Saturday, 6 February 2016

Coping with Recovery: Weight Gain




Okay. So before I begin:
No. I don't have the answers or the 'magic mechanism' that makes coping with weight gain in recovery a piece of cake.
(Pun completely intended...)
However,
in this post I intend to explore some coping strategies that might be helpful to people struggling. Everyone's different...peoples EDs are all different too...so what works for someone else, may not work for you, and vice-versa. It's about giving everything a go, several times if necessary, until (or if) you find something that helps!
I guess the harsh reality is, if you never find something that helps, then tough.
It's got to be done. This is literally a matter of life & death.
So suck it up & have some cake...!

1. Get Inspired!
When you feel inspired, you have this positive boost...you believe that actually fulfilling your goals is possible...
For me, this is kind of hit-and-miss, but the reason I'm mentioning it is because I had a message from a girl who was in a (scarily) similar position to me in recovery, but had actually be successful & is living a much happier& recovery-focused life now! It was so nice to read because it reassured me that maybe my slightly ambitious plans aren't actually crazy unrealistic after all, despite all the (completely understandable) doubt & unease displayed by some of the people around me.

2. Remind yourself that...

...RECOVERY IS WOTH IT!

Make sure you have constant reminders around your 'space' (room/house/whatever) of what you're recovering for.
Have photos/posters on your walls, notes on your bathroom mirror, quotes on flash cards...whatever works for you! Just make it visual & easy-access! There's no point in having a photo album under your bed, gathering dust that you never look at...have the things that make you smile accessible with as little effort as possible!

3. Use your 'Support Network'!
If you're lucky enough to have people around you who love & support you, then USE THEM!!!
Use them as a reminder to yourself of why you're recovering. They love you& they only want the best for you so listen to them!
I remember the moment I told my boyfriend that I was gaining weight & his reaction blew me away. I think I got so caught up in my own head thinking weight gain was like the devil, that I didn't actually realise just how important it was to the people around me. It just blew my mind that someone really cared THAT much about me to have such an emotional reaction.
He's my absolute hero...I'm so lucky.

4. Get Writing!

If you haven't tried writing yet, I definitely recommend you try it!

Free-writing (basically just start writing whatever comes into your head...it can be structured or completely random, neat or messy, words or noodles...just whatever 'comes out!') is brilliant for almost any "mood."

It's a place just for you to write down whatever comes into your head.

It's for your eyes only so you can't be "judged" for anything you put down...you can even throw it away after if you want!

I find it really helpful to just vent emotions...but also, sometimes when I'm just feeling completely numb, or I just can't work out what I'm feeling, free-writing helps me figure out what's actually going on in my head.

You can discover some really interesting things about yourself from free-writing...!!

5. Treat Yourself!

I think it's really important to reward yourself when you reach your goals.

Set yourself manageable (but still challenging!!!) "bite-size" goals, & when you achieve them, treat yourself as a reward for all your hard work!

This could little rewards like going to the cinema with a friend, a spa treatment or a shopping trip...

...or, if you're like me, who pre-ED was super active & loved my sport, set yourslef a goal of reaching that healthy weight so you can start your sport again!

For this to work, though, you have got to BE STRICT WITH YOURSELF! If you're trying to gain weight, exercise really isn't going to help you. Be diciplined & stop exercising until you're healthy enough. It's such a postive insentive. Have a class/sport in mind you've always wanted to do & work towards that.

I changed my phone background to a pair of ballet pointe shoes, to remind me every time I see it of what I'm working towards!

 

These are just 5 ideas of tips to get you started! Just remember, as painful as gaining weight can be, it really will be worth it in the end.

 

Find your motivation & hold onto it.

 

Stay strong fighters & good luck!

x

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Progress Update: - "Recovery Wins" & "Breakfast Meltdowns"

So it's been two weeks & I think it's time for an update...

