Does counting help? Numbers and recovery

Today’s guest post is written by an amazing friend of mine, a fellow disordered eater in recovery. 🙂


I’ve been seeing a lot of numbers lately. Numbers of days binge free, numbers of days trigger food free, numbers on a scale, numbers of calories consumed. Don’t get me wrong—I love numbers just as much as the next person. They can be very useful and informative in the right context.

I’m just not sure what these numbers are telling you when it comes to caring for yourself or whether they are useful at all for recovery. The numbers come from the diet mindset. We are so programmed to count—everything!

These numbers seem to be a trap of sorts. After a number of days of being binge free, once you “fall,” the counting is halted—as is your confidence in yourself and your belief that you can recover. “Oh well, now I have to start over. Day 1 all over again.” That is the same as Day 1 of dieting. Again and again and again.

But it’s not so! You aren’t starting over! Those days, the days you met your needs, cared for yourself, and felt good about yourself, are not lost! Nothing happened to those days. That experience of self-care is now firmly under your belt and is worthy of celebration! This is about a journey. One with peaks and many, many bumps along the road.Blog-bumpyrecovery

Every time you use those new muscles to get to the other side of the bump, you’ve gained. You’ve gained wisdom, gained confidence, gained strength. It takes a tremendous amount of strength to get over those bumps. That effort shouldn’t be discounted with something as arbitrary as a number. Numbers can’t tell you how strong, amazing, deserving, or worthy you are. So please, put the numbers back where they belong—in a math book!

Now, go celebrate yourself! 🙂

When life is just crazy

Hi all! I’m going to take a break from my usual advice-focused posts and talk a little about my personal life. As some of you know, I’ve been in recovery from BED for over a year. I followed an approach mainly based on intuitive eating self-help books, individual and group therapy (including CBT), and many of the tips I’ve discussed in this blog (getting rid of food guilt, putting weight loss on the backburner, and eating mindfully). My recovery isn’t based on willpower at all (because willpower is a limited resource), and I almost never have binge urges. Recovery isn’t always a smooth path, but it’s mostly been wonderful …

Until recently. I am now pregnant with my first child. And it has completely turned my eating and exercise habits upside down. Add to this a new, stressful job and making plans to start graduate school, and the result is a lot of craziness!Baby girl

Pregnancy and morning sickness have really changed my eating habits in ways that I don’t really love—nothing sounds appealing, so I get little pleasure from eating these days, and I need to eat almost constantly to keep the sickness at bay, so I’m rarely hungry for actual meals. And I’m eating a lot less produce, and my exercise habits and social life have dwindled to almost nothing, thanks to near-constant nausea.

It bums me out, honestly! But I just keep reminding myself that my body is going through some crazy things right now—producing a human being!!—and I need to be patient and just listen to my body as best I can. It’s a gentle reminder to me to listen to my body’s needs, not what my mind THINKS I should need.

I think this is a lesson that can be applied to all of us: our bodies know best. Learning to quiet my mind and its incessant judgments about food and exercise (and everything else!!) was KEY to starting recovery, and I have to remember that it’s also key to continuing on my recovery path. And it’s a great reminder that circumstances change, and our bodies change for various reasons. I can’t control what my body is doing during pregnancy, and that’s such a frustrating thing to me … but I also think it’s a GREAT way of learning a very important lesson in letting go of that obsessive need for control.

I apologize if this post is rambling, but I am experiencing a little editing burnout these days (editing is my day job). 😉 I wanted to give you all an update because I know I haven’t written in a while. And I wanted to share a snippet of what recovery is like—it really is about continually growing and learning about yourself—and when I am able to set aside that incessant need for control, I can admit that it’s a really beautiful thing. 🙂

How are you doing this fall (or spring, if you’re in the other hemisphere)? I’d love to hear from you. 🙂