99.9% Recovery

I don’t think I quite intended Daily Moves and Grooves to be a blog focused on eating disorder recovery.

I wanted this blog to be about healthy food, fitness, faith, and my life in general. However, given the fact that my past eating disorder is what ultimately gave way to the whole “healthy living blog” world, that part of my life almost necessarily made its way into the theme of my blog.

It’s not always easy sharing my eating disorder stories and struggles here, but it’s been a humbling and motivational journey (all thanks to YOU) blogging about recovery— the good days and the bad days.

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one of the first meals I ever posted on my blog

A few weeks ago, a reader emailed me about how she feels that there are very few truly recovered/recovering people. She {reasonably} wondered: Is full recovery even possible?

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real ice cream and gelato // no protein, no stevia // all fat and sugar, all goodness

I thought this particular reader brought up a great point. It seems that many recovering people restore a great relationship with food, only to turn their obsession towards exercise or “getting big”. You may or may not have drawn this conclusion yourself if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, but I can tell you that I’ve struggled with that myself.

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I like to think that I am 100% recovered, but in reality, I am closer to 99.9% recovered. I feel like this is where a lot of people in recovery stay for a long time, if not, for the rest of their lives.

The truth is that we do remember calorie counts for many foods. We do care about what our bodies look like. We do want to have control over something.

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that extremely proud moment when I ordered an entree of gnocchi (aka pure carbs) at an Italian restaurant // I still sometimes have trouble ordering JUST pasta these days

Don’t get me wrong— caring about what goes into your body, exercising, and being mindful are all good things. There is balance, and I know many people who live truly balanced lives— not merely in their actions that everyone else can see, but in their minds as well. It’s certainly not easy to reach this point for anyone, so I think that it will always be especially difficult for people with history of an eating disorder.

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Now, you might be thinking: Isn’t occasionally worrying about food and exercise what people are supposed to do to be truly balanced anyway? Why should that be classified as 99.9% recovered?

Well, you’re right. Normal people should be mindful of nutrition and exercise. It’s called health. But they don’t really worry about it. In MY case at least, food and exercise choices are sometimes driven by judgements on my own body image or old habits that resurface.

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More often than not, I don’t care about calories, I eat what I want, and I can skip a workout without any problem. However, there are days when eating more or skipping workouts doesn’t come easily or without thought.

Maybe you can reach 100% recovery, or maybe you have! I am so genuinely happy for those who do. This post is just my two cents based on my experiences, and I have concluded that I might be at 99.9% for a while.

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That being said, I believe that it is okay to live 99.9% recovered. As with any temptation in life, even though we feel like eating more/cutting down on exercise/etc. is difficult at times, that does not mean that we lack the strength to make the right decisions for our bodies.

It’s a cross that we bear, but it’s a part of who we have become.

Again, I want to thank you all for being so supportive and loving, even in my times of weakness. In 100% honesty, I couldn’t get through to this point of even 99.9% recovered without you. I thank God for your love every day.

So tell me:

If you’ve struggled with disordered eating, do you feel like you are 99.9% recovered?

Do you think people can truly reach 100% recovery? Or have you?

Any thoughts at all!

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48 thoughts on “99.9% Recovery

  1. This is exactly me! I can order foods no problem and go a few days without exercising but any more than that and I worry. I also have no desire to restrict or have that old mindset to be skinny. I just want to be healthy and happy. Thanks for this post because I too still have those occasional thoughts

  2. YES! I have felt this for years.

    I know it’s ‘not the way to think’ and certainly you need to be positive and *know* you can beat the illness when you are physically and mentally seriously sick but I’m firmly in the camp that you learn to live with it, more than be 100% cured.

