Tuesday, December 2, 2014

After anorexia: what is my life like now?

This week officially marks six months since I decided to take the plunge and fully recover from my eating disorder following the Minnie Maud method. It's been the most life changing, emotional, terrifying, and fulfilling six months of my life.

Six months ago I was depressed. I was constantly cold. I was always tired. I had no desires to see my friends. I was constantly anxious. Being in situations involving food gave me panic attacks. I was unable to focus on anything but my own self loathing. I was losing my hair, my skin was dull, and my nails brittle. I could no longer sit without being in pain because body had no more cushion. I was slowly dying and I didn't have the energy to care.
Image source: arthlete.tumblr.com
And now? Aside from the noticeable weight gain, I am much happier. My depression is starting to get under controlled. I can cook, eat, and be social without a second thought. I am menstruating again. My hair is growing back. I have a boundless amount of energy. I am healthy again and most importantly, I am growing to be at ease and loving on my body.

I started going to the gym again, but my workouts are completely different from what they were in the depths of my disorder. I am properly fueling my body both before and after exercise, limiting my time in the gym to about an hour at most, focusing on getting stronger, not thinner, and most importantly my mentality is completely transformed. Working out is something that I like to do, not something that I have to do; if I am particularly busy or am feeling a bit under the weather, I'll skip the gym with no guilt. The gym should be a fun environment, not a punishment.

Image source: arthlete.tumblr.com
As for my diet, no I don't eat "clean" 100% of the time nor do I think I should, but at the same time, I understand the importance of having healthy, micronutrient and fiber rich foods. On a typical day, I eat things like bread, rice cakes, sweet potatoes, peanut butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, chicken, eggs, fruits, and vegetables not because I force myself to, but because I like the tastes of those foods and they are convenient for me to find. Of course, even though my "typical" foods are healthy, I have absolutely no qualms with having some sweets, fried foods, or going out to eat either; it's about being flexible and moderation. Trust me, the mentality that blocks off whole food groups for fear of ill-health or weight gain is much more unhealthy than the foods themselves. Flexible dieting isn't about weighing out your ice cream and chips so that you can fit them into your macros nor is it about "saving up" the carbs and fats to go out for dinner; true flexible dieting is being able to enjoy that slice of birthday cake or your mom's home cooking without any guilt or restriction. True flexible dieting is living in a way where food doesn't control your life.

Image source: arthlete.tumblr.com
I'm not going to lie, there are days when I look in the mirror and am completely dissatisfied at what I see; that is normal. Everyone has those moments, but despite my sporadic feelings of inadequacy, I absolutely refuse to go back to restriction. Starving myself will not fix anything. Starving myself will not make me feel thinner. There is no finite number of pounds that stand in between me and ultimate self-satisfaction. It's not a body issue I need to work on, it's a self-esteem issue. It's been a long journey, but something I wear as a badge of honor. It took nearly killing myself, destroying every relationship I had, and falling to absolute rock bottom for me to meet some of the kindest people and experience the most profound mental transformation.

Struggling with an eating disorder really is hell, but believe me when I say that the light at the other side is brighter than you can image. Give recovery a try. It's more than worth it.