Atypical anorexia. Are you ready to recover?

Hey guys

I guess today’s post is to help me think through the concept of recovery from atypical anorexia although it can probably be applied to many other situations, not just eating disorders.

The thing is…. my current situation isn’t really about the food. Sure, the thought of food, how to avoid it, how I’m going to knock off another pound consumes almost every waking moment but things like eating disorders, alcoholism, self-harm and OCD are just the outward behavioural signs of inner turmoil.

As I’ve eluded before, I ‘get’ the logic about my situation as it links to being a carer. Focusing intently on my weight loss takes up a lot of mental space and helps me avoid focusing on the harder things. So, it serves a purpose. What I’m going to do is to look at the pros and cons of recovery. Even as I write that, I’m thinking “Erika, why wouldn’t you want to recover?!!!!” but let’s see how I get on with these lists.

The pros of recovery

  • I can become physically healthy again. I hope this is possible as I know that my organs are starting to be affected but I could possibly prevent them from at least deteriorating further
  • I can reclaim the mental space this is taking up
  • I can then refocus on adopting healthy eating patterns and fully embrace how I’ve lost over 160 lbs
  • I can stop panicking at the thought of meeting up with friends over meals as I love being with people!
  • I can take on the physical demands of things I’ve been looking forward to (which I don’t feel I can right now) like abseiling, adrenalin-filled rib boat experiences, etc.
  • I can get on with the therapeutic work that I’m mentally partly trying to avoid

The cons of recovery

  • It’s scary! If I don’t have this intent focus on all things food-related, I’m more likely to think about the painful stuff
  • I’m worried about increasing my calories in case I then can’t stop eating
  • If I can’t stop eating, I could put on all the weight
  • I don’t know how to recover

So, let’s challenge those cons:

It’s scary! If I don’t have this intent focus on all things food-related, I’m more likely to think about the painful stuff

Yes, it is scary and that’s understandable Erika. Thing is that those feelings about being a carer need to be processed and masking them isn’t going to make them go away. Talking about this stuff might be really hard but you’ve an amazing psychotherapist in place who you know you can tell anything to. Just think back to what it’s like when your mind feels free and you don’t feel trapped. You can do it, girl!

I’m worried about increasing my calories in case I then can’t stop eating

Isn’t that understandable?! You’ve lost all this weight, you’ve got a new body (including the excess skin but, meh, a small niggle). But you’ve also been doing the Noom program for 4 months and actually, despite the anorexia, you’ve been learning lots about healthy eating even if you’ve not been able to put it into practice. You’ve actually got a mental tool kit of strategies to now use. Yes, when you recovered from atypical anorexia 10 years ago, you did then put on a lot of weight but this time feels different. Apart from the carer issues, you’re in a good space overall.

If I can’t stop eating, I could put on all the weight

Check out what you wrote above, Erika. You can choose a healthy range to stay between which allows for normal fluctuations. You’ve already set this up as your body weight is 2 lbs away from being in the healthy range but you’d like to lose another 9 lbs overall so that you have some wriggle room.

I don’t know how to recover

And you don’t have to know. ‘Just eat more’ might sound SO simple but you don’t have to do this alone. You know that things have been escalated by your therapist and GP because of their concerns over physical risk so you need to pass over the control. You can’t do this any more. Keep an open mind. Listen to the eating disorder service people who have their area of expertise and work ‘with’ them. Don’t see support as something being done ‘to’ you but work with them like you’ve done with other professionals in the past. They’re just part of Team Erika and will want you to rediscover your true self.

— ❤ —

Gosh, that felt quite intense to write but I hope the above helps at least one person reading this, whatever their situation. In fact, the structure of pros, cons and how to challenge cons is perhaps a format for a range of ‘What shall I do?’ situations. I’m going to record myself reading the above in the next couple of days and then play it back… because I’ll then be able to hear an external voice talking to me which can feel very different to the inner one. Well, let’s see how that goes.

I’ll be back on Friday or Saturday but, until then, take care

Love Erika xx

Weight up? Weight down? Let’s draw a time line!

Hey guys

I thought I’d share something I did near the beginning of my 13 month journey because I was aware that there’ve been times in my life when I’ve been smaller and others when I’ve been bigger.

Now, there are different reasons why we can put on weight and, to be perfectly open, I usually love cake! I love candy, I love lots of other things that are going to move the scales in a rather undesirable direction. But I’m also aware that stress, emotions, mood, life events, etc. can also really impact.

So, this is what I did:

  • I drew a time line from when I was born to now in my late 40s
  • I got highlighter pens to note times of weight gain, weight loss and stability
  • I then used this to create another time line but with peaks and troughs which helped illustrate the changes in my weight
  • I then thought about what was happening when changes in my weight happened and added notes

— ❤ —

So, I was a 7 lb baby and I didn’t have a problem with my weight as a young child

Primary school, I went through some trauma (all dealt with now ❤ ) and my weight started to go on a little bit as a result.

I started secondary school (aged 12) where I lost some weight and was back in the average range.

My weight started to go on during my secondary years because of some difficulties at home

Bulimia started and the bingeing and purging sent my weight in all directions

In my early 20s, I got married so weight came off – I had a dress to get into!

Months after getting married, I was pregnant so lots of weight gain but I then lost it extremely quickly afterwards… restricting for a while rather unhealthily. Motherhood was a blessing but a bit of a shock at the same time.

