- Sara Mann
Losing the Overshoot.
I hope you all had a wonderful week! I didn’t blog last week because some family came in town. Don’t worry, we were covid safe! It was either spend time with them, or spend time in front of my computer.... I chose them! Which honestly, is a step for me in practicing self-care. Usually I freak out and HAVE to blog, but I realized it’s ok and my blog can wait a week!
I want to start by giving a trigger warning! This blog will be talking about overshooting, weight loss, triggers and ED behaviors. I do use numbers.
If these subjects cause you to be triggered, I suggest you take care of yourself and pass on todays blog!
I’ve had a lot of readers ask about my overshoot and I want to address it,
but also don’t want to cause others to stumble! When it comes to recovery, take care of yourself first!
Losing the overshoot weight.....
I can’t believe I even just wrote that sentence.
I NEVER thought my overshoot weight would EVER come off. Yet here I am. It’s happening!
In my last blog I shared about my time in waiting. Those few years where my weight had plateaued at it’s highest and just sat there. I truly thought I was stuck like that for the rest of my life. Every blog had told me the overshoot would only last a few months, or a year at most, but I was in year four and the weight was going nowhere. As I said, I continued to eat my meal plan, rest and cry myself to sleep every night depressed, believing I was doing something wrong. I was also still doing this without any medication so I was in a bad place. (If you want to read my blog about meds you can find it here!)
When I moved to Ohio and began seeing a new dietician she told me I needed to eat more. This felt ridiculous because I was already large and in charge, but like I’ve said before, when I restrict, I gain. So I ate more and oddly enough, after about a month my weight started to GLACIALLY go down.
Now when I say glacially, I mean glacially. I would lose two pounds, and then gain one. The next week I would lose one pound, then not lose a pound for two weeks and then lose two! Then I would gain a pound. It was like this slow up and down, but trending down, process.
It was discouraging. On the one hand I was glad I was losing and on the other all I could think was at this rate my overshoot is going to take another four years to lose. F.M.L. In hindsight I think it was my body testing the waters before truly letting it go. If it lets me lose some weight will I continue to fuel it or go back to restriction?
My depression and suicidal thoughts kept getting worse. I would have panic attacks every time I went to the dietician to get weighed. Would I lose weight? Would I gain weight? Did I eat ok? What if I just gained ten pounds and didn’t feel it?!?!?! It would literally make or break my day.
I found myself falling back into bad habits and eating disorder rituals in order to deal with the anxiety. I would purposely make my dietician appointments as early in the morning as possible. I would wake up and not eat or drink until after my appointment. The days leading up to being weighed I would still eat but my God it was torture. I would stress about every “exchange” (if you have been in treatment you know what I’m talking about) I put in my mouth. If I lost a pound I would be happy. If I didn’t I would sink deeper into depression.
I clearly still had some eating disorder issues. Since I had moved I no longer had a therapist, BUT, thankfully the therapist I did have in DC was SO incredible that I had a toolbox fool of skills to work through my thoughts. I would sit and do thought logs and challenge my ED. Why did losing or gaining still have this much control over my happiness? It was honestly really hard work. I thought once I started to lose the overshoot weight it would be smooth sailing?! Guess not!
I eventually found a doctor here in Ohio that had experience working with anorexics. I was incredibly nervous to go to my appointment. (It’s a blog for another time, but just because a doctor says they understand eating disorders does not mean the doctor understands eating disorders....). Thankfully, this doctor DID understand eating disorders. The appointment was difficult. I cried pretty much the entire time. I had so much anxiety that my blood pressure was even high. I told her my story and how I was now losing the overshoot weight very slowly, but she was less concerned with my weight and more concerned with my depression, panic attacks and O.C.D. She said since my weight was already starting to come off we needed to work on the mind and then it will all come together. The body can’t trust and relax and go back to normal when the mind is constantly stressed and anxious about starving and gaining. At this point I was desperate and had tried everything, so I agreed to hear what her plan was to get my mind “right.”
