I thought I would write a honest blog that may help some people step towards accepting themselves. When you have been through a stage in your life when you have restricted your food intake and have battled to come out the other side, you come to learn that the voices in your head don’t go away as easily as you thought. I speak for myself in saying, I thought I was completely alone in this. I thought, one day, I would never have controlling, doubtful thoughts, I thought this was what normal is, but as time goes on, I come to think it isn’t. It is possible to overcome the controlling thoughts and be stronger than them, but they don’t ever completely disappear, you just learn how to deal with them. They don’t have the same domineering power they once did, they don’t control you like they used to, but they still have a presence. Restrictive and controlling thoughts will pop up, but we learn to acknowledge them without letting them take control. But how do we do this, and what do we do when they do pop up?
As time goes on, whilst your mind still reminds you that it’s controlling powers are still there, you develop methods of dealing with them when they arise. These mechanisms may be different for everyone, but they act as your own way of ensuring your behaviour does not spiral out of control. A method I frequently use, is positive self talk. I find this a helpful way of regathering my thoughts when they start to run away with themselves. If my mind starts to tell me to eat less, I reverse the thought. I positively keep telling myself the importance of eating a sufficient amount. When my mind says eat less, I tell myself to eat more than whatever it is suggesting. Sometimes, it may tell me not to have anything to eat after dinner, but I always actively do the opposite. I tell myself to eat some sort of dessert, even if my mind is telling me otherwise.
Mindfulness can also be a beneficial thing to do. Whether this is listening to a tape, going on a walk, or recognising nature's beauty, putting time aside to bring your thoughts to the present moment can help stop them from drifting. This can be an extremely important thing to incorporate into your day. Just taking a little bit of time to yourself to focus on the now, rather than letting your thoughts get carried away and spiral into worry. I find, if I am in a calm headspace, I have more strength to do what I know is right, rather than what the controlling thoughts say. Mindfulness allows you to come back to the present, ready to regain strength.
Remind yourself what matters.
When I can sense my mind telling me to control my intake, I quickly remind myself of what truly matters. To me that is running. I now know, if I want to succeed within the sport, I need to fuel myself properly so I have the energy to be able to train and race to the best of my ability. I can recognise that if I restrict my intake, my training will suffer. Not only will I have an insufficient amount of energy, but my recovery will be hindered which can increase the risk of injury. Whilst at times my mind may tell me to restrict what I’m eating, I am able to recognise the detrimental effect this could have on my performance now and in the future.
Recognise the signs.
When controlling thoughts reenter my mind, I know that there is more to them than I initially think. It isn’t necessarily the food itself or what I am eating that is causing the problem, but instead a sign of how I am feeling. If I feel I need to eat less, or not eat certain things, this I my mind telling me something is wrong. This usually indicates that there is more going on in my thoughts than I have recognised. Most of the time it is because I am worried or stressed about something else. In the past, I wasn’t strong enough to handle this and instead of recognising the signs and dealing with the problem, I did what my mind was telling me to do, restrict my eating. Now, I know, if my mind is telling me to control my intake, I shouldn’t do what it is telling, instead, I should recognise there is something else going on and deal with what is making me worry.
You are not alone.
Lastly, even though it may feel like it at the time, remind yourself, you are not alone. Even though you may be strong enough to not let your controlling thoughts take effect, it is ok for them to reappear at times. You aren’t alone in this. Even people who haven’t had difficulties with food feel tempted to control what they are eating at times. Those who have had such pasts and have managed to gain strength over their thoughts, also have controlling thoughts at times. You are not alone. I mean, if no-one else does think like this, I can say I do, so there is always another person.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!