What Is Recovery?
There is no official definition of recovery from an eating disorder. I think that’s crazy. If there’s no official definition how do you know if you’re recovered, in recovery or recovering? There are still some professionals who believe that recovery isn’t possible and that learning to manage your illness is the best one can hope for. I’m not one of those professionals. I believe in full recovery because I did it and I know heaps of others who did too. So here’s the definition of recovery I encourage my clients to aspire to.
“Recovered is when you can accept your natural body size and shape and no longer have a self-destructive relationship with food or exercise. When you are recovered, food and weight take a proper perspective in your life, and what you weigh is not more important than who you are; in fact, actual numbers are of little or no importance at all. When recovered, you will not compromise your health or betray your soul to look a certain way, wear a certain size, or reach a certain number on the scale. When you are recovered, you do not use eating disorder behaviours to deal with, distract from, or cope with other problems.” Carolyn Costin.
The central hub of my work is the concept that the battle you have to fight to get better isn’t between me and you, your parents and you, your partner or anyone else and you. It’s between you and you, your eating disorder self and your healthy self. You were born with a healthy core self but for whatever reason, that part of you has been bullied into submission by another part of you, your eating disorder self. Over time your ED self has gained power, energy and a life of its own and is now creating havoc and a whole heap of anxiety and pain.
Recovery requires that, instead of trying to get rid of your ED self, you learn to listen to what she is telling you and what she is providing for you that your healthy self isn’t. Once you know that, you can equip your healthy self with the confidence, tools and skills to conscientiously take on the roles your ED was manipulating for its own purposes and put it out of a job. When that happens, and it’s not simple or easy, your ED self will integrate back into your core. She’ll transform into a beneficial facet of you that in the future will alert you to when something needs your care and attention. You will tell her what to do instead of her telling you what to do and that, my friend, is a whole different and much more satisfactory life experience than the one you’ve had so far.
Can I Recover?
As I’ve said already, many people who suffer with disordered eating, food and body image challenges have been told or have come to believe that the best they can hope for is to learn to manage their illness. That’s not true. You can totally recover. Yes. Even you. As a recovered coach I know what you’re going through. Nothing can shock or surprise me. Nothing your eating disorder self can say or do will make me believe that you can’t recover. I did it and you can too.
What is Coaching?
Coaching is a relatively new concept in the field of food and body image challenges. I don’t know why. There are coaches that do incredible work for pretty much everything else including drug and alcohol addiction and indeed, although what we experience are definitely not addictions, a recovery coach could be seen as similar to a sober coach.
As your coach, I will help you to identify your ED self and your healthy self and together we will learn what your ED self is trying to tell you. I’ll help you to dialogue with her, and learn to challenge her. I’ll help as the thoughts, feelings, urges and behaviours identified with your ED self surface and I’ll support you in finding and implementing strategies and in developing a tool belt of skills to change them.
I’ll teach you to reach out to others instead of your eating disorder and will be available as much as possible either in person, or via text, email, phone or online calling. If we’re seeing each other in person, we can even shop for groceries or clothes together, cook together or eat together, visit restaurants or cafes or work towards other goals you set for yourself.
Lastly, but by no means least, you are, most likely, disconnected from, and even at war with, your body. I will assist you in reconnecting with yourself to help you not only heal, but bring deeper purpose and meaning to your life.