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Me and my attempt at recovery (so far)?..

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  • #11034
    spears
    Participant

    Hi there,
    So, I wasn’t really sure what forum to post in but in the end I decided that Eating Disorders was probably the most aptI have a lot to say ? a lot of experiences to share (of dieting, body image issues, hormonal / menstrual irregularities, etc.) and a lot of questions to ask. But as this is an introductory post I guess I’ll just try to keep things as brief as possible and maybe add any further details / ask more questions later?

    First of all, some details about me that y?all might want to know?
    I’m female. Age 32. Height 5? 5?. Weight in June 132lbs. (Highest Weight: 154lbs. Lowest Weight: 120lbs). Current Weight: I have no idea and have no intention of checking! I started taking my temo with an oral thermometer 3 weeks ago and my waking temp is anywhere between 35.8 (96.4F) and 36.2 (97.2F). I started restricting when I was about 10 years old (my mum put me on a diet because I was chubby), and from then until now I have dieted more or less constantly with numerous different diets. Most didn’t work and the few occasions I did lose weight were a consequence of illness or god knows what. Intentionally losing weight never really seemed to work for me ? my weight always seemed to be something outside my control. Or rather, I tended to feel that my efforts, while intended to achieve weight loss, actually simply stopped me gaining weight. I believed that as soon as I stopped restricting food and/or exercising I would gain weight and that the only way to lose weight was to restrict and exercise more?.I still kind of believe this (as I have no evidence to the contrary?except that further restriction and more exercise never worked?but that’s because I’m weak-willed and lazy and just couldn’t be strict enough?right?! Hmmmm). I have always disliked my body / appearance. I carry excess fat in my upper arms, thighs, butt and face. At my largest I didn’t look ?curvy? I looked dumpy. At my smallest I didn’t look toned or healthy or thin, I looked dumpy?just a smaller dumpy. I have never felt comfortable in my body, at any weight, although I do feel more comfortable when my weight is lower and my stomach is empty.
    Okay, moving on?.

    So I chose the ED forum because I have finally come to the realisation (and been willing to admit to myself) that, although not suffering from anorexia or (vomiting) bulimia, and despite not being ?underweight?, I have had disordered eating behaviours since about the age of 10. I came to this realisation after coming across Go Kaleo and 180 Degree Health two months ago and since then I have been trying to ?refeed? with the aim of overcoming my lifelong preoccupation with food and weight. However, learning to have a normal and healthy relationship with food (and my body) was not, and is not, the primary reason underlying my decision to Eat The Food?For most of my adult life, if you had asked me what physical / mental / emotional changes I would have liked I would have said the following:

    1. I want to be leaner (i.e. not have so much fat on my upper arms, thighs, stomach and face/chin)

    2. I want to have more energy (i.e. not be mentally and physically tired all the time)

    3. I want to be happy (i.e. not suffering from low-level but chronic depression)

    However, if you had asked me the same question two months ago, I would have added something else to the top of that list:

    I want my hormones to be normal.

    Now, I live in the UK and it’s VERY hard to get hormones tested ?properly? over here on the NHS and of the few tests I have had done in the past I have always come out as ?in the normal range?. So what made me think I had a hormone problem (despite at least 3 doctors telling me I was all good)? Well,

    1. I hadn’t had a period for 2 years, and my periods had been irregular and getting lighter for 4 years prior to their disappearance (although this never really bothered me as my weight was healthy / high and, quite frankly, not having to worry about periods was kind of nice!)

    2. I had been taking an oral contraceptive since the age of 19 and whenever I tried to stop taking it, my skin would break out in a big way and after a month or so I would cave and go back to taking the pill.

    3. Finally, and this is a biggy, in April of this year I had abdominal surgery to remove a fibroid which had grown to 15cmx11cmx9cm and weighed 1kg. (If you’re interested you can read about my fibroid ?experience? on my blog (http://pearspersonaltraining.com/blog/).

    I now have a lovely c-section scar on my abdomen. Just awesome. And apparently fibroids tend to grow back. Double awesome. Needless to say, I DO NOT under any circumstances want to have abdominal surgery again.

