My body has changed a lot the last year. My body actually looks the smallest it’s looked since I was really ill with bulimia. and I don’t fully know how I’m supposed to feel about that. And, the thing is, I’m happy that my body is smaller. I’m happy that I’ve changed healthily. But I also feel guilty for enjoying my smaller body, as though it invalidates my recovery because I’ve eventually lost the weight I gained. Do I have to be non-slim and overtly body positive to be in recovery? Or is it possible to be in recovery and lose weight at the same time?
Sometimes I feel like the hardest part of my recovery right now is separating the irrational ED thoughts from rational common sense ones.
I try to remember the weight I have recently lost is due to healthy habits. That in January, I deliberately increased my calories to a higher more “maintenance” level. I wasn’t calorie tracking then but I worked hard to stop aiming for as few calories as possible (thanks diet culture) and eat more proteins and carbs. I also reduced my exercise routine. With more rest and higher energy levels my body performed stronger and I progressed in my activities really well.
There is a big factor behind my body change as well. Something I’ve told about as many people as the fingers on one hand…I had a form of cosmetic surgery last year. I had my appendix scar removed. I found my skin was saggy around the scar, that there were these harder pockets of fat that were very stubborn to remove and my scar was inverting; it went into my stomach rather than being on my stomach (if that makes any sense?).
My boyfriend was the one to suggest surgery initially and he had encouraged it for a few years but I always said no. I knew I would need to be out of my ED to know that surgery was not being considered due to my mental illness because, if I was doing it for the wrong reasons then it simply wouldn’t “fix” what it was I wanted fixing.
I went to see a doctor and explained I was just so tired. Exhausted of trying to change my body when I simply couldn’t. Objectively there was fat on my stomach area and I knew that. But nutrition and exercise didn’t help – ask any of my friends and they’ll confirm just how active I enjoy being. Seeing the way it all looked genuinely depressed me. The fact I couldn’t change that myself depressed me even more. I felt like a failure. Like I was constantly failing at being healthy.
Anyway, long story short, I had an abdominoplasty which is a typical surgery for those with excess skin. It is also known as a tummy tuck. They did this so they could pull my skin down and in the process it would remove my appendix scar and…well, flatten me out. I spent a long time seeing various doctors about my mental and physical health to ensure I was in the right frame of mind and suitable for the procedure.
What I found interesting though was that, yes the surgery obviously changed my body composition, but actually my hard work from January to now, with increased calories, higher amounts of carbohydrates and less exercise changed my body composition the most. Now that the skin was tighter and I didn’t have a 4-5 inch scar inverting itself I started to see changes from my hard work. And that hard work focused on eating more and moving less. I couldn’t believe that I had finally trusted myself to jump into balanced habits and for it to, well, work. Progress pictures show that my whole body changed over this year, not just the surgery site. Even the boobs have shrunk!
I was embarrassed about this surgery decision for a bit. I didn’t want to go shouting about it all over social media. I did want to tell a few friends but the pandemic made that hard and it felt weird to pop it in a text message. I still don’t want to do any large public post. I wanted to tell chosen people in my own time that “hey, yeah I had surgery to help remove some excess skin and my appendix scar”.
To a certain extent, my health and decision to have surgery is a personal thing and I don’t have to announce it if I don’t want to. It’s completely up to me. Yes, yes, yes, if you’re still reading then you’re probably raising your eyebrows thinking that it’s pretty ironic I’ve opened up on my blog! But, this has always been what my blog is for. I come here before I ever go to anyone else. It’s my place to order and understand my thoughts before sharing them with people in my life directly.
Seriously though? I’ve never been this body confident in my life EVER! And, it feels so nice. I’ve never loved myself as much as I do lately. Years of therapy to start loving and valuing myself individually and a little bit of additional help to love myself physically. I’m happy I went through with the surgery. I did worry whether it contradicted my recovery, that friends, followers, fellow bloggers would think I could not possibly be in recovery from my ED if I had cosmetic surgery. Or that I’m being irresponsible sharing this part of my story. And some will think those things. That’s inevitable really, especially in the world we live in where everyone anyone with a keyboard and access to the internet has an opinion.
I’m hopeful, though, that I’ll only receive love from the people who matter.