- Sara Mann
Diet January!!!! (sarcasm implied)
So far this year has been a bit of a roller coaster. I almost didn’t blog this week because I’m a bit tired and have some health stuff going on, but then decided hey, why not share some of what is going on in this good ole head of mine?! I mean, that’s the point of a blog right?
So it’s January and my gosh is this month obsessed with diets or what?!?! In the past I was aware of the idea that a lot of people have new years resolutions to lose weight and that the 1st of the year was a great time to start, but DANG, now that I’m recovering from an eating disorder it is kind of overwhelming and verging on brainwashing! I mean, I literally cannot turn on the television without being bombarded with some sort of diet talk. Join weight watchers freestyle and you can have cake!! If you have more ginger you can slim down your waist line. Try this pill to speed up your metabolism. Don’t forget to cut out soy, dairy, sugar and gluten. Cheese is really bad for you and if you don’t want to be 220 pounds you should stop eating it. Do a dry January to lose those extra holiday pounds! Here is a “diet that shall remain nameless” where you can follow all these random rules about food and then after 30 days you can eat them again with no mental repercussions or metabolic damage at all and it makes complete and total sense.. (sorry, major sarcasm with that one…). Literally last night I found myself watching the 72 most dangerous animals on Netflix because it was the only safe place to not have diet talk shoved down my throat.
Ok look, I’m actually not going to spend this blog ripping on diets. I’ll save my finger wagging and facts about why I believe diets are sent straight from hell for another time. (and TRUST me, as a recovering anorexic, I was a professional dieter and exercise addict, so what I have to say on it is from experience and when I do talk about it, I have a lot to say.) I don’t want all my fresh on the diet train readers to get royally peeved because I have just offended their new years goals. (although I may have already done that in paragraph two…sorry, not sorry!).
There are three reasons I bring up the fact that January is diet month.
1.The diet industry is a billion dollar industry. It really is. I know we want to believe that these diets want to make us healthier and a better America, but they are making bazillions off of your decision to choose their path. They know that a lot of people have resolved to lose weight starting January 1st so they are paying big bucks for advertising literally everywhere and in every way to get you to feel bad about yourself and realize you need to join their program. (Look at me! I’m so happy counting points while I’m frolicking on the lawn!) I’m only saying this so that my readers can just try and be a little bit more aware of how much the diet industry is a business and it IS money driven. It is ok to want to get healthy and if you need to lose some weight, great. Find an all sizes fit dietician and get after it. I’m not telling you that you can’t have a resolution for health. I’m saying just be a aware of how smacked in the face we are this month by this industry and it’s really not ok, and a lot of what they are selling is NOT healthy.
2. As a person recovering from an eating disorder this month is VERY triggering. So to all my fellow recovery warriors, I GET YOU! Everyone is counting calories, on a diet or cutting something out and here we are trying to eat everything that everyone else is cutting out and not count! While a lot of people are trying to lost weight, a lot of us are either trying to gain it, are currently gaining because of recovery, or have gained and are NOT allowed to try and lose it on purpose! This shiz is hard! We are stuck at social gatherings hearing people go on and on about the latest diet, while we sit there and mentally try to tear apart the ED argument in our head about why we shouldn’t do it ourselves. We scroll through our social media apps and see all the before and after photos of people dropping ten pounds in one week because they have stopped eating bread and we have to fight to remember that we almost had organ failure from doing the same thing for too long. I think there is a special place in hell for being in recovery during diet January. I personally have had to stay off social media, turn off the television and really fight back hard against a lot of ED thoughts that are trying to convince me to jump back on the weight loss, diet and exercise band wagon. I know for me it would be a very slippery slope. A small rule turns into a rigid one. The excitement of losing a pound turns into the necessity to never stop losing. The ability to control what I eat, turns into a mental obsession that is so unhealthy I end up in my own prison. This month is very difficult for those of us with and recovering from eating disorders. It is REALLY important for us to seek out extra support during this time. Doing more thought logs or coping exercises. Practice more mindfulness and self care. Meet with our therapist or dietician a little extra to help combat all the confusion we have over diets and how we feel about ourselves and our bodies! I'm serious, I go to my dietician with a list of questions about diets and ask her to help me understand why cutting out sugar is unhealthy. The good news is that in three months it will be over. Most people can’t sustain these ridiculous diets and exercise regimes, so we just have to ride this wave out for a bit until it calms down! We can do it!
3) I recently read a REALLY great article that I want to share with all of you. It's called "Why You Should Think Twice Before Complimenting Someone's Weight Loss"
This article talks about how we should think twice before commenting or complimenting someone on their weight loss. This topic is near and dear to my heart because a major driving and maintaining factor to my eating disorder was the huge amount of compliments I constantly got on how great I looked and how in shape I was. No one knew I was literally dying to keep my body that way. I slaved for hours a day exercising and starving myself, but hey, I looked good right? It’s impossible to maintain. This article talks about how we have no idea how someone is exactly losing their weight. Maybe it is healthy, but maybe they are really struggling with an eating disorder or MAYBE they are even recovering from an eating disorder or in the beginning stages of developing one and our words are egging them on. I often think about what is going to happen when my recovery weight starts to come off. I bet a million bucks people start to compliment me on my weight loss. What am I going to say? “Thanks, my body has finally healed from it’s previous starvation?” I can also say I barely ever get a compliment on how I look now that I'm a bit over weight. It's sad how backwards this is and what a hit my self image has taken because of it. This article talks about how not all weight loss comes from a good place and sometimes we might tell people to continue to lose weight but we have no idea if they are doing it in a healthy manner or not. Does this mean there is never a good time to compliment someone on their weight loss? No! If you have a close relationship with someone and you know they are doing it in a healthy way then great! Not everything is black and white. But, I hope this article makes you think twice about it.
Diet January (as I’m calling it these days) is a tough one to get through in recovery. The good news is we only have 18 more days of it! I also think those of us in recovery should really take a minute to sit back and be proud of ourselves. We are doing something different! We are fighting for a freedom that most of society will never have! Once recovered we will never have to participate in diet January. Instead, we get to be healthy all year long. We get to enjoy all foods and fuel our bodies and love the size God made us to be. We no longer have to feel the anxiety of slipping up on our diet or the guilt after a cheat day. We are simply free to be ourselves!
- Sara -