    I have spoken to my GP and have finally gotten a referral to a gynaecological specialist (you would not believe how hard that was to get!) but my appointment is not until October (thank you NHS). In the meantime, I have been trying to figure out what caused the fibroid to grow, and I came to the conclusion that my amenorrhea, crazy-bad skin (when off the pill, which I have not taken since Sept 2012) and the fibroid were probably all the result of the same underlying hormonal imbalance (whatever that might be)?.after a lot of googling and PubMeding, I decided that maybe I had functional hypothalamic amenorrhea. After a bit more googling I found Go Kaleo and then 180DH and I further decided that, um, maybe I needed to eat more.
    So at the beginning of June I started eating a bit more. Nothing too crazy, just adding in an extra bar of chocolate or a flapjack each day. After a few days though I found that I was full-on ?binging? quite regularly ? eating easily 2,000+ kcals in the space of an hour or so (on top of my ?normal? food for the day). Instead of trying to restrict my intake after a ?binge?, I made my way over to YourEatopia and read about people’s recovery experiences there and tried to convince myself that my body’s craving for the excess food was just that ? my body telling me what it needed (rather than my greedy, weak-willed personality getting out of control). Since then I’ve more or less tried to eat whenever I am hungry and whatever I am hungry for. I often find it hard to know whether I truly am hungry or just eating out of boredom/routine, and I can’t always tell the difference between my body wanting to eat something it needs and wanting to eat something I know is ?healthy?. However, on the whole, I think I’m getting better at making these decisions (although I eagerly anticipate the day when I no longer need to devote so much time and brain power to thinking about what I put in my mouth!).

    Since eating more food I have noticed a number of ?positives?:
    1. I got my period mid-July! This is the first one I’ve had in 2 years, and it is also the heaviest and longest I’ve had in 6 years! For me this is the biggest sign of improvement I could have had. Are my hormones balanced out now? Will I grow another fibroid anyway? Will I get another period next week? Who knows. But one period after so long is a BIG step in the right direction.

    2. My boobs are a little bigger. Not much, admittedly, but for the last few years at least I have been a AA and I’d say they are a good A now. I have always had small boobs (even at my heaviest of approx.. 154lb I was only a B cup) but going to a AA was ridiculous?.I thought if I could just get a bit leaner/smaller everywhere else I wouldn’t mind the small boobs but I never managed to achieve that and so always felt (and still do feel) that my body had very unattractive proportions.

    3. The hair on my arms and legs has started growing. I didn’t really notice that I had no hair on my upper arms or thighs until it started to grow back about 4 weeks ago ? I started noticing hairs when the light shone on them and thinking ?hmmm, that’s weird, I don’t remember noticing hairs there before?. I then noticed that I need to shave my lower legs more frequently ? I was used to shaving my legs about once every 7-10days (they?d get a bit prickly in this time but nothing too bad and you could barely see the regrowth), but the last week or so I’ve had to shave my legs every 3-5 days, and if I leave them longer they are very rough and the hair regrowth is much more visible. Again, now that I think about it, I always used to shave my legs quite regularly and would be very self-conscious about obvious regrowth. I don’t know when I started needing to shave them less?.at least 4 years ago I would say.

    4. My digestion has improved considerably. For the last 2 years or so I have had a ‘very bad stomach??.I would often get a lot of gas, bloating, and pain (sometimes made worse by dairy, bread, fruit, sugar, raw vegetables etc. but not always?often it didn’t matter what I ate) and I also rarely had a firm stool (bowel movements were frequent, but just not firm?.sorry if that’s TMI!!). For the first few weeks of eating more / ?bingeing? my stomach was very uncomfortable and I had no change in these symptoms. But for the last few weeks I have noticed that I can eat more or less anything (dairy, bread, sugar, fruit, raw veg) and I don’t get pain, gas or bloating. My stools are also firmer. My digestion still isn’t great, but it’s MUCH better than it has been.

    5. The ?chicken skin? on my upper arms has significantly improved. I have had small, raised red bumps on my arms since I was about 10 years old. The severity of the condition has varied over the years but it has never been as ?good? as it is right now.

    Okay, so they’re the positives?what about the negatives?
    1. First of all, my skin went all to hell within a week or so of eating more. It wasn’t great to begin with but I suddenly started getting large, red and painful spots on my face (primarily chin, jaw and forehead) and neck. Last week my skin started to clear a little and now it is almost back to normal (which is basically the odd large red spot, and quite a few smaller blackheads / whiteheads). I’m wondering if I will get a flare-up when/if I get my next period.

