- Sara Mann
The Number Doesn't Matter!
About a week ago I had the privilege of being weighed again.
HAHA ok, let’s be real...it wasn’t a privilege. It was hell. Anxiety provoking. Caused all
sorts of disordered behavior, eating and thoughts. It was Sara vs. The Scale round
10,376 and dang-it if the scale didn’t gain a few points in the first round.
If you have been following my blog and recovery you know that my body has started to
lose the overshoot weight, and actually a lot of it. While it’s exciting that my body is
actually doing what I prayed it would do in recovery, it hasn’t been as easy as I thought
it would be. Case in point, last week.
I hadn’t been to the doctor since the beginning of this crazy thing called Covid. My
check-ups were not deemed necessary when there was a pandemic going on and
having virtual visits were not helpful so I didn’t do them.
During this time I constantly had intrusive thoughts about my weight. Was I still losing?
Was I gaining it back? Was I still eating enough? Was I eating too much? Because of
my complete and total inability to see my weight and body correctly I always go off of
what other people tell me and the number on the scale. Since I don’t own a scale, for
OBVIOUS reasons, and wasn’t going to my monthly weigh in, I was solely going off of
feedback from other people.
The feedback I was getting was,
“You look GREAT!”
“Best you have looked in your life!”
“Wow, you have lost a lot of weight.”
“You definitely look like you are still losing weight.”
“Each time I see you, you look smaller and smaller.”
Whenever I shared my fears of my weight not continuing to go back to my normal set
point or staying the same I would hear, “I would be shocked if you weren’t still losing,
you look so different.” I would be reassured that my thoughts were ED driven and not
based in reality. I looked smaller, I was clearly losing weight, eating freely, exercising
without obsession and doing it right! Honestly, I even FELT smaller. Clothes were feeling
bigger, I felt more agile and moved easier and sometimes, my mind would allow me to
see a liiiiiiiitle bit that I was looking and feeling great and getting there!
My fears however were very real and honestly, I don’t care what anyone says, valid.
Unless you have been through the trauma of recovering from anorexia, gaining 100lb
while not over-eating and have sat in the limbo and depression of waiting for the body to heal,
I will not accept your simple, “It wouldn’t make sense for you not to still be losing and no
way you are gaining it all back.” My body has done some CRAZY things during recovery
and it was painful, traumatic and left me with scars and fear. My body has gained while
doing everything right before, who is to say it won’t do it again?! This is the fear I
continue to live in while I recover. This is what keeps me in a constant state of stress
and anxiety. It’s very easy to let that fear and anxiety take over my world. I have to daily
take up that cross and look to my faith, my God and my worth to not get caught up in
My anxiety about gaining and not losing during Covid continued to get increasing worse
as each month without checking in with my doctor came and went. Finally, my husband
said I need to go get weighed, check my progress and just put it to rest. I thought this
was a horrible idea. The thought of facing the scale is debilitating to me. It consumes
everything. (side-note - yes, I still eat and yes I’m far into recovery, but being weighed is
still my arch nemesis and although it has gotten better it still isn’t great...). I looked at my
husband and said very honestly, “But what if I’ve gained weight?” He told me that he
would be VERY surprised if that was the case. I look like I’ve lost a lot of weight since my lest check-in, he
knows what I’ve been eating and I have been doing a weight lifting program with him, so
he even knows my workouts. If I hadn’t lost weight or gained it would be crazy.
So I took the plunge and made a doctors appointment. (#$&%)
The week leading up to my appointment my eating disorder was at full on war with me. I
worried about every morsel that entered my mouth. I was on high alert around diet talk
and questioned if I had done “enough” the past three months to keep my body going in
the “right” direction. It kind of took over. I knew it. I hated it. I had to work HARD to keep
it under control.
The morning of my doctors appointment I prayed, practiced acceptance, put on my
“lightest” outfit and walked out the door. The nurse opened the door and called me back
and I immediately had a stare down with the scale twenty steps in front of me. Here we
I stepped on the scale aaaaaaaaannnnnnddddd I weighed the exact F’ING SAME as I
did three months ago. Honest too God I had so many thoughts I couldn’t even think
straight. I felt a little out of body and had to suck in my breath and not let it out for fear of
a full on melt down. I hate the scale. I HATE IT!
I was shocked. Even worse I was afraid. VERY afraid. I knew I was eating well, I knew I
was exercising well, how am I the same weight? Was everyone lying to me to make me
feel better? I mean, they said I looked substantially smaller?! What was my body doing?
Was it going into saving fat mode again?! What was I doing wrong? Was I stuck like this?
Even scarier I started to have the thoughts of relapse. FULL ON RELAPSE. I wanted to
stop eating STAT and run until there wasn’t a morsel of fat left on my bones. I felt
trapped. Was the only way out to have disordered eating and exercise? Was it restrict to
be my normal weight or be stuck a little overweight the rest of my life? Was I never
going to have the life I felt I ruined with my eating disorder? One where I could eat a
s’more with friends without have to punish myself through food and exercise for fear of
being fat? To say I felt defeated would be an understatement.
My doctor was pretty confused because like everyone else she said I looked a lot
smaller and was shocked when she saw my weight hadn’t changed. She asked what I
was doing. I told her I had actually been lifting a lot lately but eating well. She then told
me this makes total sense. I was gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time.
Therefore I DO look like I’ve lost a lot of weight, but weigh the same! My body
composition was changing. YAY. This was something I could accept. It made sense.
EXCEPT, she didn’t stop there.....
My doctor (who isn’t an ED specialist, just a GP who has SOME experience with
anorexia patients, who in her defense has been mostly good) suggested I cut out some
calories, and stop lifting and do more cardio if I want the number to go down faster. She
also said that the medication I am on for my endometriosis could be causing my
overshoot loss to halt.
