2012 for the ED Recovery Win

2012 has been the year for recovery. I hope every year that something huge would happen and I’d be in such a better spot, only to say that I have so much to work on for the next year. Well, I don’t think I’m going to have those expectations for 2013, because 2012 was HUGE for me. And when I say HUGE, I mean it with all the capital letters and exclamation points if I could add them there and still be grammatically correct. LOL.

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2012 started off like every other year. There was so many things I needed to work on: stop calorie counting completely, stop weighing myself, stop focusing on bad/good foods, stop boredom/stress eating, and so on and so forth. I had a laundry list of things that I needed to work on and truthfully, it was overwhelming. I never thought I was going to be able to even get one of those things accomplished.

I was afraid that because I no longer had a counselor, things were going to fall apart at the seems. Not that I didn’t believe in my own strengths and tactics I’d learned in the past two years with her, but to not have that kind of guidance, I was afraid. I rarely talked to anyone, even my family and Whit, about how I was really feeling during my recovery because that’s just the way it was. I never wanted to burden anyone and I had been struggling with this for almost ten years and still having to ask for help made me feel like a nuisance.

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The first half of the year went basically as every year went, except a lot of changes and relocation’s happened. I went from a tiny mountain town, to commuting back and forth week by week to the desert for work. I changed jobs, friends, environments and though taxing, it didn’t make anything worse, which was good. But it also wasn’t helping anything get any better. This was my ultimate goal, but I was taking what I could get.

Everything changed when I went to Peru. And when I say everything, not just my recovery, but my whole life. I lived according to a rigorous schedule, I had to adjust to different foods and not be able to choose what I ate for meals, exercise was non existent except for hiking to get places for work, and so much more. It was quite possibly one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I was exhausted to the core most of the time but the experience was amazing. I was challenged with the gusto to learn as much as I could in the short period I was there and took in as much as I could. Well, the insects were not something that I took in well (having insects crawling around under your skin in not my idea of fun), but I kept my head high and tried hard not to give up.

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Before I left to go to Peru I had been doing Insanity and finished the whole 60 day challenge. The effect it had on my body was amazing. I went from a serious weakling to as strong as I had been in high school when I could do, count it, TEN pull ups. Like, how the guys do it. Yeah! Ok, when I finished Insanity I could only do three, but it’s better than zero! Anyhow, I knew going to Peru was going to change my body and although I was none too excited about that, going back to flab instead of better shape, I accepted it. I knew this trip was something I couldn’t pass up and had to give up all the things I thought kept me sane. And would keep my body the way that people accepted and wouldn’t judge me.

My warped brain has kept this idea that if I wasn’t at least in great of shape, I would be shunned, unaccepted, judged, no worthy of being made a friend. I never let myself believe that me being me would be enough for someone to want to be my friend. I always considered my personality weak, profession odd, and smarts sub par. I knew I was an odd ball out doing what I do and working as I do, so I just accepted to be…unaccepted and judged. I didn’t like it, but that’s how it was.

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Being in Peru changed it all. I had to make friends with the people I was with or I would be miserable. You don’t want to be out in the middle of the jungle and have no friends. It would be a long, lonely experience. I made some great friends. I worked with amazing people, who accepted who I was and what I had done. I always have this epiphany after I meet new people and make great friends, but going into it I’m always surrounded with doubt.

As the weeks wore on in Peru I let everything go. I ate probably a too few many Peruvian cookies, Oreos to remind me of home, chocolate bars, and desserts when I went back into civilization.  I spent most days hanging out, sitting and waiting for birds so exercise was not as intense as it had been, other than simply living at 11,000 feet in elevation (that’s hard work in itself). There were also some changes and eliminations in medications which could have had an affect on what happened next.

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By the time Whit had arrived, I knew I had gained some weight. I felt it EVERYWHERE and was extremely ashamed. All my clothes were tight and I was extremely uncomfortable. I was also having a bad reaction to not having one of my medications and it was causing my moods to swing all over the place (hormones people, just think hormones changing after being on the meds for almost 10 years). I felt horrible for poor Whit who traveled all the way there only to have me crazy about well, everything.

Anyhow, even though I was having a hard time accepting that I had gained some weight (at this point I didn’t know how much, no scale in Peru) I still ate all the Peruvian foods and desserts I wanted to try, although shied away from the camera while we were out traveling. It was hard to accept but I did it. I had to, there was no other way to get through it. I had gained the weight, it was there and until I was able to work out again and eat like I normally did, it was going to stay there.

