So, naturally, I’m attempting to follow the meal plan designed for me in my Eating Disorders Program right down to every teaspoon, gram, ounce and millilitre.
I am trying to eyeball my portions, but my eyeballs are slow learners.
Plus the stresses of my life make this precarious…
I keep forgetting that I don’t have to be perfect. No one expects perfection.
I miss the support and camaraderie of the other patients in my group plus the expertise and advice from all the psychiatric, psychological, nutritional and social work staff who were always there for us, watching us, keeping us on track and caring about us.
Now, I’m doing everything by myself…
All my meals were supplied for me, with the exception of my breakfast.
By myself, alone, it’s a huge challenge to stick to this meal plan, which involves eating a wide variety of foods (anything, including my forbidden foods) at five specific times and in specific quantities.
In the program, I barely had to think.
Now, I’m meal planning and portioning all by myself.
There are some serious pitfalls…
I tend to restrict and underestimate portions. Then overcompensate. I eat too much. Sometimes I miss a meal or snack. I fool around with the meal plan but invariably, this leads to mini-binges. Guilt. Triggering emotions.
Plus, now, every day, I’m walking my dogs individually, which means a minimum of 50 to 60 minutes of brisk winter walking. While I was in the Eating Disorder program, this activity was forbidden. Almost every activity was forbidden ~ exercise of any kind ~ including using stairs.
Adding exercise changes the meal plan…
You can add a choice or two, depending on how much activity you do each day.
Now, I stair climb when I’m travelling around the city and up and down the 28 stairs of our townhouse ~ normal stair climbing ~ instead of taking elevators and escalators, which I hate. (No, I don’t run up 10 flights of stairs, though occasionally I have the urge.)
I’ve not yet returned to the gym and when I do, it probably won’t be more than a weekly visit. Other less triggering exercises will take its place. Like Pilates. Or swimming.
My body is in transition right now…
This morning, Kim Watson, the wondrous psychologist with whom I now meet every Monday at noon, spent some time reviewing the meal plan. She stressed that I have to trust the meal plan. And stick to it religiously.
She reiterated something I had heard many times before, in program ~ that it takes your body a minimum of a year, perhaps two years, to find its comfortable weight. To reestablish its set point. For your metabolism to settle down. To find its norm, after a lifetime of damaging yo-yo dieting or restricting, starving, bingeing, purging.
You have to trust the meal plan…
I’m anxious. In March, I’m going to visit my mother in Florida ~ a triggering place ~ and some of my summer clothes are tight. I’ve gained weight, though I have no idea how much. I don’t ever want to know that number.
I’m working hard to accept that the body I have now is a good body for me. Trying to learn not to want it to be smaller or thinner is a huge, almost insurmountable challenge. To fight the media imagery. The old records. Our culture.
You should hear the fighting words in my head every time I glance at myself in the mirror.
Body acceptance is a major paradigm shift for me…
My body is learning to live with a sufficient number of calories (about 1,800 ~ though I do not count calories, rather I count choices) which is the right nutrition for my height and age as computed by the doctors and dieticians at the Eating Disorders Program. If the calories I eat vary from day to day, that’s fine. I’m learning to live with the concept of ranges.
That’s a norm.
Though most people believe that maintaining weight is a hard science ~ calories in, calories out ~ it is not. Remember, your body needs a minimum of 1,400 calories a day to function, to breathe, to run your cardiac system, your organs, to pump the blood through your veins. Even to sleep. That’s what your body needs to survive.
What you should weigh is genetically predetermined, unless you start restricting, which automatically leads to bingeing. Then your metabolism gets skewed, corrupted, goes out of sync.
That’s why dieting is potentially so dangerous…
In the big picture ~ and we’re all anatomically complicated big pictures ~ we all live within ranges. Nobody is rigid. Our bodies are ingeniously engineered mechanisms (Weightless) that are in constant flux. Body weight normally varies about five or six lbs. over a week and in some cases, as much as 10 lbs. over a month.
The most promising thing I keep telling myself is that for the first time in my life, I’m not abusing my body by dieting. I’m not starving it. I’m treating it with the respect it deserves. I’m feeding it. I’m giving it the food, the medicine it needs to function. Food is medicine for the body.
Appreciating my body…
Part of my therapy is appreciating my body. (Once again, thank you Margarita Tartakovsky for this reaffirming and wonderfully helpful Weightless post.) In appreciating my body focus on all the things my body does and can do for me and for others. I do not focus on my appearance.
I’m working diligently on self-esteem. I keep copious notes that reinforce what I like about my body, positive points that do not involve appearance. All my life, I’ve detested my body, so this is a brand new experience.
For example, I like my smile. I love the bonding feeling I have when I’m cuddling with one of my dogs. And the utterly unconditional love and affection that my husband Marty gives me, non-verbally. Just by touching me. I love his touch.
I like my energy and my youthful approach to life. The spring in my step. My optimism.
These are some of the things I like about my body and what it does for me. I keep a chart and write down three of these things every day.
Relapse within the first year of treatment is highest…
This is so incredibly hard. You have no idea.
But I know I must do it to survive.
Within the first year of treatment in an eating disorders program the relapse rate is very high. The highest. And yes, people relapse. Lots of people relapse.
I refuse to be one of them.
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