Why weight restored does not equal recovered

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Thanks to the “On this day”  reminders on Facebook, I was reminded that 4 years ago today I was “released” from my doctor for my eating disorder. What I mean is that my pediatrician saw that my weight was staying constant and had for quite some time and that my mental health had improved since I first saw her.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED my pediatrician (Gail). I still take my siblings to the doctor when I can, so that I can say hi to her. I remember when I first started seeing Gail in the early months of 2012. At first, she wanted me to look into going away to a rehab facility quite some distance from home. I was reluctant to do that and my family didn’t want to do that either. So we turned to the next option. We decided that I would continue to stay in school (I tried to go home bound), go to her for weekly weight checks, seeing my counselor (Jessica-AMAZING), and start seeing a nutritionist.

Do keep in mind that I was still in high school at the time, but my weekly schedule would be weight check with Gail Monday or Wednesday, session with Jessica Tuesday or Thursday, and my nutritionist once a month (but I only went twice). After a little while, my visits to see them started to become more spaced out though.

When I first started seeing Gail and Jessica, I was in the worst place I’ve ever been. I was majorly depressed, anorexia had me in its tight grips, my OCD was taking over, my anxiety crippled me, and I had far from great family dilemmas.

I started off by talking about what was going on in my life: the triggers for my eating disorder steamed from low self-esteem and my family issues.  Gail immediately began by having my family take away the scale in our house and she even put a note on my file telling her nurses to not let me know my weight, thus I had to turn around on the scale at the office. She had me write down everything I ate in a day. An example? “A pinch of trail mix”….like really, Ash? A pinch? I look back and can’t even believe that I survived on that little to be honest.

I had the pressure from all sides telling me I needed to gain weight to not only save my life, but also get my period back. When you first start to eat after only consuming about 400 calories every day, it. freaking. hurts. I lived off of Carnation milk drinks, so much so that strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla started to taste the same… eww, right? I started to increase what I was eating and tried to be more social about it and stopped writing it down. I could tell I had gained some weight and it seemed to stay pretty constant for quite a while. I remember that I used to message friends telling them how much I weighed and they’d tell me that it was good that I weighed that much compared to what I used to. I was doing better than I had been, but it wasn’t enough.

Four years ago I got the clear from Gail that I no longer needed to see her unless I was sick or needed something. My weight was 112 pounds. I had reached 112 pounds after reaching my low of around 85 (my lowest known weight). I left feeling on top of the world. I thought “I did it!! I beat it!” I texted my best friends to tell them all first and we all rejoiced. Little did we all know that it wasn’t really over.

How do I know that it wasn’t over? Later that year I went on a trip to see a friend and I can remember everything I ate during that weekend and it’s not because I wrote it down. It was because I hardly ate anything. Don’t get me wrong, I ate….but it wasn’t close to what I should’ve been eating. I ate some trail mix, pretzels, peanut butter, a lamb gyros with some fries, a fried wonton (with cream cheese) since I gave the other away because fried food still scared the shit out of me, a pumpkin spice donut, a slice of meat lovers pizza, a garlic bread stick, and a cookie slice. It wasn’t just that weekend trip, that made me realize this, but it was every time I went out to eat, had a family dinner, or wanted to exercise.

I wasn’t recovered. I was weight restored.

My exercise bulimia came into play as well. People wanted me to eat, so I did. Sometimes I ate 4 whole pizzas and everyone would be so shocked by the fact I was eating again. But I would be running it off.

It was until 2016, that I was TRULY RECOVERED. I found a love for working out and taught myself how to lift weights. I ate to workout, not workout in order to eat. I decided to help others with their health and wellness as a coach. I can walk into a restaurant and have no anxiety about what to order or what has the lowest calories. I can stay up until the wee morning hours and eat dinner. I can take spontaneous trips to get Cookout milkshakes. I can wear a bathing suit and feel amazing without being stick thin. I am happy. I know my worth. I have the greatest support system of friends and family.

