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Archive for the ‘Weight’ Category

Sophie has been home and gone back to uni. Wow 6 weeks at home just flew. It was wonderful having her for so long. She had the usual depression/anxiety drop down during the peak assignment time, but this time didn’t ring me as much. With her new psychologist she handled it herself. Doesn’t mean it was any easier or less deep, but she made her own decisions and didn’t need to vent to me. I see this as a step forward and wait to see how this semester goes.

This post though is about getting sick. It’s winter here, Melbourne has it’s own strong flu variety this year and lots of other nasty bugs. When http://scu.edu.au/staffdirectory/person_detail.php?person=20601you get sick, it’s normal to cut back on eating. You really don’t feel like food, nor sometimes can you keep it down. If you get the viruses with the killer sore throats or Tonsillitis then you have an extra level added to the pain of eating. You might not eat anything decent apart from some light liquids for anything up to 14 days. It’s the nature of being sick that we all follow.

For those recovered or in recovery getting sick needs extra care. If you are at home or still not fully independent, you then have a team or family support to encourage you to eat. The bottom line for those with anorexia, is you DON’T lose weight. But it’s hard to remember that when you really sick, living independently away from home and figure that you can easily gain any weight loss back or it won’t matter, or being so sick it doesn’t even cross your mind you might be losing weight. Or that it might be an issue if you do lose weight.

After all – if you are fully recovered – you won’t have had any Ana behaviour to stop you eating. You won’t have had any Ana thoughts or heard Ana’s voice either. Your well past that. You may even still see a psychologist, take good care of yourself, see a doctor regularly, have medication for anxiety or other mental health issues. So when you get really sick, you tend to do what we all do – eat when or how much as you are able to.

Sophie learnt her next step in self care and staying recovered. She got the flu and Tonsillitis together – one very sick girl. And she did try to eat and drink. However being unable to eat her normal amount for over 2 weeks, her weight dropped. What it brought home to her, was how quickly during sickness the body can drop in weight. And in the case of a recovered anorexic, weight loss to a certain point can start to bring thinking changes.

As she said, she felt physically ok, and wasn’t anywhere in the realm of Ana thoughts, but her mind ‘darkened’, it was easy to slip back into the habit of not eating a meal or eating enough when getting over the sickness. She found herself a bit defensive about food. Thankfully she was home by this stage, so mother got involved (despite the fact she is now 20 and really beyond me dictating food routines). Yep, I can still be the Food Police. But because she doesn’t want to go back down the Ana path, she drank the sustagen, ate pies, bread, raisin toast, pasta, pizza etc etc. She snacked in-between meals and she brought her weight back up. Not quite as high as I’d like to go back to Melbourne, but still in her good weight range.

It’s a confronting lesson when just being sick can result in weight loss you didn’t plan or want, and the extra strength needed to continue to eat. Whilst recovery teams will tell you that this might happen, until it actually does you don’t plan or really know how you will actually react or be when very sick. Sometimes you learn as situations become a reality for you – rather than a textbook experience. Now she knows.

Third week back in Melbourne she has come down with a similar bug and another round of damned Tonsillitis (sensitive little things once they get sick). This time Soph is more knowledgeable and is eating more and drinking sustagen etc. She also is seeing her psychologist and doctor as well. We are also heading down (we couldn’t do it last semester) for a parent check in of how she is going.

The learning curve can be tricky, sneaky and sometimes ‘left of field’ in recovery, but as long as you take note of the lesson and build toward being strong if sickness happens again, then you have learned another step in the reality of self-care. Getting flu vaccine might also be part of the lesson!

 

 

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slippery slope of anorexiaWe have been down to visit Sophie – my half semester visit to check she is going ok and to help with homesickness.

When she was home in July, I blogged how she had lost weight. Not in any danger zone, but certainly dropped a size. I hoped this was just her adjusting and her normal body shape and weight sorting itself out.

First impression when we saw Soph two weeks ago – “shit, she lost a lot of weight”. Dropped another size. Now there is NO room for movement in her weight. Loss of weight from here is the start of the slippery slope.

The complication is the trigger weight is not known. We used to know what weight would trigger the brain into full anorexic behaviour and make it difficult to pull Sophie out. Because of height, muscle and body changes during recovery and getting older, we don’t know what weight will start the trigger.

