Practising self-compassion and self-acceptance can be tricky when navigating body changes in eating disorder recovery.
Our Guest Blogger, Cara Lisette, shares her tips on what she found helpful in her experience of recovery and weight restoration.
Changes to your body in eating disorder recovery can be incredibly difficult to manage, both physically and emotionally. Having been through the weight restoration process myself several times, I thought it might be helpful to put some tips together about how to navigate and cope with these changes, in order to keep moving forward and progressing in recovery.
1) Stop body checking
Body checking can really keep us stuck. It includes things like weighing and measuring yourself, repeatedly touching different areas of your body, taking photos of yourself, looking at yourself in reflective surfaces, trying on different clothes to track your size and more. Doing this only increases your focus and attention on your body, leading to more anxiety.
2) Wear comfy clothes
Wear clothes that feel gentle on your body and make you feel comfortable, even if that means new clothes or trying on things you haven’t worn in a long time. You might feel the need to wear baggy or loose clothing to start with – that is totally fine.
3) Get rid of clothes that don’t fit
Throw out, sell or donate things that don’t fit you anymore. They will only sit in your wardrobe taunting you, and if you’re trying to recover part of that is learning that you won’t fit into those clothes unless you are unwell again, which is likely what you’re trying to move away from.
4) Try not to panic
You might feel so anxious you want to physically escape your body, but that’s not something that can happen and we have to come to terms with that. Panicking won’t serve you. So whilst it is easier said than done, please try not to. Do things that reduce your anxiety and be kind to yourself. You can do this.
5) Write out what your body does for you
While you may not like your body, it does serve a purpose. Think about all the different functions of the parts of your body you don’t like, and what you are able to do as a result. For example, your legs are able to take you to the places you want to go, even if you hate how they look.
6) Think about what you do like about your body
There might not be anything you can think of to put on this list, but try and think of things that you even feel neutrally about. This can help you to realise that there are things you can appreciate about your body.
7) Unfollow triggering social media accounts
Remove people who make you feel bad about your body. Unfollow them, mute them, hide their stories, whatever you need to do to stop yourself viewing content that is harmful to you and your recovery. It is important to separate yourself from things that make the weight gain process feel even more difficult than it already is. Also, follow people who do make you feel good about yourself.
8) Don’t restrict or compensate
Really, really try to commit to the process. I know how hard that is, and how tempting it is to cut corners or give in to using behaviours. Doing this only prolongs the inevitable, and the longer you delay it for, the longer you have to put yourself through the process of seeing the scales and your body changing.
9) Focus on your goals
There is a reason you are trying to recover. Think about the things you want to do and achieve that aren’t compatible with having an eating disorder, and remind yourself of them constantly. Write them down, stick them up somewhere, say them out loud.
10) Think about what is important to you
Your body changing is likely to feel like the most important thing in the world. It’s very easy to lose sight of the other things that matter when you are caught up in recovery. Try to think about everything in your life that is important to you outside of your eating disorder, to help to regain some perspective.
Remember, weight restoration is not forever. Ask other people to remind you why you are putting yourself through so much short term discomfort (and it is short term) – because you want your life to be different and your body changing is a part of that. Even though the distress associated with your body changing feels like it will last forever, it is a temporary process that can lead to permanent and worthwhile changes to your life. You can do this!
Read more from Orri Guest Bloggers:
- Change the Story, with Hope Virgo: the intentions behind the campaign – Guest Blogger
- The emotional experience of having and recovering from an eating disorder – Guest Blogger
- Keeping motivated in recovery – Guest Blogger
- Choosing a life without an eating disorder meant confronting why I needed it in the first place – Guest Blogger