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Can an anorexic woman lose weight if she's at a healthy weight?

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New question:  "I'm out of inpatient treatment for anorexia.  My team says I'm at a healthy weight. I never thought I'd be over 120 and now I'm over 130!  Can I get down to 120 and still be healthy?"

You are doing great!  Hang in there with what your recovery team is telling you.  You are definitely on your healing path.

You title your question, "Eating Disorder Recovery and its Aftermath."  Your title is an example of what I find to be so confusing for many people beginning their path to healing.  Once you stop your eating disorder behaviors and establish a healthy body weight even deeper recovery work is required.

When you have an eating disorder your eating disorder behaviors are part of your way of coping with life.  When you stop those behaviors you become terribly anxious and bewildered because you have lost a major coping mechanisms and life keeps on happening.

You are at the wonderful stage where, thank goodness, your physical health is much improved and your brain is getting the nourishment it needs.  You find that you are thinking more clearly with a well nourished mind. 

But you also need to develop in new emotional and psychological ways in order to respond well and live in this challenging world.  How much you weigh is not the primary issue.  The primary issue is your psychological sturdiness and resilience.  That will increase as you proceed with your ongoing psychotherapy.

You are at a healthy weight.  That's a rung on the ladder you are climbing to complete physical and mental health that you maintain in an ordinary way. Playing with your weight, attempting to adjust the boundary to a lower weight is part of the seductive dance of anorexia.

Please carrying on with your recovery work and the psychological development you need. Don't let the scale or the mirror get in the way of your building a better  and healthier life.

Comments  

PTC
0 # I can't imagine what it must be like toPTC 2009-12-21 14:33
I can't imagine what it must be like to be in that stage of recovery. How do you get your mind to be okay with your weight? It must be so hard. I know I've lost weight over the past few months, not significant, but I guess I was "underweight" to begin with, according to my T. She's been away on maternity leave and I wonder if she will notice the few pounds I've lost. I fear that she will "fire" me for not being at the weight she wants me to be at. She was getting tough on me a few months before she left for her leave. I just don't know how I could gain weight. Right now I'm only 5 or 6 pounds below what she says is my "lowest acceptable weight," but that's about 3 or 4 lbs lower than what I was last time she saw me. I know that my face looks too "thin" and people are noticing b/c people are saying things to me, parents included. I hate that. I don't want that, but I am not going to eat if I'm not hungry. I'm eating things I wouldn't normally eat, but it's not making my weight increase at all. I thought I gain weight being away for 10 days and not working out. (I was in Italy and eating things I don't usually eat, but I was also walking around for 10 hrs a day and eating only meals and one snack). I don't really know what I'm babbling on about. I just know that I don't want people to notice my weight. Sorry for blabbing here.
pinkjoanna
0 # Hi PTC, Your therapist is away and hpinkjoanna 2009-12-21 20:33
Hi PTC,

Your therapist is away and having a baby. That's got to be an emotional challenge for you. I hope you can use the learning that will come from this experience to help you be more kind and appreciative of your own body.

She was "big with child", as the old saying goes. She wasn't fat. Her body was doing the womanly thing of gestating a baby that will come out.

The next time you see her she will have a different shape from when you last saw her. She'll be smaller.
And you will notice.

People see each other. People see you. They notice if you look well or ill. You are in the world.

Part of anorexia is a desire to be invisible and even a belief that invisibility is possible. But you can't really control other people's perceptions. And people who care about you are saying something about your weight loss. They are concerned about you.

Why not move toward your own healing by thinking of food as medicine? You take in your food medicine three times a day in the form of meals and twice more in the form of snacks.

If you are at a weight that is too low, you may have derailed your sense of hunger. So eat your medicine and give your body a chance to establish hunger signals that you've lost.

What's the risk? Surely you're not afraid of being healthy, are you?

warm regards,

Joanna
PTC
0 # I definitely still have hunger cues. MyPTC 2009-12-21 20:52
I definitely still have hunger cues. My T tries to tell me I don't, but I know when I'm hungry or starving, and I will eat until I am satisfied. I know I'm not eating enough and I get what you're saying about food being medicine, but I also hate spending money of food. It's not cheap here in NYC, and cooking for one is a bit boring. Maybe those sound like excuses, but if I had million dollars, I wouldn't mind spending money on food.

And yes, my T will come back skinny (I understood your point in that but I'm going to take it somewhere else) and that will drive me insane because she is skinny to begin with and she doesn't even try. Grr.

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