Just over three months ago, I wrote a blog post explaining that I felt ready to say that I was recovered from an eating disorder. I then went really quiet about the whole subject so I thought I would do a catch-up blog just to explain what the past three months have been like and how I’m feeling now.
There was definitely a sense of “now what?” when I felt recovered because you spend so much time, energy and focus on being recovered that once you get there, you don’t really know what to do next. Sadly, you don’t just float off into the sunset and live happily ever after.
The fact is, once recovered, I was still living in a society that is obsessed with thin. Especially during this time of year when all the ‘bikini body’ ads are out, weight loss adverts are all over the TV and don’t even get me started on the “teatox” instagram posts. It felt like everyone around me was on a diet, and I was therefore inferior because I wasn’t.
I have read many books that have really helped me. These books explain in detail why diets never work and why weight loss isn’t a positive goal. I soak up all of the information that they have to offer and start feeling super positive about my body. But then I go online and see curvy women being slated for their bodies and countless posts celebrating weight loss and it all just gets too much for me. Maybe I’m just too sensitive to this sort of thing, but I hate having mixed messages all the time. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t!
There have definitely been times over the past few months where I have felt depression creeping back in, which is infuriating. When I feel low or numbed, I start to feel hopeless. During these times, the old thoughts come back about restricting. When I feel unsettled in life and without a clear goal, a goal weight becomes my purpose. I wouldn’t say I have relapsed, but I have been close. I haven’t purged, but I’ve binged and restricted sometimes.
I feel like there’s two sides to me that are at war with one another. There’s the ‘me’ side that just wants me to be happy and healthy, to have a positive relationship with food and my body. She wants to find goals that have nothing to do with weight and run with them. But then there is the other side that just wants to lose weight in any way possible, because apparently I won’t be fully happy until I reach a certain goal weight. I know that’s not true, but I can’t control those thoughts. All I can do it try to keep them quiet.
I’m reading a great book at the moment all about intuitive eating. It includes a plan with different stages to go through before being a completely intuitive eater who is free from diet mentality and negative self-talk. I’m really excited to start that journey, but it means completely letting go of any desire to lose weight, so I need to work on that first.
I guess I’m just struggling to be comfortable in my own skin when there are so many external sources telling me that I shouldn’t.
I’m all for people being healthy. If you go to the gym every night then I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – go for it! If you eat highly nutritious food and love eating fruit and vegetables, again, awesome! I’m happy to see other people being happy and healthy and exercising their bodies, the only time I don’t like it is when it is weight-loss-focused.
Eat fruit because it’s delicious and makes your body feel good, not because you feel you need to in order to look good at the beach.
Work out at the gym because it’s amazing to see what your body it capable of and how strong it can be, not because you’re trying to sculpt your body into society’s idea of perfection.
If you never go to the gym and hate the idea of working out, guess what? That’s absolutely fine too!
I honestly don’t care if you’re fat, thin, working out, not working out, eating salad or eating chocolate. You still have every right to feel comfortable in your own body without anyone telling you that you shouldn’t.
This is why I no longer compliment people on weight loss, or congratulate them when they tell me how many pounds they have lost. Honestly, I don’t think it’s an achievement, and how much you weigh should be the least important thing about you. Tell me other things, tell me how you’re doing at university, tell me about your job promotion, tell me about how you dealt with your mental illness or how you helped someone in need. Tell me something worth knowing.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I still feel conflicted. I’m trying desperately hard each and every single day to feel happy as I am. I’m trying to not let society influence me and my decisions about my body. I’m trying to ignore the hateful comments made by strangers about other women’s bodies. I’m trying to eat intuitively and live in complete balance with the needs of my body. I’m trying to be content with who I am, and I’m getting tired of the ‘thin/fit = happiness’ narrative.