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Eating Disorder Recovery Exercise / Compulsive Movement Recovery Motivation Restriction & Fear Foods Rewiring / Neuroplasticity Weight Changes

Always Make the Weight Gain Choice to Rewire and Recover!

In this post, I am going to do something I have not done before…

In my eating disorder recovery, I always found that writing a journal was incredibly useful to me as it helped me get out my frustrations, identify what was troubling me in that moment and then mentally process what I needed to do to move forwards.

Now, I know that I wrote a lot of Instagram and blog posts during my recovery but, as I say, there was a lot of more personal journal writing going on too… and that is what I am going to share with you in this post (or an excerpt from one of my many, many journal entries that were written in those recovery days!).

And I am sharing this as I hope that doing so might help some of you who are in a similar position to the one I was in then. Of course the answers to moving forward might not be the same for you as they were for me but perhaps it will help shift some things in your own thoughts about what you do need to do to keep making progress in your recovery.

So here goes. A journal entry written during my recovery:

“I am eating more than I was but not always consistently and there are still lots of rules and routines around it.  I make some changes and then don’t stay on top of them.

I have gained some weight which my head is telling me is a huge amount and that I weigh enough and it is hard to hold onto the notion that I need to gain more weight when I don’t feel like I do and most of me now does not want to gain weight.

But I do want my head not to be so f**ked up and I know that to get the unf**ked head and free and happy life, I have to allow the weight to go up and up and up as much as it needs to until my brain works like it did before I had this illness.

I had been thinking that I did not need to focus on weight gain and I could just focus on the behaviours and maybe eat more / eat to hunger and face some fears and just see what the weight does as a side effect.

But by going in with that mentality, I can feel that my brain is really thinking: let’s make changes but still avoid gaining weight and this of course is still sneakily suppressing my weight and until I stop trying to suppress it, I won’t fully rewire and recover.

Therefore, I think what I really need to do is really focus on weight gain (even if I really don’t believe I need or want to gain weight) and really ACT AS SOMEONE TRYING TO GAIN WEIGHT at all times from now until I am fully mentally recovered. And fully mentally recovered means as mentally healed as I was pre-ED which was completely unf**ked, with zero anxiety around food or resting (or gaining weight really).

If I don’t do this, I risk continuing to ‘try’ to recover while still hoping I don’t gain more weight and holding onto the fears. This means that I only do bits of recovery and hold back on the parts that might actually cause me to gain more lbs of flesh! This only means that I will continue to do the one step forward, one back dance and hold back on all that recovery should be and the full freedom that I crave.

But by ALWAYS MAKING THE WEIGHT GAIN CHOICE, DAY IN AND DAY OUT, I will naturally always be choosing options and making decisions that are recovery positive and will rewire my very messy brain.

Examples:

Should I have the higher or lower calorie / fat option? Someone aiming for weight gain would choose the higher.

Should I eat now, even though it is not a ‘meal time’? Someone aiming for weight gain would eat at any time, any where and with anyone and would take all opportunities to do so.

Should I accept that invite to coffee and cake?  Someone aiming for weight gain would go and choose the biggest and most calorie dense drink and food snack on offer!

Should I go exercise or watch Netflix?  Duh….

So even if my head is screaming at me that I don’t need to gain weight, by always making the decision that might lead to weight gain, I will naturally rewire that pesky weight gain fear and face the situations and foods that the eating disorder would usually make me avoid.

As I face these more and more, they will become less threatening to my brain, my brain will learn that I don’t die when I do these things and that weight gain is not a threat and ultimately, I then recover.

My decision is therefore made. I aim for weight gain at all times and this means…

I AIM for belly rolls, pressing thighs, cellulite, batwings, swollen feet and a chubby face and train myself to know there is nothing wrong with my having this kind of body shape and to believe there is would make me fat phobic and a not nice person. I will also imagine myself living freely and happily in a body such as this to keep myself pushing on.

If I need to, for inspiration and motivation, I will focus on body positivity messages and images within those communities.

Ultimately, I will allow the healing to happen mentally and physically and really let go of the weight manipulation.

By aiming for full mental freedom and making weight gain choices consistently each and every day, my weight will do whatever it needs to do and it will reach a set point that is right for me. At the same time, the rewiring will happen and my life will become so much better because I will have the mental freedom that I have not had for so many years.

I believe that mental freedom can be mine and that I can be happier in a bigger body… I just have to act like I believe that to be true and aim for that life.

From here on then, my commitments are:

A DETERMINED focus on Weight GAIN every day, even if I am already ‘bigger’ or feel like I have gained 10lb overnight.

RADICALLY ACCEPTING more weight gain.

EATING SHIT TONS and NOT compensating.

AIMING LARGE in Body, Mind and Soul… AIMING LARGE IN LIFE!

