I’ve had a relapse of sorts and it’s taken me nearly 8 months to realise. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve been in a constant full blown relapse that entire time but the warning signs were creeping back and I was simply choosing to ignore them.
In June last year, 3 months into the pandemic, I started calorie tracking. I told myself for a month or so that I needed to track because I couldn’t control my exercise and, sometimes, even the food we had on offer. I was shielding and couldn’t leave the house. There’s also only so much working out at home can do for you as well.
The pandemic hit my recovery hard. I was terrified at the ability to exercise (and control my weight through that) being taken away from me. I needed to have some other way to ensure I didn’t gain weight.
Seems pretty obvious to me now that, that should have been a big red flag….
I eventually told my boyfriend and he wasn’t best pleased to say the least but I managed to convince him (and myself) that it was all okay. That it was just a short term solution to calm my ED down…when in fact, it was giving in to my ED.
Although I worked really hard during this period to increase my calorie intake to a normal level for my body composition, the habits slowly crept in. I wasn’t restricting like in my full ED days but I would panic if I went over the limit. I got scared of cheat meals, having a celebratory drink or two, or those days where I simply couldn’t work out due to fatigue, work or just general I-really-didn’t-want-to-ness.
The stress increased. I needed to exercise more just in case I went over by a bit. I became scared of entering certain foods into my diary because I couldn’t bear to see how bad they were for me. I didn’t want to admit I had eaten them. I stopped allowing myself a takeaway with my boyfriend because I wouldn’t know the numbers.
I’m proud I’ve increased my calories and I needed some level of insight into my intake to monitor that but full-blown daily tracking was too much. I was getting so stressed and anxious.
I remember towards the beginning of lockdown, pre-June, I worked hard to relax my diet and I actually got to a stage where I was comfortable having alcohol again (one wonderful May weekend in my back yard). We were both so proud of me and the positive lockdown had brought but…then I started calorie counting because I had (I promise objectively) gained a little weight and I wanted to just make sure I wasn’t overeating.
But that’s how it starts. One good intention and it spirals on and on just, hopefully, not fully out of control this time.
I did purge in November. It hadn’t happened for 18 months but it did then. At the end of a day my boyfriend and I had spent enjoying good food and wine. I just freaked when I thought about the calories. Now, don’t get me wrong, even without calorie counting I do still think about calories but looking back I really believe the actual calorie tracking caused me to relapse.
I didn’t want to admit it was causing problems though. I didn’t want to consider that technically I could be in a relapse…people think that because you eat a normal amount and don’t purge you’re fine but that couldn’t be further from the truth. But I knew deep down I had to admit I was tracking my calories and over-exercising to compensate if I felt guilty or otherwise restrict on other days.
I had to hold my hands up, go to my boyfriend and say, hey I think I’m having problems again.
So it’s gone. I have not tracked a single calorie this week. Man I’ve wanted to, but I haven’t. I’ve had one minor binge (this morning) and I’m working on that. My ED tells me that, if I was tracking I wouldn’t have binged, but we all know that’s not true. It just says that to make me fall again.
The relief of not tracking makes me realise just how bad it was for me. Even though I pretended otherwise. I am glad I’ve increased my rough calorie intake though. I really feel the benefits from not trying to eat the silly amounts diet culture recommends.
So my Friday thought of the day is this – don’t count your calories guys, it takes all the joy out of something that is otherwise incredibly enjoyable.