Week One: 
I felt like this week actually went well. 
It wasn't as hard as I expected & I virtually managed all my meals with very little restriction! 
I was eating a Holland & Barrett flapjack a day, drinking calories & just generally stuffing my face! 
I actually went to my doctors appointment for blood tests (even allowed my mum to come with me!!!). 
I arranged meetings with my college tutor, explaining everything. 
(...she's been very supportive, by the way!)
I put my dietician in contact with my college 
AND 
I opened up & was completely honest with one of my close friends from hospital, who I knew would be able to help & support me. 

Oh...
...and I managed to put on 0.9kg!

Wait. What?! 
"Recovery Win" alert!!!!!!!
This is the first time since leaving hospital that I've managed to gain a significant amount of weight.

But, of course, that's where the 'storm' began. 

The weekend came hand-in-hand with intrusive thoughts & desperation to restrict. 
Luckily, my incredible boyfriend was visiting to console the "mini-post-breakfast-meltdown" on Saturday after weigh-in & keep me distracted for the weekend.

However...

...I did fail a bit when it came to my eating. I'm afraid to say I slipped back to my more comfortable eating plan.
(By this, I don't mean skipping meals or only eating lettuce leaves or anything drastic like that! I still ate 3 meals, an afternoon snack & a dessert, it just wasn't as substantial as it should have been I guess...) 

Week Two:
So now I'm into week two & honestly, I'm struggling to bring it back...
...we've had lunch cooked for us every day this week which has proved difficult. I've had no idea until an hour or so before hand what we've been getting & a lot of the time there's not been a pescetarian option.
I managed to eat but the not knowing exactly how much has stressed me out...it means I've not been able to stick to a meal plan or know whether to make up the energy elsewhere or not?!
Arghhh!!!!!

I know I need to get back on track soon because I don't want to undo all my hard work in week 1 & have to go through all that stress again. 
I've also been chatting to a friend at college about doing some fitness classes after school. There's both Pilates & Kickboxing near college...both of which I've always wanted to try (especially kickboxing!), so I really want to be fit enough to be able to do it...

Conclusion?
...I think I'm going to see what my weight's done this week & go from there. Next week we don't have lunch cooked for us so I'll be able to take my own which will be easier for me as I think that was my biggest downfall this week.
Hopefully that way I'll manage to get back on it...

Peace x

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The "Calm" Before the Storm...

The week has passed & Term 2 starts tomorrow...

So where am I at?
Well, following my weigh-in & dietician appointment, it turns out I neither lost nor gained weight this week. 

So currently I'm laying in bath(!!!!), attempting to "relax" and "conserve energy." Everyone I love & trust are telling me not to do this...to take another YEAR out from studying to get healthy again...so why the hell am I going back tomorrow?! 

I'll tell you why...

The year out from studying I had after hospital was probably the biggest mistake I could have made. Don't get me wrong, there were parts of it (traveling to New Zealand/work experience etc) that I loved! In fact, I actually had a great year! 
BUT...
...there was just nothing to "occupy" me, or give me a real purpose or reason to stay well. My focus, without me even realising it, came back to control of my eating...which is what got me so ill in the first place! 

So maybe it's selfish & wrong, but now you can hopefully kind of understand why I'm so reluctant to take another year out. I just feel it would be counterproductive & may end up just making me sicker. 

I need to try another approach. 

With college to focus my attention on, I'm hoping the weight gain will be easier & I will be able to loosen my control a little more easily.

Will it work?
Honestly? Who knows?! 
I can't be sure, but it's got to be worth a try because the alternative fills me with dread & doubt. 
I mean, I'm hopeful! Already I've managed to up my diet uncomfortably, more than I ever have before, last week to stop the weight loss & keep my family/dietician putting me in hospital. Ideally, I would have gained weight that week...but the increase obviously wasn't enough, meaning another increase this week. BUT, I just had to prove to them I could at least stop the weight loss to be aloud back to college this term. 
I also have the most amazing support from my unbelievable boyfriend, my caring friends, my dietician, college & my family...
...I don't know what I did to deserve such incredible people in my life & looking out for me...I'm so lucky to have all of them.

So let the new term begin. 
I have this week to prove I can do college & gain weight at the same time.

