Pursuit of Health Instead of Thinness

For approximately 20 years I have suffered from EDNOS, I am now 44. I have traveled up and down the scale many times. Over the past 5 years my weight stabilized at around 165. Even though my weight remained about the same, my eating disorder continued – periods of dieting followed by binging and beating myself up for my lack of control through it all. In Oct. 2003 I read “Life Inside the Thin Cage” and as a result stopped the binging and adopted a normal, healthy, balanced lifestyle. After several weeks my clothes started becoming looser, but I chose to ignore it until I had to finally admit I needed new jeans. I had to buy a pair several sizes smaller so I decided to weigh myself. I had lost 17 pounds, absolutely without trying. Well I started getting the inevitable “oohs” and “aahhs”, along with “you look great what have you been doing?” and the clincher, “your’e so skinny” and before I knew it my appearance started gaining too much importance again. Consequently the thoughts of binging/dieting are returning. So after having made a short story long my question to you is this: without having to move to another planet, how can I maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle and not get caught up in how it makes me look? How can I keep my appearance in its rightful place when I’m getting attention for it? Thank you. – Kathy

Dear Kathy:

It is not about what planet you live on. The way to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle and not get “caught up” is to stop what keeps you from having it. What am I suggesting? Many persons suffering from disordered eating define their own worth by appearance. You are responding to the cues from the external world because you have trained your own self to value those external cues.

Many people are probably aware on some level that you desire to be different weight and that you work at controlling how you look and how you are perceived. The feedback is a result of how they have watched you live. We really do train people about what we need from them and how they can treat us.

The way to maintain the recent changes and success you have experienced since reading Life Inside the Thin Cage is to live from the inside out. Establish how you are going to live as an authentic self that values __________, __________ and ____________ (fill in the blanks with things that you want to be priorities in your life). Then you will train the people around you to treat you according to what you project.

Currently, it sounds as if (at least for a number of years in the past) the blanks were completed with the following options:

…to live demonstrating that being thin, receiving compliments tied to appearance and being desired over others is good.

Search deeply within your own heart and dare to ask: “Is it possible that inside of me is a place that still desires stares, accolades, feedback, and the outside attention of others?” What happened in your life that those values became so important? What purpose have they served? Is their function over? Can you resign from that way of “being” and create a life that is free from responding to the cues of the outside world? Dare to build an inside reference for your own self that promotes love, freedom, compassion and health.

Dare to go deeper in your journey,