Monday, December 14, 2009

Throwing Yourself Down the Stairs

I've been relying on concrete data to "prove" that I'm recovery: X days without bingeing; X days without restricting. Renfrew was good about this--emphasizing hard data when we felt discouraged, but not using it as the sole benchmark of recovery. (I was particularly amused when my nutritionist whipped out a calculator to show that I had a "65% reduction in symptoms since admission" after a particularly bad night.)

That's great and all, but what is feeling like a more remarkable feat is the soft data--the times when I notice that my thoughts have actually changed. I gobbled down a candy bar this evening--not the end of the world, but it wasn't on my meal plan, and since I have a lot of dinners with friends this week at yummy restaurants, I know I'll be having my meal-plan desserts later this week. I ate the candy bar because I was hungry, and lonely, and hadn't followed my meal plan earlier in the day and was short on starch exchanges, so it was somehow "okay" because of that. Essentially, it was a mini version of the exact problem that landed me at Renfrew: restricting and bingeing.

Two months ago, the process would have been: I had a candy bar > that was wrong of me > the whole day is ruined > since the day is ruined I should go all the way and binge > binge > tomorrow I will restrict.

Tonight, it was: I had a candy bar > I haven't had dinner so was probably hungry > I'm going to have a yummy dinner that's on my meal plan > and if I'm hungry later I will have a snack. And that's exactly what I'm doing.

One of the women in my group was prone to my old-think too. She compared it to tripping while walking up the stairs, so standing up and throwing herself down the entire flight, because there was no point in continuing up the stairs anymore. We all laughed when she said that, because it sounds ridiculous in those terms--but that's exactly what so many of us are prone to. So I slipped, and it's fine. It's only a "slip" if I make it as such, anyway--a candy bar is not a binge; it's not anything that needs to be compensated for, even though it's not terribly healthy for me and I didn't plan for it. Having a candy bar sometimes when you didn't plan for it is normal. And again: I'm not a normal eater yet. But today's thought--which, incidentally, I arrived at organically, without having to force myself to think "right"--shows me that I'm getting a little bit closer.


  1. Great post. Do you still go to a group? What is it, if you don't mind my asking?

  2. Hi Kathy--Thank you. I do still go to a group; it's through the Renfrew Center, which is where I was treated. They're nationwide, but there isn't one in Morgantown, unfortunately.

    I went to Overeaters Anonymous for a while too, and I'm sure that there are meetings in your area. I didn't find it helpful when I went--but I think I would now, and I intend on returning to OA after my insurance stops covering the groups at Renfrew (they're therapist-led groups--OA is free). I totally hear you about the whole 12-step "powerlessness" bit. We CAN'T be powerless over food; we have to feed ourselves, you know? But I did have to acknowledge that I was powerless to help myself, because I just didn't have the tools. How many times did I wake up and say I was going to eat right that day? How many times did I break that? I had to get help to make me see that I was powerless to just will myself to stop--it doesn't work that way. Maybe you can think of it in that way? Not that you're powerless over food, but that you're powerless in that you can't just simply "make" yourself stop? I think OA can be really helpful and I know several people who have recovered through OA alone.