No, this is not going to be easy...but I'm ready & determined...

...so send on the food! 💪

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

MISSION: Rebuild 2016

MISSION: Rebuild
2016

Conveniently, all of the events in my last post took place at the end of 2015.

The perfect opportunity to take full advantage of the "New Years Resolution" tradition.
No half-hearted, "this'll-only-last-a-week-if-I'm-lucky" job for me!

So here's the plan...

***

KB's
2016 New Year Plan

What?
  • Set one goal/challenge for each week
  • Post an Blog update on my progress at least once a month

How?
So I went out and raided the calendar/2016 diary sales after Christmas & bought myself a nice new Marvel's Avengers (what else?!) 2016 diary.
One double page spread has one week on it, with a small "Notes" section where I intend to write my goal & whether or not I've achieved it.

***

Thinking back to my athlete roots, I tried to make my New Years Resolution "S.M.A.R.T."

S = Specific
My goals will be specific to a "recovery-focused" attitude. They will be to-the-point & understandable to anyone else reading them. TICK!

M = Measurable
My goals will be specific actions or events to achieve. For example, "order dessert out at a restaurant" or "order a take-away one evening." TICK!

A = Achievable
My goals will be manageable & actually I will realistically be able to achieve that week. For example, I won't be setting a goal of "ordering dessert at a restaurant" if I'm not going out to eat that week!!!

R = Relevant
My goals will be relevant to my recovery, with the idea that they all make up small challenges/steps to living a more recovery-focused life.

T = Time-bound
I'll aim to achieve each goal in the week that I set it for.

I'm sure there are many variations of "SMART" but this is the one I know & am used to.

I've come up with a few ideas for little challenges to set myself which I'll share now:

  • Order 3 courses out at a restaurant
(one course can be shared)

  • Buy & eat something from the Asian bakery near my college

  • Try something new
    (a new fruit/veg or activity)

  • Have a chocolate bar for dessert/snack

  • Order a takeaway (!!!!)

  • Have a 'restful' day
    (I'm working on making this S.M.A.R.T!)

  • Go for 'coffee & cake'
(...and actually have the "cake" part..!)

So that's kind of along the lines of what I'm aiming for in my goals...

...if anyone has any possible goal idea, please do suggest them!!!!
I'd very much appreciate the inspiration!

So that's the plan...wish me luck!

&
Happy New Year everyone!

:-)

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Confession Time...


So, it's been a while.

Okay, so it's be a VERY long while.

But, I have good reason!
 I have been an extremely busy bee, studying to be a professional chef at catering college. I have to say, I am absolutely loving it! It's one of the most amazing things I've ever done. I've achieved things in the last few months that I wouldn't have thought I could do in such a short space of time. I've met some brilliant people, learned a lot & even done my first proper, paid private catering job cooking Christmas lunch for a family in London!

However, as much as I'd love to, I'm not here to talk about all that...I'm here to face up to a grim reality that I've (typically) avoided during my time at college.

My weight.

During the first week or so, I was sticking vaguely to my meal plan (obviously, it was always going to be more difficult to stick to a rigid plan with a new college schedule, but I knew this and was adapting fairly well). I kept an eye of my weight myself but I just found that knowing the numbers was making my eating disorder so much louder.

So, I decided to just stop weighing myself altogether. College & life completely took over and I was feeling a lot happier. My meal plan pretty much went out the window at this point. I wasn't consciously restricting, or even thinking much about food really, I was just going with the flow day-to-day.

I think, looking back, where I went wrong was the fact that, inevitably, as a chef, you're tasting things all the time...just little bites here and there, nothing substantial, but you're constantly keeping your blood sugars level and I was rarely feeling hungry. I figured these little "tastings" all added up and I started to "count" them collectively as a snack. My ED couldn't justify all these tastings ON TOP of snacks...it just felt like I was constantly eating which, as you can imagine, didn't go down too well with 'Ana!'