Becoming weight restored was only half of the equation. It took 3 years to fully recover after becoming  weight restored. Those three years were the absolute hardest though. Eating was the easy part. Changing my mindset was the toughest for me.

I can now happily say that I’m recovered, but that does not mean that I will not have bad days. I will still have some bad body image days, but I do not act on them. I do not take it out on my body when I cannot control an external factor.

Recovering takes time, dedication, and perseverance, but if I can do it…..anyone can do it. Do it for yourself, for your future, for your happiness.

Recovery is worth it.  ❤

Homemade Chicken Alfredo

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So I’ve been wanting to try something new since both and I my roommate have been making the same dishes repeatedly. I ended up searching pinterest and found several recipes for homemade Alfredo and decided to use their tips and tricks and make it myself!

Ingredients:

About 1/8 C butter

About 1/8 C flour (I used all-purpose)

1 C of milk (I used 2% since that all that I had)

Roughly 1/4 C of parmesan cheese (I just sprinkled it in without measuring until I thought it was right for me)

2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cubed)

About 1 C of spinach (finely chopped)

1 Tbsp of pesto

1/3 of a box of spaghetti (my box was the 16oz box)- you may use fettuccine, but I only had spaghetti

To make the sauce:

  • Put the butter in a saucepan and let melt.
  • Slowly add in the flour and stir, until it is smooth.
  • Add in the milk and stir constantly until the mixture thickens.
  • Then add in spinach and pesto and stir until fully combined.

To assemble the entire dish:

  • Before starting the sauce, cook the pasta and chicken.
  • Place the pasta and chicken into a large bowl.
  • Then make your sauce and once it is done, pout it on top of your pasta and chicken.
  • Mix (if desired).
  • ENJOY! 😀

“Spicy Sauce” Pasta

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This is probably one of my favorite pasta recipes that my roommate and I make. She introduced me to it….and I was hooked!

Ingredients:

1 lb of Rotini noodles

Roughly 2 decent sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cubed)

1 Jar of Marinara sauce ( I usually use Kroger brand “6 Cheese” sauce)

1 Jar of Alfredo sauce (Usually use Kroger brand “roasted garlic” sauce)

1 Can of peas

1 Tbspn of oil (I usually just use olive oil)

1 Tbspn of red pepper flakes

Directions:

  • Pour the 1 Tbspn of oil into a skillet along with the red pepper flake. (My roommate usually adds in garlic as well, but I never do since I don’t taste it at all).
  • Saute for a few minutes and then add in the chicken and cook until done.

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  • While the chicken is cooking, cook the pasta accordingly.
  • Once the chicken is finished cooking, reduce the heat and empty the entire marinara jar into skillet followed by the Alfredo sauce. Stir until the two sauces are completely combined. (It should look similar to the picture below)

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  • Drain the peas and then add them into the skillet with the sauces and chicken.
  • Let them simmer for a few minutes.
  • Then add in your rotini noodles and stir them so that the noodles are covered with the sauce mixture.
  • I usually let it set for about 5-10 minutes to ensure that the entire skillet is warm.
  • ENJOY! 🙂

 

 

Remixed Chicken Alfredo

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Now, I will start off by saying that it tastes like alfredo to me and everyone who has tried it (lol). It is very simple to make and I can usually throw it together in about an hour and a half.

Ingredients:

1 Can of cream of mushroom soup

3/4 C of sour cream ( I use light sour cream)

1 Box  (about 80z.) of spaghetti noodles ( you may use whatever type you prefer)

1/4 C milk

1/3 C grated Parmesan Cheese

3 C (one small bag) of frozen broccoli (thawed)

2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cubed)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Cook Spaghetti as directed and drain. Also the chicken while the pasta cooks.
  3. Mix soup, sour cream, milk, and cheese in a bowl. Then combine with the spaghetti and chicken. It may  be more beneficial to use a casserole dish.
  4. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until dish is completely heated throughout.

