The Ebb and Flow of Getting Sane About Food and Your Body

Like most things in life, there is an ebb and flow about dealing with food and body stuff. It’s something that I have begrudgingly learned to accept (albeit slowly). It doesn’t make it easier that I am aware of this fact, but allows for me to be a little gentler with myself when I “take a step back.”

I don’t really look at it as steps anymore because that often contributes to unhelpful black and white thinking that I have to get better and stay better and if I don’t I have failed. Nope, that’s not really quite how it works.

The leader of the support group that I once attended said in one of the first sessions that recovery and “figuring out” all this stuff isn’t for the faint of heart. She didn’t mean it in a discouraging way, but much like what Sunny mentioned when talking about being really ready to change, recovery takes as long as it takes and putting the work in is what is most important. Moving forward doesn’t always mean the same for everyone and forward motion doesn’t have to be up a ladder of steps, but more like a continual space of energy, thoughts and behaviors gently pushing and pulling. We aren’t static individuals, and life certainly isn’t either.

There were plenty of times where I would be cruising along, feeling good, solid and positive, then all of a sudden…something would come up, something would change, I’d hit a little bump and would feel it in my relationship with food and my body. If I held myself to the rigid standard of telling myself, “I was doing so well with this last week—that must not have been real, because look at this now. Back to square one.” Thing is, that really wasn’t true and ultimately, whatever road block I had come up against, only contributed to deepening my understanding and expand upon the work that I was putting in.

I know it is really difficult to truly accept this, but trusting that where you are is probably where you need to be, can take a little bit of the pressure off. When I got over the idea that my recovery had to be perfect (which doesn’t even exist, so I am glad I gave up on that one) for it to be “real,” things progressed more readily and naturally. When I stopped judging it in a linear motion, my little bumps didn’t set me back as much and as I got more used to the push and pull, I could see how far I had really come, even on a rough day.

So for anyone who is thinking about tackling these difficult issues, or who is in the midst of them, or has recovered and sometimes hits the occasional bump, keep on keepin’ on! It’s the space between that is what really makes the difference, right?

Have you ever felt the push and pull of recovery this way? How have you dealt with it?  —Morgan

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8 Responses to The Ebb and Flow of Getting Sane About Food and Your Body

  1. Angie says:

    Hi - This is a great topic too. I deal with this every day. For some reason, I think recovery = no problem/food issues. I went through a very strong period of recovery where things were pretty easy. As I aged, life has gotten more complex / time is more scarce and I slipped into bad habits/relapse. For a while I really tried to get back to that ‘easy’ road of recovery, but earlier this year I finally accepted that things are not easy and I have to be prepared to recover through whatever happens. I really like the sentence “It’s the space between that is what really makes the difference, right?” I try to remember that life is about the journey and I need to live through it, not numb myself through it. Easier said than done some days. A

  2. [...] Here’s Healthy Girl talking about growing with your food/body relationship. She always describes these things [...]

  3. Emily says:

    I just wanted to say that this post is incredibly timely. I’m somewhere between black-and-white/linear thinking that my progress needs to be steady with no setbacks for it to be “real” and forgiving myself for setbacks and allowing the journey to take the time it needs to. But I can tell that I’m further along in changing my mindset than I was six months ago, and I find that I can also dismiss my perceived setbacks in having the “right” mentality more quickly.

    The best way I’ve come to have peace around this need for linear progress is to 1) listen to other people who I respect who also haven’t had linear progress but can still recognize that they’re making progress in the scheme of things. I do that by regularly attending support group meetings and reading literature about ED recovery; 2) I actively forgive myself every day for anything where I feel like I’ve come up short so that I consciously work on reining in my perfectionist (aka self-defeating) tendencies, whether it’s about having the “right” mindset, doing the “right” things when it comes to food/exercise or saying the “right” thing in stressful conversations; and 3) really connect every day with something that has to do with recovery - whether it’s writing, reading, praying, talking or reminding myself that I’m worthy of love.

  4. Well, I don’t have any suggestions for dealing with this feeling, but I’m certainly glad you posted about this topic! I’ve definitely been feeling the push and pull lately because I have indeed been looking at my recovery in a linear fashion.

    But this post has caused me to look at my recovery as a whole and I have made a LOT of progress over the past few months that I wasn’t willing to give myself credit for, previously. This post has genuinely made me feel better and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Thank you, Morgan!

  5. Trish says:

    Morgan — GREAT post! School (especially finals) and life just got in the way in the last month or two, and I haven’t been dedicating as much time to myself as I had been, so I’ve been feeling like I fell off the wagon…but in reality, I’m in a place now where I no longer feel like a complete failure because I’ve been a little unfocused for the last month…now I feel like once I get through this last push of the semester, I’ll be able to get right back on the wagon and pick up where I left off…just gotta keep on keepin on! Thanks for a great post!

  6. mags says:

    I am now in my hardest time. the first day of my period!!!! is it just me or this day sucks for everybody? i feel so fat, i want to eat EVERYTHING and I hate myself both for my wanting to eat and for feeling fat! It’s my worst day of the month, it’s so difficult and I am trying to stop this!!!!

    • Olivia says:

      (Please ignore (or don’t publish) my last comment, my computer messed up.)
      Anyways.. I was saying, for me, it’s the two days before my period. I crave carbs like CRAZY and have huge mood swings. The joys of being a woman -_-

      Also, this post is a great reminder. I’ve been working on myself, my eating problems, my self-esteem, etc. And lately, I’ve been feeling great. I’m way happier, smile way more, I feel more confident, I don’t shut people out anymore. However, my bingeing has only slightly improved. And sometimes it makes me mad, I feel like I’m doing something wrong, and wonder why, if I feel better mentally, my eating has not become ‘normal’. I guess I have to constantly remind myself that every little step is one in the right direction, and one day, it will make a big change. Such a long, nasty habit will not vanish overnight.
      Thank you for this post!

  7. I am so THERE with the start/stop/ebb/flow thing of moving towards sane~ness with my food issues and body image. It’s so easy to slip into that black/white thinking where you just beat yourself up for the least thing. I am trying to let those things slide now and look at the larger picture of me getting healthy in body and mind. I don’t think that loving food is bad anymore. And I do LOVE food. I just have to stick to my goals the best I can. I can only do my best and that is what I have to accept. I’m not perfect no matter how hard I try or wish that I were.

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