Body Acceptance, Recovery

Body Transformations and Bologna

Social media might be one the biggest barriers in eating disorder treatment and true recovery.

I constantly scroll past people posting photos and status updates about their “body transformations” and how well they are doing with “healthy eating” or their latest attempt at a diet. Recently I was scrolling and came to before and after photos of an acquaintance. The photos of this (already thin) woman were accompanied by a caption talking about her 21 day body transformation, how she has worked her “booty off,” and been eating “healthy” in order to do it–oh and if anyone wanted to do it to ask her how.  It was only a few days ago she posted about P90X and T25 as methods to work off her booty. The eating disordered part of my mind immediately jumped in, berating and comparing my body to hers. Playing the dangerous comparison game when there really is no comparison. I have hips, a butt, and yes, a belly. We are built differently, I was never and will never be her size unless I am seriously ill.  This realization is something I would not have seen even a few months ago. The counter thought to the comparison is what prompted me to think deeper about her post.

Honestly, these “21 day transformations” are only the latest version of any other fad diet. They are not sustainable. Unless the individual is willing to follow a strict diet and exercise regimen for the remainder of his/her life it will not last. The weight will come back (maybe more) and the toned limbs will lose their taught appearance. It isn’t a sustainable, healthy life style if it requires that much dedication each day. The “transformations” are another “quick-fix” aimed to perpetuate the multi-billion dollar diet industry…and it works. People buy into the diet and exercise routine, giving it 100 percent effort initially but lose steam; only to become dissatisfied with the program and move on to the next fad.

Recently on Facebook I made an announcement to my friends to stop adding me to their “healthy living” groups.  At first I was frustrated by the burden of going into the groups to remove myself permanently, while also choosing not to allow anyone to add me again. My eyes, without trying, always managed to catch the titles of the fads such as, “Rich Food, Poor Food” and “Tips on Healthy Eating.” As tempted as my eating disordered brain was to follow the links and see what I could do to lose some weight, I resisted. I countered the temptation by feeling sorry for the people that buy into the diet industry’s empty promises in hopes of feeling better about themselves. I wanted to be blunt and ask, “Are you a dietician? Are you telling me what to do under the guidance of one? No? Okay, then stop bothering me because I already have one and I am learning TRUE balanced eating.” However, I simply made a more polite post and continued to be thankful for my awareness. By having an eating disorder I am learning more about food and “healthy living” than any book the diet industry publishes can promise.

I leave you today with a challenge.
Next time you see a post about a new diet, cleanse, or other product offering a quick-fix body transformation, ask yourself if it is sustainable. 

Chances are, it is not.

With Body Love,
Lane

Bikini Body, Body Acceptance, Recovery

Thoughts on a Bikini Body

I ordered a bikini for our vacation.  An itsy bitsy, teenie weenie, yellow polka dot bikini.  Okay, maybe not so much yellow…or teenie…or any of those other things, but it is a bikini.

Society tells women, especially those of us who are plus size, that bikinis weren’t made for us.  Initially I fell victim to that belief.  As I opened the package on my not-so-teenie bikini and pulled out the cute vintage-style suit, for which I had been waiting nearly a week, I looked at the bottoms and got depressed.  They looked big.  Not big as in they wouldn’t fit, but big because it takes a lot of material to cover this voluptuous behind.  It depressed me they have to be that big now when, before Vivienne, I could wear the itsy bitsy bikinis found in any store.  Ironically, I thought I was fat before when I could buy swimsuits in any store.  (I am beginning to realize now how much enjoyment was wasted when I wasn’t fully appreciating or accepting my body.)

Anyway, I began to examine why this particular swimsuit depressed me.  I settled on the notion it is because I am plus size and I shouldn’t wear such a thing.  Heaven forbid a bigger woman wear something she wants because it might make the remainder of society uncomfortable!  The thoughts flooded my head: people might whisper, point, or even tell me to cover up.  I know what society says.  Society says a size 16 woman shouldn’t wear a bikini.  I don’t need society to tell me that because all the diet industry products claim it and regular stores don’t typically carry a bikini in my size.  That does not mean that I don’t deserve to wear what I want just as much as the person whose size they do carry.  However, before going vacation I determined I was going to wear a bikini.  I ordered my bikini from a company aimed at helping women feel good in whatever style swimsuit they want to wear (swimsuitsforall.com).  I realize society claims no one wants to see what a plus size woman looks like “without clothes.”  Well, then, society, avert your eyes because I am going to wear this bikini.  (The eating disordered part of my brain agrees with society but I am going to challenge that part of my brain right now.)