    No mental illness (and that is what an eating disorder is; it has physical side-effects but the ‘problem’ lies in our brains) is cured. You learn to live with it and be proactive with signs of relapse but it will never 100% go away from your brain. I have been recovered for maybe four years now. By that I mean, I eat unconsciously now, I don’t stress about eating or calories or fat or carbs or whether I went running. 99% of the time. I do, however, have days where I care, where thoughts creep in. Those days, I have to force the voice out saying ‘eat x because it’s healthier than y’, or ‘you know there are z calories in that’. It doesn’t dominate my life, I don’t get consumed or stressed by those thoughts (or days) any more but they happen. I think it takes time (like recovery as a whole) to objectively just take those days as they are and not dwell on them as failures or deal them more significance than they deserve. They will happen when your tired, or stressed, or someone said something which hits the wrong spot, or when you just wake up one day (or three) and that dormant part of your illness decides to play for no obvious reason. The power is in not letting it win that day and going about your life as you did the day before; and waking up the next like it never happened.

    • Jessica I completely agree with you – in fact I could have written that paragraph above word for word! It truly is something you ‘learn to live with’, that voice inside my head can creep in now and again, especially when I am stressed or tired and it’s about learning how to fight that voice and win. It doesn’t rule my life anymore but that really is more learning not to let it rule in order to feel in a recovered state of mind.

    • “You learn to live with it and be proactive with signs of relapse but it will never 100% go away from your brain.” ➔ that sums it up. You absolutely hit the nail on the head, Jessica. We can’t let our bad days get to us— we just need to let them fuel us to move forward to better days.

  3. While by far not at the point of recovery you reached I share your feelings. For me, being mostly – whether 90 or 99.9 % – recovered is a perfectly acceptable goal. I’ve dealt with this disorder for years upon years, even before wasn’t exactly an intuitive eater, spent too much time counting and memorizing calories – I don’t believe all that can be wiped off like crumbs on a shirt. But living mostly free of these thoughts and not overthinking everything would be a great way to live already.
    Maybe some people can recover 100% but I’m not sure and won’t set myself up for any comparison or jealousy.

    • So right, girl. We all live with some sort of burden, and this 90% or 99.9% recovery is (one of) ours, but life ain’t so bad that way. We just have to keep striving to move forward and doing our best. Also a great point that we shouldn’t be jealous of those who seems to be more recovered than we are!

  4. Really interesting post. I think being mindful of the days it’s hard to skip a workout, and recognize how you’re feeling is key. Easier said than done, though! Have you got the Headspace app? So good for getting to know your own mind and its triggers.

    Sarah (from Myp!)
    X

  5. even though i never had eating disorder per say, but i used to be conscious about what i ate and how i looked…so i can see where you are coming from. over the years, i have gotten okay with how i look and dont care about calories and such, there are still times i am conscious and if i dont workout and such for a while, it gets me. i guess its all a journey 🙂

  6. Could not have worded this any better myself. I believe calling oneself truly 100% recovery is actually very very difficult after having gone through an eating disorder. Even if you have the urges to restrict, overexercise, obsess about weight etc. under control, it always seems to slightly linger under the surface, ready to emerge if you give it the slightest chance. However the more you (I mean you as the general population) work on it and keep fighting the thoughts and focusing on self love and intuitive approaches to eating and exercise, I think it may be possible to one day break free. I don’t consider myself 100% recovered, and I love your 99.9% version. Having struggled so much with an eating disorder myself, I am more then happy and proud if I were to be 99.9% recovered for the rest of my life. Not that I don’t want to strive for triple digits, but as long as I can enjoy my life stress-free from these issues and be in good physical health- that is all that matters to me <3.

    • So well said, Niki. Recovering from an ED is like recovering from a physical accident that leaves a scar— the scar is always there, and it reminds you of how painful things were, but you can still live your life. And you can live your life stronger and better prepared than before.

  7. Wow, what an amazing, amazing post. You are so spot on with everything you said. I struggled and am still slightly struggling with an eating disorder. And I say I’m still struggling because I feel like I’m 90% recovered. And honestly I don’t know that I’ll ever even reach that 99.9% either. It’s all a process. I think an eating disorder is something that will always stay with you. And that’s not all bad. It’s good to know and keep in mind what you went through that made you come out stronger.

