Worth It?

Just an FYI in advance, this is going to be one of my rant-y, vent-y, honest posts–so if you don’t feel like reading that today, by all means skip it. I won’t take it personally πŸ˜‰ But I encourage you to read on if you’ve ever struggled with feeling like something in your life wasn’t worth doing…for whatever reason.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my ED recovery journey lately. I definitely don’t consider myself recovered (and to be honest I’m not sure if I’ll ever be fully recovered) but somewhere along the spectrum of recovery. Thinking back to my first days in recovery makes me proud of how far I’ve come, but it also bothers me.

See, I’ve been gradually ‘cleaning’ up my eats over the past year and I have to say that I love the way I eat now. Mostly whole foods, completely plant-based, plenty of tasty and healthy things. I consider things I ate a couple years ago, or even last year, and I kinda shudder. I thought I was eating healthy, but a lot of it was basically vegan ‘junk food’, like processed meat alternatives and sugar-packed Clif bars. I feel more energized and light eating the way I do know, but the thing that gets me is why hasn’t my body caught on to the changes? In other words (my ED’s words, really), why haven’t I lost weight eating clean? If anything, I’ve gained weight since last year and all that’s changed is I exercise more now (especially weight training) and eat cleaner. Seriously, I eat fruit/veggies at every meal, get in my greens daily, rarely eat grains (and never eat wheat anymore) and have raw chocolate as a treat. For most people, that adds up to weight loss, or at least fat loss, so why is my body so out of whack that it does the exact opposite? Actually, I know why it’s out of whack–because for years, I severely or at least somewhat restricted my calories and I’m just now feeling like I’m fueling myself adequately to support my energy levels. Who knows, though? Maybe I’m still restricting and my metabolism is still slowed.

August 2011. I still love how skinny I look here and I wish I was still this small.

August 2011. I still love how skinny I look here and I wish I was still this small.

It bothers me, maybe more than it should, because I’m at the highest weight I’ve ever been. I’ve always been petite–short, small, thin. I haven’t grown in height since the ninth grade, but my weight has still slowly crept up 10 pounds in a couple years. Doesn’t sound big, but to me it is. It makes me see a girl in the mirror who’s much larger than she’s ever been. It makes me question why I even try to recover.

Last July on the left, this July on the right. Maybe not noticeably different, but it is to me.

Last July on the left, this July on the right. Same outfit. Maybe not noticeably different, but it is to me.

What has recovery given me? I still (obviously) struggle with poor body image, on an almost daily basis. I still restrict, albeit in a different way. I still think about food and exercise way more than I should, and let them determine my mood for the day. I still get cold easily, have purple feet sometimes, have acne that won’t completely go away even when treated daily with a natural remedy. I haven’t gotten my period naturally. I still (admittedly) love compliments on my body, because it’s the only way I can validate that I haven’t ballooned out of control. I’m still scared to eat as much as I probably should. My greatest fear is still weight gain.

That’s not to say that I haven’t experienced positive things in recovery. It introduced me to veganism, which is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. It changed my life profoundly, and unexpectedly. It made me realize we can’t change our past, but we CAN change our future, and that’s what gives me hope.

But it still frustrates me that I put in all this effort to be healthier, and I don’t get rewarded for it. I still deal with body issues, both internally and externally, and I don’t know how much longer I can deal with it. I’m seriously considering meeting with a nutritionist just to ask what I need to be eating as a vegan, how much, and why I’m not seeing the results I should be. I have issues asking for help sometimes, but I think if we’re really struggling, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to reach out and ask for all the help we need.

I have hope that somehow, I can find the answers I need to find the health and happiness I want and need. I still think recovery will be worth it in the long run, I just need guidance in the direction I should go to find success with it. I think everyone deserves to feel their best, so I hope that if you’ve struggled or still struggle with a similar issue, that you can find peace and happiness in life.

What’s something in your life that you’ve questioned if it’s ‘worth it’?

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57 thoughts on “Worth It?

  1. ah, i don’t know what to say. i know most people might start a bit of a rant that you might not be eating enough, exercising too much, etc and i do believe that’s true. i just feel like i completely know where you’re coming from, because i’ve always wanted to be in control of my body in every sense (whether it’s weight, what i eat, symptoms, and just anything my body does really) and it bothers me so much when i feel like i rarely or never have control. and i know what it feels like when you don’t knwo where it’s going, and you cannot control it, even though you’re trying so hard to do everything in a specific way, meticulously counting everything and planning out stuff. i know that often it does the opposite, so this might be it. but i just want to mention that, (*and i’m not saying that you’re imagining thing because i know that a weight gain is a weight gain and you know what you weigh) but you look essentially the same in the photos. and also, if you’re doing less cardio and more weight lifting, i mean im not at all knowledgeable about that but the weight could be muscle though couldn’t it? otherwise, a restricted diet–and im not just talking about the calorie restrictions, i just mean like a rigid one with only certain things and food groups and macros or whatever (again i sound so ignorant about this)–often sort of makes your body work differently and hold onto things. but i do think that you’re likely not eating enough, just in general, and the more you control and try to just have the perfect diet, the more unhappy you’ll be. and clif bars aren’t junk food ;P anyway, hope some of this sort of made sense, but i just know what you’re talking about, so so so much and i hate that this sort of thing has to occupy so much of our time and energy ;( xox