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Jump ahead to when I got home and that’s where things get interesting. I gave my body about three days to let everything adjust, probably not enough time but I was impatient and wanted to see how it changed. The way Whit put it was that I had filled out and my body looked more womanly. To me, I just felt fat. I tried my hardest to listen to his words and did, because I was afraid he wouldn’t like what he saw when he saw me after three months away, but of course he still liked me for how I looked. Anyhow, I took one look in the mirror one morning, totally naked and truthfully quite angry at how it looked, and hesitated standing on the scale. I knew I had gained weight but how much was beyond me.

Those little blue numbers came onto the scale and I was more relieved than anything. I wasn’t totally disgusted, but ok with what it read. Ultimately, I had gained ten pounds, and I felt relieved. It wasn’t the end of the world. It took me a while to adjust to this fact (you can read about it in the linked post) and three months later, it’s better than I had anticipated. I look back at pictures and I think I think I can see a difference, but really, I can’t.

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With an ED mindset, you dive into the realm of extremes. My ED mindset wanted to immediately detox, eat clean and workout to the the point of probably danger. I wanted that ten pounds to instantly be gone. But rationally, I knew that was impossible. I had to accept that I had gained some weight and that I was going to have to work hard to make it disappear, but all in all in a healthy manner. There wasn’t going to be danger in this move back to my healthier weight.

I set myself up with a calendar to plan healthy workouts, recipes, encouraging words and activities to keep my occupied. I had friend keep me in check and made a promise to myself to only weigh myself once a week, which became every Friday morning, so I wouldn’t get obsessive over what the number on the scale was.

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It’s been almost three months since I’ve returned from Peru. It was hard at first, I hated the way I was feeling. A month in and I was still having a hard time accepting how my body was shaped and feeling in my clothes. Two months in and I was running again, along with doing Insanity and getting back into shape (then sadly sprained my ankle and became disabled for a bit). By month three my ankle was healed and I was back at doing Insanity full time, but taking time getting back to running. And all the while, I slowly watched the number on the scale go down. In three months, I lost five pounds. It may not seem like much for that time span, but I am happy because I did it without going crazy.

Month two was were I changed the focus of the weight I gained. I realized that even though my body looked different and clothes weren’t as comfortable, I could change that with time and money. I could change how I felt in clothes by simply getting new clothes that I could feel comfortable in. I could exercise and start to feel stronger and gain back the muscle definition I had before I left. I focused on working on getting my digestive system back up to par after the hell it went through in Peru with goodness know what parasites and viruses. I decided to go completely vegan and really make an effort to eat less processed foods. I looked in the mirror and didn’t see fat and disgust, but thought about the hard work I was putting in to make it the best it could be. I accepted the extra layer of fat surrounding my body and went with the flow.

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Granted, I still have bad days. I’ll be in a crap mood, but I’ll try and focus on the good, like being with family, friends and Whit. And I’ll talk to Whit about. We had a discussion after I got back from Peru and was in a very bad place, about my needing to open up to him, reach out and feel safe coming to him with my struggles. I had to learn to ask for help or just simply ask for someone to be there. And I have, well, I’m trying. It’s hard, and just something to work on.

So as the end of the year approaches, I am almost in awe at how I handled the situation. I never would have thought I could take a change like that in such a level-headed way. I was afraid I would get thrown into a bad place, but I didn’t. I let myself accept what had happened and work at how I believed I should be to be my healthiest. It was hard, but it’s so much easier now.

So much easier.

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[[If you made it all the way through this post I congratulate you! It took me hours to write and think about, so I'm sure it took you just as long to read. I know, freaking novel right here. Sorry!]]

This entry was posted in 2012 Recovery, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Recovery, ED entry, ED Side Note, Side Notes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to 2012 for the ED Recovery Win

  1. Amy Lauren says:

    Hey girly, I did read the whole thing and liked it. I’m glad you’ve made it this far in recovery because you really have come a long way this year. I remember your posts from Peru and I honestly can’t believe you’re the same person you were back when I started reading your blog a few years ago. I definitely think living and working overseas can help someone recover and mature a lot (not that you were immature then, just that you’re more mature now). Plus, I’m glad that you’re at a healthy weight and the excess weight you did lose was healthy and not all at once or because of depriving yourself. Here’s to a great 2013 for you as well!

    • Melissa says:

      I have appreciated all your support and kind words this year Amy, more than I have probably told you and should have! I was reading some posts from a few years ago (I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for 5.5 years!) and I wonder how my brain was wired that way; crazy!!! Thank you for reading the whole post and I wish you the best in 2013!

