These recovery commitments posts are outlining some of the most common reasons that people in recovery get anxious and stressed and suggesting some simplifications for those moments.
I believe that one of the fundamental reasons that we feel stressed in recovery is because we forget that we are meant to be pissing our eating disorder brain off! I will be looking at ways to help you keep your focus when your eating disorder is screaming at you.
One of the primary commitments is committing to not suppressing your natural bodyweight. For many of us, this requires a commitment to weight gain.
I’l repeat that, a commitment to weight gain.
This commitment will filter down into all your actions and choices, so it’s kinda important.
If you want recovery, but don’t want to gain weight … well, that’s why you haven’t recovered yet. Full recovery isn’t a magic trick, you have to eat your way there! I know that for me, for many years I was “trying” to gain weight without ever actually being fully committed to weight gain. When I was committed to weight gain, and committed to eating as if I were trying to gain weight, then I gained weight.
For example. In the years I was “trying” to gain weight:
- I was still exercising. Exercising and purposefully burning calories via movement directly conflicts with a goal of weight gain.
- I was still eating a lot of salad and low-nutrientdensity foods. I have nothing personal against salad, but that is not a choice of food that a person committed to weight gain would eat.
- I was still eating as if I were on a diet. This is the really crazy part. I was still eating diet foods, small portions, and going long periods of time without eating.
As you can see, if a person is truly committed to weight gain, none of the above things should be happening. So when I finally did commit to weight gain, the following happened:
- I completely stopped all exercise and superfluous movement.
- I only allowed myself to eat nutrient dense foods.
- I ate whenever it was possible for me to eat.
Most of all, I consistently ate as if my mission in life was to gain weight. That meant that my food choices were very different. I saw every bite an an opportunity to get as many calories into myself as possible. I ate like I meant it because I had committed to doing so. And it worked. I gained weight. Who would have thought!
Oh, and here is something important: If you are not “underweight” by the doctors chart, you are still underweight if you are using exercise and food restriction to control your bodyweight.
Committing to weight gain reduces anxiety
Committing to gaining weight made what I was doing a lot less anxiety provoking. Most of my inner conflicts and dilemmas came from that illogical fear of weight gain. Once I was committed, I could answer those fear thoughts of gaining weight with “that’s the whole point!” This rendered them much less significant. I was saying “bring it on” to the thing that my brain was trying to scare me with.
Decisions became much simpler. Previously when choosing what to eat I would get stuck between wanting to challenge myself by eating more and the fear of making that change. The fear of weight gain. I was trying to do the impossible and do recovery without pissing my anorexia brain off. That’s an incredibly stressful decision making process around every food choice because one can’t win. You can’t have both. You can’t have recovery and not piss anorexia off.
When I committed, there was only one right answer to any food decision and that was “as much as possible.” The most nutrient dense foods in the biggest quantity I could eat. Simple. No dilemma. Of course my anorexia brain screamed at me, but it was screaming at me mostly with fear of weight gain, so again I would answer “that’s the point.”
It was wonderful to lose all that to-ing and fro-ing in my head. Should I or shouldn’t I? Can I or can’t I? Everything became much clearer and simpler once I was all-in and facing in the right direction with my bodyweight goals. I’m not saying I didn’t have doubts because they were there constantly, but once I am committed to something I am committed, and that took me all the way to fully establishing a nutritionally rehabilitated body.
Weight gain is the goal
It turns out that after years of “tying to gain” weight, when I committed to gaining weight I did just that very successfully.
So anyone who is trying to gain weight without success, from someone who has been there, I call you on your bullshit. If you were trying to gain weight you would do. I can promise you that if you truly eat enough food and rest, you can and will gain weight.
So if you aren’t gaining weight, ask yourself “why this is?” Look at the way you are eating and ask yourself if your commitment to weight gain is showing in the way that you eat or not. Look at your activities and your choices, and ask yourself if you commitment to weight gain is reflected in those. Then, with that information, make the changes that you need to make. Let go of the excuses and the imaginary obstacles and start eating like you mean it.
Above all else, check yourself. If you are eating a low-fat yoghurt that isn’t good enough. That doesn’t reflect a commitment to weight gain. Eat ice cream instead. If you are eating one scoop of ice cream that isn’t good enough either. Don’t sell yourself short. You can do this. You want to get better, now start acting like you want to gain weight.