recovery challenge

1. Write down what your values are.

For example: I value integrity, kindness, intelligence and compassion.

Keep that list close to you, so that when you are confused as to how you should behave in comparison to what you think someone else expects of you, you can look to see if you are behaving in line with your value system.

2. Write down some of your non-weight-related life goals.

For example: I want to read a lot of Dostoyevsky and write a historical fiction romance novel about the French Revolution and travel to Haiti and work with sick babies.

Then, if you hate yourself because you ate chocolate cake or if you feel that you’re not good enough because you haven’t gone to Bikram class, then you realize that being skinny isn’t your actual lifelong goal, you have other things that you’re focusing on. You can then refocus on who you are and what you really want to be doing. 

3. Stop analyzing other people’s thoughts.

For example: If you find yourself at a party thinking, Oh, he thinks I said something stupid, she thinks I’m fat… etc. You are projecting your own thoughts about yourself onto other people. You have no idea what other people are thinking about you. And, as they say, what other people think of you is none of your business. The only thoughts that you know for sure and they only ones that matter are what you think of yourself, so it’s important to do things that make you like yourself. And, the truth of the matter is, people are too busy thinking about themselves to worry too much about others (this is called the Principle of Enlightened Self-Interest). And if they are sitting around thinking about others– well then what a boring life they must have!

4. Try not to second guess yourself.

It can make you paralyzed and unable to move forward. Even if you make the wrong decision, know that you have the ability to take care of the situation, no matter what. What’s most important is that you make sure to do your best at any given moment; the past is merely a reference for learning lessons.

5. Go forward on your own path.

Accept who you are instead of wishing you were like someone else. Everyone is given their own journey in this lifetime, and we all start out at different places with different gifts so it’s not only unhelpful — it’s really impossible to compare. Instead of becoming absorbed in other people’s paths and journeys, focus on making the most progress at your own path. When you spend time wishing you were like others or thinking you should be more like them, you stop growing.

6. Let go of unnecessary judgment of others. 

This is a great way to practice letting-go of self-judgment. By learning to accept others for who they are, and to love and appreciate them despite differences and mistakes, you implicitly learn to do the same for yourself. If you find yourself thinking something judgmental, ask yourself if it’s helpful. Some judgments (like determining someone’s trustworthiness) are helpful and useful because they help you find people you can count on. Others, like mentally criticizing a stranger’s clothing choices, aren’t. The stranger’s clothing choices probably don’t affect you; your opinion doesn’t affect them in any positive way. In addition, all the time/focus/mental energy you spend on that judgment is taking away from your pursuit of your aforementioned goals and values.

7. Remember that it is a process.

This isn’t something that happens overnight, it’s something that takes practice and at which you will probably mess up sometimes. That is more than fine, because there aren’t really “mess ups” at all — just opportunities for reflection and improvement.

(found here and modified)

The brain does weird things when you deprive it of food.

And I don’t mean just calorically. Even if you’re eating 2000, 3000 calories a day in recovery, if they’re all safe, you’re still going to be obsessed with food and what you “can’t” have.

(AKA a friendly reminder to challenge yourself today.)

Could anybody who is hoping to take part in the Advent Recovery Challenge, in any way, shape or form, please reblog this post?

There’s absolutely no commitment at all, no minimum level of involvement, you can contribute in whatever way you like, or not at all! I just want to give an idea of how many people will get involved to support and encourage each other, because the more people join in, the more we’ll inspire others! 

This is certainly not the only way to come up with affirmations, and if you find other affirmations that help you feel better, definitely use those, too! 

