Yeah…Immaeatthat

Nov 03

The most grateful I’ve ever felt for recovery.

This last 9 months has been the most grateful I’ve ever been for freedom from obsessive thoughts about food and my body. 

I’ve been able to experience all of pregnancy without numbing away from my body changing.  I really think being pregnant (and the coming postpartum period) would have been overwhelmingly miserable if the disordered part of me was still residing in my brain and I had to feel like I was fighting my body through all these changes.  I have zero interest in fighting against the size my body wants to be in whatever season of life I am in.  For me, I want to feel good about the way I take care of myself and constantly trying to be a different body size isn’t taking care of myself in a way that would feel healthy.

Three things I know are that:

  1. I can tolerate the natural shifts in my body that come with growing a baby…and most of the changes have been pretty freaking cool.  I can’t think of one body change (stretch marks on boobs and butt, new fat pockets in new areas) that wouldn’t make this entire experience worth the baby prize at the end of the tunnel (or, ummm, the end of the birth canal hehe).
  2. When I (or you) have an uncomfortable feeling about your body size, it can be helpful to think, “i’m grateful I’m feeling this because this means I’m living my life and not coping in a way that numbs me away from this (i.e. coping with restricting, bingeing, overexercising, etc.).”  Sure, those maladaptive coping strategies can bring a short-term sense of control and a fleeting sense of pleasure to your life for like 10-60 minutes…but disordered food/exercise behaviors/body manipulation can’t bring lasting fulfillment.  Tolerating the discomfort of a body changing size allows you to have a space of time open up and in that space you find the time to find things that bring a deep rooted sensation of relief and happiness that you get to carry with you everyday no matter what your mood or body size is.  Things like investing in relationships with others, understanding yourself and what you need to do to take care of yourself, etc.
  3. There is a life of being recovered from obsessive food and body thoughts that is more rewarding than what your disordered eating and exercise has allowed you, and that life is worth the pain and challenge of the recovery process to get there.

So I’m curious: Have you ever had a moment where you’ve felt overwhelmingly grateful that some life event that used to be hard because of thoughts of food/exercise/body size is no longer hard because you’ve made progress?

Maybe it’s not a major life event like pregnancy, maybe it’s something smaller that is still significant.  For instance, for me there are still moments all the time when I’m grateful food doesn’t give me anxiety.  The other day I went to lunch with a group of ladies.  We went to this totally lame restaurant (Houston has EPIC food. EPIC. So it seems silly to me to choose non-epic food when there are a zillion epic places to pick from lol even though I believe not every meal needs to be a gourmet experience).  Anyways.   It was a soul food type of place and I was like, “this would’ve been really hard for me had it been several years prior because my tastebuds are gonna feel meh about everything on the menu.” But I ordered the meh food and MOVED ON WITH MY LIFE.  The lunch was about connection with new people, not about epic food.  In the moment I was grateful I could eat non-epic food with it being a non-issue.  Do you have any similar experiences to share? Would love to hear. (especially because I have no idea when I’m actually going to go into labor and would love to spend today reading about your victories <3)

29 comments on “The most grateful I’ve ever felt for recovery.”

  1. I sought recovery about 3.5 months before my wedding day. I knew I was out of control with my ED behaviors, and was already planning how to navigate my wedding day and honeymoon still adhering to my rules. By the time my wedding weekend arrived, I was comfortable enough to enjoy it and let my ED sit in the backseat. Shortly after my honeymoon, I regressed and actually deeper into my ED than before. Over the last year I have worked really hard to overcome all of my behaviors as now we are trying to have a baby. Unfortunately my heart tells me that I did too much damage, and my road to getting pregnant may be longer and harder than I ever imagined. So, I got through one big milestone and hoping for the next!

  2. Great post. Brilliant words as always! A small victory for me was just being able to go on a girl’s weekend trip, which would not have been possible earlier in the struggle. I would have been so worried about where, when, and what the food options would have been, what if there was nothing I could eat, when would I exercise, etc. – so much anxiety I would have just canceled and not have went. I would have given up the experience of time with people I loved, b/c I had too much anxiety around the food. I would have chosen LESS LIFE just so I could have control over food. How insane. Last weekend I went on a girl’s trip, did not worry about when and where we ate, I let other people pick the restaurants, and just ordered whatever sounded good to me at that time (e.g., crab cake croissant sandwich with a spicy aioli and provolone!!).

    Praying for you and Raspberry and Andrew during this exciting time of anticipation for the big day!

  3. As always – THANK YOU for posts like this! At one point in my eating disorder, I can remember thinking about my someday wedding day and wondering how I’d be able to avoid eating the cake. How crazy is that?? Now any time I’m out with friends for food or when food is part of a celebration, I’m just so thankful for recovery and finally being able to enjoy this kinda stuff again.

