It wasn’t until I started noticing a trend in what other fitness-focused people were eating that I had a light bulb go off. Well, dang. Maybe my diet is one of the reasons my digestive track is all jacked up and I’m not seeing the results I want with my workouts. Maybe I’m not eating ENOUGH - as well as just poor choices.
I dove headfirst into research on “clean” diets, what macros were and how to find a balance for your body, etc. I decided to trying omitting gluten from my diet to see if it would help with my tummy problems - and it did! I then cut out dairy (since it tends to cause digestive stress and water retention, especially in women) and saw a huge difference after doing that, too.
After about 3 weeks of eating in this new way, I felt like a new woman! I didn’t even miss my junk food because I loved how the wholesome, nutrient-dense foods made me feel. However, I knew I still wasn’t eating enough to fuel my busy days/workouts.
This part of my nutritional overhaul was by far the most difficult for me. I had it programmed in my head that calories in vs calories out was all that mattered. If I burned more than I ate, I’d be good to go. While that theory is correct, the QUALITY of your food and the balance of macros makes a HUGE difference! I’ve talked about that before though, so I won’t go down that rabbit hole in this post. Haha!
Mentally, I didn’t want to increase my calories. What if it made me gain weight? What if I couldn’t fit into my skinny jeans again? Blah, blah, blah. But I saw in other people’s posts the transformation that could occur if you fuel your body the right way, and I knew my body needed that. I had punished it for too long with a crappy, low-calorie diet and it needed to change. Not just for my mental and physical health, but for my daughter. I didn’t want Reagan to grow up watching me abuse my body with restrictive/binge eating and talk negatively about my body. I wanted her to have a healthy relationship with food and with her body. So I went for it.
Now, I didn’t increase my calories by 500-700 overnight. I took baby steps and increased them by about 100 or so at a time. This allowed me to 1) mentally adjust to the higher caloric intake (because it can seriously be a mind-eff when you’ve dieted for so long!), and 2) see how my body did with those extra calories and decide if I needed to keep increasing or if that was my “sweet spot”. Once I felt I was at a good range for my body (sleeping good, digestive track on point, enough energy throughout the day and for my workouts), then I stopped there. I also made sure I was eating a good balance of macros (fat, carbs, and protein), playing with the ratios till I found what my body liked.
While a lot of people will say tracking your calories/macros while battling with/during recovery from an eating disorder isn’t wise because of the added stress it can cause, I personally feel like it helped me. It helped me to make sure I was getting enough in - and in the right ratios.. But let me tell ya: if tracking adds stress to your life or makes those tendencies creep back up, stop doing it! Go with more of an intuitive eating approach - whatever works for YOU. This is just what has helped ME.
During this time, I gained about 2-3 pounds - but it was all muscle! I was definitely leaner, but my muscles were toned and growing (hiiii, baby muscles!) and I just FELT BETTER. I didn’t feel frail anymore. People stopped commenting on how thin I was and started actually asking what I was doing (which is how my Instagram page was started)!
I didn’t feel the compulsive tendancies to binge, because I was eating enough throughout the day and not letting myself get hangry. If I did go out and have an unplanned meal, I didn’t beat myself up about it or restrict food the next day. My mentality changed along with my body, and it was such a freeing feeling!
I have since stuck with my nutritional lifestyle - even through my pregnancy with Reid. I didn’t track during that time, but just kept eating my usual balanced meals throughout the day. And man, was my pregnancy completely different than with Reagan. I had energy. I lifted weights. I was able to play with and take care of my toddler. And after I had my c-section, I was able to get back to my daily activities because I was still fueling my body the way it needed to be fueled.
Now, I’ll be honest and say sometimes those thoughts do come to the back of my mind. I’ll have a day every now and then where I “regret” my food choices and feel like I need to work them off (I don’t, but I have those thoughts). Or maybe I’ll feel those binge-y feelings creeping back up on me when I’m tired or stressed. I’m not perfect -no one is! And recovery and healing isn’t linear. It’s a lifetime struggle that we always have to be mindful of. What matters is that we recognize our triggers and recognize WHY we’re wanting to binge or restrict ourselves. Then we can both try to avoid those triggers and deal with those feelings in a healthier way if they do arise.
How can we deal with them? Take a walk outside. Take a short nap if you know you’re getting binge-y because you’re overtired. Get out of the house. Write down your feelings in a journal. Text a friend what you’re feeling and ask them for some kind words. Pray. Find what works for you and helps you through those times. Because they will arise from time to time, but (as Heidi Powell has said) we’re bigger than our addictions, friend.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I really hope this blog series has helped you in some way. If my story can touch ONE person, it’s 110% worth it. Feel free to share this on social media, in an email to a friend who may need it, etc.. I also urge you to talk to someone in the medical profession if you’re struggling and feel hopeless. And never hesitate to email me if you have any specific questions or just want to ask for prayer. I’m here for you!