Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mind Versus Body

How can you know what to do? Life can be so crazy and frustrating. It's so difficult to try to get a handle on something as complex as disordered eating. Especially if you've been disordered a long time. It's like a label, a mechanism for survival, and your mind is trapped inside of it.

As usual, I wish had magic comforting words. I wish I could say the things that would make you feel better and be able to do something with the situation.

If you’re really struggling, you don't have to know all the ins and outs of how to eat. You don't have to have this big plan that looms and feels so difficult to achieve. You just have to eat to sustain. It's not a long-term solution, but it's the beginning of one. Sustain yourself. You can worry about re-learning how to eat once you've gotten a handle on eating sufficiently enough to survive. Understand what I'm saying? At the very least, you need to give your body what it needs to function. To "fulfill" might seem tough for you; to "deprive" is much worse. So, "sustain." And when your body begins to thank you for nourishing it, you can let your mind pick up the slack and work on the other issues at hand.

Setting a big mountain of a goal for yourself isn't easy and can be daunting. Set some hills instead.

When you don't eat properly, your mind works against you. That's the best way I can think of to describe it. I always felt that way. It was amazing how much my mind seemed to "clear up" as I got better and better.

Sometimes, when you're at the end of your rope, the best thing you can do is NOT think. Don't think. Just do. Just try to eat. Just try. And deal with the aftermath when your mind is better able to deal with it (i.e. after it's been fed). It's a struggle and you may have negative emotions afterwards, but it's better than slowly dying or making yourself more and more ill...because taking a step backward every day is no way to climb a hill.

It's a lot easier to make yourself feel better mentally once you are doing better physically. You have to make your strongest voice become your true and only voice. It takes a lot of work and perseverance, but you can do it if you really want it. It's okay to have feelings of despair as long as those feelings don't cause defeat. And if you don't give in to defeat, those negative feelings will eventually dissipate.

You're already fighting a battle with your eating disorder. You don't need another battle going on inside yourself. It's already You Versus Eating Disorder. Don't let it be Mind Versus Body too.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Going Through the Motions

The longer you "go through the motions," the easier recovery becomes. Soon you do it more naturally and you discover things that are unknown to you right now. You learn about yourself. You will get where you want to be, but it takes time and effort.

You are probably giving a tremendous amount of effort right now. And you're probably thinking, "When will something give a little?" or "When will I actually be free of this?" Keep reminding yourself that the best is yet to come. You can do this. It will get easier.

Setbacks are going to occur. Don't let them stop you in your tracks.

No one can tell you what you are feeling and experiencing. Don't let anyone define it for you. And it really makes no difference what you call it--a relapse, a slip-up, depression...whatever it is, it is real and you can change it if you want to or live it if you don't. (And who wants to live it?) The only word that matters is Recovery. If you feel you are going through recovery, good. If you don't think you are but want to, then do something to change it. If you think you have a recovery mindset but lack the drive or the will to care 100% of the time, you can change that too.

Change one thing and you end up changing a lot.

Recovery doesn't mean you are doing well 100% of the time. It just means that you WANT to be.

No matter how many cons there are to your dilemma, one big pro outweighs them all: you getting better, you feeling better, you learning to live life again.

You don't have to define what you are going through with a word (relapse, recovery, slip-up, setback, etc.). You just have to know where you want to go.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Condition Your Intuition

Many of us have heard of intuitive eating. It sounds good. It sounds difficult. It sounds…interesting. So how is it accomplished?

Well, to be able to practice intuitive eating properly, you have to have good intuition. Working intuition.

I was not always good at this. But I am now. It is how I eat.

In order to do this, you first have to really want what is best for your body and do what it tells you at all costs.

As I'm sure you may well know, this can be extremely difficult. If you can't do this or your body doesn't accurately tell you what it wants when it wants it, you are not ready to do intuitive eating that way it needs to be done to keep you healthy.