Make Yourself Proud

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First and foremost, I’m a completely and utmost loving and caring person. Even the people who have done me wrong, I still care about their well being. I won’t necessarily do things for them, but I do care and always will.
Second, I’ve overcome an eating disorder. Some may say that I brag about it, but that is far from true. I’m proud of the fact that I didn’t let it take my life and I told my eating disorder to fuck off.
2011. I was diagnosed with anorexia and exercise bulimia as well as severe anxiety and depression.
With the EDs came starving myself. I measured out everything. From a cup of cereal to counting raisins. I’d eat high fiber foods because tbh it’d make you shit. I memorized the calories of nearly everything. I’d drink a liter of water before every meal to fill me up. I made sure each “meal” took no less than 20 minutes to eat. Id thrive& get a high off of eating less than 500 cals. After “dinner” I’d always throw on my exercise belts and start working out or running til I thought what I’d ate was burned off. I’d skip going out with friends because food was involved. If I knew I was eating out I’d “save” my cals til then. I’d put on 6 layers to run in 10degree temps because being cold burned more cals. I’d only eat healthy foods but then eating a whole banana became too scary for me. Food became my enemy. Then it later turned into exercise bulimia. I could down 2 whole pizzas or over 4,000 calories and then run for 10+ miles & stayed at a size 1-2. I’d gotten so small that my hair fell out, I froze in 70 degree weather, I’d get bruises from just sitting in a hard chair, I’d hide under big clothes. It was a living hell.
With the depression came sadness. I hurt inside day in & day out. I’d cry myself to sleep every night. I never wanted to go out because I wanted to just lay in bed all day. I was alone yet surrounded by people. I wanted people to feel just how bad i felt inside every day. Depression is depression.
My anxiety was the worst for me. I’d tell myself I had to eat, but it’d tell me that I couldn’t because I’d get fat. It made me want to always have someone’s attention because if I didn’t it meant I didn’t mean anything. It made me ask questions about everything because I needed to know what was going on & had to know everything. Going out in public was horrible bc there were so many people. It made me feel like even those who loved me, hated me. It made me feel victimized & like everyone was out to get me. If I made one mistake I’d feel bad abt it for a long time. Perfectionism was my life. Arriving on time was arriving 15 min late for me, so Id have to arrive anywhere 20+ min early. I had to have reassure that what I was doing was right.
But once you add all of those together…it’s a complete and giant mess. I’d want to make others feel bad bc I hurt so bad that I wanted them to feel my pain. But I also never wanted to intentionally hurt someone especially if I loved them. Id make up lies to make people feel bad for me. I’d make things seem worse than they were. I’d panic about the least little thing and have the worst panic attacks. Id planned out to kill myself 3 times with pills. I researched how many it’d take to make me stop breathing in my sleep.
Eating disorders aren’t about weight. It’s about control. I wanted control over my life. And since I couldn’t control how things were going, I could however, control what I did or didn’t eat.
I just wanted someone to prove to me and show me that I was worth it. I wanted someone to fight to be in my life because they really loved me. I wanted someone to love me in the way I couldn’t love myself. I wanted someone to stay forever and keep their promises to me.
I decided to chose recovery because I hated seeing it hurt my friends and family and knowing they couldn’t do anything about It. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make. “Ana” had become my best friend. She was the reason I got up every day and moved. She told me I had to move bc that meant burning cals. She was the one I turned to when I felt like there was no one else. Ana was my entire world and I loved her. We were one. But I knew I needed to let her go because she wasn’t good for me. I tried. It was SO hard. It was a constant battle to not listen to her. But I slowly did it. But I found that I was fooling myself. Everyone kept saying I “recovered” from an ED, but I knew I wasn’t because it was only getting worse in my head. Everything was changing, things were happening, and I felt like I was losing everyone I loved dearly…I didn’t know what to do. I was just sick in the head and pushing people away was my defense mechanism because Ana was the one I really needed to thrive. And thats when I needed someone to be there for me the most. Ana was slowly taking over again and no one realized it bc I didn’t look like it from the outside.
Looking back, I have no idea who I was during that time. It’s a time I don’t like to dwell on because the past is the past and I cannot change a thing that happened.
However, in having and eating disorder, it taught me so much about life. It made me appreciate everything even more than I already did. I learned to love and appreciate every day I’m given to live on this Earth. I had a purpose

