how to stop body checking
Everyone tells you to stay away from the scale in recovery, to not weigh yourself, to cut out the sizes in your clothes.
And those things are important. VERY important. But there's another thing to avoid that can be even more triggering than the scale: body checking.
Body checking is one of the most addictive eating disorder behaviors.
At least it was for me. I had a whole routine that I had to do every single morning when I woke up and every single night before I went to bed. The amount of time I spent standing in front of the mirror examining myself and criticizing all my perceived flaws is actually embarrassing.
It didn't even stop with the mirror though. I body checked endlessly throughout the day. It was an obsession, a habit I was afraid I'd never be able to break.
But fortunately, I did. With a lot of effort and re-training my brain, I was able to let go of the need to constantly check the size of my waist or my thigh.
Now I don't stare in the mirror for hours everyday trying to see if my ribs stick out more than the day before (believe it or not, I used to want that!) or wrap my fingers around my wrist every hour to make sure it didn't get fatter since the last time I checked (YES MY WRIST. seriously that's how obsessed I was).
I don't do those things anymore. And as freeing as it is, it definitely wasn't easy to stop.
First, I gained weight. Yep, gaining weight actually helped me quit my body checking. Sounds counter-intuitive right? But, like I wrote in my last post, you can't feel better about yourself if your brain is starved. So the more you gain (and the more you eat!), the less twisted your view of your body will be.
Another thing that helped me (and it might sound weird so take it or leave it!) was pretending I was never alone or that my friends were with me. Whenever I wanted to do some weird body checking behavior, I'd stop and ask myself "if your friend or boyfriend or crush, etc was here, would you do this in front of them?" Obviously the answer was always no. So I wouldn't do it. Again, this sounds strange but it REALLY worked for me.
You can also get rid of the mirrors in your house, or at least the full length ones. It's seriously a huge weight off your shoulders if you don't even have the temptation of looking at yourself in the mirror. Just a week of mirror-less living will do wonders!
Ultimately though, you just have to stop. Cold turkey. Quit it. It's just like breaking any other habit. The first couple times, the urges are going to be so strong. It's going to be so difficult, it might even feel impossible.
But I promise the more you resist the urges, the easier it gets to resist them. And slowly, you'll find yourself not even thinking about body checking.
The key is to replace and distract.
Breaking habits, particularly in eating disorder recovery, is really tough. Having different distraction strategies like coloring, reading, calling a friend or having a snack will help you get over the obsession.
Did you ever struggle with body checking in recovery?
What were some strategies you used to stop?