In early 2017 I was feeling in a better, healthier place, than I had for a long time. I jumped on my phone in bed and started scrolling through Instagram trying to find “someone” to follow and support, someone I could relate to. Through out my search I found lots of young, gorgeous , girls and women with perfectly edited pics or weight loss journey profiles, heaps of fitspo and athletes or Pt’s, an insane amount of bum and bikini shots and occasionally I came across an Ed recovery page, however the pages I came across were melancholy and quite negative or spouting unhealthy, triggering captions and not what I wanted to see on my feed. I wanted to see a strong, older woman in recovery, who understood what I was going through and could maybe show me the light at the end of the tunnel. I wanted “real”, I wanted “raw” and I wanted to read about her journey. I guess I was feeling alone and whilst many of the profiles and pages I looked at were visually appealing, I couldn’t find one that fit what I was looking for. Despite my hours of searching – I never found what I was looking for and the crazy thought entered my mind – Why cant I be that person? If I can’t find someone, maybe others are searching too? And then of course the fear crept in and the negative self talk began; “No one will care”, “Who do you think you are?”, “You are going to embarrass yourself”. But I didn’t listen, I continued to work on myself, I wrote things down as I continued my healing, with the hope that one day I would have the courage to share my story with others and maybe, just maybe help one person.
On the 27th July 2018 I shared a side by side photo on my Instagram and pressed publish on my first blog post A battle within . My hope was that just maybe there was another “me” out there searching the ‘gram, just like I had, trying to find someone going through what they were.
The response was not one I expected, and I cried with emotion as the messages and emails came in from other ‘Journey to Health Warriors’, who had found what they needed in that post. One DM sent via Instagram ,that will stay with me forever, was from a gorgeous soul who wanted to tell me that because I had the courage to post that piece, she had the courage to eat that day. That’s it – that’s all I wanted – to be the light for just one person!
So that brings me to today – the beginning of 2019. I have posted about my eating disorder, and recovery, a few times and touch on the importance of living a positive life, often. One of the questions that keeps popping up is “How to you love yourself after the weight gain?” Weight gain isn’t always a part of recovery, as extreme weight loss isn’t always a side effect of an ED. We tend to associate eating disorders with the skeletal frames displayed in the media – but absolutely anyone of ANY body shape or size can suffer. Whether it is over eating, under eating, bingeing, bingeing and purging, or obsessive thoughts about food – an eating disorder is simply disordered thinking around eating and food.
That being said, the people who have asked the question, are those who are following my journey and tend to be on a similar one, so they may have gained healthy weight as a part of recovery and are struggling with their healthy new body, or may just be lacking the ability to love themselves the way they are.
So below I have listed the things that have helped me on those darker days. Those days where you feel like all those steps forward are useless, as you want to be back where you were. You want to do what you know, what feels safe and comfortable – but we FIGHT those days <3 It’s worth mentioning that many of these steps can apply to anyone in any type of situation, and if you find yourself here reading this and feeling connected to it – then maybe these will help you love yourself a little bit more too.
- Get RID of the clothes that no longer fit. Give them away, sell them, donate them, bin them. I don’t care what you do with them – but get them out of your cupboard and enjoy shopping for some new clothes <3
- Get involved in some sort of fitness that you enjoy (not too much cardio), that makes you feel empowered.
- Thank your body EVERY day for what it is doing for you – it is keeping you alive! That blood is flowing through your body, your heart is pumping 25/7, you move freely , you are of sound mind, you can see, you can hear, you can move, you have working legs and arms that can hug your loved ones- feel love for your body everyday for that.
- Practice gratitude and positivity – check out my guide to leading a positive life here Creating a positive life – this is HUGELY important!
- Keep busy – Distract yourself, be social, go for walks, spring clean the house.
- Surround yourself with the RIGHT PEOPLE! I can’t stress enough how important this step is. A big part of my recovery was cleansing my life of some toxic people and environments, to really honour myself and my health. And it can be hard – the person that is toxic to you, might be well liked by those around you. But what YOU need, is all that matters. You need positive, strong, generous, kind, self loving women around you – and they need you right back, because that is what you are BECOMING <3
- Dance naked – yep….you read that correctly! Allow yourself some time alone, take off those clothes and move your body in front of the mirror. I found that when I stood and looked at my body I would nit pick the parts I didn’t like and the parts that needed to change – never ever did I look at what I loved. One day I just started dancing telling my mind to be quiet and you know what? Cellulite, dimples, bones, rolls, stretch marks, freckles, creases, scars….. I wasn’t starting at them I was seeing the whole package – an able body that moved fluidly and was kinda cute – even with the parts my mind was telling me to hate.
- Remember you are human, you are healing. A bad day does not mean a full blown relapse – contact your support person (whoever that may be) and tell yourself ” I am STRONG, I am LOVED, I am ALIVE, I AM WORTHY”
Self love takes TIME, and believe it or not it takes PRACTICE. On the days where I am not loving myself – the above steps help bring me up out of the depths of negativity and back into the land of the living, the grateful, the positive.
I am NOT a professional and this is just my experience. I highly recommend professional help, if you do not already have some in place. Eating disorders are psychological illnesses, best treated by a professional.
Your local GP is a fantastic starting point, as your physical health also needs to be monitored. Your GP can also help you with a mental health and treatment plan.
Please know that you are not alone, you are an amazing woman worthy of love and there is hope and life after ED
Thank you for joining me on my journey – it means the world to me. We are in this together my fellow Journey To Health Warriors (JTHW)
Please view the helpful links below or if an emergency please call 000 (Aus)
https://thebutterflyfoundation.org.au/ -support for eating disorders and body image issues
https://www.nedc.com.au/ – eating disorder resources and information
https://www.lifeline.org.au/ – crisis support