She had a good talk to me (whilst walking around the Victoria Markets). Makes it less intense for her this way. She admitted to having the voice back in her head and having to fight it. She admitted to having fear foods again and balking at eating them (or just not). The voice isn’t just telling her not to eat, but that she is a loner, is weird, no one likes her, she isn’t good at art – the whole sad, sorry and destructive stuff the anorexia does.

What can I say when I am so far away? Basically not a lot, except let her know I am her support and can listen. But I can’t make her eat and my encouragement is all I can give. I can only advise her to see her counsellor (thankfully she has done this twice since we left). What gets me most is that Sophie can see this happening to herself. She doesn’t want it to, doesn’t want to go back into anorexia land. But finds it so hard to fight back and gain back control from the voice. So easy for the anorexia to slip back in.

What made it turn up again? Nothing really. The internal issues she has, have surfaced more and she needs to deal with them. These are the same issues as before but she really has never broken free and forward progress seems to be very slow over time. Maybe the issues she sees are something she cannot solve as they are her character and personality. She misses home, misses my foundation support but also knows she has to stand on her own feet and fight this herself. The weight loss from sickness and not eating as well as she could, is probably the main trigger. Normal life just doesn’t happen in many respects for those in recovery from an ED. You always have to watch your health, stress, eating habits. It can be so easy to start falling down the slope again.

Supporting someone from a distance is tricky. Sophie is paranoid and super sensitive at the moment (all anorexia traits). She asks for advice and then tells me I don’t get it or understand. She dumps her emotions and then hangs up. The ‘fix’ she wants I cannot provide. The answers lie within her but she can’t or won’t face them. Supporting someone in an intensive uni course is also very difficult. The distraction tool box she has is based on her having free time to do some of the activities or take a break. When you are studying full time (5 subjects a semester and art being far more time intensive than essay writing) where do you find time to delve into the distraction box. We talked about this last night but it needs more exploration.

Whever this goes, we do it together. Praying and hoping the slippery slope doesn’t happen.

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In the starvation of anorexia, the body undergoes severe stress to stay alive. It shuts down many processes, slows others, simplifies functions etc. It’s goal is to survive and to at all costs protect the brain.

In refeeding the body also undergoes a lot of strain. Some things don’t work the same, like digestion and the rest of the lower digestive tract, how it stores and distributes the nutrition. The body takes longer to build up than it took to break down. The amount and type of nutrition is critical and dependent upon how long the body has been in starvation and the strain put on it.

So when the body starts consuming higher levels of food it doesn’t distribute the nutrition the same. It just puts it all (so to speak) in one spot, as it works out what parts need the most building up and nutrition first. The abdomen becomes the storage place. Hence the rounded tummy. It even has a term given to it – fluffy weight gain or fluffy fat. It means that it won’t stay that way, it is a transitional thing. The fat is not a bad word nor a wrong word, our bodies need fat to live. Only our society and culture has made it a bad word.

Your body isn’t going to metabolise or use food the same way as before. It has to relearn how to do this again, and relearn how to digest the food.

The brain and organs are the body’s first priority –
not your ‘need’ for a flat stomach.

Because anorexia has the whole body image and fat psychology in it, everyone literally ‘freaks’ out about the weight gained and the round tummy. The overwhelming fear of being fat and the body image of the flat stomach creates a major level of conflict. Many relapses happen because of this.

Here’s a truth and new concept to think about:

The fear is false and the tummy will flatten out. TRUTH!

And it won’t happen in a month, a few months or even a year. Your body has almost been destroyed, it takes a long, long time for it to heal and work like it did before. And you can’t tell your body which bits to heal first. Your body knows best and is doing exactly the right things.

It comes down to re-programming your mind.

First, remind yourself do you want to live, be healthy or be very sick and miserable and worse die. The choice is yours when it comes to recovery. If a flat stomach means more than your life and health, then there is a problem.

Second, remind yourself the ‘fluffy weight’ will go. It will redistribute properly, your body will work properly. This isn’t a dream or false wish. IT WILL HAPPEN.  The body will not leave your tummy in it’s rounded state. As it heals it will stop using your abdomen as a storage place and send the food nutrition directly to the correct areas.

