Monday, 28 October 2013

Healthy Weight Loss After an Eating Disorder.

****TRIGGER WARNING**** Weight, BMI and ED behaviours mentioned.

As some of you may know, I have been purge free for the last year now (can I get a whoop whoop!) which is a HUGE personal achievement after years of bulimia ruling my every waking hour. The only thing is, I unfortunately am still not 100% ED behaviour free. I am still over eating and sometime binging, although nowhere near as frequently as before now I don't have a 'release', a way to 'get rid' of that post binge, horrible full feeling. None-the-less all that chomping on cream cakes and late night pizza parties have taken a toll on my body, my health and on my emotional well-being.

I knew my clothes size had gone up but I had gotten used to it going up after re-feeding. So I was NOT prepared to be told my BMI was in the overweight section during a recent Dr visit. I was shocked. She recommended cutting back on the sweet stuff and taking up exercise. 

In the last two years I have gone from being under weight for my height; bringing with it all the negative health risks that go along with that, to being over weight for my height, which has brought about some unexpected twists to my long list of maladies. My blood pressure is now high for the first time ever, I have nasty stretch marks on my legs and boobs. My iron levels are all over the place and cant make it up a flight of stairs without feeling like my heart is going to explode. 

Now I must say that I am not obese or anywhere near that category on the BMI scale (not a reliable scale I know, but I use it from time to time) I am just tipping into the overweight category. I'm super tall (5''11) so I tend to carry weight easily without knowing it, especially if I am not weighing myself, which I haven't as it used to be a major trigger in the past.

My Dr and I came up with a plan. Go to weekly weight watcher meetings, do one fitness class a week and get back running twice a week also. And also check in with her monthly to discuss any returning ED thoughts or behaviours. She also singed me up to an 8 week mindfulness programme to re-assert myself with awareness skills which will allow me to notice any negative thoughts creeping back in. A solid plan I think. My team believe in letting me make my own choices, including how I life my life. I love how they don't coddle me or insult my intelligence. I told them that I felt I could trust myself not to take the weight loss to the extreme and they agreed with me.

So I joined my local weight watchers last Thursday and found it really motivating. I've been cooking healthy home-made meals everyday from scratch, taking into account all the food groups and incorporating knowledge I learned from nutrition sessions over the years. Nothing is off limits, just eating in moderation. My goal weight gets me down into low end of the healthy weight BMI section. 

I'm back to tracking my daily food intake and now add values to everything I eat in the form of weight watcher pro points. The Weight Watchers program is based on a points system. Food items are assigned a point value, and based on your current weight you are given a daily allowance of points to consume. Weight Watchers also encourages a continuing education in nutrition through weekly meetings, which also offer support and accountability. The Weight Watchers program encourages slow and steady weight loss, but like any diet plan it has its dangers....

The main concept in the Weight Watchers diet is portion control and limiting the daily intake of calories. Each food item is given a point value based on the number of calories, fat and fiber it contains. Many vegetables have no points while a piece of pizza will have five or more, depending on the size and toppings. The problem with this system is that it recognizes points instead of the quality of those points. Two points is two points whether is a cookie or a small serving of low-fat cottage cheese with pineapple. The latter is the healthier choice, but the system sees them as equal. It is up to the individual to make healthy choices.

I have some peeves with adding these values to foods but I think I will do a different Blog entry on that though ... I can ramble a bit if you don't know!

Okay, so in the interest of accountability I am going to do a weekly weigh in on here to chart my weight loss. I do like a chart, I'm a numbers geek and proud of it. So here is week one.

Preview of your graph

I would really love to hear your thoughts on whether weight loss can be achieved in a healthy way when there is a history ED and disordered eating.

Stay mindful xxx


  1. Really interesting blog Andy!

    My two cents worth - I firmly believe that weight loss can be achieved in what is deemed to be a 'normal' method,despite a history of eating disorder.

