Today I wanted to write a personal post about weight management and life after an eating disorder. I figure this is my blog, otherwise known as a "web log", so I might as well write a candid post about life after an eating disorder, and specifically my thoughts and struggles with weight and weight management. After all, I have only written one or two posts about anorexia and my personal experience with anorexia, but never have I talked about life as a women who has healed, and who is in the midst of a weight-conscience and weight-obsessed society (my previous posts are "From Normal, To Anorexic" and "An Insight on Eating Disorders".)
After recently reading the book Gaining I pretty much figured out the meaning behind my anorexia, and how I was the perfect candidate for an eating disorder. I'm a perfectionist in just about every aspect of my life (I'm not perfect, I'm a perfectionist).
When I was recovering from anorexia, over five years ago, I was deathly afraid that I would spiral out of control and put on a ton of weight if I ever got "Better" (this is a classic sign of anorexia). In my mind I thought I had to either eat perfectly, or else I'd become what everyone else had become.....overweight or obese (both were equally scary to me). After all, as I started getting "better", I also started binging and to me that was very scary (not having control over what and how much I ate = scariest thing ever, at that time).
Now, over five years later, having been fully recovered for maybe three years (I still had some eating issues when I was first dating Nick, but not full blown anorexia. At the time I thought I was recovered, but looking back I was fooling myself), I am at the point in my life where I am no longer trying to put on weight, but instead I am actually having to watch my portions and be careful about how much I eat (something I was once way too good at, in a very bad way).
I'm finally at the point where I no longer feel like it may be disordered thoughts that are telling me to "only eat half the burger" (it has taken me quite a while to come to terms with this fact. For many years I couldn't tell whether my thoughts to eat less or to stop eating when I was full were coming from my eating disorder, or if they were coming from me actually trying to be healthy and eat intuitively.) For so long my goal was to put on weight and now that I have, I have to work hard not to keep on putting it on! Ironic. Right? Just as I imagined five years ago, I am at that point where I was always afraid I'd be. Now that I'm hear, however, it's not so bad. I'm just like every other American who has to work hard to keep weight from slowly creeping up. Is that a bad thing? Nope. It's a good thing because I'm a dietitian and I can practice what I preach, and learn many things along the way (thus I'm better able to teach others how to maintain a healthy weight, in a realistic way, how it should really be done, not by starving myself).
Sometimes I compare myself to someone who has gained a lot of weight, then lost it, and now has to maintain it. In many ways I am similar to that person. Eating too much is an eating disorder just like eating too little, and just like me, people who eat too much and gain a lot of weight have to eventually learn how to eat normally again, and have a better relationship with food. That's exactly what I've done. I've had to train myself to have a better relationship with food, and myself, and to love who I am, not to focus on a number, eat intuitively, and to live in the moment.
So I'm normal. I now have to work at maintaining a healthy weight, for the rest of my life. I no longer want to spiral out of control and lose a bunch of weight, and nor do I want the opposite to happen. I now live in the same world as everyone else. Trying to keep a healthy weight, and still enjoy good food that makes me happy, every step of the way.
Here is a great article I found not too long ago; Keeping Weight Off Is As Much A Challenge As Losing It. In the article they talked about the following ways that seem to keep people successfully maintaining a healthy weight;
•Count calories, carbs or fat grams or use a commercial weight-loss program to track food intake.
•Eat breakfast regularly, often including whole grains and low-fat dairy products.
•Limit dining out to an average of three times a week, and fast food to less than once a week.
•Eat similar foods often and don't splurge much.
•Watch fewer than 10 hours of TV a week.
•Weigh-in at least once a week (** Unless the scale alters your mood. In that case, try once a month. Personally I weigh-in once a month because scales are just not my friend....even still **)
Source: iStock Photo
And I'll add to this list by saying that it's extremely important to keep up with your workout routine. You should try to workout about an hour a day, most days of the week (90 minutes would be even more beneficial). Not into working out? Find a workout buddy to keep you motivated, and do stuff you ENJOY!
Source: iStock Photo
I also recently read this article about mindful eating. In the article they discuss how you can give mindful eating a spin "by incorporating a few chilled-out gestures and rituals into your regular calorie intake".
WHEN YOU EAT, JUST EAT. Unplug the electronics. For now, at least, focus on the food.
CONSIDER SILENCE. Avoiding chatter for 30 minutes might be impossible in some families, especially with young children, but specialists suggest starting your meal with short periods of quiet.
TRY IT WEEKLY. Sometimes there’s no way to avoid wolfing down onion rings in your cubicle. But if you set aside one sit-down meal a week as an experiment in mindfulness, the insights may influence everything else you do.
PLANT A GARDEN, AND COOK. Anything that reconnects you with the process of creating food will magnify your mindfulness.
CHEW PATIENTLY. It’s not easy, but try to slow down, aiming for 25 to 30 chews for each mouthful.
USE FLOWERS AND CANDLES. Put them on the table before dinner. Rituals that create a serene environment help foster what one advocate calls “that moment of gratitude.”
FIND A BUDDHIST CONGREGATION where the members invite people in for a day of mindfulness. For New Yorkers, it’s an easy drive to the Blue Cliff Monastery, about 90 minutes north of the city: bluecliffmonastery.org/ on the Web.
QUESTION: How do you practice mindful eating? Do you have any tips? What's your best tip for maintaining a healthy weight, and/or a healthy relationship with food and your body?STAY TUNED: Coming up next I will post my thoughts on Dr. Supplements....I mean Dr. Oz. And in the next couple weeks I will also post about the concept of volumetrics (my favorite weight management tool to teach clients!).