Third, the fear in your mind about getting fat and putting on too much weight is false. It’s the anorexia giving you this fear and distortion of reality. It’s controlling your mind and making up fears to control you and stop you recovering.It takes a lot to defuse this fear, anorexia feeds and lives on fears. It takes courage to face the anorexia and say, ‘that’s not true and I don’t believe you’. Time will allow you to learn this one. But know it is possible and can be done.

Fourth, follow your meal plan. This helps by giving constant nutrition to the body and starts to stabilise by it’s consistency and regularity. It helps against binge eating which can also emphasise the fluffy weight.

Fifth, it will all take time. You cannot hurry the recovery process. It simply cannot be done. You also cannot measure your recovering body against someone else’s. Everyone recovers at a different rate – metabolism, muscle, body fat, and your other unique body blueprint. In the end you have to choose. What is your goal, what means most. Health, a life free or close to free from anorexia or do you want to be beholden to sickness, control, fears and no/little freedom.

Learn to relive, heal, find a life again. The more you get involved in your life, the less you will notice the stomach. I watched Sophie do the same things. Watched and walked with her all the same fears and rounded tummy. Her body is now normal with a normal abdomen size. She now knows the fears were never real or true.

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You realise you are now in a different place when no matter how ordinary the things you do, create memories or triggers. Nothing is ever the same again is it. Once you have had an eating disorders, the life others take fore-granted is not available to you.

We came to the day surgery place. Sophie was so relieved we weren’t in the main hospital where she had been an inpatient for the anorexia. She missed that point made at the dentist’s office.

Next the lady at the counter asked for Sophie’s arm to put her medical ID bracelet on. Sophie physically and mentally faltered. This was really hard for her to do, again too many memories of hospital and that ID bracelet being there for weeks. She actually had to push through this to place her arm up to get the bracelet on.

And finally, you need to be weighed for the anaesthetic. I deliberately didn’t say anything about this. I knew she would be very worried. Definite trigger. She came back and it wasn’t about the wisdom teeth it was all about the figure on the scale. “I am so heavy”, “Were you ever this weight”, “What am I going to do about this”….. It was a case of outlining the benefits – you have a life, you have full brain capacity back, you are healthy, you are happy, it is not about the number on the scale. But the time and place were also not in favour of my reply either.

For now while she recovers from the surgery, the weight issue is tucked back in her mind. But it will come back. That much I know. How strong or what she does with it depends upon her belief in her own recovery.

Am thrilled though the surgery effects are minimal. Her pain level is pretty good, minimal swelling, no problems. Just very tired mainly. Am blessed with that. She is also loving being the centre of my attention again and being cared for.

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This letter from the yourfairyangel blog is one of the most beautiful I have ever read. Everyone in the weight-loss and diet industry should read this and reflect seriously on their own behaviour and ethics. The letter made me cry, for those who got harmed, for the honesty of the woman behind it, for a world that is still caught so tightly by diets and thing thin, for the never ending cycle dieting.

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Stop DietingI worked at a popular weight loss company for 3 years. I loved my job there. I LOVED my clients. I loved making a connection and sharing my knowledge. And I learned a lot about nutrition, about dieting and weight loss and what works and what doesn’t. My job was to be a weight loss consultant, and I learned that job very well. I can design a 1200 calorie meal plan, tell you which activities are most likely to make the number on the scale go down, and how many carbs are in a cup of rice. I can talk the diet game like it’s my business…because it was. Volumize with vegetables. Don’t go too long in between meals. Start with a bowl of broth-based soup. Are you drinking enough water? Did you exercise enough? Did you exercise too much? Let’s look at your food journal…

This is not an anti-weight loss company post (although I could write that too). It’s a letter to each and every woman that I unknowingly wronged. My heart is beating a little bit faster as I write this, and so I know this needs to be said. The words have been playing in my head for months. Sometimes it just takes time for me to get up the courage to say the right thing.

So here goes:

Dear Former Weight Loss Clients (you know who you are): 

I’m sorry. 