    • I so get the control thing. That’s why I think it’s so hard for me to accept the weight gain, even though it may very well be from muscle. That’s why I haven’t weighed myself in a month or so, because I was putting so much of my worth into the number when that really tells me nothing! I feel fitter, healthier, so why should the exact weight bother me? But it also makes sense that even if I’m subconsciously restricting (which I may be because I stopped tracking my calories/macros at the beginning of this year) my body may be holding onto whatever it gets so it doesn’t break down. I really appreciate that you get everything I said here and commented in an insightful and respectful way!

  2. See, I think a lot of supposedly ‘recovered’ bloggers set up unrealistic expectations of what it’s possible to look like without vastly restricting calories and/or manipulating macros. It doesn’t matter how cleanly a person eats; without a calorie deficit and macro manipulation it’s just not possible to look ‘ripped,’ and whether it’s worth it to you to do that for the rest of your life? Well, only you can answer that. I don’t think with your past that kind of obsessing would make you the poster girl for recovery, but personally I do pay attention to these things because I don’t have the metabolism of every other blogger out there and it has to be worth the effort for me.

    However bloggers (and I can think of two in particular, one low bodyfat thin and one just skinny) are not always truthful about what they eat. They claim to eat in abundance, when the reality is that they either do not eat all they post, they photograph things in close-up to make them bigger than they really are or, in the case of the latter blogger I mentioned they (I suspect) starve all day so they can binge drink and eat all night, or else purge what they do eat.

    These lies cause a lot of distress and frustration for those actually recovering, not just pretending to, because it’s not possible to look thin/ripped without paying constant attention to calories and macros, or else engaging in dangerous behaviours such as purging. I suspect a nutritionist would tell you something similar.

    Personally I think you do still look very petite indeed, but I appreciate its not about how others see us…it’s about how we feel within ourselves.

    xxx

    • I hope it’s okay for me to add to my original comment – this was a very thought-provoking post because I identify with a lot of what you’re writing.

      Firstly I had to clarify that when I mentioned I count calories/macros it’s not to look ripped – I have such a messed up body that I have to do that merely to look ‘normal’ and probably twice the size of you, hence the reason I place so much emphasis on it.

      Secondly, it’s not ‘wrong’ of you to feel this way (it’s completely unfair of the commenter below to suggest you simply snap out of your ED, as if it’s so easy) – with the way the blog world is, it’s refreshing to see some honesty out here for a change. The fact is that, for the vast majority of us, having the body we want (if that body is either model thin or 9% bodyfat ripped, which is what seems to be the new fad) and being recovered are mutually exclusive. Lots of bloggers like to play at being recovered, when what they are really doing is mistakenly presenting ‘recovery’ as ‘finding a healthier way to be thin.’ I’d say that less than 5% of women and 20% of men can look the way they want without some degree of obsession being involved, simply due to the standards many of us have set for ourselves.

      The worst aspect of the above derives from the contradiction between statement and appearance with regard to ‘intuitive’ eating – espousing a ‘yay, recovery!/love your body’ dogma while posting IG pics of vein-popping arms or twig-like legs creates a false image, an idea that by simply eating ‘intuitively’ (a loaded and subjective term in itself) one can be super-thin. Well, that’s just not true – unfortunately it really isn’t like that, and it’s hardly surprising that many bloggers for whom the magical ‘intuitive’ uber-thinness does not occur (though from my perception there’s no difference whatsoever between your two photos and you still are very slender) feel resentful towards their bodies. You’re definitely not the only one to go through this pattern.

      Finally there’s a much more insightful perspective on the toll it takes to eat ‘clean’ and be competition lean here :

      http://gokaleo.com/2012/03/27/im-calling-for-a-new-paradigm/

      It’s really worth reading!

      • I really love both your comments because they sum up exactly how I’ve been feeling about some bloggers and all the fitness and food ‘trends’ out there. And I will be checking out the post you suggested, as I’ve read from her site before and love the insight she has.

    • “See, I think a lot of supposedly β€˜recovered’ bloggers set up unrealistic expectations of what it’s possible to look like without vastly restricting calories and/or manipulating macros.” That’s exactly what upsets me the most about the blogging world–people can claim to be recovered because readers can’t easily deny it without proof, and yet these same ‘recovered’ bloggers hold up such a ridiculous ideal of what it means to be recovered, with an unrealistic body image and sense of positivity that doesn’t always hold true in real recovery. And what you said about calorie deficit and being ‘ripped’ really is true, but sadly a lot of bloggers don’t admit to it. They claim that eating clean helped them achieve their body but we don’t always know the full picture behind the computer screen. That’s what makes me mad–that bloggers can blatantly lie or at least cover up their disordered behaviors in an attempt to appear recovered and healthy. I think that’s why I try to post these more honest rant posts from time to time to show that my life is far from perfect and I’m not as recovered as I may appear. But the lying from certain bloggers is truly destructive, not just to me but I’m sure to many other readers/bloggers, and I wish they’d just come clean and admit to being disordered.