Now, I had been in intensive therapy for four years.....how much more “mind work” could I possibly need?! Meds. The answer was medication. After taking the mental health Q&A it was no shocker I was diagnosed, yet again, with severe depression, panic disorder, anxiety and OCD. She asked if I would try medication, I finally gave in and said yes. (Again, see my Medication blog for the details.) I started taking the medication, continued eating my meal plan, lived life and agreed to check back in a month to see how I was doing.
A month went by and honestly, the meds changed my life. I completely stopped having panic attacks! I thought about my weight a lot but it slowly didn’t control my day and my emotions like it use to. I finally was feeling more like myself. I was able to use all the skills my therapist had taught me. When I ate a slice of pizza, I would get a little nervous, but then check the facts and be ok. This was life changing for me. I started to REALLY feel hunger and fullness because my mind wasn’t constantly freaking out about the food and my weight. I was just able to practice a greater amount of acceptance. Like I said....life changing.
I’m a photographer and I still had a lot of clients out in Washington D.C. so I had scheduled a week of shoots there while visiting my brother and his family! This was still in that first month of trying my meds and seeing what would happen, so I was nervous but also in a MUCH better head space. I felt a lot more freedom around food. We ate out a lot, and honestly, I went to my favorite Mexican restaurant and didn’t hold back with the margaritas either. In the back of my mind I was worried the weight wouldn’t come off with a trip like this and the way I was eating so freely, but at the same time I wasn’t overly anxious about it (thanks meds and CBT/DBT skills) and it didn’t effect my choices. It was like my eating disorder was now in the trunk of the car and I was finally the driver. It was there, but had less control.
A month, lots of good food, little exercise and maybe too many margaritas later I went to my follow up appointment. I told her how amazing I was feeling mentally AND I found out I had lost five pounds. WHAT?! That was the most significant amount of weight my body had lost in a month since I started recovery. I don’t have a scale at home so I didn’t know. I couldn’t feel the weight loss because, it was just five pounds, and I have an ED that just tells me I’m gaining no matter what I do, especially when eating tacos and margs! I didn’t change my eating or exercise and BOOM it had just come down! I couldn’t believe it!
I couldn’t believe it so much so that I thought it was too good to be true. I was so used to being in a negative space about my weight that I just couldn’t allow myself to get excited. PLUS, we all know in the eating disorder world it is technically not ok to get excited or celebrate weight loss. It was confusing and exciting and scary and awesome all at the same time. Could this be it? Was this finally happening?! I made an appointment for a another follow up a month later and hoped for the best.....
The following month was December. AKA Holidays. AKA FOOD, drink, gathering after gathering. I continued to eat intuitively at this point, which honestly was a normal amount of food. Breakfast, lunch a dinner. A few snacks here and there. Desserts, drinks, all the festive things. I thought for sure I had gained weight. I mean, again I had eaten freely and my eating disorder always leads me to believe that eating freely equals gaining weight. Well, to my surprise, I went to my follow up appointment at the new year and was down another eight pounds. WTH?! I was shocked. Again, I thought I had gained weight and eaten too much, yet I was down another significant amount.
I learned two things during those two months.
I cannot trust my mind still. It lies to me. My eating disorder is always lingering to strip me of my joy. It tells me I’m bigger and gross and tacos are “bad” and make me fat and I should eat less. It keeps me from seeing my body in a truthful way.
I CAN EAT! FREELY! ALL FOODS! My body was slowly going back to it’s set point like they said it would by intuitive eating and no restriction. My mind was finally calm and my body was letting go.
I TRULY could still not believe this was IT, however, from that point on I have continued to lose the over shoot weight. Some months I’ve lost eight pounds, and some months only four. I average a pound a week-ish. It is slow, healthy weight loss.
I eat 100% intuitively and I DO NOT RESTRICT. I’m serious. I still eat pizza, hamburgers, eggs and toast, ice cream all of the things. It continues to come down every time I get weighed. Yay right?!?!?
Here is where I am going to let the cat out of the bag.....