  1. Get to a place where you feel calm and grounded. This might involve going to a physical location where you can work with minimal distractions, using some coping skills to bring your anxiety levels down, etc. Your goal is to get comfortable so you can focus on the exercise ahead.
  2. Identify the emotions that you struggle with. This is much easier if you have a record of your emotions in various situations, such as a diary or emotion log, but is possible too with a little introspection. Some examples: anxious, guilty, ashamed, worthless, angry, etc.
  3. Identify some instances when you feel those emotions. Example: “When I misspeak in class, I feel anxious, ashamed, angry at myself, and embarrassed,” “When I am talking to someone and they interrupt me, I feel angry, frustrated, brushed off.” “When someone criticizes me I feel hopeless, overwhelmed, and panicky.” There are no wrong answers here, so be as honest and as frank as you can with yourself — remember that your goal here is to understand.
  4. Take a self-care break. You may want to take a minute or two to make sure you’re feeling grounded, remind yourself that you are in a safe space, and use some coping skills as necessary. Recognize that your feelings, whatever they are, are valid, and take the time to process them. Go to the next step when you feel ready.
  5. Identify the underlying fears behind your emotions. Emotional pain —any kind of pain, really — helps us identify when we are under some kind of threat, or when we are in danger of not meeting certain needs. So what are your emotions telling you? Example, “When I misspeak in class, I am afraid that people will write me off as incompetent.” “When someone interrupts me, I worry that that means they don’t care about me.” “When someone criticizes me, I fear that they think I am useless.”
  6. Identify the assumptions at play. We process situations through certain assumptions, based on a zillion things: past experiences, watching others, fears, beliefs, etc. So what are you assuming in these situations? For example, “If I make a mistake, others will think I am incompetent.” “People interrupt other people because they don’t care about them/their feelings.” “Criticism indicates disdain and contempt.”
  7. Challenge those assumptions. Come up with counterarguments, like, “Rational people recognize that everyone makes mistakes.” “People interrupt others for many reasons (they’re in a hurry, they are used to being interrupted and don’t see it as rude, poor impulse control, excitement, they’re distracted, etc.) — it’s not necessarily to do with me.” “If someone criticizes me, it means they think I can improve.”
  8. Identify the needs behind your fears. Fear tells you that you need something, so the next step is to identify what it is you need. Example: “I need validation that I am competent.” “I need to know that others care about me.” “I need to feel worthwhile.” 
  9. Think of healthy ways to fill those needs. If you can remind yourself that your needs ARE being or CAN be met, it lowers the stakes considerably and also empowers you to take real and effective action towards regaining true control of your emotions. Example: “I know I am competent because I have achieved x, y, and z,” “I am in the process of becoming fully competent; I am still learning.” or, “My friends and family have stuck around for a long time, they probably wouldn’t have unless they truly cared about me,” or, “I am worthwhile regardless of my mistakes; I am a work in progress.”
  10. Write these down where you can find them when you need ‘em.Keeping some in your wallet (à la this post), on your phone, in the bathroom/your bedroom, on your wall, as your background on a computer — the list is endless.
  11. Check in with yourself again. Feeling difficult emotions and dredging up stressful thoughts/fears/situations can be really draining even if it helps, too. You’ve taken a big step and you deserve a break, so practice some self-care (123), re-center yourself, and remember that you’ve made a lot of progress. Go you!
The thing about recovery is that it leaves you appreciating the things you took for granted before… you will always be the person who smiles up at the sky for no reason other than that it’s a sunny day, the person who holds on for that extra second in a hug, the person whose eyes are a little brighter when someone they care about walks into the room. Recovery won’t return you to the way you were before, recovery will set you apart. If you recover successfully, your glass will never be half empty.
Recovery Challenge: How to Forgive Yourself -- No Matter What

Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes they are small and forgettable, and sometimes they are big, but too often we can’t seem to stop beating ourselves up about it, way past the point where it’s helpful.

This is something I’ve found helpful for reconciling that just because I did something bad doesn’t mean that I am doomed to always be a bad person — no matter what I’ve done, I can learn from it and change for the better, and so can you.

1. Identify when you are beating yourself up, as it is happening. 

  • Example A: I failed my math test.
  • Example B: I lashed out in anger and hurt someone I care about.

2. Identify the thought and put it into words.

  • Example A: “I’m so stupid.” “I’m just terrible at math.” “I’ll never succeed.”
  • Example B: “I am a terrible person. What I did is unforgivable; I hate myself for what I have done.”

3. Limit the damage mentally, both in terms of extent AND duration. This is where you regain control over your thoughts by reminding yourself that you can come back from this. It is NOT an excuse; It doesn’t mean that your mistake wasn’t a mistake, or that it was okay to do (this applies especially if other people were hurt by your mistake). It just means that who you are and what you choose to do in the future are not defined by your past mistakes.

  • Example A: instead of “I failed this test” say, “I got a bad grade on this test.” Instead of “I always fail math tests” say “I have been getting bad grades on my math tests.” Instead of “I AM stupid,” say, “I am having trouble with math.” 
  • Example B: Instead of “I can’t believe that I’m the kind of person who would do something like that,” say “It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that I did such a bad thing.” If you were in control at any point, recognize the areas where you WERE in control — “At least I kept myself from using physical violence” “At least I stopped when I realized what I was doing”. If you were not in control at any point of the encounter (emotions were overwhelming, you were under the influence of drugs/alcohol, etc.), know that you are in control NOW, and that you are alive and capable of making positive changes moving forward.