Honestly, why is being plus size bad?  My vitals are in the normal, healthy range.  I am active and enjoy being active, it isn’t that I sit around like a bump on a log.  I follow a meal plan prescribed by a licensed dietician and while I sometimes stray from that plan, overall I am healthy.  I believe  the negativity toward being plus size is only a result from the media and diet industry telling us it is bad.  The diet industry, with the help of clothing companies, have deemed anyone above a size 12 to be plus size.  Who came up with that anyway?  So are women who are a size 0 neutral size, or those able to wear children’s size clothing negative size?  No, the only label placed on women is the negative one of “plus size.”  Well, you know what, in this moment I am proudly plus size.

We hear on a daily basis right now we need to get our “bikini bodies” ready for the summer sun.  What does that even mean? Is my body not ready for a bikini right now?  The media and diet industry would tell me no because I haven’t used a special product or put myself through a bikini body boot camp.  Well, I have a message for the media: no thanks.  I refuse to buy into the idea that I can only wear a bikini if I exercise and starve myself to do it.  I’m sorry I like ice cream.  I like being able to choose what I want to eat without feeling guilty (this is a work in progress).  For the first time in my adult life I am learning to enjoy food.  I have learned there are no “good” or “bad” foods and I can try everything because everything fits into my meal plan somewhere.  I’ll be darned if I let commercials about needing to get my “bikini body” ready make me feel otherwise.

So, to quote a body acceptance advocate I adore,
“How do you get a bikini body?  You put a bikini on your body.”
(Thanks, Taryn Brumfitt, I think I’ll do just that.)

 With Body Love,
Lane

Body Acceptance, Recovery

BBA in BZE

In an attempt to be as brutally honest about body acceptance through an eating disordered mind, I am going to show some of the negative thoughts that prompt me to seek radical acceptance.

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My husband and I recently arrived in my second favorite country (second only to the U.S.A.) on Earth–Belize, Central America.  Coming in for a landing the view is beyond breathtaking as one side of the aircraft showcases crystal clear blue ocean views and the other displays a jungle of peaks clouded with the mist of afternoon rain.  I love it.  I couldn’t keep from smiling because we were only one puddle jumper plane away from our destination in the south of the country.  However, for the better half of the international flight from Atlanta I was keenly aware an unwanted guest boarded the plane and was traveling with us.  That’s right, my eating disordered brain decided to crash my romantic honeymoon-esque getaway before we even arrived!  The eating disordered part of my brain grew loud, “You are so fat you shouldn’t be allowed to be on this trip. [Allowed? What am I, 10?]  At least last year you were thinner. [Yeah, and sick.]  Your dress makes you look like a cow trying to go tropical and you drank too much alcohol and ate too much food on this flight.  Failure.”  For a long while I entertained these thoughts and found myself doubting not only my clothing choice but my entire body and being.

**On a side note, as part of my body acceptance I am working to only pick and wear one outfit each morning rather than raiding my entire closet.  This is proving challenging and creates insecurities as I have grown accustomed changing clothes multiple times before walking out the door.**

In times like this it can be so much harder to turn the mind toward radical acceptance because it is so easy to give in and allow the negative eating disordered thoughts to rule my brain, completely disrupting my day.  I actually entertained the thoughts for several hours before I realized I was allowing them to darken my entire day.  “Okay, eating disorder,” I thought, “two can play this game and I already know who will win.”  (Just in case you have any doubts, I was referring to me.)

1. I don’t particularly like how I look right now and that is OK.
2. I have legs that allowed me to walk through airports and arms that carried my (heavily) loaded bag.
3. My thighs have stretch marks and cellulite but they helped me walk to the grocery store so I could purchase items to stay on my recovery meal plan.
4. My stomach is no longer flat and it sags from carrying Vivienne and I am so thankful it did.
5. My face is broken out from stress but right now it gets to feel the sea air breeze and the warmth of the sun.
6. My body is a gift from God.  The same God that has allowed me to visit this beautiful place not once, but twice.  God is amazing and He doesn’t make mistakes.
7. My body isn’t what it used to be but it allows me to fill a place on this Earth that only I can fill.   No one else looks like me and no one else gets to be me.

Believe it or not, going through the thought process and coming up with those seven radical beliefs helped.  No, I don’t suddenly love myself and think I am the most beautiful woman on the planet; far from it, but I appreciate myself and my God.  I appreciate my body for all it has done and continues to do even after the eating disordered abuse I put it through.  I appreciate God and His plans and provision for my life.  Mostly, right now, in this moment, I appreciate the fight I have to put up to be appreciative because it grants me wisdom and insight many do not have.  While those who never have to battle an eating disorder are very fortunate, how often do they sit down and reflect on appreciating their bodies?  My guess is they don’t.

So, my mantra for the remainder of this beautiful trip will be exactly what I put on bold italics earlier because it resonated with my heart:

No one else looks like me and no one else gets to be me 

With Body Love,
Lane

Body Acceptance, Recovery

Beautiful Body Acceptance Adventure

The Beautiful Body Acceptance Adventure began with a blog post.
A blog post in response to a blog post.

