Smutty Fitness: Recovering from bulimia
I've been struggling with bulimia for over five years, since I was fifteen, and have recently been trying to recover. I was in treatment for about two minutes, but my school schedule conflicted with the sessions, and dropping out isn't really an option for me. I've been able to stop purging on my own, and haven't done so for about 3 months, however my eating habits are far from ideal, and that, in combination with my body relearning to digest food, has caused me to gain 20 pounds (the equivalent of making a recovering alcoholic bathe in whiskey). My weight has always fluctuated, and despite a fair share of self loathing (comes with the territory), I've always been able to maintain a sense of confidence. These days, though, my body has completely changed and I don't feel like myself anymore.
Basically, I'm tired of hating myself and want to get back on track, but every time I promise to eat healthily and moderately, I end up throwing it out the window, and I'm having trouble figuring out what exactly to do at the gym... Also of course struggling with the discipline needed to get off my ass five times a week.
Anyways, any words of wisdom are greatly appreciated,
According to Statistics Canada bulimia (or bulimia nervosa) is when someone, most likely a female, binge eats and then attempts to rid themselves of the excess calories through a form of purging (such as the use of laxatives, self induced vomiting or excessive exercise). These behaviors are usually accompanied by depression and anxiety and most who suffer with bulimia judge their own self-worth based on their body weight, shape and size. Many females who suffer from bulimia do so in silence as they are typically within healthy weight range and they are very secretive about their binging and purging habits. Thank you for sharing your struggles with this terrible disease with us.
I am not a psychologist so offering you advice on how to recover is out of my scope of practice but if someone like you walked into my training facility I would begin by creating a trusting relationship with that person so I could guide them to the help they need and support them through it. You need to find someone in your life that you can trust to support you on your journey to recovery. Bulimia is not something you can ever cure yourself of and you constantly need to be conscious of the triggers in your life that cause you to revert back to bad behaviors.
You absolutely have to go back into treatment. If the program you were currently participating in no longer fits in your schedule then you need to find another one. A professional can help you create the tools in your life that you will need in order to be healthy. The National Eating Disorder Information Center is a good place for you to start.
And stay away from the gym – it will be a constant reminder of everything that you are fighting to overcome. A room full of mirrors and people in tight clothing staring at themselves is the last place you need to be. Just as you said, gaining weight is like making an alcoholic bathe in Whiskey; going to a gym is like sending an alcoholic to an all you can drink festival. This will not be forever but allow yourself some time to heal and begin to love yourself for who you are, not what you look like.
Find an activity that you love to do, something that makes you feel good and puts your mind into the present. For me it is trail running and mountain biking as when I am doing either one of these activities I must focus the entire time on my actions, forcing myself to forget about what is causing me to feel anxious. Combing this focus with the exercise-induced endorphin release leaves me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Do not force yourself to work out 5 days; at this point it will just be too much.
Bulimia is not something to take lightly and it is no way to live. I have talked about my own struggles with body image disorders in the past, and like you I know what it feels like to hate yourself and judge yourself based on how fat you might think you are. To this day I still battle with the use of excessive exercise to rid myself of the calories I have consumed as well as relate my self-worth to the shape and weight of my body. It may be a constant struggle for you as well, full of ups and downs, but sharing your story with all of us is a good start to the fight. Good luck and if you can, please keep us posted.