Anyway, as the course went on & my weight went unmonitored (mainly because I was just so unbelievably busy...it seemed that almost every weekend I had something else planned, which was great for me but probably didn't help my weight & definitely made avoiding the issue a lot easier..!). Towards the end of the first term, people started to notice some weight loss & commented on it. If I'm honest, I had noticed it in myself too, but I was so close to finishing the first term that I just wanted to wait until exams & assessments were over before I faced up to it.

Come the end of term, exams done & dusted, the dreaded weigh-day arrived...!
To cut a long story short, our suspicions were right...I had lost weight...& a fair bit of it too...
My family expressed their concerns, as did my super-hero of a boyfriend. They're such good people...they don't deserve this shit I put them through. I tried to go back to the meal plan I was on before college, but this proved difficult & I was still losing weight.

I didn't know the specific numbers as I was blind-weighed by my mum, but
I only realised how seriously it was when my dad suggested going back to hospital.

I freaked. Obviously.

There was absolutely NO WAY in Hell I was putting college on hold to go back to hospital. Partly because I love the course & I like the people, but mainly because I can't put my family & boyfriend through all that again.
I just can't.

So I finally agreed to see my dietician again, who very bluntly gave me a massive reality check:

"...with your BMI as low as it is now, *please read below* I wouldn't be surprised if Occupational Health didn't allow you to be in the kitchen, for health & safety reasons."

Shit.

Turns out, I'm not far at all off my first hospital admission weight...
...which saw me dangerously close to death & put me on total bed rest for over three weeks.
Not only that, but last year I lost a very close friend to Anorexia. I know how brutal & dangerous this illness is.

...and, as if that wasn't enough already,
college might actually not even have me back!  

HOW could I be so stupid and selfish to have I let it get to this again?!
I think what scares me the most about this, is that I feel okay! I don't feel anything close to how I felt before hospital. But the reality is, I may be eating more (a LOT more) that I was then, but it still just isn't enough to survive off.

The result of my session with the dietician?

  • I have 3kg to gain to be back to a "slightly safer" BMI. (Or at least safe enough to probably be aloud back in the kitchen...)
  • I have a terrifyingly challenging meal plan to stick to, with minimal activity.
  • I have to put my college in contact with my dietician so they can discuss my situation.
  • I have to potentially sacrifice half a day a week, at most, of college (ruining my goal of perfect attendance) to see the doctor once a week until I gain back some weight.

So how am I going to do it?

With the help of this blog, my New Years Resolution (see following post..!!), my incredible boyfriend, family & dietician (..oh, and some serious will-power & self-discipline...!), I intend to ACE this.

The difference between my first hospital admission & now, is that now I actually have something to fight for: the fact that I finally know what I want to do with my life and I'm DONE with delaying it because I seem to have this inability to not look after myself & determination to punish myself on a daily basis.

I want to study & make people happy with my food!
I want the adrenaline of service!
I want to travel with my amazing boyfriend...I want to see the world, share it with him & show him what I've already seen & fallen in love with.

I have something to stay well for that only I can control.

Bring it.


*Note:

I don't intend to give out numbers on this blog. I know it can be potentially dangerous for other sufferers to read & I don't want to be the person to feed another persons Eating Disorder (...no pun intended..!!)*

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Yet Another Eating Disorder Metaphor...Keep Your Flame Alive!

Today I'm picturing human beings as flames. Don't ask me why...this is what long car journeys from Yorkshire to London do to you!!!!
 
Anyway, each person is a little individual bonfire. 
Why? Because we are so similar to fire. For fire to burn (or 'survive'), it needs fuel and oxygen. Without either of these things, the fire will die. Similarly with humans, we need oxygen and fuel to live. We cannot function to our maximum potential without enough of these things. 
*
A bonfire burns through the logs, eating up the fuel. For it to continue to burn, it needs refueling. It needs more logs. 
Humans burn up energy as we live. For us to continue to live, we need to refuel. We need to eat. 
*
If you starve a fire of enough fuel (too few logs), the flame will become weaker...eventually going out.
If you starve a human of enough fuel (too little food), they will become weaker...eventually dying. 
*
If you give a fire too many logs for its size, the flame will be smothered and get weaker. If you keep piling on the logs, it will smother it further and it will go out. 
If you feed a human too much food for their personal needs, they will become overweight and therefore weaker. Eventually, their body will feel too much strain and they will die. 
*
If you continue to give a fire the right amount fuel for its size to keep it burning, it will become stronger and more powerful. It will function to its optimum potential. 
If we continue to fuel our bodies with the right amount of food and nutrition for our individual needs, we will become stronger and be able to function to our optimum potential! 
*
It's so simple really...if we fuel ourselves correctly, our bodies will use it to keep us alive and well...just as the fire uses the logs.
Keep your flames alive!