Because, this is for a life free of this hostage taking illness…

A life where Christmas and birthdays are not isolated and miserable or terrifying.

A life where I can have and maintain relationships, perhaps have children.

A life I can hold down a job I actually really want to do.

A life where I am not alone anymore.

A life where I am not a concern to others…

A life in which I can have FUN!

And a life where I can feel true emotions again – real highs… remember them? It’s been a while… and to feel the lows (even though they hurt).

Recovering Nomad Real Journal Article copyright!

There you have it then, my journal entry (sorry, it was a long one. I did write a lot in recovery!).

A lot of the sentiments and things I wrote about in this entry are messages or topics I have also covered in other posts on this website but this was me, being personal, real, raw and honest and working through some mental processing to get myself into a firmer recovery.

Reading back on it now, some of it strikes me as being so simple and reading it from a healthier stance, I can think, ‘well, duh, obviously!’ but at the time it was all real and in my head, the whole recovery thing could get so complicated and messy.

If you have read this far then thank you. I hope that if you are in eating disorder recovery, things are going well for you and if you are on the verge of diving into the murky recovery waters, stop hesitating and take the plunge! It will be worth it.

I now work as a coach and mentor, working with people who are overcoming eating disorders, disordered eating or low body confidence. If you are interested in knowing more about my coaching work, then please take a look at my coaching website: www.hellybarnes.com

10 replies on “Always Make the Weight Gain Choice to Rewire and Recover!”

Thank you so much for sharing this.
It’s such a powerful approach to recovery (choosing to actively gain weight).
I too feel that because I gained a large amount whilst being restrictive and ‘disordered’ that I shouldn’t ‘have’ to gain anymore weight now because my body is ‘healthy’…but this approach isn’t working for me so far. I’m larger but still mentally very messy – I don’t have the freedom of choice or the freedom of mind I am reaching for.
Did you follow through with all the ideas/commitments in this journal entry?
It sounds like a courageous and effective approach if you can adhere to it – I’m not sure I’ve got the ‘grunt’ to do it, to be honest!
Would love to hear how this approach affected your recovery.
Hope you’re doing well.
😊💗

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Hey there!
It sounds like you are in that incredibly confusing place that I was in when I wrote this. It’s so confusing when physically we are bigger and too often we were told by treatment providers in the past that weight gain = recovery, yet we find we are in a bit of a bigger body but having got there through slightly less but still disordered means.
In recovery we have to learn to let it all go and for me this approach helped me shift something in my mind when trying to make the ‘recovery choice’.
I’m not saying I wrote this and was instantly perfect at recovery but it definitely helped me keep focus and it became easier quicker than I thought it would.
I reckon you have the ‘grunt’ to do whatever you put your mind to!
X

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This journal entry reflects the stage I am at, and I admire your attitude to push through to ‘larger’ things. I’ve been stuck at a ‘healthy’ weight (according to GP) but my head is still not fixed. I’ve 30 years of ED so the rewiring must be more difficult. You see, another excuse 🤭 You are an inspiration, but how did you manage to fulfill these wishes?

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I just wrote a reply to this and not sure where it went!!
Don’t use length of illness as an excuse. Sure it is harder to rewire when you have had the illness years but I don’t think the number of years necessarily matters… I know that I have seen people only ill for a few months or a year, get to recovery fast and rewire speedily because the illness had not become ingrained and habitual in them. But I think when you have been ill for a few years – be that 5 or 30, the length of time it takes to do the rewiring is not necessarily any different, assuming we apply ourselves to it.
Close your eyes, be determined, say ‘this is what I am doing’ and own the weight gain, own the hunger and be proud of both. Show yourself and the world what you can do!

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Thank your for sharing. I am the mom of a D 17 who I believe is in that place of “I’ve gained, I’ve got my period, I feel ‘safe’ at this spot and I do not want to go to my Pre-ED weight of 13 months ago because that was a trigger from my deep dive into restriction…” Her team has encouraged a huge amount to independence around meals and eating with little external accountability. Even D has been “gaming” the weigh-ins with coins; yet she is permitted to weigh-in with undergarments on under her Johnny. I want her to read this… But I hesitate to do so… I am feeling lost and I have been very much excluded from the recovery process, so I will share with her therapist and see if she will share with D. Again, thank you.

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Hi Maura,
I’m sorry your daughter has been so unwell but good she’s made some progress. Being weighed can be a huge trigger for many (it was for me) and when I recovered, I didn’t weight myself at all or let anyone else do so, but I know we are all different and some treatment teams insist on it. As your daughter is 17 so practically an adult, if you feel the post here (or anything else) might be of value to her then please do share it with her.
Also though, at the end of the day, make sure you look after yourself xx

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