I have been off the dieting roller-coaster for over a year now, enjoyed my 2nd ever Christmas off a diet and have some things to report health-wise.
Firstly I have never, in my adult life, been as emotionally stable as I have been this past year. I came off my anti-depressants about 18 months ago and, though I won't pretend I've never felt down or that there haven't been days when I've been anxious as hell, I am doing just fine. I don't attribute all this to my discovery of FA - it's a combination of many factors - my mental health improving to a point where I could FINALLY put into place all those things that they taught me in various talking therapies over the years (which my depressive mind thought weren't up to much but which I've adopted during the long, slow journey of recovery); being in a happy, stable relationship with a man I love and who loves me wholeheartedly; leaving the stressful job that was doing me no favours at all - and (and it seems strange to write this) lowering my expectations of myself and putting my mental health and myself before career, friendships and relationships. I'm also completely aware that there may come a time that I need the drugs again, and I'm fine with that. I keep an eye on my moods and have my boyfriend look out for any worries just in case I'm not in a fit state to notice. Taking medication when necessary is part and parcel of maintaining my mental wellbeing, but right now? I don't need them at all.
So how has FA helped with all of this? Well, over my years struggling with mental illness I've taken a lot of medication with the side effect 'weight gain', I've repeatedly stopped taking the drugs to stop the weight gain and then started dieting in the aftermath, seen a swift return of my anxiety, depression and eating disordered behaviour. Eventually had to take the meds again until I put on so much weight I quit the drugs etc. etc. etc. I came to realise that if I was ever going to be able to manage my mental health problems I had to get out of this vicious cycle but I had no idea how. I discovered FA shortly after stopping taking my medication that last time, I started to prioritise my mental health and putting into practice what I'd been taught about looking after myself mentally. I quit dieting around the time I started this blog and have not once, in the last year, been tempted back onto the bandwagon. The first things to improve were my fingernails - they always used to peel and crack and break and now they, well, look like nice healthy fingernails. I've also found I have more energy and resiliance. I'm generally feeling much much happier and yes, healthier.
So what happens when you stop dieting for a whole year? Do you let your standards slip and EAT THE WORLD? Do you live on a diet of donuts and Maccy D's? I certainly didn't. Before I quit dieting my boyfriend had to literally HIDE the chocolate in the house so that I wouldn't just eat it because it was there (and so there would be chocolate when it was my time of the month) - he stopped doing this a couple of months in and I DIDN'T EVEN NOTICE. I don't eat bigger portions or exclusively heavy food - my diet has actually broadened in the last year because I've made a habit of asking myself what I want before eating and have the nearest thing available to that (even if it's not something I usually go for).
Have I gained any weight? Not that I can tell, or at least not significantly enough for me to require new clothing (this is AMAZING for me - I think it's the first time since EVER I've not required a different set of clothes from one year to the next). I've don't appear to have lost any weight either, and you know what? It doesn't bother me at all. (I considered weighing myself for this post but decided, on reflection, that that would not be the best thing for my mental health).
This month I have finally gotten around to reading Linda Bacon's Health at Every Size - and there's definitely some stuff I'd like to take onboard with that. FA has made me value my body, made me grateful for it in ways I couldn't imagine - I can look in the mirror now and think "that's me, standing there in my amazing body" rather that "OMG I am so horribly disgusting". I am so grateful to FA that I am able to think this - something I have never done at any weight in my past.
This year my goals are to:
-Be more active
-Wear more colour
But hey, it's not like they're rules or anything, they're just things that I would like to do.
I'm also attempting to quit smoking again due to me having had a chest infection every 3 months for the last year, which I can't pretend has no correlation to all the smoking I do. Wish me luck with that. (I'm aware I don't sound too enthusiastic about it but I'm wary of giving myself a task to do where I'll feel like a failure if I don't succeed. So I'm going to take it one day at a time and see where it takes me - I am currentlty mid-illness too so you'll also have forgive me if the prose is a little sloppy).