5 tips for getting started in eating disorder or hypothalamic amenorrhea recovery
Starting your recovery journey can feel scary and overwhelming. While it’s the most rewarding, worthwhile decision you’ll ever make, it’s also a difficult one. After all, you’re introducing an immense amount of change to the rules and routines you’ve lived by for such a long time, and as humans we’re programmed to actively avoid any change or discomfort that comes our way! So while it’s absolutely normal and understandable to feel fearful, anxious, stressed and overwhelmed when starting out on your recovery journey, you can get through these feelings, and commit to the process. We’re sharing our top five tips to help you do so!
1. Start before you’re ready.
First things first, stop delaying. Stop waiting for the “right” time, or a “good” time to begin your road to recovery. Here’s the hard truth: you’ll never feel fully ready to recover. As we mentioned, recovery means change, fear and discomfort. But you’re inherently inclined to avoid change – even if it means staying stuck in damaging, negative habits and patterns. This inclination means you’ll always feel some level of resistance when you try to create change in your life – particularly when it’s change in such a significant, impactful part of your life.
You shouldn’t wait to feel “ready” to begin your recovery journey. Just as you shouldn’t wait to look or feel “sick enough” to get help and support.
When so much of your life revolves around food, exercise, your body, enforcing changes in these areas will always feel scary and hard. But that’s okay! Just dive into the deep end, and trust the process. Know that you can do it, and you are capable and strong enough to push past the resistance and the discomfort. And just start. Stop waiting, or the day will never come. The time is now.
If you’re struggling to commit to recovery, listen to my podcast on how to do so here.
2. Ask for support.
Asking for support is so important on your recovery journey. You don’t need to do it alone – in fact, it’s so much more difficult, isolating and lonely when you try to. It’s time to recognise that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, but instead a show of strength, vulnerability and courage.
Finding a team of health professionals who can support you and provide you with the tools and information you need to progress in recovery is crucial. The fact is, you can’t know everything you need to do in order to recover – or you would have done so already! You need a team behind you who gives you advice and help, holds you accountable, and keeps you motivated when you need it most.
And reach out to your loved ones for support too! Speak to a trusted friend, partner or family member and share with them how you’re feeling, and what you’re working towards. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help with whatever you need along the way. Sometimes you might need a shoulder to cry on, other times you might need some tough love, so whatever it may be, just ask! The people who love you want to help you, and see you happy and healthy, so let them be there for you! You are never alone on this journey.
Need some help figuring out how to approach your loved ones and talk to them about your recovery journey? Listen to this podcast episode.
3. Lean into the discomfort.
Nothing changes if nothing changes. Read that again. Yes, recovery is challenging and hard at times. But you’ve committed to being here, and to showing up for yourself so that you can live the life you dream of.
Unlearning all the rules, restrictions and routines you’ve built up over months or even years of disordered eating and exercise is tough. Dealing with food guilt, along with weight gain and body changes can be confronting and scary. It takes work, patience and commitment. There will be times you want to throw in the towel, and revert back to old patterns. But this is simply discomfort and fear, holding you back and keeping you “stuck”.
Be stronger than the discomfort. Embrace it. Know that you are strong enough to get through to the other side – and when you do, that’s where the real change happens!
Things like body changes and weight gain will be difficult. But you’ll learn how to sit through the fear and the resistance, and feel safe and empowered in the knowledge that you can do this, you can sit through the difficult emotions, and emerge on the other side. Nothing bad will happen. What you’re fighting for is worth persevering and persisting through the discomfort, in order to create the change you want to see.
4. Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s.
In a society where we endlessly compare ourselves to those around us, there will always be the temptation to compare your recovery journey to other people’s. There are so many sneaky ways we compare ourselves to others in recovery. Whether you find yourself analysing how long it’s taking you, compared to how quick it was for someone else, or how much weight you had to gain compared to the person next to you, or how you experienced more ups and downs and challenges than the person you follow on social media, all of this is completely irrelevant.
In truth, every single person’s journey to recovery looks completely different. Everyone moves at their own pace, takes a different amount of time, encounters different obstacles along the way. It doesn’t matter how anyone else’s journey looks, the only thing that matters is how yours looks.
Focus on your own lane, and your own progress and goals, and let everything else fade into the background. This is about YOU, and living the life YOU want to live. It’s about your goals and motivations, and making these a reality.
5. Show yourself compassion and kindness.
This is a difficult one, because most of us who are on the road to recovery have very little experience in showing ourselves compassion, kindness and understanding. It’s time to change that.
While you’re working towards recovery (and beyond!), it’s important to be kind to yourself. Remove the pressure and the expectations you’re so used to putting on yourself, and simply commit to showing up and doing the best you can every day. If you experience setbacks, slip ups or mistakes along the way, forgive yourself! And simply try again.
Try to talk to yourself like you would a friend or loved one – if someone you loved was struggling, would you tear them down further? Or would you be kind, empathetic, encouraging? Employ that same compassion when you talk to yourself – here’s how to do so.
Don’t give in to the cruel, nasty disordered thoughts that come up. Because you are not your thoughts. Choose to be stronger than the disordered voice in your head, and speak to yourself with love and compassion. You’re doing the best you can, and that is always enough.
Above all, when you begin your recovery journey, always remember your ‘why’. The reason you committed to the process in the first place. Let your ‘why’ guide you through the ups and downs along the way, and keep you committed and determined, even when it feels difficult. And remember, you’re never alone – help is always available to you!
So dive in, even if you’re not quite “ready” to do so, and reclaim control, freedom and joy in your life! It’s the most rewarding decision you’ll ever make – and there’s no time like NOW!
Need some help on your recovery journey? Sign up for our next round of Healing HA for all the targeted and effective tools and strategies you need every step of the way.
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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.