So what is it? Is it that I’m gaining muscle and losing fat? Which actually makes sense
so therefore I’m doing good, or is it that I need to cut calories, run and get off the meds
that keep my from being in stabbing pain just to not be overweight?
I walked out of that office confused, stressed, overwhelmed and lost. NOT a good place
to be when you have a problem with anorexia. The reason why this isn’t good is
because anyone with an eating disorder will tell you how it will twist and turn everything
into tricking you into relapse and giving the ED control. You know satan in the garden of Eden
tempting Eve with the apple. Satan = ED, Eve = me, The apple = the temptation to
relapse back into anorexia and “feel” in control again. Lies. All lies.
The following week was a real S#@$-Show.
(I know I have been fake swearing this whole blog. Honestly, I am trying to navigate
through my actual thoughts and feelings and making sure I am authentic but also check
myself because swearing isn’t exactly how I want to represent myself....)
I became VERY depressed, and I’m on medication that helps with depression so I was
TRULY depressed. I felt stuck. I didn’t know whether to relapse or keep going. I didn’t
trust ANYONE. I kept going back and forth between, “It makes sense why you are
smaller but the weight is the same! It’s muscle! This is goood,” and “Why the heck is the
number the same? Has my body stopped losing? Is it going to gain again? I don’t want
to stay like this! I need to stop eating bread. I shouldn’t eat the spaghetti at Sunday
dinner anymore with my family.” The thoughts and confusion got worse and worse until I
had the dark thoughts of can I live a life like this?
I even cried at music rehearsal. One of my lower moments of the week. My in-ear pack
(basically a personal monitor that adjusts sound in my ears) wasn’t working. I legit
started to cry. In front of the band. Over a pack. This is NOT me.
I knew that this level of depression and confusion was not sustainable. I had to get it
together. Talking with friends and family just wasn’t cutting it. Thank God I learned from
Eve’s mistakes. Instead of eating the apple and listening to my eating disorder I came
home from that music practice, locked myself in our bedroom, and cried it out with God
and pleaded for clarity and for my mind to get right. I asked God to help me work
through each thought and see it right. Through His eyes, not my eating disorders. For
hours I worked through each problem I was having and thought I was battling. By the
way, yes I was asking God for clarity and ALSO using the skills I learned in therapy. There
is room for both.
My endo doctor said the meds wouldn’t effect my weight and recovery. My GP said she
was an idiot and yes it does. (She literally said those words.) They were contradicting
each other. I prayed. I slowed down. I decided to trust my endo doctor and not my GP.
She is an expert in endo and hormones not my GP. I felt a little better.
I thought through restricting calories. Should I do it? After prayer and listing pro’s and
con’s I realized NOPE, not cutting calories. Why would I do the thing that got me into
this mess to begin with? THAT is insane. Restriction is not an option. I don’t even eat
too much! Even if I never lose another pound. Restriction is NOT an option. Also, my
doctor is a complete nutter for even saying that to me! HELLO, you don’t tell a
recovering anorexic to restrict. Is this not obvious?! I felt a even better and empowered
after that decision.
I thought through my exercise. Was I doing enough? Should I switch it up? What was
my goal with exercise? I realized, I’m doing enough. I really am! I feel good. I feel
stronger. My clothes are bigger. Lifting grows muscle and muscle is important. I had lost
all of it during my sedentary years of re-feeding. Could I walk or jog more? I wasn’t
convinced that I needed to do more. That would lead me back down the road of
obsession. Nope, I was doing enough. I felt even better.
I thought through my recovery. WOW. I have come a LOOOOONG way. God truly
turned my grave of anorexia into a garden of life. (nice little song plug there...) No way
was I going to pick up a shovel and dig that grave again. NO FREAKING WAY was I
going back to that.
So what was left?
Welp, doing what the verse this blog was based on (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) was a great
option and pretty much what I had left after this debauchery of a week. I fixed my eyes
on all the things God has taught me through my recovery. I have worth. I am more then
my weight. I am more then the number on the scale. I play keys to help people worship
at church. I take beautiful photos for people to capture moments in their lives. I am a
wife, a friend, a sister and daughter. I am fun and throw a good party! I love reading and
music and art. I’m making my home beautiful so we can adopt. I help SO many others
overcome eating disorders just by sharing my experience. All of these things don't have
anything to do with the number on the scale!
I can also stick to the facts.
Muscle weighs more then fat. It DOES make sense why I look different by the scale
stayed the same.
Most importantly, and I learned this in last weeks sermon at my church which I will
share below, God is good and God is in control and the sooner I remember that He is
good and He is control the sooner I can live in the peace I was living in before I
remembered there was an annoying number attached to my body size. Time to fix my
mind on what is good, holy, pure and lovely. Last time I checked, the scale is NOT any
of those things. I eat well, I’m gaining muscle and my body is still changing and
recovering. I’m happier, I look good, my husband says so, so there ya go!
Also, F the scale! There. I said it.
Don’t let the number on the scale control you. It’s just a number. There are so many
other ways to assess our health and our body than that number. I have let it control my
me FAR too often and it leads to destruction and shame every. single. time. Live freely.
God didn’t create us to care about a number, that is for dang sure. I know it’s hard and
it’s a process, but you can do it. I promise. If I can do it you can too.
I’m happy to report I am back on track(ish)! I did not relapse and although my eating
disorder put up a REALLY good fight this past week, I won this round. I will also
continue to win every round until my eating disorder is sooooo beaten down it can’t get back
- Sara -
This is the sermon I was talking about in my blog! It is a MUST watch!
This is the song I referenced in my blog!! A MUST listen!!