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Eating Disorders Recovery

In recent years, the practice of intermittent fasting has become a mainstream wellness trend—but while it might prove beneficial for some, intermittent fasting is not an option for me. I have been thinking about this lately because intermittent fasting sounds harmless at face-value. It's a dietary plan that focuses on when rather than what to eat, which seems reasonable. But I am also self-aware enough to know that even well-intentioned parameters or structures around eating can turn into full-blown restriction. So, intermittent fasting is not an option for me.
It feels like I write an article on this topic at least once a year—but as someone who has dealt with sexual assault and a lifetime of body image pressures, I will return to the keyboard once again as society continues to devalue women's (anyone who identifies as such) bodies. So, why am I talking about it this time? The answer is simple: Because it's hard to escape the stark reminders that women's bodies are often not seen as culturally valuable or worth protecting. The devaluing of women's bodies infuriatingly continues.
The voice of my eating disorder (ED) often tries to influence what I think, feel, or believe about myself—but ED thoughts do not have to become actions, no matter how persuasive they sound. An ED thought only has power if I choose to accept its narrative and react accordingly.
Learning how to make the shift from rigid to flexible behavior is a crucial part of eating disorder recovery. But I will be upfront about this: I am not a naturally adaptable or flexible person. I consider myself a creature of habit, someone who finds comfort in strict routines and stable environments. I structure my life in precise, meticulous detail—from the location in my house where I work, the times I eat and exercise, to the number of steps I take on a daily basis. Therefore, shifting from rigid to flexible behavior in eating disorder recovery is no simple task.
It took me several years of personal growth and cultural awareness to realize there are systemic barriers to eating disorder treatment. My battle with anorexia was painful and tumultuous, but access to therapeutic interventions made the healing journey feel possible. While I am immensely grateful for this, I also cannot brush aside the conspicuous reality that certain prohibitive eating disorder treatment barriers still exist.
When I revert back to an anorexic mindset, it becomes all about earning my worth. Even if I resist the urge to act out eating disorder behaviors, I can still be susceptible to the anorexic mindset, which tells me I need to strive past my own limitations and prove that I am strong, capable, resilient, and valuable. I have a difficult time believing that my self-worth is inherent, so I force myself to achieve it—even if that means I hustle to the edge of burnout with no room to pause, breathe, and rest. An anorexic mindset is all about earning my worth, but l will be honest: This performance-based mentality creates a miserable existence at times.
Believe it or not, a mundane trip to the grocery store helped me learn to enjoy food again. The year was 2019. I had recently moved across the United States from Florida to Arizona. And in my new zip code, there was a Trader Joe's on almost every corner. I am aware that makes me come across as a basic Millennial stereotype (which I own, for the record), but living near Trader Joe's has proven to be a crucial milestone in my eating disorder recovery. Here's how this grocery store helped me learn to enjoy food again—and to eat what I love without shame.
Recently, I posed a challenge to myself to see if I could tolerate one day without a fitness tracker. This experiment should have been simple: Just set the device aside, then continue with all my normal activities for about 12 hours. The key phrase here is "should have been simple." But to be honest, it was so painfully difficult. Here's why I took on this endeavor—plus the humbling lessons I learned from one day without a fitness tracker. 
I know it can be hard to believe sometimes, but needing help with eating disorder (ED) recovery is not a sign of weakness. It's one of the bravest actions you can take. Internalized fears or anxieties might whisper in your ear that asking for help means you are a failure, a burden, or a lost cause. But I hope you can trust me on this: Those inner voices aren't telling you the truth. It's okay to need help with ED recovery. In my own experience, healing is intensive, painful, and humbling work. No one I've met (including myself) has been able to successfully pursue it alone. So, if you could use an extra boost of care, support, advice, or encouragement, don't allow fear to intimidate you from reaching out. I promise needing help with ED recovery is not a sign of weakness.
Confession: I don't want to make eating disorder (ED) recovery resolutions this year. In the past, I have dutifully written an exhaustive list of all the milestones I intend to reach in my healing journey, but as 2024 rounds the corner, this ritual suddenly feels more like pressure than motivation. I am a firm believer that recovery is not about ticking off certain boxes or following an arbitrary schedule. I set goals for myself, but I have learned to release expectations as to when I might achieve them. Maybe I'll form a healthier relationship with my own body as soon as tomorrow—or maybe it will take me a lifetime. Either way, I am done trying to force specific outcomes, so I don't want to make ED recovery resolutions this year.