I’m sorry because I put you on a 1200 calorie diet and told you that was healthy. I’m sorry because when you were running 5x a week, I encouraged you to switch from a 1200 calorie diet to a 1500 calorie diet, instead of telling you that you should be eating a hell of a lot more than that. I’m sorry because you were breastfeeding and there’s no way eating those 1700 calories a day could have been enough for both you and your baby. I’m sorry because you were gluten intolerant and so desperate to lose weight that you didn’t put that on your intake form. But you mentioned it to me later, and I had no idea the damage you were doing to your body. I’m sorry because I think I should have known. I think I should have been educated better before I began to tell all of you what was right or wrong for your body. 

I’m sorry because I made you feel like a failure and so you deliberately left a message after the center had closed, telling me you were quitting. I thought you were awesome and gorgeous, and I’m sorry because I never told you that. I’m sorry because you came in telling me you liked to eat organic and weren’t sure about all the chemicals in the food, and I made up some BS about how it was a “stepping stone.” I’m sorry because many of you had thyroid issues and the LAST thing you should have been doing was eating a gluten-filled, chemically-laden starvation diet. I’m sorry because by the time I stopped working there, I wouldn’t touch that food, yet I still sold it to you. 

I’m sorry because it’s only years later that I realize just how unhealthy a 1200 calorie diet was. I stayed on a 1200-1500 calorie diet for years, so I have the proof in myself. Thyroid issues, mood swings, depression, headaches…oh and gluten intolerance that seemed to “kick in” after about a month of eating the pre-packaged food. Was it a coincidence? Maybe. 

I’m sorry because you had body dysmorphic disorder, and it was so painful to hear the things you said about yourself. You looked like a model, and all of my other clients were intimidated by you, asked me why you were there because clearly you didn’t need to lose weight. And yet you would sit in my office and cry, appalled that a man might see you naked and be disturbed by the fat that didn’t actually exist. I’m sorry because you should have been seeing a therapist, not a weight loss consultant. 

I’m sorry because you were young and so beautiful and only there because your mother thought you needed to lose weight. And because there were too many of you like that. Girls who knew you were fine, but whose mothers pushed that belief out of you until you thought like she did. Until you thought there was something wrong with you. And the one time I confronted your mother, you simply got switched to a different consultant. I think I should have made more of a stink, but I didn’t. I’m sorry because you were in high school and an athlete, and I pray that you weren’t screwed up by that 1500 calorie diet. Seriously, world? Seriously? A teenage girl walks in with no visible body fat and lots of muscle tone, tells you she’s a runner and is happy with her weight…but her mother says she’s fat and has to lose weight and so we help her do just that. As an individual, as women, as a company, hell, as a nation, we don’t stand up for that girl? What is wrong with us? There ain’t nothing right about that. Nothing. 

I’m sorry because every time you ate something you “shouldn’t” or ate more than you “should,” I talked about “getting back on the bandwagon.” I cringe now every time someone uses that phrase. When did the way we eat become a bandwagon? When did everyone stop eating and become professional dieters? I’m sorry because I get it now. If you’re trying to starve your body by eating fewer calories than it needs, of course it’s going to fight back. I used to tell you that then, when you wanted to eat less than 1200 calories a day. The problem was, I thought 1200 was enough. I thought that was plenty to support a healthy body. Why did I believe that for so long? I’m sorry because I wasn’t trying to trick you or play games to get your money. I believed the lies we were fed as much as you did. 

And it wasn’t just the company feeding them to me. It was the doctors and registered dietitians on the medical advisory board. It was the media and magazines confirming what I was telling my clients. A palm-sized portion of lean chicken with half a sweet potato and a salad was PLENTY. No matter that you had “cravings” afterward. Cravings are a sign of underlying emotional issues. Yeah, sure they are. I’m a hypnotherapist with a past history of binge eating disorder. I KNOW cravings are a sign of underlying emotional issues. Except when they’re not. Except when they’re a sign that your body needs more food and you’re ignoring it. Then they’re a sign that your 1200 calorie diet is horseshit. Then they’re a sign that you’ve been played. 

And that’s mostly why I’m sorry. Because I’ve been played for years, and so have you, and inadvertently, I fed into the lies you’ve been told your whole life. The lies that say that being healthy means nothing unless you are also thin. The lies that say that you are never enough, that your body is not a beautiful work of art, but rather a piece of clay to be molded by society’s norms until it becomes a certain type of sculpture. And even then, it is still a work in progress. 

