My Personal Journey to Overcoming an Eating Disorder
I am a teacher, musician, new mother, and recovered binge eater. I have struggled with my weight and food issues for most of my life. I was at my highest weight, 260 pounds, in 2017. Then I had the gastric sleeve. It changed my life and my relationship with food. I am also partnered with BariatricPal. If you shop there with my referral link, I get a little commission and you get a 15% discount on your first purchase with the code BEYOND15 at checkout.
I have a lot on my plate. My daughter is nearly two years old. I am coordinating and teaching in a program for local immigrants who need to learn English. I am in graduate school. The urge to eat my stress and anxiety away is also rearing its ugly head. I find myself asking a question that I’m sure other working parents and people with binge eating issues are also asking. How do I find balance? So, I did what I always do when I have a question. I asked Google! This quote is what jumped out at me.
Balance is not something you find, it is something you create. So the question we need to ask ourselves is: How do I create balance? Here’s what is helping me on my search for the answer:
Using a planner. Mine is a fancy disc bound planner that I write in with different colored pens. I go as far as color coding things. I use one color for work, one for housework, one for school, and one for appointments. You don’t need all that, though. You can use any old notebook and writing utensil you like. I just like pretty colors. They make me happy.
Setting boundaries and sticking to them. I used to check my work email at all times of the day and it was stressing me out. Now, I only check them when I can do something about them. That is while my daughter is napping. I also do not get my work emails sent to my phone anymore. It’s hard to stress out about emails if I’m not constantly getting notifications about them!
Not multitasking. This one is hard for me because, like I said, I have a lot going on. In my planner, I outline specific tasks for myself. If something is not on my planner page for the day, I don’t do it. I also put specific times for each task. Work emails are during my daughter’s naptime. Schoolwork happens after she goes to sleep for the night. If I try to do either one of those things outside of those times, I find that it is too much for my brain to handle and I go straight to the kitchen to find something to eat. So, I try not to let that happen.
…and good boundaries make a happier, healthier self.
There are all kinds of boundaries we need to set. Personal boundaries. Boundaries about food and beverages. Boundaries between work and home. That one is a huge struggle lately. It used to be easier because home and work were two separate spaces. Now I work from home, most of the time on my laptop at my dining room table. I get email notifications on my phone. I also work for a non-profit organization that doesn’t have nearly enough staff to handle all of its programs. So, if I’m not careful my 23 hour work week turns into 40 hours and 5 work days turns into 7.
I should add that my husband I have a beautiful little girl and we’re settling into a new home. And I’m in graduate school. If I don’t set boundaries, my mental and physical health suffer.
Here’s my plan for the week. Tomorrow, I’m going to open my work email and set up an out of office message that will automatically be sent after 5pm on weeknights and on weekends. I am going to remove my work email account from my phone, so I am not constantly getting notifications. Most importantly, if someone asks me to do something that is either not my responsibility or will need to be done outside of business hours I am going to say no. I will not give an explanation because that will invite further conversation.
When I had my gastric sleeve done in October 2017, my original goal was to be healthy enough to have a baby. The good news is that I succeeded! I have a beautiful 20 month old girl. The not so good news is that I no longer feel like I have control over my eating habits. I have gained some weight back. Not all of it, but definitely a lot. The results of my most recent bloodwork weren’t so great either.
Granted, there are some very valid reasons. I had a baby just as the pandemic was starting and being a new parent is stressful under normal circumstances. Add in that I’m also working and taking grad school classes. It’s a lot to balance and my healthy lifestyle just sort of got put on the backburner for a while. However, my bloodwork showed me that I cannot keep my healthy lifestyle on the backburner any longer.
In the past I would start obsessively counting my calories and exercise to burn off any “bad” food choices. It always worked for a while, but I would burn out and go back to “normal” eventually. Then the pounds would come back and bring some friends! I do not want to do that this time. I want to build healthy habits that are sustainable.
I’m starting with getting out for a walk every day, along with journaling in the morning and evening. That will help manage my mood and keep my head clear to make healthier decisions.