With my eating disorder, also came the loss of friends who said they’d be there for me forever. I never thought recovering, would come with a cost like that, but it made me even stronger in the end. Not to mention, so much happier. It’s never easy making your mind comes to terms with what your heart feels, but you have to do it for yourself and to better your own life.
As odd as it may sound, my eating disorder was a blessing in disguise. It almost killed me, but I came out alive. The only thing I count these days are reps. I eat whatever I want  I’m confident in my body, I love myself, and I have a desire to live life to the fullest

The saying the strongest warriors come from the hardest battles can come into play here. My ED lead me to realize I have so much potential and will go on to do great things and that I don’t need anyone to make me happy as long as I make myself happy. I’m studying to become a psychologist and eventually  an ED specialist. I have forgiven myself and others and life is amazing and I’ve never been happier.

My Before Is Here To Stay

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Here’s why I won’t boycott the before.

I’ve seen the hashtags floating around Instagram and I looked it up to see just what it was about. I started to understand the point they were trying to make, but it just didn’t click well with me.

Some of the reasons why people were boycotting the before was because “it’s triggering to others,” “it makes it seem like it’s all about weight,” “it makes people think they aren’t sick enough,” etc.

Valid reasons, I suppose. But are people not triggered when they see the ungodly amount of weightloss products when shown across their TV screens. Are they not triggered when there’s thin models on the cover of nearly every magazine? Are they not triggered when restaurants have calories listed beside every item? Are they not triggered when they look online at pro Ana/Mia websites that the interweb won’t shut down? They are SOO many more triggers than just a transformation photo of someone proud as fuck that they are recovering or recovered from their eating disorder. If you want to know why society is not changing and why recovery is hard, look at the society you live in. It’s extremely hard to recover from an eating disorder in a society promoting thinness literally everywhere. So when I see someone rejoicing that they’re happy again and kicked their ED to the curb because they didn’t let weight, etc affect them anymore, it’s all smiles from me.

If anyone has ever had an eating disorder or picked up a psychology book, they KNOW it’s not just about weight. Never really is. It’s usually a combination of wanting control, poor body image, and let’s not forget to mention the risk factors that are also involved. If you take the time to read most of the captions on these photos, or learn about the person posting them, you learn that it’s not just weight gain or loss. It’s a mental transformation more than anything. In the photos I see, I sometimes see a 2 lb weight gain for some who’s underweight and could use it or a 2lb weight loss from one who’s suffering from BED and is working to better themselves. But they talk about how they’ve changed mentally and I’m rooting for them all the way for feeling better about themselves and not letting their weight difference affect them. They are even some who’s weight has not changed at all and they post about their mental transformation and kudos to them too.

In regards to the “sick enough to having an ED/seek help” part….I have this to say. If you have/had an eating disorder, you should know that you seem to never think that you’re sick enough. It’s usually not until you’re faced with the hard facts or the idea of dying that you finally realize that you are sick enough. You don’t even have to look at someone else to think that, you just think it of yourself usually. I used to look in the mirror and see myself as fat and think I needed to lose weight if I was really going to fit the diagnosis of Anorexic. Mind you that I didn’t have any social media during that time in my life because it wasn’t healthy for me (unless you count Pinterest crafts). My doctors even suggested limited social media time since there’s a deep and dark ugly side to it.

