And here is Part 2 of the Facebook Intervew!
As always, please share your thoughts and comments.
QUESTION 7: Super excited to see your upcoming interview! I have 2 questions, if that's OK.... First, did you ever lose your cycle as a result of Ed? If so, how long did it take for it to return after weight restoration? Secondly, while food has become much less of a fear issue, exercise is still holding me back in recovery. Do you have any feedback or suggestions on how you were able to get past that compulsion and find a healthy balance between the two? Thank you!!!!
JENNI ANSWER 7: Thanks for being excited. I am excited, too :)
Yes, I did lose my menstrual cycle as a result of Ed. It took a long time for my cycle to become normal again. I can’t recall the exact time frame. It was so long ago. It’s really cool to get so far past Ed that you don’t remember things :) You, too, will forget someday!
Thanks for asking about exercise. In the beginning, I needed my treatment team to provide me with specific guidelines about exercise (similar to a food plan, but with exercise). They told me when I could exercise, what I could do, and how much. I learned to shift my focus while exercising. Instead of concentrating on how many calories I was burning, I thought about feeling more energetic and alive. And I chose exercises that were fun for me. I like to hike and bike, because these activities feel good to my body. So, you will more likely see me on the trail than on a treadmill.
QUESTION 8: Hi Jenni :) in only about a month of recovery, your book has given me so much insight about dealing with ed. Do you have any suggestions to deal with the guilt he makes me feel for having tried a 'higher calorie' meal that he is not used to?
JENNI ANSWER 8: First off, congrats on trying new foods! In early recovery, I always felt guilty when I disobeyed Ed’s rules. I learned that this was positive guilt—a sign that I was making progress, facing my fears, and exploring unchartered waters.
I stayed the course, and ultimately, the guilt turned into a “weird” feeling. In therapy, I often said, “This feels weird.” I learned that weird is good! Then, the “weird” feeling turned into an “amazing” one. This can happen for you, too.
* It is important to recognize positive guilt and even reward yourself for it. In “Life Without Ed,” I talk about a Guilty Poster that I created for this very reason. Whenever I felt guilty for disobeying Ed, I rewarded myself with a sticker. I placed the sticker on the poster. As I became stronger in my recovery, the poster got covered up with stickers. As the poster disappeared under a collage of stickers, I felt more and more AMAZING!
QUESTION 9. I’m holding on to an "ideal weight number," and I feel like its keeping me from fully letting go of my Ed. Did you have a similar experience or what is your advice as far as getting past this? Thanks, Jenni!!
JENNI ANSWER 9: Thank you for this question! Yes, I had a similar experience—only I obsessed about an “ideal” clothing size.
What I have learned is that we all have to let go of numbers (i.e. clothing sizes, weights, etc.). There is nothing easy about this. This is a hard part of recovery. To get past the hard parts, we must go through the pain (not around). We must feel the feelings. We must cry. We must face the fear. We must believe that when we do all of this, we WILL get better. At first, I hated my new body, which was much larger than I had ever imagined possible. The miracle of recovery is that, today, I love that same body. Don’t quit before the miracle happens for you.
QUESTION 10: Do you have any tips for working as a therapist with eating disorder patients?
JENNI ANSWER 10: First of all, thank you! We need more therapists who know about eating disorders. My tip would be to learn as much about the illness as possible. Read books, articles, and blogs written by people with eating disorders—to get inside the head of those who struggle.
Definitely check out http://www.iaedp.com, the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals. The National Eating Disorders Association’s website, http://www.myneda.org, includes wonderful information as well. And I mustn’t forget the Academy for Eating Disorders website, http://www.aedweb.org.
Another thought: the therapists who have been the most helpful to me have been the ones who met me exactly where I was in life. They created a safe environment where I could be honest and real. I never felt like I was going to get “in trouble” for talking about a relapse. So, I shared openly. I hope this helps!
QUESTION 11. I can separate from Ed and disobey him, but I don't necessarily disagree with him most of the time, which makes me feel hopeless because I still feel bad a lot. How did you challenge the voice so you DID disagree with Ed and felt stronger about disobeying him? How long did that take you?
JENNI ANSWER 11: This is yet another excellent question. Please look back at the muscle analogy in Answer 5, as it relates to this as well. I felt stronger about disobeying Ed after lots of time doing it. The Ed muscle slowly atrophied. (When we ignore Ed for a long period of time, he eventually gets tired. He stops trying so hard.)
The slogan, “Fake it ‘til you make it,” applies here as well. I “faked” disagreeing with Ed for years. Eventually, and I am not sure when it happened, I realized that I wasn’t faking it anymore. Eating disorder recovery is challenging, because there is lots of trust involved. We must trust, have faith, and let go. We must believe that life is better on the other side. I promise that it is! I know that Melanie agrees with me.
QUESTION 12: In your book, “Life Without Ed,” you explain when your dietician had you switch to intuitive eating, but how did you do it? I feel so out if touch from my body that I have no idea how to begin to listen to it. Could you talk about your experience with learning to intuitively eat and offer any advice on how to start the process? What are some things you did to learn to listen to your body?
JENNI ANSWER 12: I must emphasize the importance of working with a dietitian who specializes in eating disorders. Before I could begin to think about intuitive eating (see http://www.intuitiveeating.org/), I first worked with a structured meal plan. I recorded everything I ate in a food record. After consistently working with a food plan, I slowly began to feel hunger/fullness cues. Even more slowly, I began to crave specific foods—in a healthy way. I am not talking about the intense craving experienced during a binge. I am talking about the subtle desire for something specific, because my body truly wants that food. (i.e. At a restaurant, I order what my body truly desires and not what Ed tells me to order.)
Here are several things that helped me with the intuitive eating process:
- not rushing through mealtimes
- sitting down at the table to eat (even lighting a candle sometimes)
- meditating/praying before eating
- eating with other people (people with positive eating/body image behaviors)
- journaling before and after mealtimes