    2. For the first few weeks of eating more I felt like I had more energy, but for the last 2-3 weeks I have been feeling more tired and fatigued and have less energy for workouts / exercise. I know I ‘shouldn’t ? exercise but that is one compromise I will not make ? after my surgery in April I decided to cut out a lot of my ?intense cardio? workouts and decided to focus solely on workouts that were fun and/or performance based. I practice cartwheels &handstands,I practice yoga daily, I climb 2-3 x a week, I run once a week, I Kick-box once a week, and I continue to work on my pull up (I can do 6 consecutive body weight pull ups and I figure that if I can continue to be able to manage 6 despite gaining weight then I can’t have gained too much!!). Basically, exercise for me is part of my identity and it’s a large part of what I enjoy in my life. I try very, very hard to not fall into the trap of working out to burn calories (which I used to do until very recently) and on the whole I think I succeed at that. (Please don’t tell me to exercise less ? I won’t listen and it will p*ss me off.)

    3. Okay so this is, for me, and I’m sure for most people on here, the big negative. This is also why I ultimately decided to post this in the ED forum?.I have gained weight / fat and I HATE it. I don’t weigh myself so I have no idea how much actual weight I have gained, but I can feel and see that I have more fat on my body ? especially on my stomach, thighs, butt and lower back. My clothes are tighter and when I do certain yoga poses I can see and feel the extra ?rolls?. Some of this might be water retention ? I definitely wake up some mornings and my legs are slimmer (my ‘skinny? trousers are a very objective measure of this) or my lower back is less pudgy looking. However, I have no clue how to distinguish between fat and water retention! Like I said, I HATE being larger / fatter. Every day I battle with thoughts of ?dieting? again. I think about eating more food but only ?healthy? food. I think about adding in more exercise. I think about trying to eat smaller quantities but more frequently. And sometimes I think about properly dropping my calories back an Intermittent Fasting. I also am constantly looking in the mirror to see how much bigger I look, trying on clothes to see how much tighter they feel, thinking about my size compared to others etc. etc. etc. Basically, a best part of my day, my thoughts and my energy are devoted to my body and the food I eat. I want to think of other things. I want to put my energy into other things. I want to DO other things. But I’m scared that if I stop thinking and monitoring then before I know it I will be 200lb and at a point where I won’t have the mental strength to ever recover. To be honest, even the thought of being 154lb again scares me. I have been incredibly unhappy with my weight, body and appearance ever since I was about 10 years old but I definitely felt worse when I was at my heaviest. As much as I want to get rid of the obsessive thoughts about eating and body shape, I think I want even more to not be ?fat??.for the time being I am keeping the panic under control and am continuing to eat on average 3000+kcals a day. However, I don’t know how much more weight I can gain before I freak out and resort to old habits.

    Okay, wow, that was in no way ?brief?. I’m very sorry for the long post!! I guess I don’t really know why I wanted to write thisI think maybe I just needed to share my experience with a group that understands what I’m going through. I literally have no one in my life that I feel prepared to talk to about these things?.not in such an honest way anyway.

    If any of you who have managed to stick with me through this ridiculously long ramble have any comments or suggestions for me (except for telling me to exercise less :P ) then I’d love to hear them. Otherwise, I guess you might see me again soon when I have some specific questions in mind!

    • This topic was modified 9 years, 1 month ago by spears.
    • This topic was modified 9 years, 1 month ago by spears.
    #11094
    saisrice
    Participant

    Hello Spears, I’m so happy that you’ve seen a lot of improvements and positives and especially about getting your period back. Healing my endocrine system and getting my hormones back to normal was my motivation. Now I’ve had 3 periods in a row and hope to be pregnant soon:)

    Regarding your comment about constantly looking in the mirror, trying on clothes, comparing yourself to others, one thing that has helped me is mindfulness meditation. It is something I practice every day and that I incorporate it into my daily life. For example, if I notice a thought come up about my body compared to another persons, I notice it (but without judgement). Just noticing it is the first step and you don’t have to do anything from there but some things that you can do are just to bring yourself back to the present. For example, if I notice someone on the beach and think about my own body I may notice that I’m thinking unkind thoughts and then I’ll look around the beach and notice how beautiful it is and then I’ll get back into my book or my conversation. Easier said than done I know but it really works and your mind gets used to it.

    I have also recently picked up EFT again and that’s amazing. Have you tried that?

    I know exactly how you feel about hating the weight gain and fearing gaining more. I can’t even think about it and hope I don’t gain any more. I didn’t weigh myself for a long time and then did and that was hard but I kept going-eating and putting on a bathing suit and kayaking and having fun.

