Weight Restoration: Conquering Fears of Weight Restoration in ED Recovery
The fear of weight restoration is one of the most frightening and challenging mental blocks to conquer in eating disorder (ED) recovery. When you are malnourished from starvation or binging and purging, the first step toward physical healing is to stabilize your weight in a healthier range. This can also be the scariest part of the whole eating disorder recovery process because gaining weight means surrendering that intense and desperate need for control. It means rejecting the illusion that being the "skinniest person in a room" equals success, worth, or beauty. It means being forced to accept that you're more than a body, and you are lovable no matter what the scale reads. Without the buffer of weight manipulation to cower behind, you feel exposed in a way that is often uncomfortable and unfamiliar. But shedding this layer of defense is not just a life-saver—it's a turning point to freedom. Here are some practical interventions for conquering the fear of weight restoration in ED recovery.
How I am Working to Conquer My Weight Restoration Fears
I recently turned 27 and have battled an eating disorder since I was 13—that's more than a decade under the influence of this toxic, lethal disease. I have wrestled through seasons of extreme self-destruction and I also have fought to restore healing, wholeness, and vitality which the eating disorder snatched from me.
But now that I'm pursuing recovery, I am confronted with the realization that I can no longer avoid gaining weight. In order to reach my healthiest potential, I need a body that can sustain itself. I need to digest enough calories to fuel my active routine. I need the energy to function and thrive. I need sustenance and nourishment and strength. Instead of fragile bones and sinewed muscles, I need resilience and staying power. None of that is possible if I remain underfed and overexerted, so the alternative I'm faced with is to maintain a healthy weight range.
How Can We Come to Terms with Weight Restoration?
You might wonder, "How does someone with an eating disorder history come to terms with this?"
The answer is that gaining weight is complicated—painful even—but these coping strategies make the weight restoration process seem more bearable when my eating disorder tries to convince me it's unacceptable.
- I am mindful of my body. In the darkest periods of my eating disorder, I felt severed and detached from my body, so I am learning how to tune into its frequency once again. The human body contains an inner wisdom—a capacity to heal and realign itself—but for years, I ignored that wisdom and suffered the consequence of disconnection. Now I'm choosing to listen and discern what my body needs, trusting its ability to keep me safe, integrated and alive. This mindful awareness grounds me in the present, so I can focus on the physical and sensory experience of having a body that's whole—no matter how it looks.
- I preemptively address my triggers. Sometimes eating disorder triggers can be eliminated, but other times, they're unavoidable. I have come to accept that, in recovery, I will encounter triggering situations, but I am not powerless against them. There are tactical strides I can take to relieve this pressure and decrease the urge to cause my body harm. I can ask friends and relatives to hide their scales when I'm around. I can engage in light exercise after a meal to ease the physical discomfort and mental anxiety. I can even tolerate eating in social contexts by prioritizing the conversations and connections over agonizing about the food.
- I find daily reasons to affirm myself. Self-talk informs my entire perspective on who I am and what I offer. If I communicate positive, sincere words to myself, I feel empowered and validated. But if I spew negative words, the results are insecurity, criticism, and self-loathing. So I reorient my thinking from negative to positive with daily affirmations spoken aloud in the mirror. Some of them are connected to body image, but others are non-physical and focus instead on my talents or attributes. These might include:
- I am devoted to relationships.
- I stand for truth and justice.
- I show kindness, compassion, and generosity.
- I have a purpose for being on this earth.
- I am worthy of respect and love regardless of the size I wear.
- I have a unique identity that cannot be weighed or measured.
- I don't need to fear life without an eating disorder.
- I choose to embrace healing and health.
Schurrer, M. (2018, July 25). Weight Restoration: Conquering Fears of Weight Restoration in ED Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivinged/2018/7/weight-restoration-conquering-fears-of-weight-restoration-in-ed-recovery