It’s been 11 months, 49 weeks, or 343 days since I truly started my journey of healing from the inside out. Someone important to me (my therapist) told me if something didn’t drastically change I would be forty and suicidal. While I haven’t been suicidal, his message was received loud and clear. I had also reached a point in my life where my relationship with food and my body were toxic. Since I was younger I struggled with my weight. I grew up in a typical Italian family where everything was celebrated with food. It felt like you’re happy, eat some food; someone died, here’s food; it’s a holiday, here’s a ton of food. I learned from an early age that food solved emotional problems and helped me not feel until I went to weight watchers for what would be the first out of ten times or more in my life. While I was heavier than most kids my age it didn’t really hit me until a dance teacher I had made a big deal about my weight to my mom because I required bigger sized costumes than the other girls. Later in life, there were other times where my weight effected my relationships and how I viewed myself.
Over the years I tried weight watchers, beach body, counting calories, starving myself, and countless other diets but when I entered into treatment for my eating disorder is when the light bulb went off and I had one of my biggest ah-ha moments. I realized that my focus was always about the number on the scale, not how I felt physically/emotionally or my relationship with food. I also came to grips with the fact that I had a lot of self-judgement about entering treatment or admitting I had an eating disorder since I am a therapist. I had been obsessively weighing myself and eating accordingly and was deep into the disordered eating. I learned the cycle of feeling, eat, guilt, feeling, eat, guilt and so on. When I decided to start healing from the inside out it meant I developed a healthier sense of self and implemented healthy and effective coping skills so I could manage my feelings. It meant admitting that getting help didn’t mean I was weak but rather stronger than I had ever been. The following are some tips that helped me with my recovery process:
1. Let yourself feel your feels – We use food to self-medicate and to avoid feeling like life is out of control or our feelings in general. Allow yourself to sit in the feelings and use healthy coping skills to manage the discomfort. You can use journaling, meditating, affirmations, music and meetings.
2. Focus one day at a time – Get rid of that scale!!!! That was one of the most important things for me to do. I gave it to someone to keep away from me. There are times I definitely slipped up on this one but knowing my weight (even when I was losing) never felt good. Create a meal plan (with the help of a nutritionist) that works for you and take this journey one day at a time. It’s about how you feel physically, emotionally and spiritually, the weight loss is just an added bonus if it happens.
3. It’s all about balance – I learned how to balance my work/social life. I was working seven days a week and a lot of hours per day which left no time for me or self-care. Take time for yourself and develop a routine in which you can practice balance. Make sure you are making time to rest, exercise and eat regularly.
4. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help – whether it’s an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, attending OA, ABA or another 12-Step meeting or simply creating a support system ask for help. There are resources out there! I also found identifying a few close friends as accountability partners and my therapist helped keep me on track. I am also really good at telling on myself!