That line there was a Facebook status I had made on Friday morning. I later used that saying but embellished it a little, to read “It’s amazing what love can give you the courage and strength to do” when I wrote a long, three-page letter to my parents. Let me back track a little bit and explain…
Thursday my mom had talked to me during the day about my eating disorder, how things were going for me, my feelings about it, etc. and she expressed much worry and concern for me over it. She worries that I’m not eating nutritious foods or nutrient-dense meals, and am still filling my body with a lot of crappy, sugary foods late at night while I binge. I told her that she was right, but felt little power to change it. I expressed that it’s easy for me to just stay where I am at, because I didn’t feel it was really that big of a deal at all. I became extremely complacent. I had no inner push at all to try and change things. I even realized, and admitted to my mom, this week that as much as I would say I’m trying to stop binging, I really wasn’t. I oftentimes made the choice to binge…planning ahead for it to happen. Because I realized, I liked binging. You might be thinking, “what?! Why on earth would she LIKE to binge?!?” I guess I finally realized why I was holding on so tightly to the binging, and subsequent under-eating each day. I enjoyed binging. In my mind, that was the only time that I could eat freely. I could eat 100% whatever I wanted, not giving any consideration to the fat, calories, sugar content, etc. Every other time when I eat, I think so carefully about what I should be eating, how much fat I should be having, rationing out my portions because I don’t think I should have that many calories for my morning snack, or that extra little spoonful of peanut butter. But come nighttime, come binge-time, I let myself eat whatever I wanted, no consideration for what I should eat. It was total freedom, in that moment. I also realized that I wasn’t pushing myself forward either, because I realize that I felt that I would never fully recover. I felt as if my thoughts and behaviors would always be a part of me, to some extent. That thought scared me. So I guess I lost hope, I felt despair, like I would always be this way. So, I just slowly but surely gave in to listening to my eating disorder’s voice and keeping myself stuck.
I know my mom was really sad after talking to me because she told me just how much she wants to help me and just how powerless she feels. I didn’t quite know what to say in response, other than I was sorry. But then I got a really crazy idea. My parent’s anniversary was Friday, May 16. I thought of doing a “recovery-based” gift for my parents. The very idea of it scared me! As I may have mentioned before, I’m part of a recovery-based eating disorder support group on Facebook. So, because the very idea of my “gift” to my parents scared the crap out of me, and because I knew I’d need a little extra nudge to make it happen, I posted in the group’s page what my idea was:
Elise Sutherland May 15 3:56 pm Ladies, I am attempting to do something extremely nerve-wrecking for me…which is why I’m bringing it up here. My parent’s anniversary is tomorrow. I have been talking to my mom today about my ED and she has expressed a lot of worry and concern for me over it. Especially my lack of proper nutrition and eating of junk foods and sugar in excessive amounts at night from my binging. I had the idea of trying to do something as my “gift” to them for their anniversary. I know they worry about me so much and would want nothing more for me to try and push myself forward in recovery. They have been my biggest support throughout everything I’ve been through. My gift idea was to try and go for 30 days of following my meal plan (I will specifically indicate following my meal plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – at a minimum, with the potential to incorporate my snacks as well) and going 30 nights without binging. I think this would be a great idea but I’m really REALLY scared that I won’t be able to do it. I am first of all really scared to even take on this challenge because then I will have to follow through with it. So, I guess this is two-fold. 1) I need a little extra push to first MAKE the promise to my parents that I am going to do this and 2) some support throughout the 30 days to keep going and to follow through. Ahh I am so scared! But I know this could not only be huge to show just what I’m willing to do for my parents, but also the huge push I need to get over my behaviors and get on the right track in my recovery.
They were wonderfully supportive and gave me all sorts of encouragement on making this happen. I typed up what turned out to be a three page letter to my parents, explaining what my “gift” was for them and what my plan was for the next 30 days. I could already see my eating disorder trying to talk me out of following through on Thursday night. Those thoughts and excuses started flooding my brain, but I did my best to shut them down. I talked with the support group’s administrator and she gave me the link to Recovery Record which is an app that you could download on your phone and use to track meals, feelings, goals, behaviors, etc. It also allows you the opportunity to link up with a clinician, so that they can review your meal logs and offer support, accountability, and message you back on your meals. The founder of the group, who is absolutely amazing, offered to be my accountability partner for these 30 days if I chose to follow through with the plan. I downloaded the app first thing Friday morning.
