I haven't written much about this before, but I'm going to write about it today.
Whew. Here it goes. (This is scary)!
Not that you can't find it right in my bio -- but yes, I struggled with an eating disorder for many, many years. The kind of eating disorder that takes over everything you know about yourself and ends up defining you.
It was really the only way I knew how to relate to myself.
What started as anorexia turned into binge-eating disorder turned into bulimia turned back into binge eating disorder turned into disordered eating. It was a slow process just to get to disordered eating, which in my opinion was a definitive step up from the rest, but disordered nonetheless.
Getting married and having my first child changed the game for me, perhaps because I had something larger to focus on, and also because I married a guy who loves and supports me unconditionally. I used to talk things through with him until I was blue in the face, and his perspective was simple and pure and honest and practical. It was something I needed in the face of my spinning wheels.
Fast-forward to today. I redirected my unharnessed energy into passion, and discovered who I was without the eating disorder, what I wanted to do with my life, and especially how I wanted to feel.
It's a hard question: how do you want to feel? Aside from the obvious "happy," of course. What is it that makes you happy?
This is a question we'll delve more into as the blogs go by, but for today I want to tell you what having meatloaf for breakfast this morning has to do with feeling and recovering and being...well, happy.
At some point, I knew I didn't want the eating disorder anymore, but I had no idea how to peel it off my skin and throw it to the ground. It was stuck to me, static-cling style, years and years and years of it. Wanting to shed it was not enough. I had to DO something.
I started by releasing the guilt around food.
In my Health Coaching practice, I come across a lot of people who start out wanting to "lose weight" or "be healthy" or "eat better," and about 2 sessions in, we uncover the emotional eating issues that limit progress. The meat of it. The reason every attempt had been self-sabotaged, until now.
One of the key steps towards recovery is releasing the rules.
When you diet and fight disordered eating, you are essentially going on a massive crusade against yourself -- your body, your emotions, and your intuition. You put a lot of energy into fighting. And over the years, you develop a lot of rules around food -- what you can and can't eat, what you do and don't deserve.
Note: You hear this a lot in recovery -- this idea of not "deserving" something. Eye roll. I heard this upwards of 1000x during the course of my journey and never bought into it. "Ugh, I don't feel like I don't deserve food, that's not what's happening here." I rejected all of the cliches around the eating disorder mentality. Guess what. Ninety-percent of them ended up being true, just in different ways than I was picturing.
When I started listening to myself (read: my emotions, my thoughts, my physical hunger), I learned to pay attention to what I was truly craving instead of what I was programmed to think I "should" be thinking/feeling/eating.
This morning, I was up early and felt hungry. I wanted a banana and peanut butter. I ate it.
But then I wanted something heartier, something heavier, something to stick to my bones. I wanted MEAT. I rarely ever want meat in the morning, but today it was calling to me. Not in a craving kind of way, but in a "my body needs that" kind of way.
So I had a few bites of meatloaf. On a plate, not standing at the fridge guilty-convict style.
Immediately afterwards, I felt FINE. Fine like OK now I can focus on the rest of my day without thinking about what I secretly want to eat and pushing it down, bound-choked-gagged style (which is essentially saying: YOU AREN'T SUPPOSED TO WANT THAT! YOU ALREADY ATE SOMETHING, THAT'S ENOUGH!).
Some mornings, you eat more than others. Some mornings, you eat a little of a few things instead of one cohesive meal. Some mornings, you eat meatloaf.
YOU ARE ALLOWED.
Once you release the guilt, you are free to be normal.
Whatever your issue is, but especially if it's around food -- take this blog and carry it in your pocket today. When you do something that makes you feel GUILTY, when the "should" and "shouldn't" words start echoing in your head -- release the guilt. Make like Elsa and let it go. Remember that I ate meatloaf for breakfast and I'm doing OK.
Once the guilt dies, the obsessive behaviors can be disarmed.
It's a beginning.
If you'd like to learn more about eating disorder recovery or need support around disordered eating, please email me at EvolveWellwithStefanie@gmail.com or visit the Contact page to get started. Support is #1 with this stuff.