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Eating Disorder Recovery: YES You Can Conquer This Print

Inspiring ED Recovery Story for World Eating Disorder Action Day June 2

 

Female power lifter Erika Stark in a squatJune 2 is World Eating Disorder Action Day a grassroots movement designed for and by people affected by an eating disorder, their families, and the medical and health professionals who support them. Uniting activists across the globe, the aim is to expand global awareness of eating disorders as genetically linked, treatable illnesses that can affect anyone. The Fourth Annual World Eating Disorders Action Day will take place on 2 June 2019 across the globe. This year our focus is “Eating Disorders Can’t Afford to Wait”!

 

For more information on 4 common myths about eating disorders read our previous blog post here: Eating Disorder Myths.

 

To help inspire you that recovery is indeed possible please read this story from one of our previous clients below:

 

Eating Disorder Recovery Story from Powerlifter Erika Stark

 

For the last three years, the bulk of my life has centred around the scale and my food intake. I’m a competitive powerlifter, which is a sport that includes weight classes. This past season, I decided I wanted to cut to the 63 kg weight class – I usually walk around comfortably at about 68 kg, and I felt that I had the chance to be more competitive if I competed as a 63 kg.

My whole life became about how much I weighed, and how much I ate.

If I woke up half a pound lighter, I felt like a champion. My whole life was numbers: how much water have I had? How long has it been since I ate? How much fat is left in today? How much have I trained today? I existed in a completely black and white world where I felt I had to be perfect, or I would fail. But I kept going, because in my mind, this was the only way I could achieve my goals.

When I woke up on meet day last June, it felt like it was all worth it. And for that day, it was. The sacrifices I’d made had paid off, and I was ready to go. I had an incredible meet, hitting all-time personal records in two of my lifts. I was on top of the world.

 

But very quickly, I found myself at rock bottom.

Image with text for world eating disorder day with purple ribbon

In theory, after cutting for a meet, you’re supposed to “reverse diet” back up to a regular amount of food, and then maintain there until it’s time to cut down again for the next meet. That’s not how it turned out for me.

I’d existed in an environment of food scarcity for so long that I was now terrified of being hungry, of restricting, of telling myself no. I entered a vicious cycle where I would vow to myself that I’d stick to the plan, and then something would happen to upset that plan. Something as simple as having an extra cookie that put me over my macros would result in me completely throwing in the towel for that day; after all, I’d “ruined” my diet already, so why stop there? Then I’d binge on snacks or other food, and would often immediately purge after. I’d wake up the next day, feeling miserable but ready to make the day better. And it would repeat. I couldn’t escape from my black and white approach to nutrition.

In my mind, if I didn’t follow my food plan exactly, I was a failure. I was less of an athlete. I wasn’t dedicated enough to achieve my goals. I wasn’t good enough. I would never be good enough. Those negative feelings in turn made me cling harder to my nutrition plan.

This cycle continued for months, until I finally realized that something had to change. When I first started working with my eating disorder Dietitian at Health Stand Nutrition earlier this year, I’ll admit I was very skeptical about what I’d be hearing. Despite all I’d been dealing with, I was still CONVINCED that the only way to be successful as an athlete (or anyone with any kind of physical or aesthetic goals) was to track everything and be perfect. I thought any kind of intuitive eating was a fancy way of saying “just give up and stop trying,” and that anything less than perfection just meant that I wasn’t as good of or as dedicated an athlete as “all the other girls who seem to be totally fine tracking their lives away.”

Over four months, my eating disorder Dietitian and I slowly chipped away at my black-and-white approach to nutrition. Not only was I learning how to manage an eating disorder, I was also tasked with uncoupling my self-worth from my weight. I had to learn to respect my body again, to listen to it, and rebuild my trust in it. It was uncomfortable, and it was hard. I’m pretty sure the first five or six sessions we had together started with me asking, “so how do I know if I’m doing this right?” But eventually I learned that it’s okay to exist in these shades of grey, where decisions and behaviours exist in a spectrum rather than as a good/bad binary.

During our time together, my life has genuinely changed for the better in so many ways. I think I’m finally at the stage of body respect AND acceptance. My relationship with my partner has improved immensely, my physical fitness and recovery is the best it’s been and my mindset is mostly positive. I am catching myself before snap judgments (either self-judgments or judging of others) become full fledged thoughts that I act on or internalize.

I can make waffles on Sunday morning without feeling like I need to not eat for the rest of the day. I can walk away from my plate when I’m full because I know that if I want another waffle later, I can have another waffle! I can dive into our favourite chicken fingers off Skip the Dishes – but know that I’ll feel better and less crampy afterwards if I only have a few fries rather than the whole serving. It’s an active choice I’m making, one that’s fueled by positivity and trust in what my body needs, rather than guilt or shame.

 

Every so often I’ll hear the voice of my eating disorder in my head, and most days it’s pretty easy to ignore it. And when it’s persistent, I have a toolbox of coping mechanisms that can help me to overcome the urges to binge, purge or restrict.

What’s more, my own experiences and successes have acted as a catalyst for my own career goals and aspirations. I’m continuing to read and learn and develop my own knowledge and skills around both movement and nutrition, and it’s my hope that I will eventually be able to do my part as a strength and nutrition coach in helping other people find a little bit more peace when it comes to movement, food, and all of the external pressures that seem to make those things so much more complex than they need to be.

I cannot accurately put into words how much the last four months of working with my eating disorder Nutritionist at Health Stand Nutrition has meant to me.

 

Everything is different now. And everything is SO much better.

 

Sincerely,

Erika Stark

 

Read more inspiring ED recovery stories here:

Eating Disorder Recovery Success Stories

Looking for support from an eating disorder Dietitian for ED recovery for yourself or a family member?

Female power lifter Erika Stark in a squat

Contact us so we can arrange a private call to discuss your history and our in-person and virtual nutrition counselling services. We get it. We understand you want to recover from your eating disorder but are scared to let go at the same time. This is because we’ve worked as Eating Disorder Dietitians with clients that have food and body image struggles since we started our practice back in the year 2000. We specialize in nutrition counseling for anorexia, bulimia, ARFID and binge eating disorder and can work collaboratively with your doctor and therapist to support you in recovery. Find out more about our eating disorder help here: Eating Disorder Dietitian Online & In-person

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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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