Some people will actually hate before and after photos because they are still so unhappy within themselves and desire to be that level of happy and content again. That is not a problem for the rest of the world and social media to fix, it is theirs. And when their time comes, it will be amazing. I used to be that person until I found the light and I understand how great they felt in sharing it and their positivity about recovery.

People also argue that you’re promoting such and such when you post ED transformation photos. Yeah, I’m promoting recovery and in each photo I talk about my story and journey and for them to not compare themselves to me. But I note that recovery is possible and worth it. Try encouraging people to not compare themselves to others, that’s a major part of the problem as well. Relaying messages is important. I always say that recovery is not linear, that you are sick enough to get help and to begin recovery(a certain weight or size won’t determine that for you), and to work hard every day at loving themselves little by little.

I will never boycott my before. Never. If it wasn’t for the me on the left, the me on the right would have never made it this far.
The me on the left hated myself. I constantly just wanted to die and even contemplated suicide several times. My depression kept me in bed wanting to sleep my life away. My anorexia was what got me up to exercise and decide what I wasn’t going to eat. My anxiety was what made me get up and do things so that people wouldn’t think something was wrong with me (when there clearly was). I went from being content and carefree to miserable, starving, freezing in 80° weather, having my bones ache and clearly visible in some places, losing my period, and having my hair fall out.

It was Hell on Earth.

But if I hadn’t become that eating disorder ridden girl who hated life, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It is due to my eating disorder that I am finishing up a degree in psychology at one of the best colleges around. It’s why I’ve decided to go into counseling to help others and work towards being an eating disorder specialist. It’s why I have such a different outlook on life. I wake up each day knowing I have found my purpose and I work towards my goals. I’m so incredibly happy. If it hadn’t been for my ED, I’d probably always have had a problem with food. Since my eating disorder, I found my love of fitness and wanting to help others and eat whatever I like. I can go out and enjoy myself with my friends and not think twice about it.

In having eating disorders, I found who I was and I’ll be damned if I’m going to boycott my before. The ED ridden girl is just as amazing as the after photo, always has been.

I actually LOVE seeing ED transformations because I’m so unbelievably happy and proud to see them working towards a better them. I really wish I saw MORE of them to be honest. It makes my heart so happy to see them getting better and being happy again. Heck. I love seeing people post photos of their weight loss because they’re so proud of it/themselves and they’re doing it for no one but themselves.

It just baffles me that when I first came into the ED community years ago, people were so encouraging of seeing others overcome their EDs and share their stories and photos and now people just want to say it’s triggering and whatnot. Anything can be a trigger, but it is up to the person being triggered to step away from it.

I can see how it might affect some people, but it’s so empowering and encouraging to others at the same time. If it affects you negatively, take a step back and find your support system. Recovery is different for everyone and if something on social media bothers you, such as someone being proud of their recovery and sharing it, maybe it’s not them.

So many people get caught up on social media . Like I get that people want more body positivity and self love in this world. But boycotting before photos? Come on….. Especially when people want to talk about it/their journey (NEDAs theme this year, ya know). It makes me wonder how many of those people are actually and actively doing something about it and aren’t just ranting on their social media platforms about everything that bothers them? How many are doing research on the subject matter or finding out what improves body satisfaction. The answer is probably not very many. (People should really look into cognitive dissonance).

For crying out loud, if someone is sharing their photo and story and it’s a happy moment for them, celebrate it with them. Don’t tell them that they’re trying to “validate” themselves with likes and support and triggering to others. It really irks me to know that people can’t just be happy for someone sharing their journey through recovery because they didn’t seem to get the same support, say it’s doing more harm than good, or even haven’t reached the same level of happiness yet.

But as for me, I’ll continue to share my story and transformation photos to show others that there is happiness and light at the end of the tunnel. Recovery is cool and we should embrace it, even if it means posting transformation photos. And that goes for anyone recovering from anything. Eating disorders, substance abuse, trauma, accidents, etc.

#RecoveryIsCool