      • Well said. I actually believe these bloggers are more damaging an influence than, say, openly pro-ED blogs. You’re definitely not alone – perhaps many people aren’t brave enough to speak their mind for fear of being perceived as ‘negative’ or a ‘hater,’ but I’ve seen thinly veiled hints at the lies perpetuated by certain blogs in many places.

        The irony is that these same blogs relentlessly promote ‘self-love’ based on an intrinsic sense of self-worth (as opposed to a scale or BF% number) yet they’re all written by people with one kind of physique…and that actually heightens a sense of self-loathing, not self-acceptance, in those who are simply eating well and not seeing the results they want. I have no problem with people wanting to look a certain way – I really admire the shredded look and I have a lot of issues with trying to get down to an appropriate racing weight, but I cannot stand the contradiction between appearance and message present in these blogs.

        xxx

        • I have a similar body image ideal (I would LOVE to be super lean like some bloggers/Instagramers) as you and I completely agree that it’s fine to want to look a certain way, but how many of these supposed ‘recovered’ and self-loving bloggers would love their bodies if they were bigger? I suspect not many, and that’s the problem I have with the message they’re presenting. Well said!

    • I just wanted to say that I completely agree with what you said about bloggers setting unrealistic standards- it’s extremely sad and true. It breaks my heart to see bloggers claiming to be ‘recovered’ when it’s completely evident that they’re still struggling. Plus it’s triggering for other people.

  3. Perhaps your body is gaining weight to get to where it needs to be to be healthy. Gaining weight isn’t always a bad thing. And if you are eating plenty of healthy foods, working out and feeling good then that’s what matters! You are looking great and I’m proud of you for how far you’ve come! You are an inspiration to many.

    • I appreciate you saying that I’m an inspiration! I always strive to be honest in how I portray myself because I feel so badly for people who have been misled by things they’ve seen and read and I just want to get the truth out there, that recovery isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, and it’s okay to struggle if you have a plan of action to keep moving forward.

  4. Anonymous says:

    WOW girl, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and all I can say is that you need to start LIVING and stop letting your ED control your life. You need to date, go out with friends, travel and LIVE instead of worrying about eating clean, spending money on expensive food and working out 24/7. With living you will find happiness. This may sound harsh, but maybe harsh is what you need. You are on a path of utter destruction and this desire to be thin clearly hasn’t led to you date more guys, be happier or have more friends has it? Looking like a thin waif will not help with your career either. Don’t you want to have a family one day? My ultimate desire was to have children and live a happy family life (which I am doing now) and when my weight dropped too low in HS and I lost my period, I got so scared that I would never have kids that it turned my way of living around real quick. I would strongly suggest you find in or out patient treatment for your ED ASAP b/c it has clearly taken over and you are on no path to recovery. Sorry to sound mean but this post makes it sound like you are nowhere near recovery. You need intervention not a blog.

    • I hate to get all defensive here, but maybe I pressed ‘publish’ a little too early. Some things I did not include in here about where I stand as far as recovery are that I’m generally happy in my life right now and where things are going with my career. I’m a semester away from graduating, I’m in an internship I love with people that appreciate my talents and I have a job back at school with people that I’ve grown close to. I’m more independent than ever and I’m confident that I will succeed once I’m out in the real world. This post wasn’t meant to sound depressed or hopeless because I’m certainly not feeling that way at all, but really just a way to express my feelings with how I feel stuck in my recovery right now and a way to be honest about the struggles many people face in ED recovery. I do think that seeing a nutritionist to help me sort out food issues would be appropriate, but as for the period thing, I was prescribed birth control when I started recovery 4 years ago and I only just stopped using it 2 months ago because I felt I was healthy enough to see if I could get a period on my own. From what I’ve researched, it can take months for a natural period to return after stopping birth control, and I have plans to visit my doctor if it doesn’t return by the end of this year. So overall, I feel like I’m making strides towards recovery, albeit small ones, but every small step counts. As far as your last statement is concerned, I’ll be taking a break from my blog for awhile to reevaluate my priorities and figure out if I still want to be a ‘healthy living blogger’ or not.

  5. There are so many things I want to say in response to this post but I really have no idea where to start. I understand your frustration and I know you feel like you’ve made progress in your recovery…But, to be honest, it sounds like your ED has just manifested itself in a different way. Like you said, you’re still thinking about food/exercise/eating clean in an obsessive manner and that’s definitely not bringing you happiness or freedom. You DESERVE that freedom and I know you can get there. It’s waaay easier said than done, I totally understand that, but it’s worth it.
    I’m not going to lie, when I stopped being vegan and stopped obsessing over ‘eating clean’, I found a happiness that I didn’t even know existed. It sounds silly but putting those restrictions on yourself doesn’t help recovery at all.
    As for the weight gain, it’s definitely an uncomfortable feeling (I’ve gained at least 18-20 lbs in the past year) but it’s your body’s way of trying to get healthy. You need more weight for your body to function properly and, as your get older, your body will make sure that happens no matter how perfectly you’re eating.
    I hope that this comment doesn’t come off as rude or anything- that’s not my intention. I’m here to support you 100% and just want to help in whatever way I can! ❀

    • I’m so glad you took the time to comment and everything you said makes complete sense to me–and it comes off completely respectful and insightful, so thank you!

