By Laura Yamin, Guest Contributor
I struggled with my weight for most of my life. I tried every diet and failed miserably. My last resort was to begin purging my food. I became bulimic at 16.
I will be honest, it’s hard to comprehend the amount of rage and sadness I felt throughout those years of bulimia. I felt lost. On the outside, I tried to keep it together. I made sure I did well in school and had the right internships and right group of friends. I pretended nothing was wrong. On the inside, however, my life was crumbling.
I hit rock bottom throughout my 10-year tenure as bulimic. I didn’t think recovery was a possibility, therefore I didn’t look for it.
A moment of clarity led me to find a therapist who specializes in eating disorders to start my journey back to life. She advised me to go to group therapy along with individualized therapy twice a week. I followed her lead.
In group I discovered for the first time that it is possible to overcome this disease. The path wouldn’t be easy, but it is possible. Here are three lessons I learned from recovery journey.
1. Keep it Simple
Throughout my recovery, I believed I needed to follow rules and restrictions similar to the eating disorder. For example, I needed to go to as many group meetings as possible or I had to eat certain foods. Just like with the eating disorder, the strict rules I worked so hard to hold up eventually came crashing down. I learned that instead of following rules and restrictions, I needed to keep things simple. To do that, I focused on taking one action at a time, and little by little, I allowed myself to start living.
2. Say Yes to Living
For so long, I lived in the eating disorder bubble. I focused on the food I consumed. I obsessed about diets and “non-diets.” My life was all consumed with food, calories, rules, and restrictions. I needed a different solution, so I shifted my focus from what I was consuming to creating three solid meals each day. Some days my meals were the same while other days I ventured outside of my comfort zone.
The bigger lesson here was that I had time to focus on what I was missing out when I was consumed with food. I started to use my time to go to dance classes because they were fun. I met up with friends. I began new hobbies that had no relationship with my eating disorder.
3. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
When I shifted my focus from food to living, I knew I needed to step outside my comfort zone. So now I dare to do one thing that scares me every day as, Eleanor Roosevelt wisely said. In the process of stepping out of my comfort zone, I found mentors who had what I wanted, and I followed through with what they were doing. I even did a burlesque show, which completely shifted how I felt about my body. I learned to claim my beauty.
Recovery is not a linear path whereby you do X, Y, Z and then get better. Recovery is a journey filled with high highs and low lows. Some days you feel like you a failure and others a success. Traveling the path of recovery has been one of the most defining experiences in my life. I am forever grateful for the highs and lows.
Laura Yamin is a career coach and podcaster. She works with women who want to transition out of a job that they hate into positions that are aligned with their values. She is the host of NSFW Podcast, a career-oriented podcast for millennial women. She also hosts the Say Yes Podcast, a daily show in which she interviews women on their “say yes” moments. Connect with Laura.