As it is another new year (how did that happen?!?) and as we draw a close on 2023, many people look to the coming year with hope, optimism and the idea that this coming year will be different to the last. It is a time of year that more people will reflect on their lives as a whole and what the past year did or didn't bring and how they would like things to be different. Perhaps then you are going into 2024 with some key new year's resolutions about overcoming the eating disorder, eating without restriction, giving up compensatory behaviours and letting your body gain weight and your brain reprogram. And eating disorder eliminating goals are very important but to achieve those goals, it is also important to set daily intentions.
I have never been someone to really go in for new year resolutions because in my mind, if we have something that matters to us, that we want to achieve, then why wait for a new year? Do it now is what I say!
But I can also understand that the start of a new year can feel like it is a way to mark the passing of time and that it might seem a more significant time to really 'wipe the slate clean', evaluate your life, decide what you do and don't want and what changes you are willing to make, no matter how hard they are to get the life that you want… which for many of you reading this, is likely to be a life without an eating disorder.
Whether you are reading this then at the start of a new year and setting overarching 'new year resolutions' or whether you are setting eating disorder eliminating goals at another time (and there is never a wrong time to do so!), then this post is for you. Let's talk in more detail about how you can go about achieving your eating disorder eliminating goals (or resolutions) by setting daily intentions.
Setting Your Eating Disorder Eliminating Goals / Resolutions
Initially, it can be a good idea to set your eating disorder eliminating goals or resolutions, which are the goals that are of a 'bigger picture' perspective. This might be that you want to fully overcome the eating disorder, have the ability to eat fully without restricition or any anxiety, not feel compelled to exercise and to become free of any purging behaviours. For some though, it might be that goals of complete ED-eradication feel too ambitious at the start and you might set goals that feel more comfortable initially, such as being able to eat with your family and as much as they do each day and to reduce your exercise to 30 minutes three times a week, even if there is still compulsivity to that movement.
At this stage, it can also help to establish why you are planning to put yourself through a process that will be hard, emotional, painful and very challenging in the first place. In a previous post, I wrote about establishing your 'why' that is specific to you for exactly why you want to overcome the eating disorder. Having that clear reason to keep going will help when the going gets tough.
So, firstly consider what your overall goals and resolutions are and why they matter to you and lay it all out clearly for yourself, with pictures or written motivational statements of your goals or your why. Then you can keep bringing yourself back to what you are doing and what it is all for.
Achieve Your Eating Disorder Eliminating Goals By Setting Daily Intentions
Setting yourself daily or weekly intentions that will lead you towards your overarching goals or resolutions is a key way to help you to stay focused on your eating disorder-bashing goals, keeping them a priority so that you maintain momentum.
After all, it’s easy to say, "I’m going to abstain from all restriction, stop all unnecessary movement, not purge and aim for overshoot", but then struggle to establish what that looks like day to day and how to keep building on the progress that you’ve made. You might find that you fall into new routines that are better than they were when you were deeply entrenched in the eating disorder but you still aren't facing all the necessary new situations, experiences and challenges that you want to be able to do with ease in future.
Therefore, it can help to set positive intentions and ideally share them with a support person for accountability and to keep you focused.
You will find that setting daily or weekly intentions that take you towards your bigger eating disorder eliminating goals have several benefits. These include:
helping to maintain your focus on your overall goals when the long process becomes exhausting and other things in life are distracting you;
holding onto the progress you have made and continuing to build on it;
setting a tone of positivity and purpose about what you are doing and why;
a means to give yourself permission to do the things that you intended but that create anxiety and doubts in the moment;
helping you to address your perceived limitations or obstacles;
enabling you to think more widely, consider possibilities and avoid falling into new routines or the trap of thinking, "I’ve gained some weight, eat more and no longer exercise so I’m doing enough";
keeping you in the present moment, not getting caught up in the past or future;
enabling you to track your progress and recognise your wins;
providing a form of accountability;
ensuring you are repeating new experiences and building on them to enable more complete and successful brain rewiring;
motivating and empowering you;
improving your self-belief.
As you can see, setting intentions has many benefits. Your intentions can be just for you or you can share them with others. But whether you share them or not, they will give you something to focus on, prioritise and help to empower you to build your future.
Here then are some examples of intentions that you might set to overcome the eating disorder:
Today I will go to lunch with my friend and order a meal that’s not a salad, has lots of fats and triple carbs, with dessert and I won't compensate before or after.
I will go shopping for clothes that I feel like me in and make my body feel good, letting myself spend the money and ignoring any guilt about doing so.
This weekend, I’ll rest on the couch each day, eating all the foods my brain and body ask me for, ignoring any thoughts that arise trying to pull me away from doing so. I’ll remind myself that this is for my future life and it’s the most important thing I can be doing right now.
Make setting daily intentions a habit so that you stay focused and on track. The eating disorder elimination process is long and it’s easy to lose momentum after a couple of weeks or months when, in reality, that momentum is needed for a lot longer.
Put aside some time each day that you can use to set your intentions either for that day or the next. Very often our brains are the most relaxed in the evenings before bed, so this can be the best time to set positive and focused intentions for the next day that you can then wake up and make happen.
It can feel like a never ending process when it comes to overcoming an eating disorder, that is full of obstacles, bumps in the journey and it's easy to lose sight of your progress or feel that it will never end. But keep going with determination and stubbornness and you will reach your overall goals in the end - that is inevitable.
A very happy new year to you all. I hope that 2024, for you, is one that holds hope, positivity, joy and your reclaiming your power back from the grips of the eating disorder.
**For more information on eating disorders and how to overcome one, please don't miss my newly available books,
The information for this post was largely taken from Aiming for Overshoot.
If you like to listen, as well as (or instead of read!) then this blog post is the transcript of a podcast episode which you will find on my podcast series,
available on this website, all mainstream podcast platforms and on YouTube.