      I think what you said about not obsessing over ‘clean eating’ really spoke to me, because I’ve come to realize that I HAVE been putting too much emphasis on that. While it doesn’t necessarily control my life, it does make me obsessive and stressed and that’s never a healthy thing. I think for me, being vegan helped me challenge my former food fears but focusing too much on the healthiest foods I can possibly eat has done me no good. So I’m planning on staying vegan unless it becomes too obsessive (and then I’ll try vegetarianism, because I really have no desire to eat meat!) but I really want to branch out of the comfort zone I’ve gotten into with food and actually enjoy what I’m eating, even if it isn’t perfectly healthy!

      • I’m really happy that my comment resonated with you. I’ve grown to really care about you over the past few years of reading your blog and I had to see you still struggling with this. I know that disordered eating and the thoughts that go along with it don’t just disappear overnight- it takes a LOT of work- but I seriously think you’re capable of overcoming this. You deserve to. I highly recommend seeking out some sort of guidance though. I know it seems scary and unnecessary to you right now but it will make a world of difference.
        As for the vegan/vegetarianism- just listen to your body (not your mind!). Nourish yourself and eat the things that you’re craving- even if it’s something out of your comfort zone. It will get easier every time you try something new and push the limits. I’m still a vegetarian because I’ve never liked meat at all and stopped eating it when I was 8 or 9 but I definitely don’t eat “clean” anymore like I used to. I still love fruits and veggies but I eat chips, cheese, butter, real ice-cream, take-out (if I’m craving it), pastries….everything! And the moment you take those foods off of a pedestal and stop looking at them as “bad” they lose all of their power and you’re able to enjoy them in moderation. Then you can move on and live your life without obsessive thoughts or guilt.
        Sorry for another long comment- I just want to help in whatever way I can because I know how much of a struggle it can be. Sending you lots of love!

        • “And the moment you take those foods off of a pedestal and stop looking at them as β€œbad” they lose all of their power and you’re able to enjoy them in moderation. Then you can move on and live your life without obsessive thoughts or guilt.” —> This is exactly what I want to work on, and succeed with! I think food should be enjoyable, but it’s not and should never be the focus of life, and that’s what clean eating and obsessive eating can do!

  6. I completely get the ten pounds thing, but I know I’ve put on at least twenty since starting recovery (not so nice sounding now that I write it) and I still wear the same clothes I wore back then. I still fit everything, except maybe my jeans but I don’t wear jeans. 10 pounds is scary and I hate it but it’s also nothing. That’s just hard to remember sometimes. Maybe your gain is muscle gain. You’ve been exercising and a pound of muscle is much smaller than a pound of fat! I know it’s hard, and I’ve heard all these things too but it’s nice to know.

    • It really is nice to hear that weight gain has happened to other people, even though it’s still hard to accept. The funny thing is, I’ve started to want a more toned, muscular body but obviously I have to gain weight to achieve that look. We always hear that weight gain is a negative thing, but it really doesn’t have to be!

      • I know, I haven’t stepped on a scale in a while, but a few weeks after I started lifting heavy I did and it freaked me out, but when I look in the mirror I’m fine. Now I don’t have access to a scale at all and it’s whatever.

        • There is definitely a disconnect between the scale and the mirror. Generally, I only hop on the scale when I’m feeling either really great about my body or really poorly, and the number rarely ever makes me feel better–it usually makes me feel worse. I think it’s better when I have no access to scale, because then I’m not even tempted.

  7. You ask if recovery is “worth it,” and let me tell you–it most definitely, completely, 100% IS worth it. To be completely honest, your “clean” diet sounds to me as though you are restricting again, and I would guess that you are NOT necessarily fueling yourself adequately. I don’t want to sound cruel or harsh, but rarely eating grains and trying to eat extremely clean at every single meal can have negative side effects. The fact that you have gained 10 pounds is a GOOD thing; you are still very slim, and most definitely not anywhere near “fat,” and I think you know this as well deep down inside. You do not need to lose weight–on the contrary, I would guess (based on what you said about your menstrual cycle) that you need to gain even more weight to be 100% healthy. I have probably gained over 20 pounds in the last few years as I have recovered from my orthorexia, so that is completely and utterly normal. Just a question: why would you shudder at the thought of eating a Cliff Bar? That statement alone seriously makes me worry that you are still obsessing about what you eat. I do agree with the above Anonymous comment in that you truly need to consult with a physician, counselor, or nutritionist–someone who is a professional in their field and can give you the help you need. You have nothing to be ashamed of, and I think it could greatly help you. There may be some people out there who “look down” on people with eating disorders, considering them to be “weak” or “messed up,” but that is a completely false view. Even though I never struggled with body image (my orthorexia was only fueled by a desire to eat a 100% “perfect” diet), I know that it can be difficult to look in the mirror and not see the same person that everyone else sees. You seem like such a sweet, intelligent, kind, and beautiful person who has SO much to offer the world, and your eating disorder will only prevent you from doing great things. Feel free to email me if you ever need to talk about anything–even though I don’t “know” you, I truly want you to recover and find your path again. But I think the most important thing to do is find a medical professional who can help you; they will have far better advice to offer than I would! Please take care of yourself, and I wish you the very best.

