Self-Help

Recovery As A Daily Choice

Today I had a moment where I truly reexamined my goals. I say every day that recovery is my goal, it’s my driving force. But lately I feel like it’s become something I just say to myself to get through the day, or use an excuse to stay away from sugar. I tell myself that I want to recover and get healthy, but do I really mean it? Or am I just going through the motions until I’m okay enough to get back on my feet?

Today I went back to my disordered “normal”. Not on purpose, it was an honest to goodness accident. By 5pm tonight, I had only eaten 800 calories – a  stark contrast to my 2400 calorie daily intake. With only 800 calories in me, it was really hitting me how much fuel my body truly needed. All day I was lightheaded, fatigued, dizzy, nauseous (though that may have been the town’s pumpkin smell), my head hurt, and I just felt like I was in a fog all day long. I forgot my coffee and cell phone in almost every room at work. I would tell a coworker I would work on a project and 20  minutes later would have completely forgotten about it. Throughout the day I felt myself slowly deteriorate into what I can only describe as a zombie. I got into my car after work and just sat in the driver’s seat for a solid five minutes trying to collect myself enough to be able to make the 4 minute drive home. By the time I got home, I could barely take my backpack off. Matt guided me to the couch and made dinner while I stared at my calorie count for the day thinking, “How on Earth did I do this on a daily basis for two years?”

The truth is, my slip up today made me realize that recovery is a daily choice. After feeling as terrible as I did all day today, it’s no surprise that I damaged my organs from keeping that routine for two years. I chose to destroy my body daily while in my disorder. Being now a year removed from those habits, I do my best to choose recovery daily. Day by day, meal by meal, I try my hardest to create a life without restriction and purging via exercise. Today, I unknowingly chose destruction over recovery. So why am I telling you all of this? Part of this is accountability. Being in recovery means you have to take responsibility for both your accomplishments and your setbacks. So to you, readers, I am holding myself accountable. I didn’t do great today, and I know what caused my slip up. But I will do better tomorrow, and I have a plan to make sure I follow through on that promise.

The other reason I’m telling you this is because I think it’s so important to recognize that setbacks are a normal part of recovery. And that being said, it’s equally as important to remember that setbacks should not be the basis on which you determine your current progress and success. You are going to slip up sometimes. You are going to have days where you go back to your old ways, and you are going to have days where it doesn’t feel like you’ve made any progress at all.

But these off days don’t determine your entire journey and they certainly don’t take away the good days that you’ve had. You may not have been able to stick to your plan today, but that doesn’t make it any less amazing that you stuck to it yesterday and the day before that. Your plan will be there to tackle again tomorrow, and if not tomorrow then the day after.

These bad days really show me how much I want Recovery. These days where I can barely function because I forgot to eat and my body didn’t remind me, really bring the fragile state of my health into light. I cannot tell you how shocked I was to realize that my spaced out fatigued self was my normal mode just a year ago. Looking back, I remember now being tired all the time, never being able to get enough sleep and always being cold. I remember how much my head always hurt and how it always felt like I was floating because I was so lightheaded all the time. At the height of my disorder it never occurred to me that these symptoms may not be normal – I just blamed it on my other known health issues!

But one short year later, I feel awake, and energized, and grounded. After taking steps to start healing, I’m eating 3 times what I used to limit myself to. My hair has started to grow back, and I don’t need a sweater in 85 degree heat! There have always been setbacks, this has not been an easy journey and it continues to follow a bumpy road. But focusing on the bad days will make this journey a lot harder than it needs to be. Focusing on the fact that I didn’t eat enough today and my hunger signals didn’t kick in is a destructive use of my time and will prevent me from moving forward. Keeping my thoughts on the negatives of today takes my mind away from the positive thoughts that I can cultivate for tomorrow. So instead of reminding myself what I didn’t do, we’re going to stick with my motto: remind yourself what you can and have done – then translate that into what you will do.

I didn’t eat enough today… But I have consistently hit my 2400 calorie goal every day for the past few weeks. I am capable of eating enough to fuel my body and help it perform to the best of its abilities. And tomorrow I will stick to a feeding schedule to make sure I get all of my nutrients in.

If you’re struggling with a bad day today, remember that tomorrow you start fresh. Remember that today does not define your yesterdays and your tomorrows. And remember that you are strong enough to make it through today and try again tomorrow.
P.s. If anyone is wondering, I hit 2000 calories today with the help of pizza and ice cream 🙂 (There are some things in life that are never worth giving up! 😉 )

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