other issues. I can also express my body image insecurities safely there and get objective feedback. In terms of the actual weight issue….this is what happened to me. My weight pendulum swung up like yours did – I recovered during college, but gained a bunch of weight in grad school. Over the years, I gradually lost it through increased activity (natural activity, not intentional exercise). However, as I aged (I’m in my 30s now) my metabolism slowed down and my weight starting creeping back up (that sounds really creepy, sorry to phrase it like that!). About 2 years ago I starting running, NOT because of weight but for health reasons (I had a cancer scare and felt I needed to do SOMETHING for myself that was health related, easy, and cheap…and discovered running). Long story short, I am now a distance runner and completed my first half marathon last month. Running not only helped me lose weight (gradually), it teaches me to see food as fuel, I make sure to eat enough protein, to eat the right things for my body, and to eat when I am hungry (because when you’re a runner, you’re hungry all the time). My weight has stabilized and been within a 5 lb range for the past 8 months or so…when it starts to get too low I try and eat more. I think I have found my set point, the natural weight my body wants to be where everything works (period is normal, appetite is normal, brain works, etc). Does this make sense? I’m sorry this is so lengthy!! I could talk about eating disorder stuff all day. Feel free to send me a PM if you have more questions or don’t feel comfortable asking here. Good luck. This is a tough topic, but I know you’ll figure it out..the fact that you recovered from Anorexia is a sign you can do anything!!
Post # 5
@kclRN: Well first, *hugs* from someone who knows what you’re going through, although I’ve been lucky enough to not have relapsed in years.
You actually bring up a really great point– alcohol. I used to never EVER drink alcohol. I never drink soda/juice anyway, but if I’m not drinking water, I’m drinking alcohol. A lot of it because I need a “relaxer” after a rough day, but I’m sure this is giving me around 800 calories every week. Perhaps if I cut alcohol out, but leave everything else the same, I would see a big difference without making myself feel so crazy.
I also have thyroid problems because of my years of bad eating, and I have other problems because of getting my hands on ipecac too many times. I’ll never touch that again. I haven’t done anything to lose weight yet, so maybe getting rid of the alcohol will do the trick.
Post # 6
I struggled with disordered eating and purging, but it was relatively mild. So I don’t know if what I do will be healthy for you or not. I gained weight due to health problems which force me to be inactive, and also struggle from low energy levels. I didn’t know how to lose weight healthily, and falling ill did make me value my health and abilities more than just how my body looks so I wanted something sustainable and healthy that would give me energy. I started eating “clean.” I cut out all processed food, and refined grains and sugars. I eat only whole grains, natural whole sweeteners, fruits, veggies, meats, legumes, whole fat dairy etc. including starchy stuff like potatoes as long as they are whole. I do accept “close enough” at the occasional restaurant, and eat refined foods for holidays (like birthday cake.) I eat as much of these whole foods as I want. I’ve lost 30 lbs this way and am at a weight I’m really happy with. I lost a lb or two a week at first, then plateaued for a while, then started losing again after a while. I don’t worry about what my weight is doing, I just trust my body to do its thing. I eat as much as I want and don’t restrict amounts, and that has been really healthy for me. It means I am not fixating on the feeling of hunger as a test/triumph/goal which is what really made dieting in other ways spark unhealthiness for me before.
Post # 7
@MissCoffeeBean: Yeah maybe skipping the alcohol would work. It was really hard for me not to drink while in college, but now that its over I really don’t anymore.
I’m glad that you brought this whole concept of dieting up. I’ve been really worried that getting engaged would throw me into a tailspin. I’m pretty sure it is going to happen within the next month, so its definitely something that I’m going to have to confront. May be my time to start hunting for a new therapist…Luckily my SO is really supportive about my ED.
Post # 8
I’ve always had a very conflicted relationship with food because of my athletic background. If you want to lose weight, try finding a physical activity that you just genuinely enjoy doing and trying to do it just a few times a week. That way you aren’t thinking “oh, I need to go to the gym and run 5 miles” but rather “I’m going to go to zumba, dance, and have a fun time with my friend!” That kind of thinking was very beneficial to me. I stopped thinking so much about how many calories I was burning and just focusing on enjoying moving my body and feeling active.
Post # 9
@MissCoffeeBean: Hi! I’m short too do I understand how every lb counts. For me, I ate three times a day. I’ve always read breakfast is super important, so I made sure to neverdinner breakfast. I also drank a lot of green tea and took a vitamin B complex tablet daily to up my metabolism. My biggest meal would be my lunch and I’ll cut down on carbs for dinner. I focused my “work out” regimen on my arms mainly. Work out meaning I did push ups and sit ups daily (minus weekends), I’ll slowly up my count weekly, and did some arm exercises for maybe 5 minutes while watching tv. I didn’t think I saw much definition but it was noticeable for my wedding day. Hope this helps 🙂
Post # 10
@DrD711: agree. I’m recovered from an ED and this is an awfully trickey subject. OP, are you seeing anyone for this? like a therapist or a general practitioner who specializes in treating people with eating disorders? they can offer some advice, especially since you mention a thyroid problem. for me, my weight fluctuated immensely! I now run long distance (mostly to keep my sanity lol) and my weight seems to have stabilized. I don’t think I’ll ever be happy with my body, but I’m learning to love it. definitely don’t diet – this will derail your recovery (I’ve sadly seen it happen too many times). hugs and best of luck to you!!
Post # 11
The second I start paying attention to calories, I start obsessively focusing on what I eat and I start restricting.
So I also have a hard time with pendulum weight gain and loss.
My therapist suggested “health as a goal”, or exercising for my health and eating healthfully for my health–not for my weight.
Post # 12
@baileyjosephine: Yay for long distance running!! I agree about it keeping me sane, haha! And I also concur about knowing I’ll never be completely happy with my body – I’m trying to treat it well and focus on what it can do for me and how it helps me, as opposed to what’s wrong with it.
@BrandNewBride I am like you, focusing on calories normally leads me to obsessiveness, so I don’t do it. I like what your therapist said …health should always be the overall goal!
Post # 13
Thanks everyone for your replies. Your support is very helpful 🙂 No, I am not currently seeing a doctor or therapist, but I’m thinking of visiting a therapist before actively trying to lose weight. I’m already starting with the obsessive thinking, so even though it’s on my mind, I’m ignoring it and not changing anything (except for not restocking the wine!)
I have yet to find an activity that I like that doesn’t cause problems for me, which is a big problem. I can’t run- at all. My SO is a marathon maniac and tried training me for 6 months with no improvement. I’m just not made for it… it’s really disappointing.
I used to be a dancer, but that amplifies the body issues so I have to avoid it.
I hate yoga and pilates, too. I was thinking crossfit may be something to look into because it has so many different activities so I won’t get bored.
So, the first thing on my to do list is to find a therapist or nutritionist. I had a nutritionist/therapist that I absolutely loved (met her when I was inpatient), but she passed away. I didn’t have the heart to find another nutritionist, but it’s been awhile so I think it’s time to move ahead.