    I think there are particular indicators which would raise *my* concerns about somebody being able to lose weight in a way that is safe & non-threatening, to the stage of their recovery. These include :

    -A history of OCD tendencies,especially if they featured in past eating behaviour

    -A lack of openness/failure to be truthful to divulge all information to the GP regarding the progress of Weight Watchers diet plan

    -Having a history of Anorexia,restricting type.

    -Commencing the diet plan at an active phase of their recovery

    If somebody qualified for any of the above I'd have doubts that about the necessity for them to diet,especially considering they are only borderline overweight to begin with.


    1. I completely agree with you Yvonne.
      Many of those points were given consideration when I decided to go on this weigh loss plan. I think many of my 'trigger' buttons will be tested in the coming weeks and i am very happy to have the mindfulness to help me notice these. I think its down to the individual and how stable their recovery is. Although I am still binging, I do consider myself recovered from both my anorexia and bulimia and I see the benefit of total transparency when it comes to communicating with my team. I feel i will be the first one to notice any recurving negative thoughts which could lead to behaviours. and trust me. I NEVER want to be back there, EVER. I dont see ED as a way to deal with my emotions anymore thankfully since starting therapy.

    2. reading that alone gives such a good indication of your of luck with it all luvie - you can continue with your recovery and face these extra challenges in the process and i bet you might even come out stronger!! xxxx

  2. Directing my comment at you though - it's obvious that you've been working really hard at recovery and striving for wellness and I doubt that you'd put that in jeopardy.I think as long as you can talk about this openly and honestly you shouldn't have problems. I do hope though that you won't become too fixated by Weight Watchers or any other diet at that. XxXx

  3. Hi, Weight Watchers doesn't accept people with an active diagnosis of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. You've been purge-free for a year so I'm guessing this means that you don't have an active diagnosis of bulimia nervosa at present.

    Weight Watchers has an alternative programme called "Filling and Healthy" for people that don't like counting points all the time. It has a list of healthy foods that you can eat from on a daily basis ("regular foods"/healthy foods).

    Then you're also given an optional points allowance to use on treats ("occasional foods"/things like chocolate, wine etc). You don't have to use the optional points if you don't want to but the option is there. You can eat 3 meals a day and snack on fruit and vegetables if you're hungry. It recommends that you eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full.

    There's also a tool have a tool to check how hungry you are (not sure if Weight Watchers still do this) called a hunger scale that goes from 0-5..0 is starving, 1 is hungry, 2 is a bit hungry, 3 is satisfied, 4 is full and 5 is overfull. It's recommended that you stay around 3-that you feel satisfied..not too full but not too hungry either..just right.

    Weight Watchers also have healthy habits that are really important to adopt too. One of them is managing your emotions-i.e. recognizing the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger.

    There's also a section in the Weight Watchers handbook that is about good eating habits-eating fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, the different types of fat, limiting sugar and alcohol, eating lean protein and protein alternatives. Yes, counting points is a form of portion control but it's also important to eat a wide variety of foods from all the main food groups for health purposes. It can be easy to stick to the same types of food all the time but this can cause you to become bored and essentially "rebel" on the diet so it's good to keep things mixed up.

    I notice that you mention that a cookie has the same points as cottage cheese. That's true however you would be able to eat more of the cottage cheese than the cookie. The cottage cheese has a lower energy density and will keep you fuller for longer. That's why cottage cheese is on the Filling and Healthy food list whereas cookies aren't. Any foods that are highlighted in green in your handbook are filling and healthy foods.

    I realize that Weight Watchers can be abused like any other diet so read through your handbook that you've been given from cover to cover. Make sure that you understand it all and follow it to the letter. If you have any questions, speak to your Weight Watchers leader at the end of the meeting.

  4. i am proud of you Andy! Really hope you will get where you want to be. Not just with your weight and fitness but with your overall health. Best of luck to you <3 You deserve to enjoy life and be happy with who you are.

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