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I am blessed to work with many brilliant clinicians and authors at Eating Recovery Center. Dr. Catherine Ruscitti is one. Below, please find an excerpt from her newly released book, The Anorexia Recovery Skills Workbook. I only wish she’d have written this book about 20 years ago. I needed it then! But, here it is now, for you. Thanks, Dr. Ruscitti, for sharing your wisdom and inspiration with us. (I look forward to seeing you and your incredible co-author, Dr. Rebecca Wagner, in Houston at ERC next week!)

For a chance to win a signed book, please see the information at the bottom of this post, following the book excerpt. 

Building Motivation to Get Better

Anorexia Recovery Skills Workbook Cover
Win this book! See details below.

There are two types of motivation that influence how we behave: extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation comes from external sources outside of yourself (like attending psychotherapy appointments to avoid late-fee charges), while intrinsic motivation comes from internal resources within yourself (attending psychotherapy appointments because you want to get better).

Because anorexia tends to be egosyntonic, fostering intrinsic motivation is often extremely difficult.

Hence, it is typically easier to be successful in recovery in intensive treatment settings than in outpatient settings or with no treatment. Intensive treatment settings establish various types of external motivators that help you take positive steps toward recovery (for example, gaining privileges if you complete meals, or adding nutritional supplements to your meal plan if you do not complete meals). However, once you step down to less structured levels of treatment, the amount of extrinsic motivation tends to decrease and the consequences and rewards of your behaviors are not as immediate.

Having both external and internal motivators is important in recovery and in life. The more sources of motivation you have, the more likely you are to continue in a healthy, recovery-oriented direction. Because intrinsic motivation is not always stable— as there will inevitably be days when you want to give up— it is important to create and identify external sources of motivation for yourself. However, relying solely on external motivators can be detrimental to your recovery in the long term, as the value you place on them is likely to dissipate gradually over time. Intrinsic motivation is long lasting and will foster a stronger and more stable recovery journey. Therefore, rather than relying on extrinsic motivation as a crutch, use it to help foster intrinsic motivation. Sometimes you will need to go through the motions in recovery (for example, by following your treatment team’s recommendations regardless of your feelings toward its members). At those times, external motivators (such as not wanting to disappoint others, avoiding a higher level of care, or getting or remaining medically stable) will serve you well. They will help you to avoid a lapse or relapse and prevent you from falling so far backward physically that your mental health and well-being are compromised.

But eventually you will need to make choices that move you toward recovery for you, because you want it and because you are ready to live in accordance with your values. Having intrinsic motivation does not mean you are ready or able to do recovery alone; it means quite the opposite: that you are ready to do whatever it takes, including using the help offered to you and the level of support that will best assist you at this time, to make steps toward recovery without the need of external rewards or consequences to motivate you. Some examples of intrinsic motivators for recovery include your values that you identified in the previous chapter, a desire to live a more vital life than you live when you are engaged in your eating disorder, and goals you have for yourself that may be possible to achieve only with recovery (such as to finish school, pursue your dream job, have a stable relationship, go on an adventure.)

Now that we have discussed the differences between and importance of both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, take some time to write yourself a letter on your motivation and reasons to recover.

Why do you want recovery? What keeps you motivated to recover?

Be sure to include a list of both your external and internal motivators. This list may need to be reviewed time to time both as a reminder and in order to keep it updated and relevant to you. While you can complete this exercise at any time in your recovery, it would be best to write your letter when you are feeling particularly motivated. Keep this letter handy and read it when you are struggling with motivation or having urges to act on eating disordered behaviors. Feel free to add to it or rewrite it at any time, as your life may change and provide you with more or different reasons to stay motivated.

 

Win a Signed Book! To enter to win a signed copy, please post a comment below, sharing one reason you are motivated to recover. Why do you want recovery? What keeps you motivated to recover? One winner will be selected from all who comment. 