    • I do feel that yes, I am obsessing over what I eat, maybe even more than I did when I was anorexic. Orthorexia can be just as hard, if not harder, to overcome, especially in our culture where eating healthy is praised. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t eat healthy, but that it shouldn’t become the focus of our lives. I think that what I said about the Clif bar was a bit of an exaggeration–I would eat it if I was starving and that was all that was available because at least it is vegan, but in trying new foods, I’ve found that I just can’t stomach the sweetness or saltiness of some things I used to like. I think if I’m deciding what not to eat, it should be based on whether or not I really enjoy the taste of it, and not necessarily about the healthfulness of the food, but I have become obsessive over some things and that certainly isn’t healthy. I relate a lot to what you said about your orthorexia being about eating a perfectly clean diet because I feel silly for thinking there’s anything wrong with wanting to eat 100% healthy and I feel like others will see it as silly and stupid, but it is a real problem when it becomes all-consuming, and I’m sure ED professionals would treat it as a real problem!

  8. I will be honest here, there is hard to read. Mostly because I know YOU are not writing this – that loud ED voice is. Realistically, you are far from recovery. Having that much control both in and around food and exercise and body is not healthy, certainly not happy living at all. I know you know or at least I know you deserve recovery so I encourage you to take the next plunge – whatever that is that feels comfortable with you. Sometimes it means more help than you think you need.

    Again, I am not trying to be harsh. I just want to be real. People who have gone through recovery can relate to this but all I know is that recovery makes you uncomfortable and you need to keep pushing through it to make it.

    • You are so right–this was completely written by my ED voice. And it’s true that recovery is very uncomfortable, and I’ve gone through some of that discomfort before, but I really think I need to make a change, even if it’s hard. I had some times in recovery where I really didn’t struggle at all, and I didn’t think much about it, but I think life stress in general makes me turn back to old habits. I think going to someone about my issues would really bring them out in the open, and help me move on and actually learn how to cope with them in a constructive way.

  9. Girl, this post showed a lot of signs of struggle to me. I would definitely look into seeing a nutritionist and possibly a therapist too so you can get past some of these irrational ED thoughts. Because that’s what they are, total ED thoughts. The disorder is preventing you from thinking clearly. The last thing you should be wanting is to lose weight (especially if you don’t have your period…that means you need to GAIN weight). And being so strict with your diet, and being sickened by the thought of eating certain foods is very disordered. You have to work to not be so hard on yourself, loosen your food rules, and learn to accept yourself. Of course all of that is admittedly very hard and easier said than done….but it can be done and I think you’d really benefit from seeking some professional help. Sticking to this ‘clean eating’ and even the vegan diet in general is just a way that the ED is perpetuating its control. You would really benefit from taking some time to abandon ALL your food rules and just experiment with some different eating practices…like moderation from ALL the food groups. It might give you a totally new perspective and help you break out of this negative rut you’ve been stuck in.

    I hope this doesn’t come across as harsh or angry….because that’s not how it’s meant in the slightest. I can just see that ED is VERY loud right now and you might need a little reminder that this is not the way you want to live.

    • No, I completely understand where you’re coming from, and it does NOT come across as rude or angry or anything, just concerned and I appreciate that.

      As far as the food experimenting goes, I do like that idea. However, I feel like veganism in general has actually helped me in my recovery because it challenged me to rely on foods I once feared and now have become staples in my diet. But I think I have gone too far in eliminating things from my diet, and I know that there are many things I should reintroduce or try out simply because I’ve come to fear them now, and it would be a big challenge to me to do so. Grains especially are a big one for me, because I used to enjoy them and now eat them rarely just because of things I’ve read about them being unhealthy. So I think adding them back in would be a big step forward for me, and is something I’m already working to implement!

  10. P says:

    I think going in to see a nutritionist can absolutely help you, especially since you made a significant change to your eating lifestyle and hopefully she/he can guide you as to what is going on with your body. But acceptance and closure with any past ED is a lonnnng process. Take things day by day, and seek help from family if you can. My Dad was a huge support for me (and still is such an amazing support in my life) when I was going through some serious ED stuff in my first year of college.

    The important thing is that you TRY to make changes that are healthy for you, mentally and physically, and it seems like you are, despite those ED thoughts πŸ™‚

    From a bystander’s perspective, the July pictures look similar to me πŸ™‚

    • I’m so glad you have your dad’s support in your life, and especially with your ED issues. My family, and my mom in particular, have always been so supportive of me, but if I don’t come clean to them about my struggles, there’s not much they can do. I think I need to start with being honest with them, and then see if professional help is necessary!

