If you spend time in the world of fitness on social media you will likely have heard of Stephanie Buttermore - the health and fitness blogger who started her ‘All In’ journey 5 months ago.
After competing in body building competitions a number of years ago Stephanie maintained a very lean body composition; think defined muscles and visible abs: the kind of body many of us are striving for. But after a number of years she started to feel the negative effects that often come with fighting to be smaller than your body wants you to be; extreme hunger, feeling cold all the time, irritability…to name a few. Her ‘All In’ journey was about dropping regimented diet protocols in place of listening to her body and honouring her hunger, in the hope that it would negate the negative effects she was feeling. Her aim was not to gain weight, rather to heal herself, and in the process accept whatever happened to her body as a result.
When Stephanie first spoke out about her plan to do this I felt pretty mad. I felt it was ‘influencers’, with their advocacy of controlled macro counting diets, intermittent fasting, and very lean bodies, that had solidified restrictive diets and normalised very tiny shapes, with behaviours that in my world would have been considered ‘relapse’. But since I have realised a few things. 1. Stephanie is human, we make mistakes, plus, and she lives in the world that made me this way too 2. I have to take ownership over my own actions 3. When Stephanie noticed adverse affects she started her ‘All In’ process; she took the action I never could.
My own 'All In'
Stephanie Buttermore calls it ‘All In’, but in the past I have called it ‘committing fully to recovery’ - I have tried a similar idea twice, the second time lasting longer than the first, but both failed because 1. I began restricting again when things got hard and my body started to change 2. I wasn’t truly choosing recovery - I was still looking externally for cues, rules, validation, and a ‘how-to’ guide, when actually recovery is about freedom from the control and perfection and boxes that keep us stuck.
Third Time Lucky
This time, however, things are different. I recently hit rock bottom and a depth which I didn’t know existed. I had been floating around in quasi recovery for a while (read: over a decade); that place where from the outside you’re kind of fine - your weight is deemed acceptable, you handle most every day things, but on the inside you’re being chipped away at slowly. Chbosky articulates how I have been feeling so perfectly in 'The Perks of Being A Wallflower', ‘I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist’.
I felt like that. And then some.
Things had to change, hence this whole blog series - I have always found writing helps. But this time I had to take more ownership and responsibility; to figure out my own definition of ‘all in’ and of recovery. After all, I am not Stephanie, and looking to others for the answer has only ever driven me round in circles. This had to last a long time. This was about figuring out, constantly asking, what's the intention behind that? Is it helpful? Does this action move me towards where and who I want to be?
Re-defining 'All In'
ALL IN: verb: action, a doing word. Committing to the steps that will help me heal, regardless of what happens to my body. Because this hell is worse. And I will not stay here chained stagnant any longer.
A few days ago I took a piece of paper, wrote ‘All In’ in the centre, and then different phrases and ideas coming off it about what this might look like for me right now - because I also acknowledge that ‘all in’ is going to change overtime and as I progress and grow.
And I encourage you, if you are committing to the same journey, to do the same. Write it all out on a page, jot it all down.
Perhaps for you 'All In' is following your meal plans, or hitting a minimum number of calories a day. Perhaps it is eating when you are hungry instead of trying to put it off as long as possible. Perhaps it is choosing to remove anything from your life that strengthens your ED thoughts. Perhaps it is no compensatory actions when you feel you have overeaten or broken a rule. Perhaps moisturising daily as an act of self care. Perhaps it is reading instead of running….
YOU get to decide.
I will leave you with one more quote from my favourite book:
'But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there'.