  4. I took my three year old to a cupcake decorating class last weekend.  I ate a cupcake at the class and then shared another one with my son when we got home.  I NEVER would have had multiple cupcakes especially in the morning when I was sick.  I am proud of my recovery and that I can enjoy events with my sons without giving the food a second thought.  That day was about having fun, not worrying about my body.

    There are still times when I have negative thoughts about my body, but I look at my two boys and am forever grateful that I was able to conceive, grow and nurse them.  My body is truly remarkable!

  5. This post makes my heart smile. <3 I had a similar "I am SO grateful for recovery" moment earlier this year. I love to travel & experience new places, but it was always super stressful during ED. I couldn't bear to be away from my super regimented exercise schedule or my "safe" foods. Earlier this year, I took a trip to New York City which has always been near the top of my travel bucket list. The trip was AMAZING. I got to see The Lion King on Broadway and embraced the delicious food that NYC has to offer… from dollar pizza to fancy brunches. :) I left feeling SO blessed to finally experience a trip where ED was silent.

  6. Ordering wedding dresses a size up. I gained quite some weight in last two years due to a lot of stress, but I won’t let that ruin the day. Also, I did not settle for a dress just because the zipper went up (which I often do now with regular clothes). I keep looking for one that I find pretty AND leaves me room to breathe. Since I am on a tight budget the choices for curvy/plus size brides are really limited, which honeatly does takes a lot of the fun out of the proces. So, I keep reminding myself that it is just a dress and that our happy faces in the pictures will shine brighter than every dress.

  7. About a week ago I hand an unfortunate doctors appointment where I took a blind weight but then ended up seeing the number (large, bold, highlighted) on the after appointment summary. At any other point in recovery, seeing that would have derailed my efforts and been a serious setback. After a solid year of being deeply rooted in recovery, I decided to rip up the paper (cathartic, lol) and reminded myself that my weight is the least interesting fact about me. I proceeded with my life and my daily activities that make me feel good about myself (volunteering, connecting with friends, practicing self care). I was so grateful that I didn’t let a series of numbers ruin / dictate my life. Also, I’ve been wanting to say thank you to you! Your blog was one of the places I went after seeing the number to further remind myself that the number does not matter (And has overal been a super safe/helpful place for me to go throughout all of recovery!)

  8. I honestly think about the life I am living now and how I would not be able to live it as fully as I am if I were still overly obsessed with food/exercise. I can enjoy dinners out with my husband and friends without restricting. I can laugh and MEAN it. I can make your amazing biscuits and truly taste them without worrying. I still struggle from time to time but I try to be gentle with myself and practice forgiveness.

    I hope Raspberry comes soon and is healthy and happy!

  9. I am in the midst of recovery after 16 years of living in partial-recovery land. I am 30-years-old, got married two months ago and are now trying for a baby. Recovery is so freaking hard. There are times when I am grateful: enjoying a delicious meal, looking forward to eating multiple times a day instead of just one, skipping a workout to stay in bed with my husband. But I also still get so frustrated and angry. The days when my digestion doesn’t want to work are the hardest; days when I am so swollen and bloated I just put on sweatpants (or lets be honest, no pants!) and lay on the couch with a heating pad. It’s funny, I never wanted a family before I met my husband, but I’ve come to realize that, for me, the desire to be childless was my eating disorder. If I didn’t want children, then I didn’t have to recover; I didn’t need a functioning woman’s body (ie. a period). I try not to go down the path of beating myself up for having an eating disorder, making it difficult to get pregnant, etc. I remind myself that this will make me stronger and I just need to sit with the difficult moments because everyone says it will get better. Right now, I’m just holding onto those words. Thank you for creating such a wonderful space for those of us who are working to have bigger lives.

    • Hillary – our situations are so eerily similar, I just had to comment back to you and let you know you are not alone. I’m rooting for you and am in this together with you. I know we can do this! <3

  10. There really have been so many times that I have felt thankful I no longer prescribe to those ridiculous rules and disordered eating! I was beyond grateful that I could enjoy my honeymoon last year instead of worrying about my food. The only exercise I got was walking, and I was very happy with that. One day we even did a walking food tour of Asheville and then later went to a tapas bar for dinner. I knew I was full but still tried some different dishes with Matt. At that point, I knew I was engaging in emotional eating/the second hunger bucket you wrote about. But I was ok with that. I wanted to enjoy different tastes with Matt. In the past, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. While IBS sometimes really messes with my head because of the stomach discomfort and bloat at times, those are the only instances that I feel a little uncomfortable in my skin. I continue to try to work through them whenever I have those experiences. Thank you for this post, and I wish you, Andrew, and Raspberry all the best! I hope she’s safely here soon!

