Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

why weight?

Most of us have all heard, “It’s (an eating disorder) not about weight.”  And I do believe that’s true.  There are always underlying issues.  The eating disorder really is just a symptom of those underlying issues.  I’ve known anorexics who are at a healthy weight, bulimics who are underweight, compulsive overeaters who are overweight, and just about every combination of weight and diagnosis possible.  Although the DSM-IV oh-so-kindly has a weight criteria for the diagnosis of anorexia, how much you weight does not determine whether or not you have an eating disorder or how sick you are.  

That being said, weight plays a significant role in the development of and recovery from and eating disorder.  I firmly believe that if you are underweight and refuse to maintain a healthy weight, you cannot be in recovery, because something is making you cling to the eating disorder behaviors.  

Where do I stand on weight right now?  I’ve been at or above my ideal weight–as determined by my treatment team–for over 2 1/2 years.  Do I still weigh myself?  Yes.  Do I freak out about the number on the scale?  No.  My nutritionist and I spent about a year working on my ability to see what I weight and not have it affect the way I eat or how much I exercise.  I learned that my weight does not have to determine the quality of my day.  

Sometimes I currently go through periods when I weigh myself daily.  The only way I’ve been able to describe this is that I like seeing a solid number.  In all the craziness of life, numbers are tangible and real.  This is also why I have a tendency to count pennies when I get extremely anxious.  So when the world seems too much, I step on the scale, see the number, and think, “okay.  I’m here.”  There is no ritual around the weighing anymore.  Somedays I’ll weigh myself with shoes and jeans and a hoodie, and others just shorts and a tshirt.  Sometimes I even weigh myself while holding a bowl of cereal.  It’s not how much I weight that concerns me, but that I weigh something.  And I’m not really sure if that will make sense to anyone but me.

Recently, my doctor and I discussed me losing weight.  Before you all gasp in horror, there are medical reasons for this.  I would be healthier if I were to be back at my ideal weight.  I turned 32, I had mono last fall, and twelve years of anorexia really slowed down my metabolism.  

But then a week later I received some really sobering news regarding my heart, totally unrelated to the history of my eating disorder and will be having minor surgery in less than a week.  I went into my doctor and, although he had okayed me losing weight, told him that I didn’t think this was the best time to do so.  That right now I needed to focus on maintaining where I’m at by eating the best possible nutrients and minerals so that my body will heal quickly and properly.  

This is a decision I never would have been able to make four years ago.  I would have used any illness as an easy excuse to lose weight.  But now I know that the very last thing that would help me would be losing weight, even though I’m significantly “higher than my ideal.”  There are things more important than weight.  My life is one of them.


July 10, 2009 - Posted by | Eating Disorders | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. What is ideal weight anyway, you know? Lex, you’ve come through so much, come through the eating disorder hell, shown so many that it isn’t about the number. I know what you are dealing with now is just-I just want to take it away from you. I am SO pleased to hear you are not going to try and lose weight. As I said, what is ideal weight? Something a chart says? Or something that is ideal in our life? Happiness, comfort, solace, joy in being free from the hell of a demon that held you (-some of us aren’t fully free but yean to be and will be-me, so many) capture for so long…how is not respecting and loving your body at it’s natural ideal, not ideal? I’d like to ask a doctor that. Love you girl. xo

    Comment by Kiersten | July 10, 2009 | Reply

  2. An ideal weight is a range in which your body functions at its best. It is different for every person, based on age, activity, metabolism, height, etc. In my case, this range came through discussions with my entire medical team, and falling outside of that range–both above and below–has consequences for my health, prior history of eating disorder or not.

    Comment by surfacingaftersilence | July 10, 2009 | Reply

  3. Alexis,

    I am in the same boat with you about being “over the ideal,” but this time, my dietician and I are having me lose weight the good old fashion way–eating right and exercise! Like you, my metabolism was shot from the ED all these years. But believe it or not, eating NORMAL amounts of food and exercising CAN help you lose weight! Who would’ve thought that?! LOL! NOT ME!!

    Comment by Beth | July 11, 2009 | Reply

  4. Congrats on being able to make such a healthy decision for yourself!

    When people ask if true recovery is really possible, this is the sort of proof that shows it is. Going through such a stressful ordeal without going back to the disordered thinking at all IS recovery.

    Comment by Millie | July 11, 2009 | Reply

  5. Being able to deal with an eating disorder is never easy, and that’s why it’s so important to make sure that you get yourself the proper treatment so that you can start your path to recovery. There are so many different ways to get yourself help, but getting the right help is crucial. is an informational site which has a lot of helpful and useful information about the different types of eating disorders, their symptoms and causes, as well as treatment options that are available. If you or someone you know is in need of help, please check out this site, it will be very helpful for you .

    Comment by Michelle | July 13, 2009 | Reply

  6. I always felt weird claiming I was anorexic even though i was above where I “needed to be” during treatment.

    I often wonder if my natural set point is simply higher than it used to be. Afterall, I’m no longer my 17 year old self- I’m now almost 23. Still, this new weight makes me feel like I’m still in the recovery mode, and sometimes I think that if I could get back (or at least closer) to my old set point I’d finally feel like my journey was coming to an end. To be back where I was before my relapse and before treatment (the healthy way, of course). To go back to my old normal and move on. This may or may not be true- I don’t know at this point. But I’m finally letting my body do what it wants to. I eat well and exercise within reason, and it will do what it will. Somedays I don’t like that, but for the most part I’m accepting it.

    It’s good to have you as an example of someone taking care and listening to their body. This seems like a rare thing- even among those who have never had an eating disorder.

    Comment by Andi | July 16, 2009 | Reply

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