  2. this was really great to read. I know you were feeling unhappy with yourself because of eating the yummy new foods in peru, but i’m glad you let yourself enjoy that time and now are realizing we all love you just for who you are not a number

  3. madeline says:

    what an inspiring and wonderful post… thank you so much, Melissa!! this gives me hope, that i too can overcome my eating disorder and be healthy and happy again. i am so proud of you and so thankful you shared this. and you are beautiful in these pics! yay for 2013 :)

    • Melissa says:

      I write these posts not only to help myself realize what I have been through to recover for the year, but also for those recovering like you. I know how hard it is to struggle and believe that it’s never going to end or get easier, but it does! I hope this keeps you strong going into 2013! There are tons of steps in recovery and although they may occur slowly, they will happen and get you to where you want to be!! I’m always here for you Madeline! I probably won’t be writing as many Side Notes but feel free to email me if you need some encouragement!

  4. This was a great read! Travelling also helped me in a lot of similar ways, and I don’t think I would be the person today without those experiences, it really helped me to grow and mature in so many ways.

    • Melissa says:

      I think the new experiences and perspectives you gain from traveling are tremendous confidence and maturity builders! I’m glad that traveling helped you liek it did me!! Happy 2013!

  5. Joy says:

    Melissa!
    Go you! You have done great :-) an you are an inspiration to many (me included) you make me believe that there IS recovery in my future. Keep up th great work!

    • Melissa says:

      Thank you so much Joy! Recovery is most definitely in your future!! It is for everyone trying to get through it and I’m sure 2013 will help you move forward in the process!!

  6. Kim says:

    Great post, Melissa! I’m so happy for you!

  7. Annabel says:

    Love this post, Melissa! of course, my wish for you is that you don’t try to lose weight at all…<3

  8. I’m so incredibly proud of you, my beautiful amazing friend!

  9. This makes me so happy!!! So glad for you – and as always, you look amazing!

  10. Suzan says:

    Hi! Somehow, this article made me even write a comment for the first time though I’m a long time reader. Thank you so much for sharing this. I often find an answer, a motivation, for my own struggles in your stories :) And I’m so happy for you! I wish you a happy and successful new year 2013!
    (eerm, sorry for maybe rusty english, i’m czech ;)

    • Melissa says:

      Your English was great and thank you so much for commenting! I’m always happy to hear from my long time readers as I thought I had lost most of them!! I hope 2013 holds so much happiness for you and that I’m still able to encourage you with my posts!!

  11. sarah says:

    Go you! I think the only way to truly recover is to experience a loss of (or decrease in) control. Too often we try to continue the controlling mindset by controlling every aspect of recovery – how much weight we allow ourselves to gain, the foods we eat and the time we eat them, etc. It sounds like Peru was exactly the sort of test you needed, and it proved that you’re committed to recovering because you accepted it and didn’t overreact by immediately controlling everything once you had the opportunity. Very proud, and so uplifted by this post!

    (Also, I have never noticed an ounce of weight gain in any photos you’ve posted…but of course it’s hard to convince that critical bit of your brain!)

    • sarah says:

      Also, given your switch to veganism, I think you should consider a green recovery post on Choosing Raw! :-)

    • Melissa says:

      I most certainly would have been able to make the steps towards recovery without someone like you Sarah. You have given me so much support this year; more than I could have asked for and thanked you enough! The almost complete loss of control in Peru was definitely what I needed to make myself realize that changes I think may be bad aren’t always and that i simply don’t give myself enough credit. I appreciate my trip to Peru more and more because not only did I get to experience something amazing and one of a kind, but it shocked me into the recovery mode that I have needed for years!!! Thank you again!!

  12. marie says:

    Awesome. Simply awesome. I’m so happy to hear that this year went so, so well for you.

  13. Gloria says:

    I’m extremely happy for you. You’ve made it so far :)

  14. Glad to hear that things are going so well! It makes me so happy to read these words and how great of a support you have.

    And I also have to say, when you talk about being an odd ball or having “sub par smarts” — you’re not alone in feeling that. And even then, I never even thought that. Your job is fascinating to me and you’re always fun to be around. Don’t be too hard on yourself, I’m sure we’d hang out more if we were closer! Have a happy new year!

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks Emily! I wish I did live closer because I would love to hang out and learn more about wine from you! I’m always fascinated at how much you know about them! To me, wine is wine…or funny tasting grape juice. LOL! Happy New Year!!

  15. Danielle says:

    Congratulations to you, beautiful! 2012 sounds like quite the transformative year for you and you certainly deserve it. Wishing you much more peace, happiness, and health in the New Year!