  8. Having dealt with an eating disorder or not, I think this is something EVERYONE relates to. We’re always going to wonder if we’re caring or not caring enough about what we eat/how we workout. I also think you have to experience both extremes to truly comprehend what ‘balance’ feels like for you.
    It seems like most women in the blog world have been on both sides of the pendulum and eventually, it balances out somewhere in the middle.

  9. I would like to forever remain an optimist and think full recovery is totallypossible, but in reality I think it will always be around 99.9%. But, I think that’s purely because of the wealth of information out there that we exposed ourselves too. Like you said, we can’t unlearn calories or macros we read about online. Right now in my own recovery I think it is just about staying mindful and recognising restrictive and negative thoughts and not allowing them to take over. I think it’s just as much a mental balancing act as it is a physical one. Recovery is probably then a more life long journey. Loved hearing your thoughts about this topic, and the openness with which you write!

    • Mhmm. There is so much info about fitness and food out there that we’ve crammed into our brains religiously over many months/years, so it’s basically impossible to let go of that completely. Just as with any fear, you’re right— we just need to acknowledge the restrictive thoughts and firmly push them aside. Thanks for your thoughts, Amy!

  10. Something I haven’;t told you (or have I?!) is that I get a fair few emails advising me of good blogs for ED recovery or showcase a true perspective on it and you know I send them this way. 99.9% is accurate and damn, something to be proud of.

    Be proud of this blog and what people associate with it- You have no idea how many people you are helping subconsciously who don’t speak up.

  11. I loved reading this! It’s so hard in today’s world not to be thinking about health, especially after disordered eating of any sort. Being recovered myself, I guess you could say, I have to check in with myself a lot to ensure that my decisions are actually intuitive and not being influenced by other things. I often wonder if real balance exists or not because I fluctuate so much. That being said I guess as long as I feel good and my body is responding well to how I treat it than that would be as balanced as I could get. ❤

    • Great point— the intuitive eating and mindful choices sort of mesh together. A lot of bloggers have made the awesome point that mindful eating (usually in regards to eating MORE than you really feel like eating) IS indeed a part of intuitive eating. But it does all come down to how you’re feeling, just as you said.

  12. Couldn’t have said it better so I won’t even attempt to. I completely agree Alison and I am incredibly proud and inspired by how far you have come. I only wish to be strong and courageous as you. Every day you encourage me with your wisdom and humor. You are a gem and I’m one lucky girl to have me you. Keep doing you boo😉because you are pretty darn fabulous 😘💗

  13. My nutritionist and I just had a conversation very similar to this one today! I was telling her how I still think more than the normal person does (I think) about the food that I’m putting in to my body, and I think you’ve put into words what I was trying to explain a few hours ago. Although the hard days and meals are rare and getting rarer, I still struggle occasionally. I think 99.9% recovered is a wonderful way of describing the place where I find myself at this moment. Thank you for this insightful post!

    • That’s so awesome, Molly. The times when I realize I think about food a little more than ‘normal’ people is when I’m with my friends. Their ability to eat when hungry and stop when full, no matter what they’re eating, is so cool to me. It seems so simple (intuitive eating as they call it 😉 ), but that’s something that we’ve unfortunately lost in our EDs.

  14. First, this blog is all about YOU. Write about whatever pleases you or is stuck in your head. Second, you are incredibly authentic, and I love when you share your more vulnerable thoughts. It’s extremely courageous of you to do so, and you are growing so much.

    I like to think I am 90% recovered. I don’t know if I will ever be 100% recovered, but you can bet that I will spend the rest of my life striving for full remission. If it’s out there, I will achieve it.

