fmb16

Not doing this for the right reasons--history of eating disorders

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Hi all,

I'm on day 7 of my second Whole30, and it's becoming pretty clear to me that I'm not doing this for the right reasons. As background, I have a history of pretty severe eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia through all of my teenage years--I'm 24 now) and have considered myself pretty much recovered for the past 4-ish years. However, I've definitely noticed some (by my assessment) pretty garden-variety disordered eating tendencies in the past year: restricting my calories a bit, but not to particularly unhealthy levels, feeling a little compulsive about exercising but not overdoing it by any objective standards, &c.

I started this Whole30 partly because I had been eating junk throughout the holidays and my sugar dragon was in full force, but, if I'm being honest with myself, my primary motivation was to lose the couple pounds I had gained over the past few weeks. I recently lost a fair amount of weight due to loss of appetite after a bad breakup and was hovering a little above the underweight mark, and I was feeling uncomfortable after gaining 3-ish pounds.

I know that the Whole30 is not intended to be a weight loss program by any means, but I've definitely been using it that way this time around: I've been weighing myself, which I know is totally against the rules, and counting (and restricting) calories, which I know is strongly discouraged. I'm also running 30 miles a week, which is normal for me, but I'm aware that I'm consciously undereating based on my activity level. 

Given all of that, I'm having some serious doubts about whether I should continue this Whole30. I'm clearly not doing this right--or for the right reasons--at the moment, but I'm not sure whether it's better to stick with it and try to work on my relationship with food while on the Whole30, or whether I should stop doing this and take some time to work on these issues in a different way. I've read the "Dear Melissa" piece about doing the Whole30 when you have a history of eating disorders, but I'm still at a loss about what I should do. On the one hand, I'm getting the sense that this might not be the best thing for me, at least at this time; on the other hand, I feel pretty guilty and anxious at the idea of not finishing this. 

I'd really appreciate hearing from people who have experienced something like this before, or any thoughts or advice that any of you might have.

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Honestly I don't think anyone here can answer that for you. If you feel that the Whole30 is a detriment to your health then you should absolutely stop and seek out some kind of assistance if needed. If you think you can "right the ship" along the way, then continue on. We can't answer that for you, unfortunately, it's too personal a decision and only you know you.

If you do decide to stop, please reframe the decision as one of self-care and compassion rather than guilt and anxiety over "quitting". If you make the decision that you are better served by stepping away from this program for as long as you need, then that is the right answer for you. We have no judgement here and a 30 day voluntary elimination plan shouldn't be increasing guilt or anxiety. Remember, there are no awards or ribbons at the end. ;) More importantly, wherever you go, there you are, right? So making the right decision for yourself is the right one no matter which way you choose to go. 

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On 1/8/2019 at 11:22 AM, ladyshanny said:

If you do decide to stop, please reframe the decision as one of self-care and compassion rather than guilt and anxiety over "quitting". If you make the decision that you are better served by stepping away from this program for as long as you need, then that is the right answer for you. We have no judgement here and a 30 day voluntary elimination plan shouldn't be increasing guilt or anxiety. Remember, there are no awards or ribbons at the end. ;) More importantly, wherever you go, there you are, right? So making the right decision for yourself is the right one no matter which way you choose to go. 

Emphasis mine added. Thank you, @ladyshanny for this kind and insightful answer. This is why I love Whole30, it is ostensibly about being kind to your body and yourself.

As someone who's also had a lot of trouble with very disordered eating in high school and college (but who is, admittedly, many years farther away from those days than @fmb16 is), I feel this post hard. I had a lot of trouble with this on my first Whole30 last year. I wasn't weighing myself, but constantly measuring myself and I was not always in the best of mental spaces, especially at first.

I decided to stick with it after a lot of soul searching. Whole30 was making me feel a lot better in ways that had nothing to do with weight loss (my autoimmune disorder wasn't plaguing me with constant mystery illnesses, aches, and pains, my chronic indigestion was almost non-existent, I was feeling more alert, I was finally escaping the calorie counting nightmareland of my 20s, etc). It took a lot of effort to focus on that stuff more than the weight loss aspects, and to stop measuring myself. Trying to focus instead on all the other positives gave my overthinker brain something else to do. In the end, sticking with it was good for me, but that may not be the right decision for you, and that is, as stated above, 1000% ok.

Whatever you decide to do, do it with love and kindness towards yourself and your body. You are worth it.

P.S. I want to commend your bravery posting this here, and your insight in recognizing this in yourself, as they say, the first step is identifying when there's an issue.

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Hi @fmb16 - You have my full support! Feel free to dm me at any time. I have gone through anorexia several times myself, and while it has been quite a while since I was in the throws of it, I will always be recovering. There are times that I notice myself going down "the path" and I know something has to be done. For example, this is my 5th or 6th W30 and I am doing it for very different reasons than the others. I had a baby almost 11 mos ago and started letting myself eat whatever was around - both because it was easy, and because I thought I deserved it as a reward. Fast forward to December and I was constantly saying to myself "Oh, I can have this chocolate cake as a treat today, I'll just make sure I'll eat better tomorrow." but as you can guess, tomorrow never came. I started to just not care what I was putting into my body at that point and quickly realized that the next "step" for me would be to completely panic and overcorrect my misguided food journey by cutting way too much food out of my life; slowly going down that road that I know all too well: obsession with what goes into my mouth and guilt over what I do put there. I decided at that very moment I needed another Whole30 to get my relationship back on track with food. If you haven't read the book "It Starts with Food" I highly recommend it. I am the type of person that wants to know the science and reasoning behind why I do things and what works and doesn't, so reading this book gave me a ton of information on how our body utilizes food and how it affects our brain's ability to produce chemicals and receive transmissions between nerves and such. It also made me realize that food and I shouldn't be enemies and food shouldn't be a "reward" or "punishment"...it is my fuel. It is what helps me think clearly, sleep soundly, have energy, control my anxiety and depression, and have everything I need to take care of my baby. I do also agree with @ladyshanny and what she said. We all need to show ourselves a little more compassion (I am up for any advise on how to do this myself...I struggle with this a lot). Do know that if you decide to make the decision to step back from the program and regroup, that you can always reach out to me to talk to. I know exactly how you feel and I want you to know that you are not alone in this. I wish I would have had a forum like this when I was actively struggling with my eating - please reach out if you need to. 

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