Last week started out Shitty with a capital “S,” and all because of a dumb number. I got weighed that Tuesday and it brought me down for days. I mean I knew beforehand that I had probably gained in the weeks since my last weigh-in, so I was prepared to see a little damage when I stepped onto the scale at the nutritionist’s. Not a lot of damage, but, you know, a little. Some.
It wasn’t until the end of the appointment that my nutritionist asked if she could get my weight, so I slipped off my shoes and stood in front of the scale, took a deep breath, exhaled…
“You can do back-to-scale if you’d like,” the nutritionist said, sensing my hesitation. “It’s completely up to you.”
“No,” I said firmly. “I’m a glutton for punishment. I want to see it.”
I stepped on the scale and my heart fluttered with that familiar high, waiting for the numbers to settle: Have I lost? Have I gained? I licked my lips in anticipation, then realized I should probably refrain from looking too eager. (I didn’t know I missed the scale this much.)
When the numbers finally settled my weight glowered back at me, almost aggressively: it was considerably higher than I had expected, putting me at a solid fifteen pounds heavier than the goal weight the hospital had set for me, fifteen pounds that seemed to punch me right in the gut. I felt winded and everything was reeling; I groped my way back to my seat. How did this happen?
“How do you feel after seeing that?” the nutritionist ventured, trying to read my face.
“Um,” I began, choosing my words carefully. “Pretty… pretty shitty. I don’t like this. I want to lose the weight – to get back to my goal weight – but I don’t know how to do that without relapsing.”
“That is tough, isn’t it?”
Yeah, no kidding. I feel all sorts of at odds right now: can I be in recovery and lose weight healthfully, or does the very fact that I want to lose weight betray my recovery focus? Does being a recovering anorexic mean I have to resign myself to whatever weight I’m at, forever? Am I able to work out or eat more mindfully without having the eating disorder dictate my motivations? It’s all so complicated; I want to be in control of my body rather than having my body control me, but I’m not sure if that’s possible.
In the week after the weigh-in, I cycled through a myriad of emotions: anger, distress, hopelessness, self-blame, disgust. I felt as though all my negative self-talk was suddenly justified: I feel fat because I am fat; I am ugly because my weight says so. Luckily I had (have) the support of my family and friends to buoy me and I was able to re-frame my thinking, get myself out of that dark place… but I’m not out of the woods yet. I still want to lose weight badly, to get a little closer to my prescribed goal weight. My next steps are to work with my nutritionist on eating healthier, and to start some light yoga or walking to get my body moving. Trying things in moderation. The key, I think, is to be honest with myself and my treatment team if things start to get a little out of hand. Recognizing relapse – that’s what’s important.