  • Sarah Askew

    I want to reach full recovery so I can be an example to the young girls I work with in my writing groups and to help others with my writing and advocacy for prevention and/or full recovery xx

  • Ragan Sasaki

    I want to recover because I’ve been fighting this since I was 17, I’m now 33. I’m finally on a healthy path. I’ve had to really work hard, I was derailed November 2015, when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I’m now starting to feel healthier and stronger.

  • Nicole Beckstead

    My mother keeps me motivated and fighting everyday. If she can beat cancer I can beat this.

  • Katie Landry

    I am actually an eating disorders therapist. I want everyone to know the feeling of freedom that comes with Recovery, and I think this book could help me in my practice with patients!

  • neddiebug

    I’m motivated to recover so I can become nurse, have a family, and have closer relationships!

  • Jenn Roden

    I find extrinsic motivation much easier. I’ve just recently discovered that I’ve been recovering for others, not for myself which is not sustainable at all. Its been challenged as I’m leaving the treatment program I’ve been in for 3 years due to insurance reasons. So I’ve really had to dig deep to find other reasons to recover. I have a lot of work to do to really develop strong footholds for myself. But my current motivation is so that I can be healthy enough to be able to speak out and help others in their own struggle with self worth and disordered eating. It’s so I can be around to watch my sister get married and my nephews grow up. I don’t want to be miserable and back where I was when I started recovery!

  • Chrisina Fodero

    I’d like to recover so I can actually have a like and work on my goals and dreams.

  • Morgan Baron

    I am motivated to recover because I want to be able to have my own family one day. I want to be able to live life to its fullest and live a life that God wants me to live. I want to recover so I can help others recover.

  • Kristen

    I love being in recovery!!! for so long I thought it was impossible now so many doors have opened for me, I’m happier, healthier, and stronger physically and mentally. Originally my motivation for recovery was to inspire others and start a NEDA walk in my area, now that I have done that I am motivated to keep my recovery strong by the amazing relationships I now have with my friends, family, and partner. I wouldn’t be able to have applied to grad school if I wasn’t healthy. Stay strong to all! <3

  • Nikki

    Im tired.. thats all just tired

  • Vicki

    My motivation for recovery are the two little faces of my children (1&3) who are relying on me as a role model and I don’t want them to have to watch me battle the rest of my life with this.

  • Kendra Vogel Conrad

    MY…. KIDS… MY… FAMILY…. MY LIFE!!!!

  • Loucat

    I am motivated to recover as although my eating disorder has helped me in understanding how it feels to manage a chronic condition and therefore empathise with the patients I work with as a Chronic pain Nurse specialist. In order to truly help and inspire them, full recovery would mean that I can prove to them that it is possible to make significant changes and rewire our neural pathways that will lead to a better quality of life.

  • Madelyn

    My motivation is to live a happy healthy life with my partner and to stop worrying all my loved ones. Life is too beautiful to continue letting ED take charge

  • Alice Elizabeth Carter

    Love.

  • Ainsley Johnson

    It is taken over half of my life in years I’ve missed out so much and just want to live

  • Diana Baldovino

    When things get hard, what keeps me motivated to recover is thinking about all the good I can do in the future for others who are struggling and all the love I can give to others by first loving myself <3. I want to recover so I can experience all the gifts life has to offer and so I can achieve my dream of being a lawyer and advocate for more mental health coverage from insurance companies so Everyone who is struggling can have access to treatment without worrying about the cost! 🙂

  • Georgia Davies

    I want to recover for my family. So that they are happy and not worried about me. I want to recover for my happiness, freedom, hair, nails, skin and general health. I want to recover to move on from this. To be proud and to say I HAVE DONE IT. I want to recover so I don’t have to ever go to hospital. I want to recover to go to university to become a nurse. I want to recover so I can work and improve others lives. I want to recover so I do not have to keep going to CAMHS. I want to recover to help others. Most importantly, I want to recover because I need to!!

  • Jenn

    I want recovery because it delivers all of the things my ED promised. I stay motivated to recover through the help of friends, setting goals and the dream of biking across the United States someday.

