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.  ❤

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