I owe you an apology, my former client and now friend, who I helped to lose too much weight. Who I watched gain the weight back, plus some. Because that’s what happens when you put someone on a 1200 calorie diet. But I didn’t know. If you’re reading this, then I want you to know that you have always been beautiful. And that all these fad diets are crap meant to screw with your metabolism so that you have to keep buying into them. I think now that I was a really good weight loss consultant. Because I did exactly what the company wanted (but would never dare say). I helped you lose weight and then gain it back, so that you thought we were the solution and you were the failure. You became a repeat client and we kept you in the game. I guess I did my job really well.  

And now I wonder, did I do more harm than good? When I left, you all wrote me cards and sent me flowers. I still have those cards, the ones that tell me how much I helped you, how much I cared. But I’m friends with some of you on Facebook now, and I look at your photos and you look happy. And beautiful. And not because you lost weight since I saw you last. But because I see YOU now. You. Not a client sitting in my chair, asking for my assistance in becoming what society wants. But you, a smart and lovely woman, who really doesn’t need some random company telling her there’s something wrong with her. 
  
So I’m sorry because when you walked in to get your meal plan, I should have told you that you were beautiful. I should have asked you how you FELT. Were you happy? Did you feel physically fit? Were you able to play with your kids? There were so many of you who never needed to lose a pound, and some of you who could have gained some. And maybe sometimes I told you that. But not enough. Not emphatically. Because it was my job to let you believe that making the scale go down was your top priority. And I did my job well.  

I am sorry because many of you walked in healthy and walked out with disordered eating, disordered body image, and the feeling that you were a “failure.” None of you ever failed. Ever. I failed you. The weight loss company failed you. Our society is failing you. 

Just eat food. Eat real food, be active, and live your life. Forget all the diet and weight loss nonsense. It’s really just that. Nonsense. 

And I can’t stop it. But I can stop my part in it. I won’t play the weight loss game anymore. I won’t do it to my body, and I won’t help you do it to yours. That’s it. End game.  

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  • I deserve to be loved and appreciated at any size.
  • I can participate in physical activities that I actually enjoy.
  • I can wear what I want as long as I love it.
  • Happiness isn’t thinness.
  • Success isn’t thinness.
  • I define what happiness and success look like for me.
  • I can trust my body.
  • I can create a life that I love right now, without waiting for my weight to change.
  • I don’t need to know my weight.
  • I don’t have to keep a scale at home.
  • I can simply focus on the habits that feel great to me, without focusing on needless numbers.
  • Whether someone likes my body doesn’t matter.
  • I don’t need anyone’s approval to appreciate myself.
  • I don’t need to please anyone with my appearance.
  • I do have time to care for myself.
  • Self-care isn’t selfish. It helps me be of service to others.
  • This body is the only one I’ve got. Appreciating it and caring for it is worth my time.
  • I don’t have to love my body right this second or next week or next month. But maybe I can start to do nicer things for myself.
  • I can be kind to myself at any size. I don’t need to earn my own respect or love — or anyone else’s.
  • Beauty, strength and health come in all shapes, sizes and weights.
  • Sure, maybe I’ve never thought of myself as an athlete, but I can have fun and experiment with different activities to see what I like.
love your body

love your body

Weightless, Psych Central

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fat is not a feelingFat girl is back. Got no idea what triggered it. Sophie can’t tell me and seems to prefer to just let it slide. Clearly slipping back into restrictive eating is a comfort zone and so much easier than having to face whatever is happening. It means she doesn’t have to make decisions, grow up, or confront the need to be active.

Food intake back to about a 1/4 of her daily needs. A plan of doing this for 2 weeks at least. She hasn’t thought further ahead. Cancelled this week’s counselling appt. Hoping she decides to make next week’s appt.

Oh, and it’s my fault. I should have told her she is fat.

Trying to keep out of this, encourage her only and let her know she has all the tools already to fight this. She only needs to pull out her distraction toolbox, remember the many conversations with her dietitian, counsellor or psychiatrist. It is all there. But for now she is choosing to not even try. I am hoping that like that last slip ups she will get to small health problems and cave in. Too soon yet for that to happen.

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