    You may want to stop trying on clothes that are getting tight. I once read that trying on clothes is another way of “weighing” yourself. Put them away and if return to that size again then you can get them out. If you are thinner than you can buy some smaller ones. Buy clothes that you like and that you feel comfortable in as your body changes and heals. Nothing stays the same and I imagine that your body will find it’s happy place. I’ve gained about 22 lbs since I stopped dieting and if someone had told me that before I started I would have never done this but now I’m so happy that I did. It’s worth every pound. I don’t think that this is my set point (I think I’m heavier than I’m meant to be) but I know that I’ll reach that point when it’s time and that won’t be from dieting or restricting. After I was pregnant I never thought that I’d loose the baby weight but it just feel off and I was thinner than ever in my life. I remember putting away all my clothes (even pajamas) and when I first had a baby looking at those tiny clothes and feeling so mad. But then I surpassed my pre-pregnancy size and I was eating whatever I wanted. At one point I even thought I had a tapeworm because I ate and was so small. Anyway…

    I know that it may not be for a year or more (maybe less but who knows) before my body is at it’s healthy set point but I’m actually okay with my body and love it (for the most part). What’s helped me is not looking in the mirror too much or at least not looking at the parts of me that are changing (and of course finding the beauty in what I see in the mirror). Also, not spending too much time thinking about how much bigger my body is getting. I too have noticed in yoga how my body has grown but I just use mindfulness and notice that and then bring myself back to the present. I know it won’t do me any good to obsess about the size of my stomach or legs. I just try and love it and feel grateful that my body has healed. I know that no one loves me any less because I’ve gained weight and I just try and remember that and enjoy life.

    #11099
    homepearle
    Participant

    Spears, I’m so glad to read your story this morning. I woke up at 3:30 this morning obsessing about my body. I could not go back to sleep because I was too busy berating myself for my weight gain and thinking that I had not made enough strides towards better health to warrant continuing the weight gain. Ultimately, what I hope to gain on this journey is health. Not that I am terribly unhealthy, I have never been without a period but I have had hormonal issues, thyroid issues and dental issues. The dental issues are severe bone loss not due to bad oral hygiene but most likely due to malnutrition. I have spent a good portion of my life restricting food to some degree. I’m 5’2″, female, 42 and 135 lbs. at my heaviest and 105 lbs. at my smallest. I’m somewhere in the upper end of the middle now (I stopped weighing when I hit 120 lbs.).

    Anyway, reading your story has helped me to focus on the positive things I have seen so far. Namely, my oral health. I don’t know how but I can tell that it is better. Also, I am no longer constipated! Woo! Hoo! I am coming off low carb which is so hard to stop especially when I was told during this time that “you look the best you have ever looked” while I was on it. I am sleeping better. Not quite as good as I would like but better. My temps after ovulation are already staying in the 98’s. Before ovulation it is difficult to get to 98 but staying in the 97’s.

    I still have some work to do and I am deathly afraid of gaining more weight. But, I know that I am making great strides and I have to focus on my health. That is the only thing that will keep me going.

    Sorry for the rambling but I am thankful for your timely post!

    #11147
    spears
    Participant

    Hi saisrice and homepearle :)

    Thank you so much for your replies – if nothing else, it is so reassuring to connect with people who are going through the same thing and understand the mental and emotional turmoil that seems to accompany this process. I’m also very happy to hear that reading my post made you feel better homepearle!

    saisrice, you are 100% right about using clothes as a means of ‘weighing’!! I think because I have spent many years in the personal training / fitness world I have bought into the whole ‘the scale doesn’t matter, it’s how your clothes fit’ premise. Hence, I kind of feel that I don’t care if I weigh ‘X’ as long as my size does not increase. After reading your reply last night I actually caved and tried on my ‘skinny’ trousers (I had avoided them for about 2 weeks as they were getting very tight and I ‘knew’ my thighs and butt had gotten bigger). Anyway, I discovered that my trousers no longer fit AT ALL…this prompted me to tear through my wardrobe looking for outfits that I could wear that looked cute and made me feel good. To my horror I found that a large percentage of my clothes do not fit or look hideous….

    I kind of freaked out at this point and felt completely distraught – thoughts of 1800kcal diets and 2 x a day training sessions started creeping through my mind…I really HATE being this much bigger!!! It reminds me so much of when I was a teenage and desperately unhappy (very , very close to suicidal) and I hated everything about my appearance (my skin, my hair, my double chin, my face in general).. I can’t go back to that. I just can’t.

