I’ve talked here before about my journey with anorexia. As what I’d call a “recovering anorexic,” I’ve enjoyed a number of years of healthy body weight without too much thinking thanks to a nice eating routine that kept matched my caloric output and input pretty well.
But. As I’ve mentioned lately, all routines have gone out the window. That includes eating routines.
Long story short, despite eating an amount that feels right, I’ve lost about 10 pounds over the last month or so. For most people, that’s a welcome result, but for me, I never had 10 pounds to lose. All my clothes fit loosely. My skinny jeans look baggy. Even my bike clothes aren’t as snug as before.
I realized that I have also been doing stuff like hiking the Kendall Katwalk — a 12-mile hike — with food, yes, but just a PB&J, an apple, and a few handfuls of trail mix aren’t going to fuel a five-hour effort. Similarly, I did a 50-mile solo bike ride with no stops and no food — I just never felt hungry or in need of fuel.
I’m not actively or intentionally restricting my diet, but I haven’t purchased any of my regular food while living with my parents. When I look in the fridge or the pantry, I just think: “Meh. Nothing looks good. I’ll skip it.” I eat breakfast, snack, lunch, and dinner; but whatever I’m doing isn’t cutting it.
Clearly I can’t eat based on “feel.”
It’s time to fall back on some anorexia-defeating behaviors that I know so well: scheduled eating and actively pursuing healthy calories.
It sounds dumb and obvious: I need to make a plan for what I’ll eat, then make time to go to the grocery store and buy it. But this is hard for me; for nearly the last decade, I only rarely went to the store. Now I have to get used to taking care of myself this way. Once I have it, I need to eat something that contains protein, carbs, and fruit or vegetable every two to three hours.
That’s the physical, logistical side of the situation. But I never lose weight without underlying psychological reasons. Sometimes I have to dig for a while to figure out what’s going on, but this time it’s pretty easy. My entire flippin’ life feels like a ball of chaos.
I’m not actively thinking, “I feel like life is out of control, I’m going to try to regain a modicum of control by restricting my food.” Yet subconsciously that’s happening. Paradoxically, hunger makes me feel better. I need to remind myself that I’m not in control when anorexia brain rules. Only making healthy eating choices will let me have true agency over my life in the food and body weight arena.
In addition to the external eating habits, I need to spend time talking to myself again about this. Notice that stomach growl? That’s telling you you’re hungry, and if you want to be the one in charge of your body weight, you have to take care of this. If you want to keep biking and being active, you have to fuel. If you want to enjoy a healthy, whole life in the future, you have to eat.
This, of course, is the hard part.