  16. Gabriela says:

    Melissa, I don’t read or comment on very many blogs anymore, but I keep up with your posts occasionally and I just wanted to let you know how happy I am for you :) 2011 was a really similar year for me in terms of ED progress, and I know how scary but AWESOME it is. You have come so far in the three (wow!) years I’ve been reading- I hope 2013 is just as great! Thinking of you!

    • Melissa says:

      I really appreciate your comment Gabriela. You were always a huge inspiration to me when you were writing your blog and I hope you’re doing well! I’ve missed you!

  17. glidingcalm says:

    GO GIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRL! i am so happy for you!!! I have to say, getting rid of clothes that were way too small has been one of the best steps I’ve ever taken! Of course it takes time to get a new wardrobe, but it definitely is a HUGE PART OF IT! also, getting new bras is fun ;)

    sounds like you learned so much about yourself this year! it was a pretty HUGE year for me as well. many hugs and best wishes for 2013! -GC

  18. Mica says:

    Wow, congratulations on an awesome year! I’m still so impressed that you packed up and moved to the rainforest in Peru; that took some real bravery (not just for the bugs, but for something so different). I’m glad that all these changes brought you to some real advancements in your recovery. I hope 2013 brings even more positives for your health and happiness!

    (Also, whoa, you could do 10 pullups after Insanity?!?)

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks Mica! Your encouragement over 2012 helped me so much! And 10 pullups back when I was 16, but at least three after my first round of insanity!

  19. Maggie says:

    I hope you know just how amazing you are Melissa. You’ve grown so much as a woman since I first met you back in the Australian rainforest…and it’s been wonderful for me to watch that happen. I think taking the field job in Peru was a good move-I’m glad you had the courage to take the risk. And I can definitely relate to your feelings about having an odd-ball job and sub-par smarts…but think of it this way: you love going to work every day (ok, so almost everyday…sometimes the weather or bugs just get you down), and so do I. How many people can say that? Someday soon I hope to make it out to California to see your beautiful self in person again…email and FB only work for so long. Wishing you peace, love, and joy in the new year!

  20. Katie says:

    Woohoo! So glad you’re feeling better. I’ve also stopped weighing myself, and noticed that in doing so, I don’t think about my weight as much. I also bought a pair of pants that I didn’t have to squeeze into… hanging onto too-small clothes and trying to wear them is always a bummer, and not fitting into them does NOT mean you’re too big! Here’s to a healthy 2013 :-)

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks Katie! I’m still on a hunt for that great pair of jeans and am glad that you found a pair to be comfortable in! And as far as weighing in, I find that even though I told myself I was going to every Friday, I don’t. Sometimes I wait a few days because things happen and thankfully, it doesn’t stress me out! Or I just skip the week all together!

  21. am says:

    i’m sorry i’m so late in seeing this, but once i did, i had to leave a comment, i’m so, so happy for you. i know it’s not much, but i totally mean it. deeply.

    admittedly, when you started posting less frequently, i think assumed you weren’t feeling that great. to see this warms my heart and reminds me to test drive my optimism more often.

    anyway, YAY for you.

    • Melissa says:

      Ah, I’m glad this lets you know that I wasn’t doing as bad as you thought! Granted, it was tough for a time, but better now! I just haven’t had time lately, and haven’t had much to talk about. But I’ll be back to blogging regularly this year!

  22. G says:

    I am so happy for you. Sometimes we think that recovery means never having to be afraid again. Never feeling uncertain or insecure or unhappy. But that is not human…or possible! Recovering (to me) is living with those feelings without letting them control your choices. I also think it involves being honest about our weaknesses and admitting them out loud can really help. I used to cry at dinner because I was so scared to eat what my boyfriend made, but I couldn’t tell him that. Because I was embarrassed and terrified that he would know I was crazy. And then we would fight. Now I just say “I am afraid of that bowl of macaroni” and we laugh and I eat it or I don’t but it really loses its power. I am glad you have been able to share this with Whit.
    And I love hearing about your birding research and travels- my job is primarily office bound these days so keep the adventures coming.
    Congrats!

    • Melissa says:

      I think what your said is very true, saying those fears out loud almost helps them lose their fire. I’ve done the same thing with whit over a bowl of pasta, “I’m terrified to eat this. But, I know that’s crazy and my thought that it will make me fat overnight is irrational. Time to eat!” Haha. I think that fear of living with those fears only makes us stronger too. We can certainly do it!

  23. shannon says:

    such a great post melissa, and i’m so happy for you. it is definitely a struggle, but i’m glad you persevered and took on the challenge. mad props to you, and good luck as you move forward!!! {{hugs}}

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