Spring is finally here!
Oh my gosh, am I ever welcoming it with open arms!
Whenever this time of year rolls around, I always remember how difficult this specific season is for those struggling with an eating disorder, or in recovery from one.
If you don’t know my story, here’s the one sentence version: When I was in high school, I nearly died from a severe case of anorexia, which got me down to 78 pounds: isolated, manipulative, and having lost all my hair from malnutrition. Today, I am 14 years strong in recovery, fully embracing life without “ED,” and trying to use my story of redemption to help others.
OK, that was two sentences.
But here’s the thing: even though I am so far removed from that dark season of my life now, I was so entrenched, so absolutely sold out to my anorexia — to the degree that I nearly lost it all — I will never forget what it feels like to walk in those shoes of despair.
Which inspired my post for tonight, offering three gentle reminders that bring into the spotlight all the lies the enemy — who is also known as the “Voice of ED” in secular recovery spaces — tries to throw your way once the weather gets warm.
1. “Shorts Season” should not dictate your food intake.
Just because the weather is warm and we’re wearing less clothes does NOT mean you need to eat less. Listen, you are going to hear every diet program blast on commercials, social media, etc — all about how you’ve got to be getting “bikini ready,” or getting in shape to wear those short shorts — you’ve got to be prepared for that onslaught of diet culture malarky.
Bodies need fuel and nutrients, no matter if it’s 25 degrees outside, or it’s 75 degrees.
It used to bother me so much, when I was starting recovery, to hear people be like, “Oh it’s so hot out, I have no appetite.” Or “It’s too hot for anything other than a salad!”
Psh…girl, please. Feed your gal dang body. And never feel guilty for nourishing yourself.
Do. Not. Modify. Your. Intake. Because. Of. The. Weather.
2. Just because it’s spring does not mean you have to do a Juice Cleanse.
OK – this one ALSO really grinds my gears.
I don’t know what it is about spring, but I guess people have decided that “spring cleaning” now includes a juice cleanse.
Listen. When you’re in recovery from an eating disorder, juice cleanses are like flirting with death. Why tempt yourself and test the strength of your recovery by reverting to a liquid diet!?
Friends, I’ve been there! There was a phase of my anorexia where I only consumed liquids — and friends. Just don’t do it.
What is the number one rule of recovery?? PROTECT IT AT ALL COSTS.
And frankly, that means staying as far away from anything that could lure you back into that hell hole pit of Satan’s spawns as possible.
Dramatic much? Well, that’s how strongly I feel about it.
2b. Lent is not a Diet.
This is a bit of a piggy back on the last one, but coming from someone whose anorexia started when I gave up all sweets for Lent, hear me when I say: do not give up any food item for Lent.
I stand by that, even 14 years later. I made a pact with Jesus that I will never withhold nutrients from the body that He created, and so generously gave to me to take care of, ever again. Restriction no more! (Instead, I do things for Lent, like going to Mass during the week, saying the Rosary every day, giving up watching reality TV, etc.)
All that being said, you are going to have friends giving up food items, or dessert, or soda, etc. for Lent. And they will surely be letting you know how difficult it is to “resist.” Friends, that can be so triggering. Especially if you’ve got even the slightest competitive bone in your body — which I’m guessing most of you do — especially if you’ve got a history of disordered eating.
Just let those triggers wash right over you. Let your friend vent about restricting food. You’ve been there, done that, bought the T-Shirt. And bask in the silent joy of knowing that you will never restrict from your body again, and by doing so, not only are you making Jesus incredibly happy, but you have reclaimed your life and are making a good decision!
3. It’s Okay to Not Have Your Life Figured Out in High School
Ok, this last one is specifically for my ED-warriors who are still in high school.
When spring time rolls around, focus shifts to one thing: college.
College visits. College applications. Acceptance status. Where you’re going next year. Where your friends are going. What you’re going to major in.
In the moment, these feel like the biggest decisions of your life.
Or, perhaps, you’re like me, and battling an eating disorder, and so any and all future plans were out the window, as I was literally battling to just to stay alive.
But you see, that was all the plan. For me, anorexia was the big red emergency “STOP” button on the treadmill of my life that I had going at absolute full speed. As a perfectionist/over achiever, I kept setting the bar higher and higher and higher for myself – to an impossible level. I couldn’t “quit” or give up or…*gasp* FAIL! No way. Anorexia was my way to quit by default. It was a pocket veto. A way for me to regain control.
All that to say – these college decisions that seem so huge, make or break, life or death, be all-end all…in the grand scheme of thing, it is just a small blip on the radar of your life. Yes, an important blip — but not enough to gamble your life for.
You do not have to decide the path or the trajectory of your life in high school. Your test scores do not reflect your worth or your value in life.
Keep it in perspective.
So there you have it.
Spring time is beautiful, but it can be a sneaky snake when it comes to eating disorder recovery.
So thank you for letting me share those gentle reminders for those battling an eating disorder, or walking the beautifully-difficult-yet-so-worth-it road of recovery.
Recovery is worth it. You are worth it. And I believe in you.
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