5 Ways to Use Your Values in Eating Disorder Recovery
By Alex Raymond, RD, LD
A few months ago, I heard a dietitian named Chere Bork speak. She considers herself to be a “life coach” or “energy igniter.” Chere also goes by “Chere Banana” and gives talks to kids!
Chere actually supports super busy individuals in achieving their goals, getting and staying motivated, and reigniting their passions. Seeing Chere speak was an amazing experience and I was so glad I got to hear all the advice she had to offer. I felt like I was able to brainstorm about how I can energetically achieve my own passions and goals… Of course, it also got me thinking about how this talk can be used in recovery from an eating disorder.
She spoke a lot about living life close to your values. What are values? Webster dictionary defines “values” as the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. OR a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life. So, basically living life closer to your values means you are holding the things you find important close to your heart and respecting your beliefs. That’s how you can truly make your life more abundant. Another way to think about this is “you attract who you are, not who you want to be.” (Another quote by Chere). I took this to mean your values and who you truly are as a person is the driving force in achieving your goals. If you go against values, or try to be something you’re not, you won’t attract things that make you happy.
Take a second to journal before reading on. I would recommend you have a pen and paper near you when reading this blog. There will be quite a few writing activities. What are your top 3 values? How do you live life to support these values? What is holding you back from living life by these values? How does your eating disorder get in the way of your values?
(PS. My top 3 values are Family, Empower and Zest. (Zest to me means “finding the spice in life!”)
Chere then went through 3 steps to achieve goals/happiness. Let’s walk through these together and figure out how they can be related to your eating disorder recovery.
Step One: What do I want?
I challenge you to envision a day or moment where you are in a truly positive place in recovery, maybe even recovered. If this is too difficult, envision a goal you have for yourself in recovery… It can be small or big. Take 10 minutes to write about this. Truly put yourself in this place.
- Where are you?
- Who are you with?
- What’s the weather like?
- How are you feeling?
- What is going well?
- What do you truly want in that moment?
- What is your desire?
I learned from Chere that it’s important to recognize your desire and write it down. If you give your desire attention, it will happen. It might take time but you’ll get there.
Now, take the scenario you just came up with. Re-read it. I want you to re-read it, especially when you are having a rough day. Chere says that “motivation is like taking a bath, you gotta do it every day.” That makes so much sense. There will be days (or maybe fleeting moments) when you feel so motivated, like you can take on the world. Then the next day (or next moment), the motivation will crash. It’s times like these when you may want to re-read your recovery vision to remind you of what you can achieve.
Step Two: Why do I want it?
Here is another writing assignment. Please journal about the following:
(these questions are coming directly from Chere and I modified them to fit ED recovery.)
- What will I miss out on in my life if I stay in my eating disorder?
- What will I miss out on in my life if I let go of my eating disorder?
- How will staying in my ED hinder me physically, spiritually, and emotionally?
- Will staying in my ED help me in any of these areas?
- Now it’s time to FEEL THE JOY. When I meet recovery goals, what positive momentum will I have for the rest of my life? How much HAPPIER will I be? How will I feel about myself?
I would really like you to take time to think/write about these. Writing down how much better your life will be in recovery will help you to gain some momentum and motivation. I’m not saying recovery won’t difficult and long journey. There will be many ups and many downs. I challenge you and encourage you to envision the positives of recovery and what you are gaining. This will help you to answer the question “why I want it,” and how much better life will be working toward recovery goals.
Step Three: How Will I Do It?
Chere first said it’s important to “believe in yourself.” You can do it! If you can’t believe in yourself right now, that is okay. I encourage you to find people who do believe in you. (hint: your Empowered Eating dietitian does).
It’s so important for you to build yourself up instead of tearing yourself down. I learned from Chere to have a 3:1 positive-to- negative though ratio. I have always told my clients to replace their negative thoughts with 1 positive one. But, Chere recommends 3. If you cannot do positive thoughts, try neutral ones. Try this now! Write down 3 positive or neutral counter-thoughts to a negative thought you had earlier today.
Wait, There’s More…
There are 2 more awesome activities I learned from Chere that will help you figure out how to accomplish your recovery goals.
The first is writing down 25 reasons why you want or deserve recovery. With this activity, it’s important to recognize the different between “want” and “should.” “Should” is associated with negatively and shame. On the other hand, “want” is tied closely to your values and desires. So, while you are writing this list, really focus on why you “want” and “deserve” recovery. It’s okay if you can’t come up with all 25 reasons now. You can come back to it later. Also, if you can think of more than 25 reasons, go for it!
Second, and the last activity for now, is creating a vision board. A vision board is a collage of images that inspire you and make you feel good about yourself. It can be a picture of what life will look like in recovery. It can be pictures of hopes, dreams, inspirations and values. I’m still working on mine! Hang this in a place that you can see it. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, make sure you keep it in a safe place so you can look back on it.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder and would like to meet with Alex or one of our other Empowered Eating dietitians, please click here or call (301) 806-0556 to schedule an appointment today!