Several weeks ago I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw a post regarding loving and accepting your post-baby body.  However, the article did not appear to be promoting love or acceptance of this woman’s post-baby body, but rather searching for social acceptance for how hard she has worked to get back to her pre-baby body (with a few added stretch marks).  As a woman in recovery from a 16 year battle with an eating disorder this struck a nerve, inspiring me to write a response.  The response gained momentum among those on my social media account and with my treatment team, both past and present.  I have been encouraged to share my wisdom and insight on greater outlets and, therefore, have created this blog; the Beautiful Body Acceptance blog.  It is an adventure in exploring the inner workings of an eating disordered mind on a journey toward full radical body acceptance.  For those that do not follow my family blog I will give you the original Beautiful Body Acceptance post below.

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You know what I am tired of seeing? Articles, blog posts, and television interviews talking about post-baby body acceptance. You might wonder why, when I am such an advocate for self-acceptance, I am tired of seeing this–and yes, even a little frustrated. The answer is simple, most of the time they are NOT promoting body acceptance, but seeking societal acceptance and praise for their post-baby weight loss.

Just today I read another blog post “gone viral” about body acceptance after baby. Initially the post started out as appreciating the body for what it can do but then it got into the numbers. The dreaded numbers. A sure-fire way to get someone in eating disorder recovery to play the comparison game is to talk numbers. “Look how much weight she gained and how much she has already lost. Her babies (plural!) are only seven months. What’s your deal? Vivienne is closing in on two! Oh, and you only had one.” My brain began to swirl with negative comments like this, as my reading progressed to the numbers portion of her post. I’m thankful to be in recovery because I recognize those comments are actually coming from the eating disordered part of my brain that I have to fight off every day, several times each day, in order to have a life in recovery.

What Body Acceptance Is To Me:
I am by no means saying I am an expert, or that I have fully achieved this because I am far from it. I still have many times each day when I see my body and think horrible thoughts about the stretch marks, the C-section scar, and how much I have changed in general over the course of a few years. However, when I have moments of body acceptance my weight isn’t even in the picture. It is radical acceptance for the body I have now and what it can do. I realize my body has greatly changed from the body I had before pregnancy. No longer do I have a flat stomach, well-toned arms and legs, or nice perky breasts and sometimes that is okay with me. I don’t have time to work out every day, heck I am lucky if I get to a yoga class during the week, even though I am a stay-at-home mom. My body looks different on the outside and it isn’t what society deems acceptable anymore, but why should that matter? Body acceptance is choosing to look at how my body housed, nourished, and grew a tiny human for nine months. Now my arms pick Vivienne up several times each day and carry her to bed when she has fallen asleep. My thighs, in all their jiggly glory, make a great seat for her when we read bedtime stories. This is radical acceptance. I’m not saying I love my “new” body but I am appreciating all it can do for me now. It isn’t “broken” because I had a baby and I am not back to the size and weight I was before Vivienne. Let’s be honest, I’m in eating disorder recovery which means I don’t know my weight, and for my sanity I prefer to keep it that way (most days).

The Facts:
What I do know is I may never be the size I was before Vivienne or as toned as I was before her. Before Vivienne I didn’t have a little smile to make me stop and start playing. I had the gym to greet me after a long day because I had nothing better to do than make my body stay that acceptable form, as deemed by society. When given the choice, now I would take running around the living room playing “tickle monster” over running on a treadmill any day. I would rather make homemade pizza while dancing around the kitchen to Celtic music and laughing uncontrollably at how silly we are, over taking an intense Zumba class. No, I don’t love my body all the time; in fact I still frequently have discussions with my eating disorder treatment team about how I “miss” the body I had when I was living in my eating disorder before Vivienne. However, I don’t miss it enough to go back to that life. Vivienne is more important. Enjoying my life with my family is more important. Appreciating my body because even when I mistreated it, my body allowed me to have a child and it is still here to help me enjoy that child. That is more important.

My body has changed and I don’t always like the ways in which it has, but my soul has changed for the better. I’m lively, I’m in love with a little 31 inch 20 month old, who has completely stolen my heart and is changing it for the better.

That is body acceptance. It isn’t always loving the body you have but appreciating your body for what it is and what it can do. Body acceptance is saying “Dang, I look good,” regardless of what society says, when you’re feeling on top of the world. Body acceptance isn’t about working out every day and losing enough weight to get back to the “pre-baby body” just with a few extra stretch marks; it is about appreciating the body in this moment, exactly as it is now. Like I said, this is still a work in progress for me and I am not an expert, but I feel like I am getting closer each day to body acceptance and love. I hope other moms of toddlers (and those readers without children) realize you have to accept and appreciate your body for all it can do not just what it looks like. You are not your body.

On that note, I will leave you with a quotation I saw the other day:
“Start with body acceptance. Body love will come.”

With Body Love,
Lane