I've found that a strict meal plan can keep a person in a restrictive mindset--it was always the case for me. You can, however, follow a meal plan that incorporates intuitive eating. That is, one that leaves room for your own desires and inclinations. It's designed to give you what you need, has lots of guidelines, but is loose enough to make you feel comfortable. For example, if a strict meal plan keeps you in a restrictive mindset, a looser meal plan that provides basics to go by (types of things you should always eat) plus some room for playing around with intuitive eating might be the way to go.

The bonus to this approach is that you slowly learn your body, its responses, and are able to listen to yourself without worrying you will go crazy and have major setbacks.

I'm no nutritionist, but I would suggest integrating intuitive eating into a regular food plan so you can get the hang of it and be ready to try it in the future if you're ready and able. There are some who rave about intuitive eating and say it's always the way to go, and there's nothing wrong with it, but it's not for everyone right away. It takes practice. Relying solely on intuitive eating right from the start might not be a good thing. If you eat based on intuition for two days and then review what you ate and your intake wasn't enough to be considered healthy and nutritional, then you need to work on some more things first before using intuitive eating on a daily basis.

But it can be a goal.

As I said earlier, intuitive eating requires working intuition. :)

Advice? Talk to your therapist/nutritionist/parents/spouse and tell them that you are having trouble recognizing the signs of being full/hungry and the other things that go along with that, like poor perception of proper intake, etc. See if a looser meal plan might work for you—a plan where there is space for you to play around with what you eat as you become more in tune with yourself and your body, and as you make your way farther along on the path of recovery. It takes time to learn yourself again. Be patient. Be kind.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Discovering "Recovery Thinking"

You can be honest about struggling. Because struggling means you are fighting something...that you're not just sitting there and taking it...or giving in. And THAT is really saying something.

I think a lot about how so many women fear the number on the scale that sometimes seems to be creeping up on them.

I really understand what that is like; I used to feel that same fear of the weight and the number on the scale. It made me crazy.

Recovery can often seem like a battle of your two selves. A seemingly endless ping-pong game.

It comes down to this. You see the number. You wince. You try to tell yourself it's okay because you're trying to be healthy. But it doesn't feel okay. And you don't feel good about it.

You think about restricting.

You know you shouldn't. (Am I right so far?)

And you try to get support from others to keep your saner thoughts in the forefront of your mind.

The thing is, if you give in to restricting to lose OR maintain (your body may, as it changes, find its normal weight is a couple pounds higher than what you've been maintaining, hence the slow creep of the number on that scale) you are going to be back on a downward spiral. So keep that in mind.

It's so easy to say you will only restrict enough to get back to what you feel is a comfortable weight, but that's the eating disorder wheedling its way back into your head and slowly clutching you again until you continue and continue and continue, a lower weight always being desirable.

You know this. It's so simple to say right now that you'd only restrict a little bit, but it's a dangerous move. A recipe for disaster.

I know from experience.

Once, when I tried to recover and got to a "decent" (though still too low) weight, I began to freak out even though I was still determined on recovery, and I told myself I'd only restrict to get a tiny bit lower, just so I'd feel better in my own skin. So I did.

Bad move. I was down to below xx lbs. in no time at all. And I REALLY wanted to get better. But there I was. Back at Unhealthy and trying to climb my way up to Healthy again.

I don't want this to happen to you or anyone. I know the mindset an eating disorder can instill, and I want you to know that you are stronger than your inclination to restrict when you see your weight on a scale.

As I've said before, a scale is an inanimate object that should never define you. I know it takes a while to realize this completely but nevertheless, it is something you can tell yourself over and over again when you feel miserable because the number you've seen isn't the one you'd like to be seeing.

And eventually, the more resistant you become against restriction and other eating disordered behavior, the less that number you see begins to bother you. It goes like this. You see it. You don't like it. But you don't feel the desire to restrict.

Days go by.

You see it. You don't like it. But you pass it off in a couple seconds and forget about it for the rest of the day.

Days go by. You see it. You are indifferent. You neither like it nor dislike it.

Days go by.

You see it. You are indifferent. You may not even feel like stepping on a scale is important in your life.

Days go by.

You see it. You are indifferent. You feel good. GOOD. Because a number doesn't dictate your mood.