    Lots of love. ❤

    • Thanks so much for your support and inspiration, Julia. I can tell you that I 100% believe that, with your willpower, faith, and strength, you absolutely CAN reach full remission. And you’re helping thousands of other in their journeys to reach that point too, including myself. ♥

  15. You should be so immensely proud for getting to 99.9%. (At this point I’d take 51% to be a huge sign of progress.) Does it matter if that 0.1% lingers? Maybe, maybe not. But my opinion and hope is that 100% is completely possible. You are relatively new to recovery in the scheme of bigger timeframes (i.e., your life). It might just take some more time and practices. Yes, some injuries and surgeries leave a scar-but I have had plenty of scars I thought would never fade, and eventually, they did.
    You say that those with EDs may have even more of a struggle with the ‘normal’ food and weight struggles. But what if that means those in ED recovery have an advantage? Recovery makes you so much more aware of the futility of it all. Most ‘normal’ people never learn to look at the feelings behind their actions the way we do in recovery-it’s truly a rare skill.

  16. I love this post, best I have read in a long time. So honest and real, which is how you always come across and I know readers (including myself) appreciate that. I do think 100% recovery is possible with all of my heart. I think I am 100% recovered because the only slip-up thoughts I have are more in line with people who are “normal” eaters and always have been. If that makes sense. For a long time, I too felt 99% recovered because on occasion I would have disordered thoughts. Now, I occasionally just have normal person who is in our society thoughts, not even close to how they were when I had a disorder. Not sure if that makes sense, but that’s how I view it 🙂 And if one day I get to an even better place with food, maybe I will look back on today and realize I was still 99% recovered but I can’t imagine being at a better place with it right now. We both have so much to thank God for. ❤

  17. 99.99% recovered is exactly how I would describe myself. I’ve come so far–ordering gelato, taking a break from working out, eating a snack even though I’ve just eaten lunch–but some of the old thoughts never seem to go away completely. I geniunely enjoy exercising and eating healthy foods, so I’m listening to my body more when it comes to exercise and I’ve incorporated so many past fear foods into my diet. What becomes a problem is when I start remembering how many calories are in an apple or getting anxious when I can’t get to the gym even though I was “supposed” to. The huge difference between now and when I was suffering is that I recognize that those thoughts are irrational and not helping me. I shouldn’t give into that restriction or obessive exercise. Yes, some days are more difficult to power through than others, but now I know when one of my old demons will pop up that I have the power to not give into disordered habits. We each control our recovery, and we each have the ability to succeed.

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  19. I am so incredibly proud of how far you have come Alison. Recovering from an eating disorder is a hard and strenuous battle. Sometimes it feels like you aren’t reaching your goal of being 100% recovered. In all honestly, I don’t think full 100% recovery is possible. I like to believe there is, but you nailed in on the head. There will always be that occasional inkling of disordered thoughts but that doesn’t give us a reason to push harder and achieve a healthier mindset.
    You are simply wonderful. Take care, sweet girl ❤

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  21. This is such a great post Alison – thanks for tackling such a hard topic! I’ve found myself wondering about this over the years. I think that when you’re dealing with an eating disorder, you’re dealing with an amalgamation of factors – but since it’s a mental illness, a lot of it comes from brain chemistry and quite possibly genetics – is it possible to be 100% free of that? I think that full recovery is achievable, but I think that after an eating disorder you have to be aware of your past and be ‘on guard’ for the possibility of restrictive behaviours. I mean, I’ve accepted the fact that I’m probably going to think about food and/or health more than the average person, but I can do so in a non-disordered way….but does thinking about health at all mean that the highest you can go in recovery is 99.9%? Or is that normal in today’s diet-driven society that tends to reward people based on looks? It’s hard to figure out, for sure.

  22. I identify with this in so many ways. Even after a hear and a half of being “recovered” there are still those hard days that remind me that recovery isn’t easy, and it takes constant self-reminders. All of us have to fight to remember that recovery is worth it, even if we’re only successful 99.9% of the time.

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