Losing the weight is just as hard, if not harder than gaining the weight and the time stuck plateauing.
I thought once I started to lose I would be singing at the top of my lungs, skipping down a road, playing the glad game with everyone I met! This was what I had been waiting for! This is what was supposed to happen after all the hard work! That is not how it has gone at all.
Losing weight is triggering.
While anorexic there is a high from the success of losing weight. There is almost a euphoria that comes with the control and restriction and then the pay off of seeing the number on the scale go down and down. It is VERY hard to keep this in check while the overshoot weight comes down.
I’ve had to fight against the desire to restrict in order to lose weight faster now that my body seemed to be ok letting the overshoot weight go. When I was actively restricting weight came of FAST, so watching it come down a pound a week felt like I was doing something wrong. I wasn’t, this was/is healthy weight loss, but coming from an anorexic background I had a hard time accepting and understanding that fact.
Conversations with people doing whole 30 or Keto or whatever this new Airbonne diet is has become more triggering as my eating disorder tries to trick me into going back down the road of fast results, even though I am slowly and consistently losing weight without diet or restriction. I have to constantly remind myself that if I do a restrictive diet like that I will only find myself and my metabolism back in a bad place. I worked too dang hard to get to where I am at, I will not lose it over restricting perfectly healthy and normal food, no matter how much society wants to call it “junk” “inflammatory” or “unhealthy.”
I NEVER feel like I’ve lost weight. I am still shocked every single time I get weighed and it has gone down. I cannot see it and I cannot really feel it. In fact, almost every time I am nervous that I have gained. Usually for a week leading up to getting weighed I have anxiety that I’ve gained back all of the weight. Every time I have continued to lose.
This has further proven to me that my body dysmorphia is something I think I will always struggle with and I have to simply stay in a place of caring for my mind and body, and fueling it well. It scares me that because of my body dysmorphia I’ll relapse because I will again never see myself as thin enough. I can watch myself lose the weight, but if I can’t ever see it and my ED keeps me from accepting it, how do I keep myself from sliding back into restriction and over exercise?
I often find myself living in the past. Wondering if I had taken medication sooner would the weight have come off earlier? It can really get to me and make me live in a place of regret and what if’s. After journaling about it I’ve come to decide that it was not just the meds that made my weight start to come off. It was the years of hard work I put in. It was the eating, the resting, the healing, the therapy, the appointments, the faith combined with the meds that made it start to come off. I think my body had just healed and my mind followed and it all came together in one glorious amazing way that only God could have made happen.
People are constantly telling me how good I look now. I’m down a significant amount of weight and I’m starting to look more like “myself” again. I’ll be honest, I don’t know how to react when people say this to me. Some moments I get defensive. “So I only look good now that I’ve lost weight?!” Other times I’m thankful because God knows I can’t see it, so the reinforcement that others say they see it, can really help. Sometimes I get triggered. What if I gain it all back?! What will people say?! What if the weight loss stops?! Do I look good enough?! It’s weird, triggering and flattering all at the same time. I need the positive reinforcement to help fight my ED lies, but at the same time I wish people in general would stop commenting on weight and looks so much. I’m all over the place with how I feel about this!
I’m so scared of the weight loss stopping that sometimes my eating disorder rears its ugly head and I get caught up in diet talk or body checking or worrying if what I’m eating is OK. I constantly have to keep this in check as well. Thankfully I have a lot of support around me. My husband can tell when I’m freaking out or eating the same things over and over because they feel safe. He not only reminds me I can eat everything but he makes me a waffle and bacon for breakfast to prove that my body is still ok, these foods are still ok and I can do this without relapsing.
I have to yet again concentrate on the facts. While my eating disorder is trying to hang onto it’s last leg as I near the end of my recovery, it screams that the weight will not fully come off. That it will stop and the only way to keep going is to relapse. These thoughts get LOUD, especially when I’m stressed or haven't slept or have had a lot of triggers. I have to always SLOW DOWN and remember that I lost weight eating tacos and margaritas. I lost more weight eating Christmas cookies and eggnog. I do NOT have to buy into the diet/restriction/over-exercise hype. Been there, done that, learned my lesson.
