Are you planning on starting your bulimia recovery in the new year? Or perhaps you’ve been recovering for some time but you’re determined that this will finally be the year that you say goodbye to your eating disorder once and for all?
If so, when you’re contemplating the changes you’d like to make in your life, and the new goals you’re going to set for yourself, it’s important to make positive, attainable new years resolutions that will support you and allow you to thrive in your bulimia recovery, rather than goals and resolutions that will only lead you to failure.
Why do so many of us fail to keep our new years resolutions?
If you’ve ever found yourself on the cusp of a new year, vowing to “never binge again” or committing to “no more purging in the new year,” only to find yourself falling off the wagon and failing miserably in a matter of days, or even hours, then it could have a lot to do with the kinds of resolutions you’re making.
So before embarking on your “New Year: New You” plan of attack, please do take some time to consider the following:
1. Commit to making resolutions that are realistic and attainable
While I will always encourage you to strive to do your very best, to make recovery your number one priority in life, and to pursue positive change above all else, it is so important to understand that the recovery process is not linear. Your recovery can not and will not be ‘perfect’.
If you make resolutions to “never binge or purge again” then they are likely to backfire very quickly, leaving you feeling even more lost and unmotivated. Why? Well for a start, making a resolution like this, without any thought to a solid recovery plan or smaller step-by-step goals will mean you’ll likely be relying on your willpower and sheer determination alone in order to avoid relapsing – and one things for sure – willpower alone does NOT work for recovery.
Instead, it makes sense to aim for smaller resolutions that will support you through your recovery. Focus on resolutions and goals that encourage gradual, sustainable change, and most importantly, resolutions that allow some room for error – because relapses, slips, challenges and bad days are a natural, inevitable part of this process. A resolution to postpone acting on any urges to binge eat for ten minutes before giving in will be much more successful than a resolution to never again binge eat.
2. Have a plan of action and line up some real support
Try to break down your resolution to recover from bulimia into smaller, more manageable, resolutions that form the basis of a real plan of action for your recovery. For example, some good recovery resolutions for the new year could include:
- Following through with that doctors appointment you’ve been avoiding for months.
- Requesting a referral to a specialist eating disorders clinic.
- Making an appointment with a therapist, counsellor, or dietitian.
- Sharing what you’re going through with a trusted friend and asking for their support.
- Accessing a research-based self help program, like The Bulimia Help Method, to inform your recovery.
- Opting for more in-depth support via our 1-1 Recovery Coaching Program
- Finding local, real life support groups in your area and attending at least one session.
- Starting a structured eating plan by committing to eating something every 3 hours to begin with.
3. Set a realistic time-frame for changes to occur and be prepared to make mistakes
Please try not to panic too much if you do find yourself falling at the first hurdle. Recovering from bulimia is one of the hardest things you will ever do in your life and it does take time. Even those with the best thought out recovery plans and endless amounts of support still experience relapses along the way.
If you’re worried that you’re about to relapse you may find my article on How to avoid a Bulimia Relapse helpful. Alternatively, if you’ve already in the midst of a realpse then take a look over my suggestions on how to get back on track following a relapse
New Years Resolutions: Can they really work for recovery?
It’s easy to be pessimistic about new years resolutions, especially with research showing that around 60% of people will abandon their resolutions for the new year within the first six months (Norcross, Mrykalo, and Blagys, 2002). However it’s been suggested that people who do choose to make resolutions for the new year are still ten times more likely to successfully change their behaviours than those who don’t. So really, making proactive recovery resolutions may definitely help you, rather than hinder you, in your recovery.
Make 2015 the year you start your recovery!
One thing is for sure… a new year is on the way and the possibilities for change are truly endless. Recovery IS possible and it’s yours for the taking if you want it badly enough. Stop making excuses and stop waiting for the right time because the right time will never come.
Instead take a moment to visualize how incredibly different your life will be one year from now if you commit to change and start your journey to recovery today.
Wishing you a wonderful, healthy start to the new year,
Catherine Liberty, Recovery Coach.