When you hear “consistency is key,” it’s one of those cliches that makes you turn your brain off. You know what it means, you’ve heard it before, thus you don’t think about it further. But what if I told you there may be a new meaning to it you have never considered? There is another dimension that feeds into it and can radically change your perspective when it comes to weight loss, changing your body composition, and even overcoming an eating disorder, whatever that may be. And that is the fact that being CONSISTENT with your eating and exercise habits can lead to a newfound trust in yourself. A trust that can go so far as healing you from the destructive thoughts you are having with regards to food, to the point where those thoughts start to fade into the background. It won’t be a sudden change, but one day you’ll look back and think oh my gosh, I have not even had the urge to binge eat in 2 months!
Now, how does one start to be consistent, you ask. In my 10+ years dealing with my own personal disordered eating habits, the times I have actually succeeded in coming back from the worst of it all the way to my best self I have made a specific, measurable plan and stuck with it for AT LEAST 4 weeks. I would follow a nutrition plan that provided me with the required calories and macronutrients every day, measuring everything that I eat so there is no guesswork or internal debate. It may sound boring to you, but eventually once you have regained trust you can start varying your foods to make it interesting again. You may find that following a pre-set meal plan will take a load of stress off deciding what and how much to eat at every meal.
I have found that 4 weeks is the minimum amount of time that it takes for me to gain trust in my ability to fuel my body with the best and to realize that I have complete and autonomy and control over my cravings. If I have a sudden urge to binge I will look at it objectively, thinking well that must be because I have not eaten in 8 hours, or this is to be expected after the 4 hours of sleep I got last night. This is entirely different from my mental state during the worst of it. When I was in the dark throws of and ED mindset and I had a craving, my mind would start to spin at a million miles an hour. It would switch back and forth between extremes. One minute I would be set on satisfying my cravings in the moment and as quickly as possible (my body was calorie and nutrient deprived, after all). The next I would be figuring out how to minimize damage of the binge and how I would make up for it tomorrow when I would “restart.” Soon after I would be researching new diet programs between meal courses, attempting to shut out the reality of what I had just done. Then, of course, the flood of guilt, shame, and regret, lasting at least 48 hours. Sometimes I would follow up with a “fast” the next day, which sometimes got me back on track but sometimes lead to further binges–my defenses were low.
Binge eating is a terribly difficult thing to deal with, but it becomes 10,000x worse when you work yourself into a state of hysteria. Dark, self-blaming thoughts weigh down on you heavily and probably control 50% of your daily thoughts. This is not any way to live and you are TOTALLY CAPABLE of beating it!!! Becoming aware of the causes of your cravings are key in solving them and creating better habits. All I can ask is that sharing my experiences can have some ounce of good, spreading hope, light, and possibility for people in a place where it can be very hard to decipher. Stay tuned for more posts on how I recovered from disordered eating and binge eating in particular.