    Eventually, however, I kind of managed to talk myself down from the ledge as it were, and this morning I’ve managed to put up a make-shift barrier to prevent me getting near the edge again.

    I asked myself what bothered me about getting bigger (besides reminding me of my teenage years) and these are the things that I came up with:

    1. I think of being big as being unfit (when I was a teenager I did NO exercise AT ALL)

    2. I think of being big as being horribly ‘fat’ (i.e. lots of flabby flesh and cellulite)

    3. I don’t fit in a lot my clothes (mainly shorts, trousers and tight/short tops)

    So, the things is:

    1. I’m NOT unfit – I can go out and run 3 miles easily, anytime I like. I can perform 6-8 bodyweight chin ups. I can blast my way through a Body Combat class and perform as well as or better than most of the guys. I can do handstands against a wall, and cartwheels, and I can do some pretty awesome yoga poses. I’m also not too bad at climbing (for a girl). All of this is still true, despite the weight gain.

    2. I don’t actually look that different naked….I am bigger, and I can see that I have more fat on my stomach and legs, but it doesn’t look ‘bad’ (in the way that I have sometimes looked when I have gained a lot of water weight after a ‘binge’)…I’m just bigger.

    3. This is the big realisation I think…..I think I need to get rid of the clothes that don’t fit me. Apart from a few pairs of shorts and a dress, all the clothes that don’t fit me are at least 5 years old. First of all, I’m not sure that many of them were even that flattering before I gained the weight recently – my body has changed shape quite a bit since I started lifting (think massive lats / back and arms) and so certain cuts just don’t look good on me. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I don’t know why I need to fit into those clothes!! Part of me thinks “well ‘X’ at work is a lovely healthy size and shape and she would look awesome in those clothes – if she can be that size and look good then so should you.” I also kind of have this belief that women only look good when they’re small. However, when I think about it, I can think of plenty of women who are lean and look awesome (think Juli Bauer from PALEOMG or Sofia Vergare – as she is now, not when she was in her 20s) but who are in no way ‘small’ or ‘petite’ and when I think of them trying to squeeze into my ‘thin’ clothes I can see that they would have the same problems as me!! So…although I am not happy with the fat I have accumulated lately and at some point I would like to look more ‘toned’ (hate that word, but everyone knows what is meant by it), I am not going to hold onto the hope of being a certain dress size. I am going to get rid of my ‘thin’ clothes and this weekend I intend to go out and buy a couple of new outfits that suit my current shape and make me look and feel good (if that’s possible :/ ).

    At the end of the day, I want to look attractive. I think it’s time I learned that taking up less space does not make someone more attractive – it’s not the amount of space you take up, it’s the quality of the stuff you fill the space with.

    PS – This is Juli Bauer….https://www.againfaster.com/blog/2012/01/14/juli-says-why-i-train/ ….now way would those awesome thighs (or lats or arms) fit into my ‘thin’ clothes.

    PPS saisrice , I’ve have ‘flirted’ with Mindfullness in the past….I will get on that again!! Thanks for the reminder / prompt :)

    #11151
    saisrice
    Participant

    Spears, I’m sorry that after reading my reply you went to try on your skinny jeans. I hope it wasn’t triggering! I’m really happy that you talked yourself down from the ledge and that you’re getting rid of the clothes that no longer fit! I did the same and am focusing on looking attractive too. I’ve been living at the beach for the past 2 weeks and have been thinking that I look pretty attractive recently. I think it’s the sun and how good I feel after a nice shower. My sisters have also given me some of their clothes and that helps. I also bought some bigger clothes. There are also no full length mirrors here so that’s a plus. I’m hoping I can continue this on once I’m home. My husband is so supportive and tells me I’m so beautiful and I know that he loves me and every pound I’ve gained.

    I think finding women with strong curvy bodies is awesome. And I love what you wrote- “taking up less space does not make someone more attractive ? it’s not the amount of space you take up, it’s the quality of the stuff you fill the space with” I totally believe that too! Have you looked at http://curveappeal.tumblr.com/? Did I already mention that website? I apologize if I did.

    Anyway, good luck to you!

    #15153
    hollym
    Participant

    Hi I am responding because I am amazed by similarity in your motivations to mine for rrarf. I will write from my keyboard not phone properly. Did not.want to lose your story. Me bigger than u w huge fibroid. 5 foot 6 and 175 lb after 2 kids.

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