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  • Sara Mann

Keeping it 100.

Well hello there!!

Happy Saturday!

I’m currently camping in Cooks Forest, PA and honestly, it is a much needed break.

I’ve always said I would keep it 100 with my readers. (This is a phrase my little sister uses that I recently learned, and apparently it mean to keep things 100% honest, on the level, the real deal. Don't make fun of me, I'm 36!). So here I am, keeping it 100 with you!

I haven't blogged the last two weeks because.......I actually haven't been doing that well in recovery and have needed some time to get it together. No, I haven’t relapsed or started to restrict my food. It’s been more of a mental struggle then a physical one. Anorexia is not all about the food and control of food, it’s also a deep mental battle over controlling anxiety and body image and stress.

I don’t know if it was blogging about my overshoot that triggered it all but it seems as if ever since I blogged about my overshoot my mind has gone wacko and I got all stressed out about my weight, food, body image and all that nasty anorexic jazz. My body image plummeted, my body dysmorphia has me thinking I’ve gained all the weight back (I haven't) and I don’t know if I’m on high alert or it’s just coincidence, but dang it if almost every person I’ve been around has to talk to me about their freaking diet. No joke. If it’s not cutting out carbs its about lowering cholesterol. It’s sitting and listening to people talk about how low calorie a snack is or how they need to eat healthier because they had some chips. I can handle a certain amount of diet talk....but then I hit my limit and it starts to mess with me.

I’ve had to be in my bathing suit around people, or at least wear less clothes then normal because of canoe trips or family get togethers. It’s not easy. Even if I was perfectly fit it wouldn’t be easy. I haven't been to the doctor because of Covid so I have no idea if I’m still losing...something my mind always turns into a bad thing. It’s like my mind can’t possibly allow me to believe I’m doing a good job and still going strong. It always makes me question where I’m at and what I’m doing. If I don’t know then it must be bad.

Being the spiritual person I am, I also blame it on the bad side. Of course after sharing my story and helping others to realize God has a better life for them then to starve and be lost in an eating disorder I would have a few hard weeks. OF COURSE!

All these triggers start to make me question my recovery and question my decision not to participate in fad and crash diets, but to recover, eat intuitively and accept my body. It makes me feel like my weight loss is going so glacially that I fear I’m stuck again. When someone is saying they cut out carbs and are super fit, and I’m eating carbs and can't currently see any muscle...I question what the heck I’m doing. I find myself feeling guilty over foods that are normal and good to eat. I start to have anxiety over if I’ve worked out enough or should I work out harder in order to look how I “want” again.

Once these triggers get dumped on me and my mind starts going down the road of confusing and questioning thoughts, I just don’t have the ability to cope with all of them right away and before I know it I’m panicked, stressed, on the verge of restriction and over exercise. stick to the facts... I KNOW doesn’t work for me and leads down a road of disaster. Been there, been a slave to thank you.... keep it real, (or to keep it 100 haha) this past week I’ve been intentionally taking time to myself and working through my thoughts and what the heck is causing me to slide. I’ve needed to really slow down and take care of myself. I’ve cancelled plans with friends for no other reason then I need to get it together which means spending time with myself and fighting the hurricane in my mind that can lead to disaster.

If I don’t get it together, I end up living in a head space of fear, stress and anxiety. This then leads to food restriction, control, over-exercise and making choices that hurt my body. I end up having a breakdown full of panic attacks, tears and suicidal thoughts. It’s important to STOP and take time to address it so it doesn’t seep back into my life and set it on fire before I can stop it.

Sometimes I can get down on myself for having these weeks that feel like I’m back sliding into my ED. But I’ve decided to change my perspective and be proud of myself for catching it. I realize recovery is not linear and bad weeks will happen. They don’t mean I’m failing. In fact it gives me a chance to use all the tools I’ve learned in recovery to keep going.

So how did I know I was/am struggling and how did I catch it?

I think it’s important to pay close attention to little shifts that lead down the relapse road. For me they almost always begin with things that are harmless but when you put them all together it explodes. There are little ED thoughts that when they happen alone or spaced apart I can manage them, but when they come fast and hard I literally have to stop everything and address them.

Things I started to notice that let me know I’m going down a bad road and need to stop and take care of myself.

  1. I started asking my husband more often if I looked like I’m still losing weight? Am I looking bigger? Have I gained the weight all back? Would you describe me as fat? My obsession over what he thinks and weight loss increased.