Days go by.

You see it. You like it. Why? Because it means you are free at last from the power of the scale and the number.

It could take months, years, maybe a decade, but it can happen. Remember that when you step on the scale and try not to let it ruin your smile or your day…because the day you stop letting a number ruin your day, you are one big step closer to peace.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Relapsing into Relapse

Relapse happens often. And there is nothing wrong with that. It is often PART of recovery. Really.

Step one: Learn to not be so frustrated with yourself as though you have fallen from grace because you are human and relapsed. It is okay. It is really okay. I promise you.

Step two: You must learn that you're not necessary back at the beginning just because you relapsed and are ill again. Any progress you made or good experiences you had are NOT negated by your current relapse. You will use them as you try to recover again and you will know better what to do and what not to do. You will be more aware. Use it.You will get to the place you want to be eventually. It may take a while. It may be a rough road. But you will get there.

The things we struggle for the most are the most rewarding in the end. Your LIFE is important and you are struggling for a healthy, happy one right now...and when you get will be fantastic.

Step three: Hang in there and keep trying to get help for the things you need. Sometimes in order to GET a real life, you have to put your current life on hold. You have to stop and take the time to get real help. It will be worth it in the end. Because the end will be your new beginning.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The 3 Hs

The problem: How to deal with people who talk constantly about weight, weight loss, and/or dieting.

What this problem can be:






-Any or all of the above

A lot of the time this person in question is someone you love, respect, or call a friend. So it gets tricky. And sticky. And well, downright icky.

I tend to suggest the 3 Hs.

The 3 Hs:



-Heart to Heart

Let me explain. Let’s say the person in question says, “I can’t believe I gained 5 pounds.”

You could laugh and say, “You probably just need to go to the bathroom,” and soften the situation with a little humor, making light of it, and therefore letting the person know it’s OKAY, but at the same time not getting into it with them if it would make you uncomfortable or be triggering.

Let’s say the person in question says, “I am so fat.”

You could respond with, “Of course you’re not fat. You are beautiful just the way you are. That’s one of the reasons I love you.” It’s honesty. And people sometimes shrink away from it because it feels so serious and so open. And because people without eating disorders don’t always put it out there like that. But if you DO care about the person saying this, then combat her negative comment with something REAL.

Another example is this: Let’s say the person in question says, “I need to go on a diet.”

Your response could be, “No you don’t. A diet isn’t necessary to make you feel better. It isn’t the answer.” There’s some more honesty for you. People don’t usually talk frankly and poignantly like this with one another. But sometimes, it’s the best thing. Sometimes the person with whom you’re having a conversation needs to hear it. You might feel strange giving so bold a reply to their comment, but it takes the conversation in a different direction—a non-triggering direction, an empowering direction, a GOOD direction.

On to the last H. Let’s say the person in question says, “I’m trying to lose weight. I only ate a salad and a diet Coke last night,” and goes on to detail their food intake or their pride in dieting—even if it’s NOT unhealthy.

You’ll be doing yourself a favor if you have a little heart to heart and say, “I don’t want to blow off what you’re saying because I am listening. And I want you to feel like you can talk to me about things, but it’s really hard for me to hear details about food and dieting. I want to be honest with you about this for my own good. I don’t have a problem with you, I just have a problem that I’m working on. I hope you can understand.”

You’re not apologizing. You’re being truthful. You’re worrying about yourself first, as you should. And you’re still being a good friend. And you can be as vague or as open as you feel you need to be when having the little heart to heart. If the person knows about your eating disorder history, it might be easier, but even if the person doesn’t, there are still plenty of ways you can say what’s written above without revealing more information than you’re comfortable with. If the person asks something you’re not happy answering, you have simply to say, “I hope you won’t mind, but I don’t really want to talk about that right now. But let’s keep talking.” These kinds of things are difficult, but once you learn to do them, you’ll be much better off and much better equipped to handle what gets thrown at you in this life.

