If I had your willpower I could be thin too,
said my well-meaning friend, who had once again tried and quickly abandoned the latest fad diet.
I felt the flush in my cheeks and abruptly tried to change the subject because I’m not on a diet. And my weight has never had anything to do with willpower.
I have an eating disorder.
Like my friend discovered, trendy diets and the multi-billion-dollar industry they encompass usually fail people. They’re not sustainable long term.
But an eating disorder is more than just a trendy diet. It’s not something I signed up for or planned. It’s an illness.
Living with an eating disorder can mean forcing your body to do things that are unhealthy and often dangerous. You don’t listen to what your body’s needs or fuel it properly.
Without the proper fuel and nourishment, your body simply cannot function. You can only run on fumes for so long.
At my lowest, my weight was the product of restricting and disordered eating behavior, not willpower. In the past, comments like the one from my misinformed friend would have been triggering, leading to further destructive patterns. Now, I know my weight reflects the healthier choices I make for myself and my body in recovery.
I can’t tell you exactly when things shifted, but I do know it began when I decided to start fighting for myself.
I had tried different forms of treatment in the past, but nothing really seemed to be helping, as I was working through a difficult relapse. But one day, I thought it might be helpful to start keeping track of the things I was doing for my recovery and write them in a journal.
“What do I need to do to get better today?” I asked myself.
I started off by trying to commit to one thing each day for my recovery. Writing things down in the journal kept me accountable.
For example, one entry was, “have an extra snack.” Others included non-food related items such as “reach out to a friend today” or “practice self-care.” I eventually found that these recovery journal entries became habits and I no longer needed to write them down.
By making a mindful choice to include these activities in my day, I was starting to see changes in the way I felt.
The power in us all
You can’t always choose your weight, but you can choose to be the best and healthiest version of yourself. You have that power.
You have that choice. It doesn’t require a fad diet or willpower, just a decision that you are going to wake up and choose to fuel your body. You are going to make the choices that allow you to live fully and completely.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, living your best life starts by making a conscious decision to be in recovery. Each meal, each snack, and each bite is an opportunity to make a supportive choice not only for your body but for your mind, spirit and overall health.
On days when I struggle, I know that every moment affords me the opportunity to recommit to another positive step on my own personal recovery journey. Everyone’s path is different, so it is up to me to check in with myself and make sure I am headed in the direction that is right for me and my body.
I didn’t choose my eating disorder, but I do choose recovery. Every day, I get up and choose to fight. I choose to be a warrior.