Yesterday I went to see my nutritionist for the first time since August. Even typing that makes me happy because I have been stable for quite a while now. That is until I started working out more. In July 2013 I had an anterior/posterior spinal fusion for dysplastic spondylolisthesis. A lot of words for my vertebrae where slipping off of each other and pinching spinal nerves. The recovery was hard and long and although I went through a lot of physical rehabilitation, it has taken me almost two years to get to the point where I am feeling more myself in terms of strength and endurance. I started building my strength back up and returning to a more vigorous training schedule over the past month. For the past year I would average working out 3 days a week at a moderate level and now I am increasing to 5-6 days a week at a more moderate to vigorous level. This has nothing to do with losing weight or eating disorder behaviors. It used to be as I was growing up, but now it is a part of who I am and I do it because I love it and I know when to take rest days and when to listen to my body. I am learning how to be an athlete with a completely different mindset focused on being mindful and knowing my limitations. I am a competitive athlete and I am considering competing in the future so I want to stay in peak physical condition. I am also in awe that my body has been able to recover like it has and what amazing things it is capable of. The past three years I haven’t trained or competed because I was recovering physically from my back surgery and mentally from the eating disorder. I have learned a lot in that time and I look forward to competing and being an athlete with a whole new perspective on physical and mental health. But back to the original reason for this post. I put off seeing my nutritionist for a few weeks because I knew that we were going to rework my meal plan and increases were unavoidable. I also had this feeling in the back of me head telling me that I couldn’t see my nutritionist if I was in a more stable place in recovery because that meant I was failing my treatment team and I wasn’t good enough to do this on my own. Stupid. I knew it was time to make that call when I kept having workouts that weren’t up to par and I was absolutely exhausted afterwards. Usually working out energizes me, but I was barely making it through. I also have a bad tendency to not eat as much during the day and eat more at night which doesn’t exactly fuel my body for a 4pm workout. Also my hunger cues were all over the map and I found myself starving way more than usual. I knew I needed some changes and I knew that I needed some support. So yes we did rework my meal plan and have increased it as well as balanced it out. I feel good about it, but change takes some getting used to. Although I am in a stronger place of recovery I still use a meal plan based on the exchange system (not calorie based) because it provides structure and because I am an athlete and nutrition is a large factor in performance. I would encourage anyone in recovery from an eating disorder to try intuitive eating and mindful eating but I am going to be honest – that doesn’t work for everyone. A meal plan gives me the accountability I need to make sure I am fueling my body throughout the day even if my hunger cues aren’t necessarily on point. I will say that I am not rigid in my plan and do allow for flexibility which is very important. I also only record what I am eating when something is off or like now for the next couple weeks while I am adjusting to a new plan. Although I was nervous to see my nutritionist and increase my plan it has been a very positive thing and I really look forward to increased energy for my workouts so I can continue to improve both my strength and endurance. I encourage anyone, not just people in recovery from an eating disorder, to visit a nutritionist because getting the right nutrition can have major impacts on health and wellness and athletic performance. Maybe you feel tired all the time because you are lacking something in your diet, or maybe you aren’t giving your body the correct protein it needs after a workout. Whatever the reason, I think it is beneficial for people to reach out for support to be the best you can be. I used to be ashamed that I was on a meal plan and had to take that extra time to figure out meals all the time, but now I truly welcome it even if I still struggle on occasion. It also helps my mind be less preoccupied with food because I know what exchanges I need to get in and that is that. No arguing with the eating disorder and compromising my health for a bit of relief. I have come a long way in recovery and know that this meeting was just another step in a positive direction towards complete recovery.