  11. Kylie, this post could not be more spot on. I especially resonate with #2 as I head into my third week of zero exercise. Total rest has been a long time coming but I fought it for awhile… wanting to recover without having to give it up. Now that I’m in this phase of rest/body changes/etc., time is certainly opening up and the relief/happiness I feel because of it is amazing. Thanks for putting words on the experience so perfectly!

    • Im grappling with the same decision. Taking a substantial time off from exercise has also been a long time coming for me as I see the negative signs cropping up again (loss of sleep and constant state of low level anxiety are the major ones). I think I’m going to bite the bullet after reading your post, so thank you. Any word of advice as I take this step?

  12. The last year has truly been the best for me in recent memory as far as freedom from food/exercise guilt. I think it’s because I have you in the back of my mind, reassuring me in what would have usually been difficult situations. Like on Saturdays when I just want to sleep in and make waffles..I wouldn’t have let myself do that before, I’d have to get up and go for a run before eating/doing anything else. But I remember something you said in one of your posts “would you rather get up and go exercise or spend your morning making breakfast in your pajamas with your husband?” and 10 out of 10 times, I choose breakfast with my husband! Other times I am grateful for this freedom from guilt is when plans change suddenly and I feel less in control…like when we ditch our planned meal at home to go get pizza with friends. Times like this are SO much more enjoyable now! I have you to thank for helping me get to this point, Kylie!

  13. Love this post! Makes me feel comforted for when I (hopefully) have kids one day! Ever since I’ve been dating my boyfriend (about 4.5 months) I have noticed how grateful I am that I am no longer entrenched in my ED. I haven’t been this social in YEARS! He has season tickets to the Patriots and I’m able to eat things there AND drink alcohol. If I was still using behaviors, there is NO way I would do that. Even going to things like family get togethers. I no longer have to get a list of what is being made, or even worse, bring my own food to eat. It’s so wonderful and freeing and I am so so happy I am LIVING!

  14. So well put.  I am currently working/struggling to remind myself not to be restrictive.  I am a former RD student/fitness professional who has found new love and adventure in starting my own pie business in Nashville.  It took me a long time to accept my skill and passion and to pursue this, as so much of my life has centered around disordered eating and body dysmorphia.

    Falling in love in the past year and starting an entirely new small business on the side of a full time job has left little time for prepping healthy meals and no time at all for an exercise routine, at least for the time being while I have to do both jobs.  

    I’ve put on a few pounds, which at my short stature puts me WAY OVER my personal weight goals.  I have to slow down multiple times a day to address negative body thoughts and remind myself of all I’m accomplishing by putting the business goals ahead of everything else temporarily.  

    I’m not free yet, but I am working hard to allow my body the space it needs right now so I don’t make myself insane.  I have to practice gratitude that my body is healthy enough to transition to this labor intensive work and that I am adored in the body I live in.  I refuse to restrict myself – I mean…who trusts a skinny pie baker?!

    When the craziness dies down I also plan on having a family, so my life will never go back to the diet/exercise lifestyle I used to have.  You bring me comfort DAILY in your posts.  I am beautiful just as I am!

  15. This isn’t about a big event but this morning I was feeling extremely large (and also very hungry/guilty, I know I did not eat enough to nourish me yesterday and ate more sweets than my tastebuds or stomach wanted because of it) and really wanted to go to the gym and “work it off”/punish myself for feeling this way. I thought about all the times you have said to sit in the discomfort and I also suggest this to my counseling clients all the time. So, I sat on the couch and really thought about why I wanted to exercise, if it would be respectful to my body, spent some time with Jesus and handlettered to relax me and help with reflection. After allowing myself to feel all of the things that were going on in my head and heart, the moment subsided and I was able to move on with my day instead of overexercising, undereating, and starting the vicious cycle over again like I used to do on a daily basis. It was really hard but also really good. :) thanks for all you do and the encouragement you give!

  16. I’m currently studying abroad in the middle east and there have been SO many moments this semester where I am beyond grateful for a healthier attitude towards food. Interestingly, I still have a lot of anxiety around food because I have a lot of allergies and because I have a phobia of getting sick (i.e. from food poisoning)… but it’s comforting to know that my anxieties have nothing to do with calories or weight gain or even the nutritional content of the food. Let’s see… last week, my host mother (love her) cooked a big plate of eggs for the family, and I happily ate at least several eggs fried in oil with several rounds of fresh pita bread and a cup of sugary tea. That wouldn’t have been possible last year when I was vegan and gluten free and afraid of oil and sugar!! Also, just being here and thriving and traveling is so rewarding. Good luck with your baby!

