2018 New Year’s Resolution: I want to lose……
Okay so I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to lose weight in the New Year and “get healthier” and all that jazz…. but for me, making a New Year’s resolution to lose weight is like making a deal with the devil and basically making a New Year’s resolution to lose in the battle against my ed. Now… let’s unpack the very popular New Year’s resolution to “be healthier.” It seems innocent, but for me… and many others that struggle or have struggled with eating disorders in the past, it can be a slippery slope back into orthorexia… But the thing is, it doesn’t have to be. It’s all about what your New Year’s resolutions mean to YOU… or what mine mean to ME.
Being “healthier” can actually be a really great thing… but it all depends on your definition of healthy. I’m not going to sit here and try to tell you why YOUR health shouldn’t be based on how many vegetables you eat, the amount of carbs you cut, how many pounds you lose, or how hard you push at the gym, although I know I easily could. What I AM going to do is tell you how MY definition of health has changed into something far beyond pounds shed, calories burned/consumed, or inches lost. This doesn’t make me any better of a person than those who are focused on weight loss, calories, clothing sizes, etc., but changing my definition of “health” has saved my life and so you know what?… I think I’ll try and stick with it.
Sometimes even hearing the word makes me cringe. It’s a trigger. A word my orthorexia uses to try and lure me back in. It’s a reminder. A reminder that I’m far from all the previous definitions of health I used to live by or measure my worth based off of. According to my ed, health is a number: a weight, a pant size, a resting heart rate, a calorie count, or a workout length. But where has that measure of health gotten me? Ironically, using those metrics as a way to measure my health has actually brought me closer to death both physically and mentally.
Physically, this eating disordered view of health has kept me in my eating disorder behaviors and eating disorders have the highest mortality rate out of any other mental illness. Mentally, this eating disordered view of health has kept me in my eating disorder mentality and depression, both of which tell me that if I cannot attain those goal measures, I would be better off dead.
So… I think it’s rather clear that a new definition of “Health” is in order. Let’s make it super corny and do an acrostic poem…
Allowing for mistakes
Listening to my body
Trusting the process and my body
Healing… I need to put my healing before anything else. I need to heal my heart, soul, body, and mind. Healing my heart: The more like Jesus I become and the closer I draw near to Him, the more pure and whole my heart will feel. Having and spending time with amazing friends, family, and an awesome boyfriend helps too! Healing my soul: I need to focus more on soul moments- those moments where I don’t even think twice about my body, what I look like, or the things I hate about myself because I am living from within. This means reading my Bible, meditating, spending time with friends, family, and my boyfriend, playing music, creating art, being out in nature, along with other things that remind me why I’m okay with being alive. Healing my body: I have to throw a big “Eff you!” up to the eating disorder and commit to fueling my body appropriately, moving it lovingly and consistently, and resting when it tells me to. Healing my mind: Through this eating disorder and my other mental illnesses, Satan has grabbed hold of my mind and kept me in these negative patterns of thinking that lead to self destructive and unhealthy thoughts and actions. What I need to do is tell myself the truth and create new neuropathways that lead me to not only cope in a healthier way, but also to think healthier thoughts about myself and my life. I will do this through prayer, reading my Bible, surrounding myself with positive people that push me to grow and to be better, by reframing negative thoughts, and by taking opposite action when the negative voices from within tell me to act in maladaptive ways.
Eating intuitively… I need to eat intuitively. This means eating when I’m hungry, stopping when I’m full, and not trying to compensate when I feel I’ve had too much or have had something I don’t feel comfortable with. This means following the plan that my dietitian has given me. This means including all food groups in my diet and eating the cookie when I want to eat the damn cookie. I could go on and on about intuitive eating but I’ll just leave it to the professionals and you can learn more here.
Allowing for mistakes… I need to allow for mistakes. This one is pretty simple. I can’t expect perfection… and striving for perfection isn’t healthy. Self-compassion is key and having patience with myself is what will get my through this recovery process and will keep me in good mental, physical, and spiritual health.
Listening to my body… A lot of listening to my body has to do with diet and exercise… but throughout my recovery process I have realized that listening to my body can be so much more than food and movement. While eating intuitively and moving mindfully are extremely important, something I have always struggled with is know when to slow down. I’ve been in and out of treatment for the past three years and whenever I am out of treatment and back in my life, I am quick to take on everything and try to do it all. Something I’ve learned is that it’s important to take things slowly, especially when just coming out of treatment or when I’ve been struggling, and that doesn’t mean that I’m being lazy. Right now, I can only be working part time and although I would rather be working full time so I could make more money and feel more like an adult and a real human, I have to listen to my body and slow down and know that healing takes time.
Trusting the process and my body… I’m not going to act like I don’t feel like giving up every. damn. day… I do. And not only am I so frustrated by the lengthiness of this recovery process, but also by the discomfort I feel in my body, I often times just want to throw in the towel and return to my eating disorder or sulk in my depression and hide away from the world. But this process isn’t meant to be quick or easy and while I’ve been struggling with my eating disorder for over ten years now and depression for mainly my whole life, I must find trust in the process that it will get better… not all at once… and not linearly.
Head up… This is probably one of the most important determinants of health I must focus on in order to move forward in my recovery and attain good health. I must keep my head up and seek help when I cannot keep it up on my own. I will fall… probably even daily. The problem is not the falling; the problem is the getting back up part. Falling is inevitable but falling doesn’t mean that I am doomed to be stuck in a pit from which only treatment can pull me out. I am 100% capable of picking myself back up and the key to being able to do that is resilience, to be able to get back up time and time again, as well as self compassion, to be able to get back up without keeping myself down because of self hatred and disappointment. And when it feels too tough or too impossible, that’s when I look to others to help bring my out of the pit. The Lord has blessed me with so many people that have and will run to my side to bring me out of innumerable pits; it is up to me to call upon them.
So there you have it… Not your average definition of health but this is what I must come back to when the voices get loud and struggle gets harder. But, this is what health must mean for ME. What are your determinants of health? What does health mean to you? What will you focus on this coming year, 2018, to be the best you that you can be? What can you get started on TODAY?
Happy holidays and I hope everyone holds a loved one close and enjoys something special about this holiday season whether it be a trip home or simply a mug of hot chocolate. Have a happy, “healthy,” holiday!