Recovering from an eating disorder isn’t particularly easy at any time of the year, but I always find it especially difficult around the New Year. For starters, you’ve just gotten through the holidays, which are extremely stressful in and of themselves, even if you don’t have an eating disorder.
And then come New Year’s resolutions. If your eating disorder is anything like mine, it rejoices at the idea of flying under the radar and hitching a ride on everyone else’s “Get fit in 2013!” wagon.
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, it is no surprise that “get in shape” or “lose weight” rank in the top five. Our society is increasingly obsessed with appearance and the illusion of perfection. It is entirely too easy to get sucked into the television commercials for the latest diet craze or cheapest gym membership.
Maybe, in the first three days of 2013, you’ve already run across friends who are trying to lose those “last 20 pounds” or who are joining the gym down the road. Maybe you would like to do the same. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you if the choice to do so is right for you.
Your recovery, like mine, is individual. One thing about our recoveries is similar, though – regardless of our eating disorder diagnosis: by choosing to recover, we’ve already made our resolution.
Choosing Recovery from Your Eating Disorder Was Your Resolution
When you resolve to do something, you choose to do it. You make a decision and make a commitment to yourself.
I’ve never heard of anybody “accidentally” recovering from an eating disorder. You choose recovery – you resolve to do it. I resolved to recover. Hopefully you have, too.
Because I have already made that resolution, any other resolution I make has to reaffirm that. Each of my potential new year’s resolutions has to support the decision that I have already made to recover.
- I resolved to run another half marathon. I have a history of compulsively exercising and restricting my intake to starvation levels. I still struggle at times to maintain my weight when the most strenuous exercise I get is yoga or running after the kids I babysit. Running a half marathon this year does not, in any way, benefit or reaffirm my recovery. It had to go.
- I resolved to quit smoking. This resolution does reaffirm my recovery. I started smoking when I was in treatment and then, only for two reasons: to avoid feeling hungry and to deal with my anxiety around weight gain. So by choosing to quit smoking, I am allowing myself to get back in touch with my hunger and fullness cues, as well as finding healthier ways to deal with my anxiety. These are great things for my recovery.
- I resolved to spend more time in prayer and reading the Bible. My spiritual life plays a huge role in my recovery. In spending time with God each day, I am building my self-esteem by truly listening when He says I am worthy. This resolution reaffirms my recovery because I am better able to make recovery-minded choices when I believe myself to be worthy of them.
Examine Your Resolutions
It’s an easy time of the year to get tripped up. You can easily make a new year’s resolution that sounds good on the surface, but isn’t going to help you in the long run.
Is resolving to eat XXXX calories a day helping you reach or maintain a healthy weight? Or keeping you obsessed with counting calories?
Is resolving to run a 5k making you feel strong? Or is it a convenient excuse for you to run and burn more calories?
Is resolving to lose X pounds motivating you to health? Or keeping you fixated on an impossible ideal?
I encourage you to take time today and look at the resolutions you’ve made for 2013. Are they reaffirming your choice to recover from your eating disorder?
Or might they be reaffirming your eating disorder itself?