Don’t Tell Me About Your Weight Loss (Please!)

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Everything about recovering from an eating disorder is counter cultural. While the world is screaming at us to exercise more and eat less, we’re trying to tell ourselves to put more on our plates and quit it with the obsessive working out.

This is something that lately has been really hard for me. I think it may be because we’re coming into summer weather here in Australia and everyone seems to be talking about the latest diet they’re on or that they’ve kicked up their exercise intensity to get that “bikini body”. Every time I hear someone telling me about their new exercise regime I immediately become jealous that I can’t join them – in the conversation and in their action. With my perfectionist tendencies and natural discipline, it would be so easy for me to jump into some form of “summer body challenge” and do well…but at the same time I know that’s exactly my problem. I would do it, but I wouldn’t stop – no matter what.

Anyone recovering from an ED knows what I’m talking about. We know that as soon as we start a new so called “health kick” we’re in trouble, because it’s a very slippery slope. And at the bottom we ironically find ourselves back where we started: in a very, very unhealthy place.

Whenever I hear about weight loss from my friends or on TV, or even overhear strangers’ talking about it, I immediately think back to that disgustingly good feeling I used to get in the darkest stages of my ED. The feeling I got as I watched my weight drop lower and lower. I had such a sense of control and power and to be honest, in the midst of the often emasculating journey that is recovery, I sometimes long for that feeling again (especially when the topic of weight loss comes up).

In my experience, trying to avoid weight loss talk during recovery is one of the hardest things to do. Our culture is obsessed with it; we measure worth by it, celebrate it and look down on those who don’t aspire to it. I do my very best to steer clear of the subject, but it’s proving nearly impossible! I’ve even told friends I don’t want to hear about their weight loss, the foods they’ve cut out or how many hours they spent in the gym this week, but unless you understand life with ED it can be hard to really get where I’m coming from. Engaging in this kind of talk is unbelievably unhealthy for me. Trust me, anyone who’s had an ED does not need your help in this domain. We are the experts. We know all the tricks. There’s no diet or workout you can imagine that we haven’t already thought of and fantastised about trying.

So, what are we supposed to do (assuming that moving to the mountains and cutting off all ties with society is out of the question)? Well, I can only speak to what works for me. When I am exposed to weight loss, exercise and diet talk, I try to remember how far I’ve come in recovery and why I decided to recover in the first place. I think back to where I was at the beginning of my journey (a sad, lonely place, full of fear), contrast that with where I am now (a much happier, more flexible and healthy place), and finally look ahead to where I want to be (a place of complete freedom, with food and exercise just one small part of my life and certainly not a controlling factor).

If you have any tactics for dealing with weight talk I’d love to hear them. Share your ideas in the comments below!

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12 thoughts on “Don’t Tell Me About Your Weight Loss (Please!)

  1. myjourneytorecover says:

    Can completely relate to this Kate. Especially working in the H&F industry I feel like sometimes these conversations are all I ever hear!
    There have been many times when I could have easily slipped back into that cycle myself, until I thought “if I do that, where does it end?”
    I think like you said, reminding ourselves of why we have broken away from that world and why we want recovery (and beyond) is really important, even though I know it can be really hard some days to even do that.
    I do try and emphasize the idea of health being much more important than weight and since reading a lot on HAES I am really passionate in trying to share more of that message too.
    Of course there are always people who don’t want to hear that kind of thing, and in those cases I simply have to try and politely and subtly remove myself from the conversation!
    Love reading your blogs and following your posts on Instagram- keep up the great work x

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  2. emvardz says:

    Oh, I know just what you’re talking about, and it makes me so angry.
    One lady I work with is constantly talking about the crazy diet program she’s on and how much weight she’s lost, and I just want to yell at her about how bad it is for her – nevermind how hard it is for me to listen to.
    I find it’s an inevitable topic of conversation whenever you’re with a group of women…I’m just getting really good at tuning them out and going off into my own lil headspace until they move on to talking about something else 😛

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  3. CC says:

    So so true, Kate!! We are much too surrounded by the new food and exercise fads, and counting macronutrients, etc. In a way, I’m glad I don’t and never have because seriously, WHO HAS THE TIME to count that stuff? But I do think about how food will give me energy to exercise, not to control weight, but for leisure and keeping fit. It’s hard sometimes, but like you, I also think about how I don’t want to return to that stage where I was so depleted of energy because I wasn’t getting enough nutrients =)

    Hope everything is going well for you!!!

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  4. Libby says:

    I remind myself of the statistics that say 95% of dieters regain the weight (and often more) in the first 5 years. I also remind myself of the cost attached to dieting, an obsession with food, lack of a social life, increased depression/ anxiety etc. This helps me feel sorry that the person is still caught up in all of this and paying such a high price for something that they will more than likely fail at. I also remind myself that if I have children one day I do not want them growing up in this diet obsessed world. Things are only going to change if individuals take a stand against it though. I remind myself that me resisting this diet culture isn’t just about me. It is about trying to make a change so that future generations do not have to grow up in this fatphobic world. Once I frame it as a social justice issue and about something bigger than myself it is much easier to resist the pull of weight loss.

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