Friday morning, I started in right away on following my meal plan. I thought initially that I’d wait to start my 30-days until Saturday morning, after I had the chance to give my parents my “gift” but I viewed that as just another excuse to push it off and the opportunity to back out. So, I jumped right in. Breakfast was to include an almond-based yogurt (lactose free) but it was NASTY. So it got dumped, and I had this instead:
I didn’t eat all the almonds, but had about 8 or so. A slice of cinnamon bread and an orange. I felt awesome about starting my day off right. Throughout the day at work, (I know, I know, I probably shouldn’t have taken the time during work, but it was a slow day) I typed up the letter to my parents. I outlined for them what my plan was…how I was going to go for 30-days following my meal plan, by having breakfast, lunch, and dinner (at a minimum) and also working to incorporate all my snacks in, as well. I also expressed how I wanted to go 30-days without binging as well. I told them that I would take pictures throughout the day and share with them at the end of the day what I had eaten and what “categories” they fell into to match my meal plan. (which I also gave them a copy of). Morning snack time came and I was HUNGERS, so following through with my snacks may be MUCH easier than I thought…
I had an applesauce cup with some plain chex mixed in. It was kind of strange, but kind of tasty. The cereal got a bit soft but the flavors blended well! I wasn’t quite satisfied, so I added some fat to hold me over. What better food to just “add-in”…I always keep some in my desk!
We got an email in the morning at work that said we were having a pizza party that day since the company has been kicking butt lately and we’re way ahead of where we were a year ago. I did not plan for this and got really thrown off. The previous night I had packed everything that I would need in order to fully-comply with my meal plan for all of my meals. The pizza threw a wrench in that and I didn’t bounce back easily from it. I went down to the cafeteria for the president’s announcement and little speech, then headed back to my desk right after, while everyone else had pizza. I wasn’t so worried about the pizza as I was trying to figure out how it would factor in and meet all my requirements for my lunch meal. So, I just decided I’d have what I packed for lunch instead. I felt a bit like the odd-one out when I went back to the cafeteria later, grabbed my lunch from the fridge, and didn’t have any pizza. I think I got quite a few looks, but I just brushed it off (after chatting to my brother about it) and just did what I had planned to do, realizing that I could have allowed the stress of it to throw me off from having my lunch, but I didn’t let it deter me.
Lunch was a sandwich with turkey, cheese, and a mayo-spread with pepper slices and a carton of skim milk. I seriously can’t remember the last time I had a CARTON of milk. I felt like I was back in school again! 🙂 The afternoon sort of dragged on, but I finished up my letter to my parents. I called them and told them I’d be stopping by after work. I also got them a card and some bottles of wine, too. I was determined to give them their gift and to follow through with it at this point. no doubts in my mind, no backing out.
My meal plan was clipped to the front of the letter. And, I went to my parents and let them open their tangible gift and then read to them my letter. My mom was moved to tears while I read it to her. They were both so surprised, appreciative and overwhelmed by my “gift”. Yet my mom expressed that she wants me to do it for ME first, and for them second. I told her that I was doing it for me of course. I said that I had been looking for an “excuse” to push myself forward in recovery for so long. I have been wanting to try and make changes and get out of the crappy cycle I was in, but just lacked the little extra push that I needed. I told them that this, that THEY were the extra little nudge I needed to make a change. It’s true. I’ve been needing something to motivate me to take a stand in my recovery, and my love for my parents was just that little push that I needed.
After stopping by their house, I snacked on some kettle corn, snuggled with some kitties :), and planned out what I wanted for dinner! Scott was getting home soon, so we ate dinner together! Guys I can’t remember the last time we sat down to eat dinner together!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was SO nice, just eating together and catching up on our day!
I had two tortillas with chopped up turkey breast, sauteed mushrooms, cheese and sour cream (2% milk for the cheese, light sour cream) and a glass of skim milk. (Trivia: can anyone guess what DVD/what face is in the bottom right-hand of the picture?! Hints: it’s a TV series and the picture is of a character in the show! Scott and I love it!) Throughout the day today, I felt pretty full after my meals/snacks. My stomach is still a mess and I know it will take a while before it gets back to “normal”. But I guess I figure it this way, my stomach feels awful after I binge and my stomach feels crummy after I eat normally. So, either way, my stomach will feel blah for right now. I’d rather it feel crummy and be actively working towards getting myself to a healthy place and moving forward in recovery, then have it be uncomfortable and stay stuck in my binge-under-eating cycle!
After dinner, we quickly got ourselves out the door. We were going to check out a duplex in Pewaukee, a nearby town, and had a meeting at 7:30. We’ve been planning on trying to move sometime this year, so we’re looking at different options. This place wasn’t it, but it was nice checking it out anyway. We both had a really fun time together, chit-chatting and laughing a lot. It had been a while since we both really had a good laugh together. We spent the rest of the evening finishing a movie we started the previous night and watching some of the above-referenced DVD before bed. I DID NOT BINGE! I had a little bit of kettle corn before bed and then stopped myself and told myself to just go to bed. I was tired and it was weird going to bed NOT feeling full. I got so used to it that anything different feels really weird. I felt a little unsatisfied, but I knew it was only because of what I normally feel like when I go to bed. I ate a good snack-sized amount of kettle corn and decided to hit the hay. I woke up around 4 am, completely starving, so I had a few pretzels then fell back asleep.
I woke up HUNGRY. You guys, I can’t remember the last time I woke up hungry and not feeling completely bloated, uncomfortable, or sick. It’s so crazy how your body gets used to such mistreatment. It will be really nice teaching my body how to eat and process food normally again! I’m really looking forward to these 30 days! This is just what I needed!!