  11. Whoosh.
    Okay, I have so much to say and I hope you know (I’ve been reading your blog(s) for years now) that it comes from a place of love and even moreso MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING.

    I think you are questioning what recovery had given you and whether it is worth it because…. deep breath and please let this sink in….

    You are not recovered. At all. Rather than being in the spectrums of recovery I think you and I both are more in the spectrums of ED.
    We are better… “WE EAT! YAY!” but nowhere close to recovery.
    Can you start to look at it that way? As long as food is what we “do” rather than life… we will never have the life we are meant for.

    Recovery is like an onion. I recall being SO SO proud of eating an apple. But that is BS. We just don’t realize how much of what we do/feel is disordered!

    It is shocking to me that you would write about a desire to lose weight — but I appreciate your honesty. I honestly cannot see a difference and the 10 lbs between 9th grade and now? PUBERTY honey!

    I understand the frustration of feeling unable to control your body the way we used to to— it’s scary. But no one in there right mind is going to see things from your perspective and help you to “lose weight” (also incredibly frustrating I know but what a f*cked up world it would be if that were not so).
    I never say anything but I look at your WIAW and I am just so shocked at how little you eat. I always wanted to ask if you counted calories and weighed and measured your food because until I did that I had NO clue how little calories I was consuming.
    Yes, it is a slippery slope to start weighing 4 oz of broccolli and 2 oz of carrots and 3 oz tofu…. but when you do and add the calories? What looks like a huge plate of food is like 110 calories. So when I see your food I have that automatic counter in my head.

    So… the only advice I have here is instead of looking at yourself as more recovered than disordered …please flip the ratio and keep working on fighting the ED and body image blues.

    xoxoxoxoxoxo

    • I always appreciate and agree so much with your comments, because I know they come from a place of understanding.

      What you said here challenged my thinking. So much. But in a good way. Up til now, I really thought I was somewhere along the recovery spectrum, just because I’ve gained back the weight (and then some) that I was supposed to and because I eat a lot more than I used to. But the fact that I do focus so much on food, whether I realize it or not, means I still have one foot in my disorder. Maybe in a different way than I did 4 years ago, but like you said “As long as food is what we β€œdo” rather than life… we will never have the life we are meant for.” —> LOVE that, and totally get it now.

      It’s funny you mention it, because I actually stopped (like full on stopped) counting calories at the beginning of this year. It still surprises me that I was able to let it go after 5+ years of doing it daily. Calories don’t always cross my mind as much anymore, but the nutrition and ingredients sure as heck do. But I think you’re onto something with the calorie counting/weighing thing. I think it becomes a denial thing when you don’t count or weigh because it feels healthier and more intuitive but it can be easier to slack. I thought I was freer because I stopped counting, but maybe I became more disordered because I had nothing to keep me accountable. So I’m taking your advice about weighing my food and really considering getting a food scale. If for nothing else, just to see how far off I’ve been guesstimating I’m eating!

      • Aw, girl you are in a good head space and I am sosososo happy to read your responses to these comments as it shows me that you do have that healthy mind. YAY nourishment right?

        Definitely think hard about making the leap to measuring and counting if it has been an issue in the past. But, like I said I was STUNNED to actually look up the numbers on veggies.. I just overestimated so much that when I finally made a commitment to eat 2000 cals a day to get my weight up I was really shocked at just how little veggies and veg protein and fish add up. Hence peanut butter was my life for months and months. (Okay welll it still is).

        I also went through (still going through) so many “phases” or “cycles” where I am focused on my diet and how I eat and what is right vs wrong in my mind, clean… etc. You know what I recently decided? Screw it. I eat that way much of the time and I admit I LOVE vegan/healthy junk food. I want to eat chips and fake veggie meat and my chemically sugar-free stuff too…. it’s fun! Do I still wake up certain days and think… clean it up! Clear out all that labeled crap from the fridge!!
        But I remind myself I would SOSOSO much rather have that balance and be able to eat cassava chips with GASP! soybean oil from the grocery store or the random MSG and (gag) corn syrup solid filled veggie dog if that is what I am craving. (yes, both things recently happened).

        So if you ever find yourself in Whole Foods pining away in the chip or bar aisle and the mood hits you I just want you to recall my comment and think SCREW IT! I want a freaking Cliff Bar today!

        • It still seems crazy to me that I could be so overestimating how much I’m eating, but it really makes sense. I don’t think I can intuitively eat at this point in my life without subconsciously restricting, so I think doing the weighing thing will help me a lot.

          I think the clean eating thing can be hard to shake, mostly because society tells us “It’s good to eat healthy! Eat this not that!” etc. and it just becomes so ingrained. I mean, I like eating healthy but like you said, there’s gotta be a balance! I know when I start eliminating things I used to love (like baked sweet potato tortilla chips…seriously, there’s like nothing awful in these and I still avoid them…what is wrong with this picture?), that’s when things have gone too far and I need to backpedal and figure out if ‘eating clean’ is really all that healthy.