  2. I stopped being as present and instead was living more inside my thoughts and my insecurities. Instead of laughing and having fun while taking a photo all I care about is my bingo arm circumference or if I look too fat.

  3. I compare myself to anything with two legs and a body. I find myself deciding if I’m fatter or thiner then every breathing human near me.

  4. I wake up and my first thoughts are no longer about what I’m doing that day and immediately are about how big or small I feel and if I’ve done enough the day before to justify what I ate.

  5. I start body checking WAY more. Mirrors become Satan again and yet I can’t stop checking if I’m fat or not in anything that bares a reflection.

  6. I socially check out. I cancel plans because I don’t want to be seen and I'm too drained to have conversation with others.

  7. I start looking at food labels and calories. I don’t add them up but the interest in them becomes more pronounced and for some reason I all of a sudden care how many calories are in a stupid egg.

  8. The food judgement comes back. I start labeling food as good or bad, junk or healthy again,

  9. I eat less intuitive and have more stress when I sit down for a meal. I start calculating everything on a scale of is this enough or too much food. It takes up way too much mental energy then it should.

  10. I feel guilty about everything. I can go for a 5 mile hike and tell myself it wasn’t enough. If I need to rest because I’m sore I call myself lazy.

These are just a FEW of the things that I noticed the past two weeks that were red flags and told me I needed to pay attention to my recovery more and get it together. When I am doing well I have these thoughts, but they are in the back of my mind and I can just move past them with a laugh. When I'm struggling they become obsessive and controlling and all encompassing.

So how am I getting myself out of this downward spiral to doom??!!

Well, the first step, cliché I know, is admitting it’s a problem. Realizing I’m not doing well and I need to address it before it gets worse.

I cut back on most things social. If I don't HAVE to do it I don't and if it doesn’t help me in recovery I avoid. This means people that diet talk are OUT for a while. Sorry! This means if it stresses me out, it's also out for a while. It's not that I'm avoiding every problem, it's that I'm setting boundaries that help me recover, which is THE most important thing. I have to stop known triggers while I build myself back up again to a good place where they don’t bother me.

I tell people I trust I’m struggling. This means God too. I ask for His help to get back on track and focus on what He has for me. I ask Him to fight the battle for me when I'm feeling weak. I ask people around me to pray for me, as well as hold me to a better standard and check in on me. Accountability is key!

I challenge my food thoughts and eat things that scare me just to remind myself I’m ok. It's like going back to my time of re-feeding and eating fear foods just show my anxiety it has no place here.

I go through my recovery story and check the facts. It helps me remember that restriction and over exercise leads to the hellish place my body was/is in and what caused this awful recovery to begin with. I ask others to help me check the facts when my brain mixes them up.

I practice self care. I rest, read, take walks, spend time with God and friends that build me up. I paint and craft and get the heck off social media.

I go back to the basics and use therapy CBT and DBT skills. I used the STOP method, thought logs, Tangled ball of emotions worksheet and figured out exactly what I needed and implemented it.

Full recovery and having my body go completely back to pre-overshoot normal weight sometimes feels like it will never happen even though I am already half way there. So, I set small achievable goals this past week that helped me to gain my confidence back. For example, set up a date with my husband, move my body in a new way other then walking to change it up, allow myself rest, make an appointment to get my hair done, book three photo shoots.

These things have helped tremendously and I’m already well on my way to feeling empowered, strong, healthy and back on track.

Sometimes I just need a I do one. No shame! I'm not a robot. I still have very hard eating disorder thoughts that I have to deal with and consciously choose not to act on. Some weeks I'm strong and others I stumble.

Camping is the last thing I’m doing this week to get back on track. I’m going away, resting, eating s'mores, hiking, drinking a glass of wine and sitting by a fire with my hubs and my two giant furry dogs. I hope to come back refreshed, renewed and even more back on track! I’ll warn you though, when I’m refreshed I’m not quiet about what I think about diet talk, so steer clear!! (just kidding!)



p.s. There have been many readers who have reached out about overshoot and recovery! I will be responding to everyone next week! As you can see I needed to take some time to myself and I can't give on an empty tank! My tank is filling back up and I can't wait to talk to each of you!

p.p.s. I also know this blog was kind of all over the place, BUT, it felt good to get my thoughts and struggles out there. It's therapeutic to write them out and share what's going on, so don't pay too much attention to spelling, and if I repeated myself, welp, I must have just really needed to say it again! xoxoxo

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