Well, I finally did it.
After 8 weeks following a new strength training program, weighing and logging every gram of food I eat, and measuring my waist to decide whether or not today was going to be a good day, I have woken up.
Things have got to change, and I can’t keep waiting to be happy with my image to change them. Over the weekend and into this week, I couldn’t keep up with it anymore. The weighing every piece of food, logging it, and obsessing over eating and the appearance of my body.
Strange how most of us accept this as perfectly normal, or at least to be good friends with normal. I have always had an eating disorder, from the time I was a kid. I remember using food to pacify feelings of anxiety at my own birthday parties. I know I was very young, the memories are specific and clear.
Eating ruffled potato chips and bermuda onion dip while lying under our staircase, listening to a read-along book on tape. Or waiting until everyone was gone until I could stuff my face with no-bake cheesecake and Cheetos. Yeah, I was like, 10? I don’t know. Too young to be using food as an escape route from sensory overload.
I was thoroughly obsessed with body image at that age. At 10! I remember doing body checks. If you aren’t familiar with what body checks are, see here. Of course, I was a healthy child and remained so until I was about 17, so I don’t think anyone would suspect I had an eating disorder.
The “success” I have achieved in recent weeks with my exercise and eating program is nothing to sweep under the rug. I am, of course, proud of myself for sticking to an exercise program (something I will continue to do). But eating for fat loss…I am pretty disappointed in myself.
I’ve never not done body checks. Obsessively checking the mirror throughout each day, whether I am home or somewhere else. Sometimes I just walk into the bathroom without knowing why. Of course, it is to check myself in the mirror. Running my hand over my stomach to assess how acceptable my waist is, grabbing at my arm fat to see how much of it I currently have. I especially do this in the morning – instinctively running my hand over my stomach and seeing just how worthy I am of the day that is about to unfold. Usually I don’t even know I’m doing it.
I think the worst part of waking up to just how extensive this has been, is the realization that getting well means changing a lot of things. I mean, a lot. I would say that my body dysmorphia and eating disorder take up hours of my day, each day, whether directly or indirectly. This will pretty much be an identity makeover.
It sounds like I’m not excited to change, but that’s because it’s tough to relinquish the control that certain disorders can give you. When you can’t control your anxiety or depression, partaking in obsessive behaviors can feel like you’re somehow doing better. Like, “Hey! I am accomplishing something. I successfully earned my self-worth today, using measurable behaviors. I must be doing pretty well!”
I’m also scared to change because I’ve been counting calories and living a binge and restrict lifestyle for 18 years. That is a really, really long time. And I do connect my weight with how well I am doing, there is no sense in lying about that. I will be giving that up, and giving that up is going to be hard.
Today, I hid three things: my food scale, bodyweight scale, and my tape measure. Upon throwing them into the closet, I felt a mixture of fear and relief. Imagine, me, merely living without guilt tied to my size and appearance. The thought is almost silly at this point – I am entrenched in false beliefs. That does not go away with one well-meaning gesture.
Reading over some of my first blogs, the delusion is clear. I talked about starting new programs, changing caloric intake, signing up for fitness streaming services. The bad behaviors are more transparent than I’d intended – I am going to leave them up if anyone wants to see how good someone with an eating disorder is at justifying poor health choices. I can’t believe that, at one point, I was sharing excitement at starting a 1200 calorie diet! Not being a bariatric patient needing to lose weight rapidly to enter surgery, I am scratching my head at that one. Why did I, a perfectly healthy woman, feel excited about eating less than my body needs to simply lie in bed all day?
The mysteries of life, eh? Not to be even more depressing, but when I step back and look at all the hobbies I’ve lost due to this fixation, I am shocked. Imagine being so enveloped by a disorder that you can’t even be lazy properly anymore. I can’t play games, watch movies, nothing. Much of my time is spent researching how to lose weight, lose fat, optimize my exercise program, or something much darker which is difficult to discuss.
Over these past eight weeks counting calories and weighing food, I have been watching videos people upload of themselves binge eating, and also tuning into other YouTubers with eating disorders who are not in recovery. Somehow they make me feel like I’m not doing so bad. I’ve noticed that a lot of people watch these videos, which is pretty strange when you think about it.
I’m unsure what caused them to pop up in my recommended viewing in the first place, but this has been a big piece of the puzzle in my realization that I’ve gone past the point of having a choice in my recovery. I have no choice anymore – I must put in my best efforts.
All that being said, I have a plan.
I will be posting accountability logs often – I plan to do one at the start of each week. Weighing food, weighing myself, and measuring myself will no longer be a part of my day. I deleted all calorie counting applications, and will be practicing intuitive eating as I understand it. I am going to focus more on improving my strength with weight lifting, and just doing what my body wants me to do. I find great improvements in mood when weight lifting, and also enjoy using my body to accomplish something that is meaningful to it.
I apologize if this log makes anyone uncomfortable, but it needs to be done to help me through my recovery.
Thanks for reading!