After all, using the 3 Hs is better than just sitting or standing there quietly, listening to comments like these, feeling triggered and trapped. Am I right? You might be surprised how much your own voice thrown into the mix makes a difference. You also might be surprised about how easy it really is when you start saying something back. These weight/weight loss/dieting conversations happen far more often than you might like, so learning how to handle them is a definite must.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Post-It Gallery

I created a new page you can reach via this site. It's called Arielle's Post-It Gallery. It can be found on the left-hand side of the page.

Spread the love and positivity! Make someone's day!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

May I Have Your Attention, Please?

I'm Group Leader for an ANAD Support Group that's starting this month. I thought I'd post the info (i.e. the flier I made) here for those who are in my area! Even if you're not in my area, I suppose it's still nice to share the news! I'm VERY excited about this. If you are interested or know anyone who might be, send me an email. Help me spread the word! I am blotting out my phone number (and part of the meeting address) which appears on the real local flier because you never know what internet folks are out there that will harass.

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders
It's difficult to recover when you feel alone...
Come join us for help, understanding, and support.

WHERE: Northampton Area Public Library
(will give address if contacted) Northampton, PA 18067-close to Allentown, Bethlehem, and surrounding areas

WHEN: the FIRST and THIRD Monday of each month at 6:00 PM

Unfortunately, there will be NO meeting on July 21st due to outside circumstances, but meetings officially begin on July 7th.

Questions? Call Group Leader Arielle Bair at: 610-xxx-xxxx
or email her at:

ALL are welcome...
Regardless of your age, diagnosis, or role.
Whether you are recovering from anorexia, bulimia, ed-nos, compulsive over eating, body dismorphic disorder, orthorexia, or are simply a concerned parent, friend, or family member of someone with an eating are warmly welcomed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Word To Worried Parents

I was once the anorexic daughter that parents worry about. Now that I'm recovered from anorexia and can look at the situation clearly, it's easy for me to articulate what might be needed and wanted—from the point of view of the sufferer.  

Okay, let's be honest; both parties are suffering. 

I feel the best thing you can do for your daughter is to love her and support her, which you obviously do if you are reading this. Try to understand her. She is probably feeling as though not many people do, but all you have to do is let her know that you WANT to understand. That you care enough about her to want to help her in any way you can. And that you will always be there for her when and if she needs you.  
Don't be obtrusive. Don't be harsh. Sometimes it takes a big wake up call to make someone snap to the realization that they are really damaging themselves, but try to be the rock she can turn to when she is faltering. There are plenty of ways to show her the error of her ways without punishing her, condemning her, or making her feel worse. 
My parents did good things and bad things. But it's hard for parents—and for anyone—to know how to deal with an eating disordered child, especially when that child is actually a young woman and not a child any longer.  
Ask her if she wants you to do anything. Ask her if she wants freedom, support, more recovery resources, info about a support group, a shoulder to cry on, etc. Perhaps she wants nothing. Perhaps she doesn't know what she wants. But if it was me (and it was me once), I would greatly appreciate having my mother or father pose those questions to me.  
If she's been in treatment: Just because a treatment place did not work for her in the past doesn't mean she can't get help or will be resistant to other forms of support. One thing that really helped me while I was a college student was going to a support group with other young women who were facing the same problems. We learned to want to help each other, which in turn helped us to help ourselves. If she cares about the well-being of other girls like her, she may invest time in a path towards recovery and soon start to hear what they are saying—and use what she is telling them on herself and her own situation.  
Sometimes eating disorder support groups are not publicized and are hard to discover. Ask your local hospitals, do a search online, or contact an eating disorder specialist for info. Don't push…but it's always worth keeping in the back of your mind.  
I really feel for your situation. I have a very good relationship with my mother and I know how helpless she felt when I was very ill. 
Be there to listen to your daughter, but if she doesn't want to talk, don't press. All you can do is try your best to help her and the rest is up to her. No one can make her do anything—and if they do, it will only be temporary. She needs to make a choice for herself and set goals.

But you can support her in these goals. 

Show her how great life can be without her eating disorder instead of showing her how bad her life is with it.