Saturday, 26 September 2015

'Everest', Human Mortality and Cheating Death(!)

So I went to see the film Everest yesterday night. (It was a treat for mum's birthday!) It was an absolutely incredible and powerful film. Based on a true story, it really hits home how brutal nature can be...but also, it hit me how fragile, mortal and helpless we as human beings really are. 
Sometimes, I think, we think we're invincible and there's nothing we can't achieve. I mean, who can blame us? We're beating diseases, living longer, creating life, pushing the limits of technology, flying to the Moon...practically playing God! I guess it's understandable that people are getting cocky(!) But, (as demonstrated in the movie) at the end of the day, the mountain (or Mother Nature) always has the last word. 
***
So what relevance has this to Eating Disorders? 
Well, half way through the film, I found myself feeling overwhelmingly guilty. Who am I to sit here, debating in my head whether that 83 kcal cereal bar that I'm planning to have for supper when I get home will make me pile on weight, when the decisions these men and women on Everest were making were a matter of survival or death. How insignificant those 83 calories are compared to the choices and actions these people had to make. What has my life come to? 
We, as human beings, seem to get this thrill from cheating death or pushing our bodies to breaking point. Once the climbers begin the assent the the summit, (at the cruising height of a 747 plane) their "bodies are literally dying," to quote the film. Their aim is to get up and get back down before their bodies give up on them. 
In the weeks before being admitted to hospital, that is exactly what I was doing. Eating less that 200 calories a day, my body was literally slowly dying. It became clear, once I got to hospital, that I was unbelievably lucky to be alive and that a few more days at home would have probably killed me. 
***
Warning!!!: 'Everest' SPOILER ALERT! 
There was one man, in 'Everest', who was stranded on his own on the mountain. A massive storm hit and it didn't look like he was going to make it back to camp. He was presumed dead by the other climbers. But, somehow, he found it within himself to keep going. He had the ones he loved (his wife and children) in his mind, pushing him on...motivating him and giving him a reason to carry on. He made it to camp. His nose and hands had been lost to frostbite, he was starved of oxygen and probably beyond hyperthermic, but he made it. He made it because he never ever gave up, driven by his family. 
The reason I'm ruining this film for you (if you haven't seen it them I'm sorry, but you still HAVE to see it, it's so good!) is because you can kind of the metaphor for other life struggles. The people who survive horrific events like this, usually find it within themselves to keep fighting for the chance to see the ones they love again. I think we, as recovering Anorexics/ED sufferers, can use this. 
When all hope seems lost...people around us seem to have given up on us, we have virtually up on our selves and we just don't think we have the strength to keep fighting, we must dig deep into ourselves and find that REASON to survive. Find that drive that will save us. That might be a dream you've always had, or the love for your family, partner, friends or even a pet...it doesn't matter what it is, as long as it's important to YOU. You must find that and FIGHT ON. No matter how broken you are. 
***
I wonder, if someone told you that eating one cereal bar/biscuit/whatever at that moment, would save your life, would you do it? Because that's kind of what it comes down to in the end...yes, okay, so it might not ever be quite as simple as that, but it really does come down to the fact that food is not our enemy. Food is life. Food is necessary. Food is medicine, keeping our body functioning. Without it, we could not function...just like the men and women on Everest, starved of oxygen, as we are of nutrition. 
It will kill us eventually if we cannot overcome it. That's the reality. 
So never give up fighting guys...
...never give up hope.