4. Identify ways you can improve the current situation

  • Example A: “My grade is lower than I want it to be because of this grade. Perhaps I can ask the teacher for an extra credit assignment.”
  • Example B: Assess whether an apology is appropriate. Is it totally genuine? Will it help the other person? Keep in mind that many people want merely to forget about these situations entirely, and reminding them of the situation might only cause harm or conflicted feelings on their part. Know that they are entitled to feel whatever they may be feeling as a result — including resentment and other unpleasant feelings towards you —  and if/when you apologize, make sure to validate their feelings rather than excuse your behavior. This includes respecting their choices afterwards if they choose to distance themselves from or end the relationship. Accept responsibility for what you’ve done, that it is a part of your past which you can learn from but can’t erase. This can be a lot to stomach, especially if they choose not to forgive you, so recognize that you are making a CHOICE to improve and change, that that is a brave choice, and again that your past does not define your future.

5. Once you have done what you can to rectify the situation, find a lesson in the mistake.

  • Example A: “I should figure out which areas of math I struggle with BEFORE the exam.” “I must get help as soon as I realize I don’t understand, rather than putting it off.”
  • Example B: “I need to recognize when my anger starts interfering with my ability to control my actions.” “I need to limit my alcohol/drug consumption so that I remain in control of my actions.” “I need to be more aware of what actions are appropriate to the situation, and the consequences of my actions for others.”

6. Prevent this mistake in the future by committing yourself to a plan for practicing this lesson.

  • Example A: “I will bring questions about material I struggle with to the class before the next exam.”
  • Example B: “When I notice myself getting angry, I will take 10 deep breaths.” “If I start feeling out-of-control with anger, I will leave the room for 5 minutes and calm down.” “I will pace myself when drinking in order to avoid getting so dangerously drunk again.” “I will stop using alcohol/drugs and/or get help in order to do so.” “I will check in with the others involved in situations where I am unsure about what is appropriate.”

7. Look forward and forgive yourself. The purpose of guilt is to teach you a lesson, the lesson being “Hey! Don’t do that again!” It’s sort of like your brain’s built-in behavioral conditioning system. Now that you’ve learned this lesson and are committed to applying it, you can let go of this guilt. No matter the mistake you’ve made, you can always improve from here. You don’t have to be perfect to forgive yourself. You just have to try to be the best you know how to be from this point on. This step takes more practice, but until you’ve gotten the hang of it, start by just saying to yourself, “I made a mistake. I have done what I can to fix the situation and prevent this from happening in the future. I am a work in progress. I forgive myself.”


This outfit is a real challenge for me. I bought the skirt a long time ago with the intention of wearing it at my next goal weight, with The Beatles top. I thought only when I reached my next goal weight would I look good in it.

Lo and behold I didn’t wear this outfit at that weight, or the next goal or the one after that. I never thought I’d look good enough for it.

Guess what? After being at a higher weight than ALL MY STUPID FRICKIN GOALS, I’m finally comfortable in my skirt and top. With gaining weight, I gained a whole lot of common sense too.

You will never be good enough for anorexia, so be good enough for you.

Summergirl's recovery challenge

Join me in a recovery challenge! If you need extra motivation to do the challenge, tag me in your responses and I’ll add a link to your responses to each question on my post about that question.

  1. Where are you in your recovery right now? What are some goals you are working on to help you to move forward in your recovery?
  2. What part of your eating disorder is hardest for you to overcome or let go of right now?
  3. Give yourself credit for the progress you’ve made - what are some positive steps you’ve taken in recovery, or recent progress that you’ve made?
  4. What motivates you to recover?
  5. Who supports you in your recovery?
  6. Does your family support your recovery?  How do they help or hurt your efforts to recover?
  7. What type of treatment are you getting right now? Talk about your current treatment team - are they helpful, do you trust them? Are you honest with them?
  8. Do you have a role model in recovery, or someone who inspires you?  Talk about that person.
  9. What do you think caused or contributed to your eating disorder?  What are some steps you can take now to work through these issues?
  10. Did you have a turning point or a certain moment that made you decide to recover? Or was it a decision that happened over a long period of time?
  11. What are some enjoyable activities you do which are unrelated to your eating disorder, but help you to cope and feel positive?
  12. Who in your life knows about your eating disorder? Has sharing about your eating disorder been helpful for you?
  13. What are some things - blogs, quotes, books, mantras, etc - that inspire you and keep you motivated?
  14. Describe at least ten things you like about yourself. If you don’t believe those positive things, try to think of praises and compliments other people have given you, and write those down and then make an effort to believe in those compliments
  15. What does your weight/body image mean to you?  How has your body image changed throughout recovery - has it gotten harder or easier to deal with?
  16. What experience(s) has been most helpful your recovery (for example, meeting a supportive friend, deciding to go to therapy, etc)?
  17. What do you want your life to look like when you’re recovered?  What are some life goals you have that you think you could only accomplish if you recover?
  18. Do you have any other diagnosed disorders aside from an eating disorder? How are you dealing with these issues?  If you don’t have another disorder, what are some psychological issues that affect your eating disorder right now?
  19. What scares you most about recovery?
  20. What scares you most about your eating disorder?
  21. What is something you have learned about yourself in recovery?
  22. Do you think you are fully committed to recovery and willing to do whatever it takes to recover?  If not, what do you think is holding you back?
  23. What can you do for yourself when you are having a bad day or struggling which will help you?
  24. What are some examples of things that your eating disorder has taken from you?
  25. What has recovery given you?
  26. What does recovery mean to you?
  27. Do you believe in full recovery?  Why or why not?
  28. What are some things you do that help you cope when you’re having a hard time?
  29. How have you and your life changed from when you were in the worse periods of your eating disorder versus now, in recovery?
  30. Has this recovery challenge helped you, and how?
Recovery is:

A cake breakfast in Starbucks with friends. Drinking frothy, milky coffee in the bath. Reading long, funny books and laughing to yourself. Swimming in a crowded pool with a good friend. Dancing into the night. Concerts and festivals at last minute. Late nights and late breakfasts. Long rambling walks in the sun with a backpack weighed down with a tasty packed lunch. Pasta in a restaurant. Buying rainbow short short hotpants and standing in the middle of the kitchen to get help doing them up. Crying about emotions, not calories.

Image from fitnessflirtblog, with another great article; content below reposted with minor edits from Trigger warning on both websites for dieting, exercise, weight-loss info/encouragement, and food images/discussion.

The term orthorexia or orthorexia nervosa, from the Greek for “straight, correct and true,” was first used by Steve Bratman, a doctor of holistic medicine and author of The Alternative Medicine Sourcebook: A Realistic Evaluation of Alternative Healing Methods in 1997 to describe the condition of a severe, problematic fixation on the eating of healthy food.

…Like anorexia nervosa, orthorexia is a disorder of food restriction. Unlike anorexia, with orthorexia the restriction involves the quality instead of the quantity of the food.

Orthorexia nervosa is not yet an official DSM-IVR categorized eating disorder at this point, nor will it be included in the soon-to-be released DSM-5. Very few studies have been published on this condition. Nonetheless, there are many individuals who display symptoms consistent with an obsessive-compulsive restrictive eating disorder and have an unhealthy concern with healthy eating patterns.

Restrictive Eating Disorder

It seems to me that as with any significant disorder or addiction, a large part of the diagnosis relies on how it has affected the individual’s normal functioning. With the way our food supply has been distorted and considering people’s sincere desire to eat in a more healthy way, I think orthorexia has to be diagnosed on an individual basis. I would also like to see a more appropriately descriptive name for the condition such as Restrictive Eating Disorder (RED).

Here are some questions on behaviors that can be helpful to see if you have a problem with RED:

  1. Are you obsessed with the virtuous nature of what you eat?
  2. Does your diet socially isolate you?
  3. Do you spend much of your day thinking about healthy food?
  4. Do you find your quality of life decreasing because of your eating habits?
  5. Are you becoming increasingly rigid and self-critical about your eating?
  6. Is your self-esteem based on eating healthy foods?
  7. Do you limit what you can eat to what you can only eat at home?
  8. Do you feel guilty or hate yourself if you eat foods that you consider incorrect or unhealthy?
  9. Has your eating become an important control issue for you?
  10. Do you avoid going out to eat?
  11. If you do go out to eat do you have to bring your own food?
  12. Do you feel that a restaurant cannot make a correct meal for you even if you ask them to modify it?
  13. Is your diet very limited in variety?
  14. Are you unable to eat what others correctly consider healthy foods?
  15. Do you eat the same rigid narrow range of foods every day?
  16. Do you attribute actions to your limited diet that are not wholly accurate, such as keeping you young looking, or mentally sharp?
  17. Do you avoid eating with others?
  18. Does eating food prepared by others cause you to feel anxious?
  19. Can you eat food that you do not consider correct?

A restrictive eating disorder can be a slippery slope. What initially begins with all good intentions to eat a more healthy diet and have a more healthy lifestyle can become a serious problem. We must be vigilant to the dietary changes we are making and the effects these changes have on us. The fallacy of if a little is good a lot more is better can all too easily play out as a restrictive eating disorder. This can lead to significant social isolation and the unfortunate opposite unhealthy affect on our lives from what we had originally intended.