“To Exercise Or Not To Exercise”: 6 Hard Eating Disorder Situations You Will Absolutely Face In Recovery

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In the process of moving this month from Denver to Boulder (wahoo!)

Between periods of biting my partner’s head off because he didn’t like the same rug I did – to eating at strange times because I’m in between homes and packing boxes, etc., it led me to reflect on some of the initial recovery situations we face in the beginning- throughout.

There’s a tendency to feel alone in all this. Alone in the transition from an eating disorder to a … non-eating disorder (?) lifestyle.

Below were six situations that came to mind. Feel free to comment more that I inevitably missed as I sit here battling Strep Throat and ruminating over whether the Willy Nelson framed album should hang over the piano or over my bed.

Sigh, does this shit really matter Linds?

There are bigger things to mull about.

Like the following:

1.) You will cry in a clothing store.

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It’s a given. Like, I’d love to say it’s all peaches and cream once you start recovery. But, what good would that do for anybody?

It’s difficult adjusting to a recovery body, regardless how much weight you *think* you’ve put on your frame. (Lez be real, it’s never as much as you think it is in the beginning. We just got mush-ed-brain and tend to blow it outta proportion.)

I was at IOP in Dallas, TX the first time I ventured out to a mall.

I got cocky.

“I’m soooo recovery star. I got dis.”

Cue monumental breakdown in like the Urban Outfitters 10 minutes later.

Everything, at the time, looked … different. Down to my elbows. Who’s body was I now inhabiting?

You spend all this time hating your body and starving/purging it into something reasonably self-accepting (although, we still hate ourselves let’s be real). And we head into recovery thinking somehow that’ll all change like a flip of a dime.

It doesn’t. Your thoughts are habits. Eating disorders are a habit as much as they are an addiction.

Prep and have someone you trust on speed dial.

I called my best friend and ranted for a few minutes. Sometimes, it takes hearing yourself out loud to calm the F down.

2.) Replacing one coping skill with another

Be wary. Self destruction begets self destruction.

When we’re used to hurting ourselves, it’s easy to pick up a cool, new self-sacrificial habit.

Anorexia for cereal binges. Bulimia for a few IPAs. Sugar for cigs.

It’s the part that blows about recovery. We have to constantly check ourselves. Instead of lying to others for all those years, we can start to lie to ourselves.

One big ole spider trap. And the truth is you probably will go a little overboard in the beginning, and not understand why.

Why am I drinking so much wine lately?

Man, I was never a smoker and now I’m smokin 3-4 a day. Or a pack.

You’re uncomfortable and avoiding the discomfort of recovery. It’s normal. But, don’t bullshit yourself.

3.) “To work out or not to work out”

“I need to work out today” is not a sentence that goes away overnight. It’s a thought you have to acknowledge as a habit. It’s a mantra you’ve repeated so much it becomes the “Hail Mary” of being a Catholic.

Don’t feel bad when this sentence passes through your membrane on the reg. It’ll happen for a long time.

4 years for me – I am sitting here today, fighting Strep Throat – and that thought STILL comes into my brain.

Don’t push it away.

So what? It’s a thought. Doesn’t mean you acted on it. Doesn’t really mean anything – it’s just a collection of words.

Know that many others think it as well. It’s ingrained in our silly culture.

Acknowledge that.

4.) Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties & Your Swimsuit Bod

Nobody will ever promise that recovery means you’ll love your swimsuit bod on a bachelorette/bachelor party.

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On those trips, you’re still often surrounded by people who spend their existences also hating parts of their bodies, which perpetually feeds into how we all collectively feel about ourselves.

When you feel other peoples discomfort – or their critical eye (even if it’s to themselves) it fuels your own self-doubt and shitty anguish.

Do what makes you comfortable. If you don’t feel like flaunting your beach bod, it’s not a recovery “no-no” because you didn’t. It’s just a choice.

When your friends are talking inevitably about some body-related flaw they have, or some bone broth diet they’re embarking on – change the subject. Walk away. Feed your own soul.

5.) “Just Eat A Cheeseburger”

Whether you’re actively battling an eating disorder, or five years into recovery, inevitably someone will say to you on a hard day: “just eat a cheeseburger.” Or worse, “well, cheeseburgers are bad for you but why don’t you just eat a salad.”

Okay, Susan.

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But, before you get your panties all in a wad – please try to take a second to remember that this person does not get to dictate how you feel about yourself.

They are a product of diet culture the same way you have been a product.

And likely, you said things to others that were triggering as well when you were in the midst of your battle.

Forgive them. It’s just something people say when they don’t know how else to help, or don’t understand what the implication is.

6.) OH THE FEELINGS

Just face it: you will have to feel over and over again. For so long. For, like, ever.

And  feel all the childhood trauma and all the heartache and all the disappointment that you’ve shoved down through an empty stomach or too-full belly.

I went through a whole surge of grief that first year in recovery. It was like my best friend died all over again.

I’d spent so many years puking him up that when I finally had to sit with the fact that he was gone – it was just so emotionally draining and uncomfortable that I wondered at one point “why the hell does anyone choose recovery when you have to feel ‘dis shit?”

There’s a lot of pain in the human experience – no matter how #blessed your life is.

It’s only blessed because you can feel pain enough to know the good parts.

All these emotions we sift through in a day.

You will feel them all so presently and you’ll wonder “does this hurt ever end?”

No, not in the instant way we’re used to via an eating disorder. But feeling it does give you a gateway to the rest of your way –

You may just not see it yet.

And ‘dats all I got for you today.

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