I do not over-exercise. Other then falling back into restriction this is the most triggering thing I need to keep in check. As a former “run myself into oblivion” exerciser, I only allow myself to exercise three days a week. Maybe eventually I will do more, but right now it’s enough. It’s safe and I feel ok. I don’t have a specific way of working out. I mostly just walk! Sometimes I lift weights, or do a fun class, but most of the time I just walk or hike. I only do it when I feel like doing it. I guess I would call this intuitive exercise or movement? If I tell myself in the morning I want to go for a walk later, but then later I’m too tired, I don’t go. I practice self care in that way. I’ve learned to rest. When I rest I have energy to do my walk the next day! I don’t feel guilty or angry (most of the time anyway), I’ve just learned to listen to what my body needs, and you know what? The weight is still coming off. This can only mean one thing.
The process works.
You guys, it works! It is long and awful and painful and a living HELL, but it works. I ate the food. I gained the weight. I let my body overshoot. I rested. I continued to eat. I worked on my mind in therapy. I renewed my mind about food and bodies. It worked! It took a HELL of a lot longer then I thought it would, BUT, here I am. Year five. The overshoot weight is coming off and I’m honestly not doing anything to make it happen.
As I blog today I’ve lost almost half of the overshoot weight. If you have read my previous two blogs you can do the math to how much that is. Most of the time I don’t feel it and I struggle to even see it, but never-the-less it is happening.
The losing of the weight comes with its own set of challenges that is for sure, but I PRAISE GOD that he brought me this far in my recovery. He held me up when I couldn’t stand. He brought me doctor after doctor, dietician after dietician, therapist after therapist and support after support to get me through this.
I’m not totally done yet. I still feel like I have some overshoot weight to go. I still freak out every once in a while that I’ll gain it all back or the weight loss will stop and my days of freedom with eating and kindness to my body through exercise are over. Anorexia and recovery is traumatic. It gets to me every once in a while. I worry about relapse and when too many triggers happen I can get off course and have to find my way back again, but I’m doing it.
I’m a true example that the process works. Entering treatment, gaining the weight, overshooting, plateauing and trusting the process (even if some days it was kicking and screaming) was the best choice I ever made for myself.
I am a new person. Outwardly and inwardly. I feel more and more like myself each day. I have confidence back. I have found joy again. I am not controlled by anorexia. My body is returning to it’s set point and happy place. I may not be fully recovered yet, but you know what.... I’m almost there. I can feel it. I can taste it. I can almost touch it!
If you go back and read through my blogs I NEVER thought I would get to this point! Yet here I am! God is SO good. He promised me He would redeem the years I lost when I followed His will for my life. He promised me He would carry me through recovery and He has and I hope and trust that He will until I’m fully there.
If you are recovering, GO FOR IT. Eat the food. Gain the weight. Get as much support as you possibly can. JUST DO IT! Freedom is out there for you! I promise.
I’m not sure what I will blog about next week. I have received a lot of questions throughout these blogs about overshoot so I might answer them next week!
As always while blogging about overshoot.....
This is MY story. I said it in my last blog and I’m going to say it again. My recovery is not your recovery. Yes, it took four full years before my body began to let go of the overshoot weight. That does not mean it will take your body four years too. Lets support one another as we go through recovery. Get help. Learn to trust the process even when you don’t really trust the process. Yes, it is VERY hard and if you are going through it right now, I FEEL YOUR PAIN! Keep going anyway!
p.s. Again, I ask for prayer for myself and my readers as I blog about my overshoot experience. This is a VERY triggering subject for those in recovery or contemplating recovery. My intentions are to share my story with the hope that it encourages others to keep going and fully recover to live fulfilling lives free from an ED, NOT to trigger them. I’m praying for each person that reads this blog too. If you need support or want to chat, just message me! I’d love to talk to you! If you have any questions about what I wrote or my overshoot experience, send them my way! I’m happy to answer them!!