My weight was pretty stable during rest of my 20s and for most of my 30s although I was a bit heavier than I wanted to be. Too much socialising!

Late 30s, I developed anorexia due to a significant trauma (all resolved now) and became ill. Started trauma therapy and weight went right up.

I became a carer in my early 40s to one of my children and my weight had remained high until last year. Stress. No binge eating but just found myself turning to snacking.

Last February, the pressure of being a carer started to impact me along with a couple of other things but also Covid presented me with an opportunity to focus on myself. Hearing more and more about Covid and obesity, it spurred me on. But, as I shared on Monday, I’ve now been diagnosed with atypical anorexia due to some pressures.

— ❤ —

So, I found it helpful to do this exercise as it showed that stress and trauma impact me. Now I know this, I can find healthier ways of coping with stress including talking it out with others. Life is full of events and who knows what I may face in the future so I’m determined to stop this yoyoing.

I hope this helps at least one other person out there. Reflecting on our past isn’t always easy but I guess facing up to events, etc. can help free us from this constant cycle of weight changes

So, I’ll be back later this week but, in the meantime, take care

Love Erika xx

Week 27 weigh-in: mmm, no weigh-in :/

Hello folks

A post of woe and positivity today! Yes, this follows my post last Tuesday about how I smashed 100 lbs of weight loss in little over 8 months:

So, let’s start with an analogy. You’re an athlete and you’ve pounded the athletic track to get to that 100 metre finishing line. You’ve gritted your teeth, the finishing line is in sight and, suddenly, you’re there! Woop! You celebrate, you start to slow down whilst thinking of claiming that elusive trophy and then, BAM, you realise that you’ve got another 71 metres to go. SIGH!!!!!

Well, that’s how I’ve been feeling over the past few days with the realisation that my weight loss journey isn’t over yet. I’ve been eating more although I doubt if I’ve gone significantly over 2000 calories. But, yesterday, for the first time for years, I wanted to binge and take laxatives. Yesterday was a stressful day because of COVID and the second lockdown for England which starts this Thursday. It’s unclear right now whether I’ll be able to still run my business. But I need to find healthier ways of dealing with stress as I’m not going back to 329 lbs and, last night, I turned to exercise where I instantly felt better for it afterwards. So, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to be kind to myself for a few days and then, on Thursday when lockdown begins, I’m really going to up the exercise and get those endorphins pumping. Let’s get toning my body and see if I can get under 220 lbs by the time we come out of lockdown on 2nd December. Next week, I’ll brave the scales but I’m just not feeling it today.

Take care

Love Erika xx

Overcoming emotional eating

I wonder if you can relate to any of the following:

  • turning to the snack cupboard when feeling upset
  • eating to deal with stress
  • eating because you’re feeling bored

Emotional eating relates to when food is eaten to manage emotions and if you can relate to this, you’re truly not alone. When I was bulimic and even ended up in an eating disorder unit for 6 weeks because of it, I would consume 1,000s of calories in a very short amount of time. It would usually be food that was high in fat and easy to swallow, and just seemed to fill a hole. I mean, filling that emotional space inside me with food provided that immediate ‘fix’ and felt easier than talking.

So, I guess I thought I’d share my advice purely as someone who’s truly been there:

First, learn to recognise if you are an emotional eater. Once you know, you can then start to move away from it but accepting this can be a hard step in itself, can’t it?

Second, explore what’s leading to it. As I alluded to above, there’s something going on beneath. It may be that you’re unhappy with relationships, your past, the way you see yourself, how life is panning out for you, depression and a host of other reasons. But perhaps grab a journal and write ‘from your heart’ to explore what’s at the crux of how you’re feeling.

Third, find ways of responding to the underlying reason. Yes, you can turn to food if you’re unhappy about what’s happening between you and your friends or turn to food if you’re stressed about work. But food is almost like something you can paper over the cracks with as a temporary fix….but the crack is still there. There may be huge issues at work or with relationships but it’s about dealing with those head on if possible rather than turn to food. Sometimes, we can’t change things…but keep reading! You’ll see why ❤

Fourth, develop a better relationship with food. For decades, I developed a numbness when I ate. I wasn’t aware of what I was eating. The food just kept going in without touching the sides. But I’m now mindful about eating and if I get peckish when I don’t think I should be, I drink water in case I’m actually thirsty or tell myself to wait 30 minutes to see if I’m still hungry. I now take my time eating a meal and really consider every forkful. I’ve heard of some people finding it helps to put the fork down between mouthfuls.

Last week was the first time in 6 months where I almost slipped in my new lifestyle because I’ve a lot of stress here at home being a carer. I don’t know how long our son will be alive for so, yes, I can’t tell you how much I’m hurting right now. But I gave myself a good talking to. You see, I can’t control what’s happening here at home but I can control how I’m looking after myself. There’s no point me feeling rubbish about our situation here AND feeling rubbish that I ate food I didn’t really want. It’s okay to not always be smiley but talk. Talk about how you’re feeling. Find kinder ways of dealing with emotions. I’m discovering that walking for miles really clears my head but more about that another time…

I’ll be back Monday with my next weigh-in, guys, as well as news of some upcoming blogs. Hope you have a lovely weekend.

Love Erika xx