  12. Although I’m so sorry you’re battling these thoughts, I think the fact that you’re battling them is a GOOD sign. The fact that you are able to recognize these thoughts as slightly disordered seems to me that you’re separating your identity from the eating disorder. In the height of my ED, I never realized my unhealthy, crazy thoughts were unhealthy and crazy. When I first started separating from my ED, the thoughts were all still there, but some began to feel foreign to me, which was very difficult. When your identity is wrapped in having an ED, more specifically being “the thin one” or “the healthy eater of the family”, it’s scary to begin the separation and realize you have to forge a new identity. I hope by throwing your thoughts into all the things you love can remove them from obsession with food. When worry and anxiety is replaced with passion and energy to spare, it’s a beautiful thing.
    I’ve followed your blog for some time now, mostly because I identify with you as a person so much! After struggling myself with an all-consuming eating disorder for several years, I finally feel the closest I’ve ever been to recovered. It was a LONG process, only possible through my spirituality and focusing my energy elsewhere.
    In your process to self acceptance, I hope you see that the very things that brought on your ED, when channeled in the right direction, can be amazing, powerful attributes. The sensitivity and self awareness that initially aided in developing an ED are beautiful, admirable qualities that will help you serve others in a career. Instead of focusing on trying to “get over” the ED, perhaps you can just focus on the pursuits that make you feel alive! When your mind is so filled with your passions, the ED voice will begin to naturally ebb away.
    I’m rooting for you, and I know you’ll emerge victorious in this battle! πŸ™‚

    • I think it’s a good sign too that I’m struggling with these thoughts, because I recognize that there IS a problem…I just have to DO something about it! And I really love what you said about channeling the ‘good’ qualities of my ED in the right direction to serve my career and life in general. That makes so much sense to me, and explains why when I focus on the lives of others, and other things in my own life that make me truly happy, I tend to dwell less on my ED issues!

  13. Jess says:

    You are nowhere in the stages of recovery. I think you need to realize that. You clearly value looking stick thin over everything else, so really the only thing I can say from my own recovery (as in gaining all the weight back I had list and not giving a damn as to whether I’m eating clean or not and living life to the fullest finally), you need to prioritize. If you’re ok with your life this way, then fine. But please don’t insult people who have actually given their all to recover from a life in hell.

    • With all due respect, I have to disagree with you here, because I know my life better than anyone else does. First of all, I believe I am in recovery simply because I’m not in denial of my problems. If I were, I wouldn’t have written this, or taken the time to read and respond to the comments posted here. I realize I have issues, and this means I am in recovery–when I first started recovery 4 years ago, I was angry and upset over my ‘life’ being taken away from me but over time I came to accept it and I still accept that going back down that road will do me no good. That doesn’t mean I can’t speculate whether parts of my recovery have been successful or not, which is what I was doing here.

      Second, I have gained back all the weight I have lost and more which I mentioned. My doctor and treatment team came up with a weight goal they wanted me to reach (which was above my weight prior to ED) and I have surpassed that. That is the main reason I mentioned it here, because I am at literally the highest weight I’ve been in my life and I know many people would been worried or at least a little concerned about that, whether they’ve had disordered eating or not. It’s scary to reach something we never have before, and I think it’s only natural for me to share that. I also never said that I ate cleanly to lose weight, I just believed it would be a natural side effect of it (because I’ve seen it and read about it in other people) and when it wasn’t for me, I was confused. I chose to eat clean for purely health reasons, because I want to know exactly what I’m putting into my body. I will admit I have taken it too far at times, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to eat a certain way that helps you be at your healthiest. I don’t think I’m better than people who don’t eat clean, so I congratulate you for finding a way of eating that works for you. I choose to eat this way because I’ve seen health and energy benefits from that, not for weight loss.

      And finally, nowhere in the post or the comments section did I insult people who are going through recovery or have recovered. I’m greatly inspired by people who have done so. I only said I believe that people who lie about and deny their eating disorders can really harm people in recovery.

      I believe tough love can be a really helpful way to get someone to turn their habits around, but you really have to know the whole story first, and not just blindly accuse people. If you have anything to say in response to this, I would love a respectful discussion.

    • Yeah… not the most helpful comment for sure.

      There is no “perfect” route to recovery. There is only recovery.
      There is no “perfect” recovery, There is only recovery.

      It is always unique. Just as all EDs are unique. A widely esteemed specialist in EDs told me this and it has stuck. Some people have to be able to eat Pop Tarts to recover — for some people recovery from ED means never eating a Pop Tart again.

  14. Emily says:

    Sorry but as someone who hasn’t struggled with this you seem so unhealthy! Please go see a doctor!!! You need to gain weight because your body was once so small you probably were putting your heart in danger and on the verge of collapse! You need to keep gaining- not have the stupid irresponsible goal of losing! Weight loss at your low weight is so dangerous! Please please just get some help! Talk to your family or someone you trust on how to move forward, I am sorry if this is harsh but I find this disturbing

    • Thank you for your concern. I actually had a doctor’s appointment recently, and while my weight is still a bit low, she was not concerned as my health otherwise is fine and I have gained a significant amount since my lowest.

