Recovery from an Eating Disorder without the weight gain

I think I am not alone in saying that getting better without gaining weight or changing what I was eating was something which I have desperately searched for. I wanted to find that place where I could have both the positives of the illness and the ability to experience the positives of everyday life.

I have learnt that place doesn’t exist. Sometimes I forget that I know that and go out searching for that place again, determined that it is possible; unwilling and unable to finally accept the devastating reality that it isn’t.

Those times of searching are getting shorter and further apart.

And here I am, having called off the search party, having settled on the reality that place doesn’t exist.

I have battled through the weight gain, I have allowed my body to maintain a healthy weight, I have eaten and I have started to live life. But what is recovery beyond those ESSENTIAL building blocks? Is it possible to describe recovery from Anorexia without mentioning what is necessary and essential but rather what makes the essential things possible?

It will be different for everyone but for me…..

Recovery goes so far beyond food and weight. It is the most complicated, muddled, messy and painful experience to express let alone to live. It is about changing the way I interact externally with the world around me and changing how I interact internally with myself. It is integrating compassion, compromise and imperfection into EVERY ASPECT of my life despite those things going against everything I’ve ever learnt about how to protect myself. It is living in a way that is gentle on myself when society has a sick admiration for those who ignore their bodies and minds. It is putting myself first. It is being utterly scared, directionless and lost. It is wanting to go back but having to trust that there is another way. It is uncertainty. It is vulnerability.

It is the hardest and best thing. It is letting go slowly and changing slowly until, for the first time, I get the positives of everyday life without needing to have an Eating Disorder  in tow.

Recovery isn’t what I imagined,







Recovery from an Eating Disorder without the weight gain

Guilt, weight gain and the recovering body

I am ashamed and guilty. It comes over me in waves and it makes me want to run away from myself. This body (which has taken months of nurturing, patience and courage to heal) repulses me and I want to hide it and the physically obvious care that I have shown it.

I feel judged, vulnerable and unsafe in a body which is cared for and healthy. Fundamentally I am uncomfortable with the idea of looking after myself and even more embarrassed by the idea that anyone else will be able to see that I am doing so.

I fear getting hurt; I fear I am becoming ‘too big’- OVER confident and TOO much. I pin it down on to my body because the waves of self loathing are easier to direct onto something measurable.

But the truth is that I haven’t learnt to fully trust that it is ok (and incredibly necessary) to nurture and respect myself DESPITE what the Eating Disorder says.

Rather than getting lost in a focus on weight, shape and measurements I choose to carry on, I choose to turn away from over simplifications and I choose to believe that by doing so, one day I might feel worthy of the care and respect I am showing myself in the process.

Recovery is the hardest thing we are likely to have to ever face. If there was ever time to treat yourself gently, it is when you feel the least able to.

Hugs and courage from a fellow traveller,



Guilt, weight gain and the recovering body

BMI targets and stages of Anorexia recovery

Is it important to have a target weight in recovery?

Some people, professionals included, would say that the answer is yes. Those people argue that having a safe BMI is paramount to being physically safe (it’s all in the name) being able to think straight (should we say emotionally safer)  and having a healthy goal to aim for.

I can see the benefits of this but for me, the most important part of Eating Disorder recovery is recognising that Eating Disorder recovery is not about the numbers (or in fact about food) and if we adopt that strategy we are running the risk of feeding into the illness (Pardon the pun!)

How I see it, Eating Disorder recovery in which weight restoration is a factor is a staged process. This is how it was for me, obviously it might be different for others….

Stage 1

Committing to the idea of recovery and that weight restoration is a part of this picture. If you aren’t committed or open to the possibility, then you aren’t going to restore your weight or recover. Fact.

Stage 2

Tentative change. Small initial steps. Small goals.

Stage 3

Shifting your focus onto what a healthier body will give you. Reaching life and weight goals and hanging out there for a bit (or realising there will never be a time when it feels right and moving to…)

Stage 4

Re-committing to new goals; weight or otherwise.  Start building a different life for yourself. Start recognising that holding your weight at a particular place (healthy or otherwise) means that you have less flexibility to do the muddy, beautiful mess that is life.

Stage 5

Accepting the idea that weight is fluid, changeable and irrelevant to the person you are or are becoming. Reaching a healthy weight. Living, living and more living. Ups, downs and all the in-betweens.


It isn’t a linear process. I have to commit, re-commit and re-commit again and again. I move backwards and forwards between the stages. I get scared. I find courage from somewhere. I get scared all over again.

I am going for full recovery from this illness. It’s going to be a fight but one which I am committed (and have re-committed to on multiple occasions so far and expect to have to do so again!) to. My weight is irrelevant in this battle; but I am going to maintain a healthy BMI (There is no escaping this one) but I would also like to point out that I’ve been unwell at a healthy BMI so in short….

Recovery is so much more than BMI but you need for your body to be healthy. If having BMI goals helps you to take those first steps than go for it but at some point, if you feel brave enough and stable enough to let your body lead the way then take the leap. Life is better when you are free.

Love and hope,





BMI targets and stages of Anorexia recovery