Am I stuck in Quasi Recovery?

by Health

You’ve committed to your recovery journey. You’ve restored your weight, reduced your excessive exercise, stopped restricting and tracking your calorie intake, and even reintroduced a bunch of fear foods. You feel like you’ve made huge progress since beginning your recovery journey. But are you truly recovered?

What is quasi recovery?

So many people get stuck at this very point. It’s called quasi recovery, and there’s a reason it’s always referred to alongside the word “stuck”. Quasi recovery is the point at which you’re able to “trick” yourself into believing you’ve fully recovered, so you stop progressing and working towards true freedom. Oftentimes, your body will have “fully recovered”, but your mind hasn’t yet arrived at the same point, and continues to struggle to overcome disordered thoughts and habits.

So be honest with yourself and hold yourself accountable. If you’re still steering clear of some foods, hiding your body in baggy clothes, avoiding mirrors, analysing nutrition labels, body checking, or spending an excessive amount of your day thinking about food or exercise, you may well be in quasi recovery. 

This is so common and normal, so before you get down on yourself, recognise how important it is that you’ve acknowledged where you’re at. Now, you can continue on your journey to full recovery – true freedom awaits!

How do I know if I’m stuck in quasi recovery?

  • Do you still feel the need to compensate when you eat your fear foods? Do you indulge in a donut, but have a salad for dinner to make up for it?
  • Do you tell yourself you “don’t like” certain foods, to justify avoiding them?
  • Do you sometimes revert back to old habits and patterns, yet still consider yourself recovered?
  • Are you still terrified of weight gain, even though you’ve “tolerated” the need to restore weight on your recovery journey?

There are so many warning signs to suggest you could be in quasi recovery, but the key question to consider is this: if you’re truly honest with yourself, while your body may be (mostly) recovered, is your mind there yet?

The rest of the world may consider you “recovered” once you’ve gained a certain amount of weight, restored your menstrual cycle, and are able to go about life in a relatively normal way, but this is not the criteria for a full recovery. You’re no longer at your worst, physically or mentally, but you’re also not at your best – so why stop there?!

If you have any rules, restrictions, or routines still in place which are bringing up fears or negative thoughts and patterns, the job is not yet done!

How is quasi recovery keeping me stuck?

The problem with quasi recovery is that often the things keeping you “stuck” in this space are invisible. There’s no longer a straightforward way to keep yourself physically accountable after you’ve restored your weight, making it easier to lie to yourself and those around you about where you’re really at.

In fact, often you’ll hear comments from loved ones at this point saying how “healthy” you look and act, reaffirming to you that these disordered patterns which still exist are normal! And this is definitely not the case… In reality, your friends and family are often just so relieved to see improvements in your behaviour, which can then warp your view of normality and healthy habits.

This makes you much more likely to stop here, and accept your progress as “the best it’s going to get.” And as a result, you take recovery off our list of goals and priorities. But this is not the case! While your world may have broadened, your connections with others deepened, and your relationship with yourself improved, the best is yet to come. And this is something to feel excited about, not afraid of!

The key concern around quasi recovery is that, if the disordered behaviours aren’t fully eradicated, it’s highly likely they’ll find their way back into your life at some point… You can become complacent, and stop actively working towards full recovery, meaning you overlook disordered habits when they arise (or pretend to ourselves that they don’t exist). Any big life stresses, whether it’s a relationship breakdown, a job loss, or even just feeling overwhelmed or busy, can trigger old behaviours and send you sliding straight back into old habits as a means of controlling your negative emotions or stress.

So if you truly want to prevent this happening, it’s time to be honest with yourself and recommit to the process. There is still work to be done.

How can I move beyond quasi recovery?

1. Recommit

So many people find themselves in quasi recovery for years, because they’re so reluctant to admit to themselves or others that they’re not quite where they thought they were in their recovery journey. Be honest with yourself, and make the commitment to dive back into your recovery, whatever that requires.

Yes, there will be more challenges, tears, obstacles, fears and emotions that arise, but at the end of the day this is your ticket to living a fully recovered life – one of freedom, joy and peace!

If you can recognise this, you’ll know the short-term pain is worth the long-term gain of truly living your best life. So dive in, and give it everything you’ve got. Seek support, ask for help, and find yourself a team of health professionals or a community of supportive like-minded people, like Recovery Club, to cheer you on and help you through both the good and the bad times.

2. Recognise that recovery isn’t black and white.

So often we talk about going “all in” with recovery. We view it as an “all-or-nothing” journey, during which you’re in the grasp of an eating disorder, or you’re fully recovered. But there is a grey area on the spectrum, and this is where quasi recovery lies.

Yes, being fully committed is key to recovery, but it’s a process to completely rewire your brain and habits. You’re working towards a point where you can eat freely and unrestrictedly, accept your body shape and size, rest from exercise without needing to compensate, and not spend the majority of your day fixating on thoughts around food and exercise. This is a huge undertaking! So don’t expect it to happen overnight.

Celebrate your wins along the journey, and pick yourself up from any challenges you face. You do have the potential and the opportunity to fully recover, but you have to accept and be okay with the fact it will be hard, there will be both wins and losses, and it will take time. Just remember, it’s all worth it in the end.

3. Define what true freedom looks like for you.

It’s time to pause and reevaluate your “why”, and exactly what you hope to achieve when you reach full recovery. This is completely individual, but some goals to consider include:

  • I want to open up my world and my mind, so I have more space to think about and be interested in things outside of food and exercise
  • I want to regain my period
  • I want to find joy and pleasure in eating again
  • I want to be able to go out for a meal with friends and family without fear or anxiety, and be present with them
  • I want to stop criticising my body and defining my self-worth by how I look
  • I want to deepen my connections with loved ones by being more present and open
  • I want to feel gratitude for my body and the many things it allows me to do
  • I want to restore my connection with my body
  • I want to feel more energised and less fatigued, and learn how to nourish my body properly
  • I want to be okay with rest, and recognise the importance of taking time to rest and recover often
  • I want to learn to exercise for joy, not as punishment or a means of “earning” my food
  • I want to reintroduce my fear foods, and give myself unconditional permission to eat and enjoy all foods whenever I want them
  • I want to reestablish my identity outside of food and exercise, and remember who I am and what’s most important to me
  • I want to feel peace, freedom and joy in my life – and not be governed by food or exercise any longer!

These are just some of an endless list of reasons to fight for true recovery. Being clear on your goals and motivations behind your recovery journey gives you the motivation and fuel to push through the harder times, and truly reach the point of full recovery.

Every single one of us is worthy of FULL recovery. And we’re all capable of getting there. It just takes commitment, hard work, perseverance and honesty with yourself. Are you ready to commit?

If so, join us in Recovery Club for all the support, tools and strategies you need to truly commit to your recovery. You’ll be joined by like-minded, inspiring recovery warriors cheering you on every step of the way!

Join Us in Recovery Club

Ready to achieve the full recovery you deserve? If so, join us in Recovery Club for all the support, tools and strategies you need to truly commit to your recovery. You’ll be joined by like-minded, inspiring recovery warriors cheering you on every step of the way! With weekly content, group coaching calls, community challenges and so much more you’ll be sure to keep moving forward in recovery.

Sarah King

Sarah King

Hi future friends, I’m Sarah King, an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and health coach.

Science, not trends is the foundation of my approach. By nourishing the body and mind with scientific facts we can build foundations for a life of realness, not just wellness.