  17. Pingback: Getting A Groove Back

  18. A victory for me was when I went on my honeymoon last year and was able to enjoy myself. No waking up early to exercise, no stressing about food, just having a great experience with my husband. I remember sitting in a cafe in Rome with a huge pastry for breakfast and thinking how that once would have given my anxiety, but now it was okay and it was also okay to have pizza for lunch that day.

  19. Hi Kylie! I’ve been reading your blog for about a year, and it’s really helped me with ED recovery. It’s been fun to follow your pregnancy and I’m so excited for you! Just want you to know that blog readers are thinking of you & praying for you as you start this new journey. :)

  20. For me, it was when my husband and I got to live in Spain for a year (just last year–we just got back in June). I hit rock bottom with disordered eating about 1.5 years prior to leaving for Spain and worked really hard with a counselor to get better in the year leading up to our trip. I was worried about how I would do in a different culture where I would be eating foods that were out of my comfort zone. The Spanish have a totally different approach to food than we do, and being there for a whole year was honestly one of the best things that could have happened for me in terms of recovery. I ate more white bread, fried food, sweets, and ham in the last year than I’ve probably eaten in the past 5, but I didn’t die (lol!), my clothes got a little tighter but not significantly, and most of all I got to freaking ENJOY a special year with my husband. I distinctly remember feeling grateful one day when we were on a trip to Portugal. We had an awesome seafood lunch with a cheese plate, and then we went over to a famous bakery and split a few pasteis de nata, a popular Portuguese pastry. It was a cold day and a little while later we got hot chocolate, and as I drank it I remember thinking that when I was in the depths of ED I would have said no to the cheese plate, the wine, the pastries, and the hot chocolate, and the thought of having all of those things in one day would have given me so much anxiety that I wouldn’t have been able to function. Saying no to disordered eating allowed me to live in the moment and savor life in a way that restriction and calorie counting never would have enabled me to do. I am thankful for that year for so many reasons, but especially thankful for how it has impacted my eating for the better now that we’re back in the States.

  21. For me, grocery shopping used to provoke so much anxiety because I suffered from orthorexia. Now, I can enjoy buying new foods every week to see what I actually enjoy eating, not only what I used to tell myself I liked because it was “healthy.”

    One particular moment of intense gratitude for recovery was on a trip to Italy where I was able to enjoy every single meal without fear of being unhealthy. I even made it through some meh meals because I knew that I would have more opportunities to eat great food in the future. 

  22. I love this post so much. Thank you for sharing and so happy to hear about the progress you’ve made through pregnancy. Very inspiring!!

    Getting into marathon training and building up my speed helped me make the mental shift from running = burning calories to running = training = helping me become a better athlete (which built up my confidence a ton). I still have a ways to go but I feel so much more comfortable eating in general and allowing my body to follow it’s hunger cues. I also qualified for Boston this past October, so I think it’s working :)

    Thanks again, Kylie!

  23. I have moments like this weekly, I’d say. Just some meal, experience, etc that I would have NEVER enjoyed before. xoxo

  24. YES to all of this!!! I think the most grateful I was to be free from disordered eating was on my wedding day. I enjoyed cake and appetizers and dinner and wine and didn’t think once about food/my body in a negative or obsessive way. I guess I didn’t even realize it at the time, but now reading this post I’m thinking about that and it makes me feel extra extra grateful.

  25. Kylie, I know I mentioned this before, but your blog has basically been solely responsible for my shift of mind when it comes to being healthy around food and exercise. There are so many little moments in my life now that I feel so relieved and grateful that I am finally at this place. I think the biggest one for me is when I realize again and again that I am eating food without first checking the label or ingredients for sugar and/or saturated fat content. I choose what I feel like, eat it, enjoy it, and move on! The same for now choosing time with friends or family over exercising. I am finally OK with skipping a workout and go out for lunch with friends or have a lazy morning with my husband instead. So THANK YOU! And I’ll keep my fingers crossed that raspberry makes her appearance soon! <3

  26. I can so relate! I feel like my pregnancy has taught me soooo much about myself, my body, my confidence etc. I feel so grateful for that and even the smaller moments, where I can go to holiday events and eat all the comfort food I want without guilt or punishment later.. 
    Such a great feeling!

  27. For me, this is definitely the space of time after work. Before, I was obsessed with filling up this time with compulsive exercise and it was literally draining me. After a full day of work, I was spending up to 2 hours exercising and it was taking me from so many other things in life that would actually bring me joy. Now that I no longer feel obsessed about trying to control my body size with exercise, I feel like I have time for other things I enjoy in life. :)

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