  • Eleanor Chee

    Because I want to live, not just to exist. There are so much more in life than just my body, food, weight, numbers and calories.

  • Daniela

    I want to recover so that I can use my experiences to help others who are suffering. Im a psychiatric nursing student and I hope to use my education and first-hand experience to work with adolescents with eating disorders!

  • TL Mc

    To help turn this boat around! Our warped culture has us at war with our bodies. I’m taking my power back & taking up space in this world for the better. It’s my very own #occupy movement. 😊

  • Aria

    My motivation for recovery is so I can be the quality art therapist I want to be in the future.

  • Eden

    My current motivation for recovery was when I found out my kidneys are failing at only 23. I don’t want to die. I’m in school for Social Work and want to help people so bad. But I can’t without helping myself first. I want to do art and get married and have kids and travel. But I can’t do any of that with my eating disorder. Right now, I’m fighting like hell to not die. And that’s my motivation.

  • Shawna

    My current motivation for recovery is my niece I would never wanna pass on my habits that I have unto her I noticed how she looks up to me and how she watches my every move and I will never wanna lead her wrong I would never want her to pick up my habits and become what I have become I wanna be better for her and I want better for her

  • Brittany Perdigao

    My motivation to recovery is my parents and my younger brother. I realized I am sick of this life and I don’t want to die. I don’t want to do that to my family. 🙁😭

    Another motivation is my best friend I’m the whole world is getting married this year and she asked me to be her bridesmaid! I want to be healthy and be able to wear the dress and enjoy her day with her not be fixated on this fucking Anorexia….

  • Megan C

    My motivation for the first time really ever (over 20 years?) is for myself. I’ve worked hard for my husband and our marriage and I worked so hard through my pregnancy, but I can finally say I am doing this for me now. I never thought I deserved anything like recovery until I saw the way my daughter look at me with those eyes truly understanding who I was. Her mom and I have her Unconditional love and for the first time I feel like I deserve it. I’m trying to help others feel like they deserve it by sharing my story, doing walks and so forth, so why don’t I deserve it? I do and that’s what I’m working towards 💪💪

  • Deyanira Ramos

    I want to experience more in my life, I really want to make a difference in the world. Honestly seeing others thrive is amazing (such as other people recover(ing)). 🖤

  • Stephanie Kliewer Robbins

    After living through my own struggle, and using Jenni’s book as a motivator, I went on to become an ED therapist. I would love the opportunity to share this book with many of my clients.

  • Cat Nowinski

    My motivation is to live and stop just existing; stop living in the background of my own life. I’ve let ED take over and steal too many experiences or taint too many of my experiences over the past 3 decades and I’m two days away from turning 40 and I will not let ED have the next 3 decades!

  • Kim Dalen

    I want to recover because I deserve to live. I want to be a part of my family which if difficult when you are entrenched in an ED. I deserve to thrive. My motivation is my family.

  • Leah Rose Schwebel

    I want to recover so that I can be a child psychologist and help others!

  • Brynna

    I want recovery because I want to gain more than just weight – I want to gain life, joy, passion, and the ability to feel all that it involves. I stay motivated by reminding myself how awful it feels to be numb all the time.

  • erinfromlongisland

    My eating disorder has basically messed up every aspect of my life. I stay up too late (behaviors related) so I am over tired at work. My brain isn’t as sharp as it should be and I am always so so so tired. I’m done with this.

  • Sidney Penner

    I want to recover because I want to be a Registered Dietitian and help other patients heal from a eating disorder. I want to be able to enjoy life without the fear of numbers ruling me. But most of all I want to recover so I can thrive at school and be the best RD I can and not be famished doing so.

  • Jennifer Crandell

    I want recovery so that I can continue to do something that I am passionate about…teach!! I will NOT let ED take that away from me!!

  • Thanks to everyone for sharing! I absolutely love reading about what you are moving toward in life. Whatever you do, please don’t quit. Recovery really does happen. I believe in all of you!

    The winner of the book is Leah Rose Schwebel! We will send you an email. Congrats!