Project 80 Days: The Beginning of the End of Bulimia
4 or 5 years ago I was sitting on the lawn at the Center for Balanced Living before another therapy session. I remember the day vividly.. what I was wearing. And the weather. I remember the sinking feeling in my gut upon realizing that if I didn't "recover" from this eating disorder by age 28, it will officially have consumed 50% of my lifetime from when I first started having issues with food at 14. Oh yes, I remember it well. And so on that day I arbitrarily decided that I would begin "Project 80 Days"... My little self-proclaimed challenge in which I would have no episodes of binge eating and purging. I figured if it takes 28 days on average to form a new habit, then going 80 days would definitely fix my bulimia. That's almost three months instead of just one!
Needless to say, I started and failed and restarted and failed Project 80 Days a thousand times over... for the next several years. In that time, I decided maybe I should just try 28 days. But I wasn't able to make it 28 days without purging. I wasn't able to make it 2 days without purging. More days than not, I couldnt even make it for a few hours. I did this for years. And I felt like I couldn't stop, despite how miserable it always made me feel, knowing that this would end up killing me.
2019 and my 28th birthday rolled around, along with a life-changing book, some tough advice, and my final resolution to kick this once and for all. The book - Can't Hurt Me, by David Goggins. The advice - "One day you are just going to have to stop". The resolution - To explore toughness. Even if it meant tolerating physical or psychological pain or discomfort with nothing but pure grit.
So when I received that advice to "JUST STOP", this time I didn't fire back with 1,000 of the same excuses. And for whatever reason, on that night, those words hit me in a very profound way. It is so simple. So common sense. Just stop being bulimic? What a novel idea. But the reality is, in all of my years in treatment, it was NEVER presented like this... to anyone. No one ever told me that I was going to just have to quit. No one ever told me I could. No one ever told me that you don't have to learn to love your body first, that you don't need to find alternate coping mechanisms, or that you don't have to figure out how to perfectly manage your stress. You don't have to diligently do "self-care" everyday. You don't have to mend or end all of your relationships. You don't have to solve all of your life problems before you can quit being bulimic. All you have to do to quit being bulimic is to stop being bulimic. Stop bingeing. And stop purging. All of those other things? Those are things we may explore and pursue for a lifetime and never quite figure out. But you don't have to have an eating disorder for even another minute. Recovery can happen now.
And on January 4th, 2019, I made that resolution. I decided that this would take no more of my life. So I stopped. It no longer mattered how anxious I got. How miserable things felt. How much I wanted to give in. No one was forcing me to binge and purge. It was a choice. No one was holding me at gunpoint (despite it feeling that way sometimes). 50% is already too much of my life to have given to this disorder. So no way I was going to give it more.
I took my picture this morning because I want to remember what I looked like when I finally completed Project 80 Days, on Monday March 25, 2019. I am more proud for what I have completed on this day than ANYTHING I have ever done on any other day of my life. 80 days of no purging is by far the greatest accomplishment of my 28 years. I'm so thankful for my body for not giving up on me, despite years of horrible abuse. And I plan to spend the rest of my life making it as strong as I possibly can. The greatest thing about recovery is that it gets harder first, but then gets easier with time. Each day is no longer a fight. I don't wake up in fear that I'll give in. That I'll fail and "have to start over". I now wake up looking forward to life, instead of having to just make it through the day.
Whatever that thing is that you're struggling with, do not quit fighting. Do not give up. If you are breathing, there is hope.
Things that DID have to happen in order to pursue recovery:
1. I had to want it above all else.
2. I had to eat ADEQUATE CALORIES and primarily nutrient dense foods. I cannot stress this enough.
3. I just had to be tougher.
Book mentioned and other resources that helped me in my mindset:
*I am not a medical professional. All content in this blog and on this website is a personal story and opinion, not medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately.