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Learning to Be Healthy After Struggling with EDNOS

By November 27, 2012

I was directed to your website almost a year ago. I have struggled with EDNOS in the forms of restrictive eating, over-exercise and constant negative self-talk for many years. Your website and Constance’s book opened my eyes and I began eating more regularly and thinking more healthily. I felt like God had freed me in ways I never even dreamed possible! Now, a year later, I have put on weight. I eat healthily but have “treats” every day and snack throughout the day. Now I see little flab rolls around my stomach and I find myself returning to old habits of constantly thinking about my size and about food and talking down to myself. My eating isn’t becoming restrictive again, because every time I think about restricting myself, I get scared that I will fall into old habits. I feel like I am stuck. I also do not exercise very often because it brings me flashbacks to obsessive exercise days and I get scared that I am doing that all over again. How can I become healthy without dragging nightmares from my past behind me? – j

Dear J:

Wow… you have done such a great job taking care of yourself! It is great that you are so conscious of not wanting to fall into old habits. It is very scary to think of going backwards, but just as scary when we do gain some weight. While I understand not wanting to fall into old patterns, I definitely believe that those of us who have used exercise in the past as a way to “purge” can learn how to use it in a very healthy way in recovery.

First, I really encourage you to find a therapist in your area who can help you find a “healthy balance” in exercise. A therapist can be a good gauge to help determine whether you are working out for health and well-being or whether it’s for other, less healthy reasons. It’s a good way to make sure you are on track as you try new things. See “Finding Treatment.”

Also, pay close attention to your body and what it really wants. When is it hungry? When is it full? What is it craving? Don’t deprive your body of what it wants. Instead, give it what it craves – in moderation. Listen to your body when it is full and had enough. It will not steer you wrong.

Be curious, try new things, including new forms of exercise. If you used to run, maybe try swimming, hiking, or yoga instead. Try something you have always wanted to try, but never have. You have created a new identity for yourself, let God guide this new identity along and find something that you truly enjoy now. Something outdoors can be very refreshing, and exercise can be very spiritual; it doesn’t have to be linked to old habits.

More importantly, however, a therapist will be able to help you with the negative self talk that is going on. This is often a sign that something more is happening with us than we may realize. When we are struggling with other “stuff” in our lives, we have a tendency to reach for old habits; this is totally natural and “normal” (whatever that may be). Please seek out a therapist in your area. You have done such a great job; you don’t want to risk all you have accomplished. You may just need a little “check-up” to help you get back on track.

Nicole Bourquin, MS