      I do realize that losing weight would be unhealthy, but sometimes my body image is really poor and I don’t usually see myself the way others do, which is why I sometimes say I wish I could be smaller again. I don’t see myself as underweight, but I recognize that losing weight is not the way to go if I want to maintain my health.

  15. Becka says:

    Your a smart girl Ashley, I know you can step back and see that what you have written and what you are worrying about is self indulgent bull- You are a gorgeous girl who is underweight. Come on now- you have to try and recover for real, otherwise you will be weighed down by these terrible thoughts and never truly live. Even having the hope of loosing in the back of your mind is not healthy- you need to get some real help once and for all.

    • I definitely wrote this post in the heat of the moment–when I was feeling badly about myself and my body and wondered why I had ever chosen to recover. I do know that recovery can be and is worth it, but there are times when I question it, and I do believe that getting support for this would be helpful. The only reason I don’t just jump 100% into getting help is that I have seen therapists and a dietitian in the past who were completely unhelpful, and I’m just scared of having another bad experience. I know that shouldn’t deter me from seeking help, though!

  16. I can’t say I relate to you because I have no idea how it is to suffer through an eating disorder but it seems like an intense struggle and I wish you the best!! Body image is one thing everyone has issues with and I assure you that I honestly think you look amazing!!! You definitely don’t need to lose anymore weight. I sometimes go through phases where I really don’t like my body and lately, I realized that is whenever I feel soft… aka when I’m doing too much cardio and not enough weighlifting which often happens over the summer because I cycle soooo much. I realize that I love my body the most when it’s right with lean muscle. Have you tried increasing your weights? I bet you will be a lot more confident with your body if you have more visible muscle tone! πŸ™‚

    • Well thank you! What you said about not liking your body at times really makes sense to me and I think when I’m regularly lifting, I feel a lot better about myself. Cardio is definitely fun, and I love playing tennis in the summer, but there has to be a balance with lifting and cardio in order for me to feel my best. So I will be increasing my weights and hoping that helps!

  17. Angela says:

    I think it’s so brave of you to post this, instead of pretending (like some other bloggers) that everything is peachy keen! I really hope that the criticism you received from posting this doesn’t discourage you from continuing to share your true thoughts – I personally think that honest bloggers are way more admirable than those that give false impressions .. also, I thank you, because I have gone through what you are experiencing and gives me a sense of relief knowing that I’m not alone!

    • I thank you for reading this, and encouraging me to continue being honest! It is hard getting the backlash, but for the most part, it has all been constructive criticism and the positive comments I get are even more appreciated! Especially because it reminds me that I’m not alone, either.

    • i’m in agreement with angela here, i do hope that the comments you’ve gotten on this post are not discouraging you from continuing to be honest because i think IF someone in recovery is going to have a blog, it needs to be an honest blog. i don’t think it’s healthy for a blogger or for others reading that blog for the blog’s author not to be honest about going through an ED. when i first started my blog i never talked about it and now looking back i am so glad i started doing so because i was not putting forth a true portrayal of myself. plus, the honesty solicited comments, some encouraging, some rude, some real, all helpful in their own way! i see no difference in the two photos from last july and now however i know that in your mind, it is so easy to see thousands of differences. i deal with the same! at least you aren’t seeing these thoughts you’re having as absolute truth. please don’t feel frustrated that you have gained weight because i’m sure that’s what your body needs. i know i too will feel frustrated at times when i go to the doctor and she tells me she is ok with my weight right now. it makes me feel like a failure because i used to go to the doctor and she’d tell me to start in patient treatment! then i remember that this new result of a doctor’s appt means i’m stronger than ED and that i am on the path to recovery. i’m sure as hell not recovered either but remember that every time you make a step forward you have to be proud or ED will pull you back. you can do it girl.

      • I’ve always admired you for being so honest on your blog, and one of your posts inspired me to write this one, so thank you for that! I was the same when I first started my blog. I tended to brush over my eating disorder even though it was still a part of my life, but there’s really no point in denying we still struggle because we can get so much support out of admitting to it!

        It is so hard not to compare myself constantly, and the weird thing is, I mostly compare my current self with myself in the past. It’s just so unhelpful to compare at all though, and I know that other people really see no differences at all, it’s just nice to hear that sometimes. And I agree that it’s also difficult to hear ‘positive’ comments from doctors, etc. when our eating disorders really want to hear that we’re still sick. But like you said, it just means that we’re stronger, and closer to full recovery.

  18. You’re probably going to hate me for this, but…you’re still way too skinny. That you’re not menstruating regularly and that your feet still turn purple sometimes and you still get cold so easily are all clear signs of that (as is, for most people though I understand that you can’t see it, how extremely skinny you are). You’ve traded pure anorexia for a mix of anorexia and orthorexia, but you aren’t recovered. Yet, I hope? Good luck, I wish you the best!

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