“A very candid look into the world of exercise bulimia—both the daily struggle with body image and the joy of finding recovery.”
Updated: 3 years 43 weeks ago
Neglected to post this sooner: The London Times ran a story about me and my book last Sunday. You can read it here.
I just read Jenni Schaefer's first entry on her new Huffington Post blog, and it rang so true for me. After the hard work of recovery, the eating disorder becomes a thing of the past. For people like Jenni and myself who work in this field and talk/write/educate about eating disorders on a daily basis, you might think we haven't really left it behind. But, in fact, we have.
I signed up recently for Twitter and connected with others tweeting and scheming about eating disorders. The environment is very positive and pro-recovery, but I noticed something: everyone is writing about eating disorders! I was initially tweeting about, like, what my baby was doing, but after a few days I thought, geez, I really should be posting things about eating disorders like everyone else!
Then it hit me: I'm recovered. My life is full of many other things, namely baby and husband, but also friends, yoga, housework, the garden, poetry and so on...and while I'm passionate about my work, don't get me wrong, I'm a lot less interested in talking about eating disorders in my free time.
with Victoria on Easter
When you're truly recovered, the relationship to food changes, too. In early recovery I thought everyone who was thin had an eating disorder. Anyone who ate a salad at lunch? Eating disorder. Anyone who said no to dessert? Eating disorder. Anyone who went to the gym? You guessed it, eating disorder. I once even questioned my dietitian because I ran into her at a frozen yogurt joint. Why are you eating frozen yogurt instead of ice cream?? I couldn't imagine making that choice, then, for any reason OTHER than because it has fewer calories!
I shake my head and laugh about this now. Being recovered from anorexia does not mean you have to eat hamburgers and milkshakes every day. When I was working toward recovery, I felt compelled to prove that I didn't care anymore, so I'd order dessert after ever meal even if I was stuffed, and was defiant against specifying any food preferences, as a way of saying, Hey world, I don't have anorexia anymore! Look at me!
Now I don't care what people think of me, and the practice of intuitive eating, when you're recovered, really becomes just that: intuitive. It's thoughtless. Body, what do you want to eat? and the answer, Hmm...salmon, I really want salmon. And pasta and asparagus. And gingerale. is not a deliberate practice for me any longer: it's a split second, intuitive process.
I teach it as a deliberate action, though, because sometimes you have to train yourself before it becomes a natural part of living. I worked for years to ask my body, Body, what do you want to eat? and took the time to let her answer me. Now, it's ingrained. And while I do eat hamburgers and milkshakes sometimes, it's not every day.
Every day looks like this now: three changes of shirts because of baby spit-up all over my shoulder, talking on the phone while I walk in the sunshine, a yoga class if I'm lucky enough to have childcare, and reading before bed. I'm grateful to be alive, and I'm making the choice to really live.