Body Acceptance, Eating Disorder, Social Media

Facebook Folly

I broke up with Facebook.
That’s right, I hit the delete button on 10 years of my social media life because it wasn’t helping me be happy.

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Over the years Facebook offered many things but happiness typically wasn’t one.  Facebook gave me a new method of comparison.  Comparison between myself, my friends, mothers I didn’t know, and people I met once.  Facebook helped change my view of myself because I didn’t “measure up” to the people on my newsfeed.  Sound familiar?

The reason I started this blog was because of an article I saw on my newsfeed about a mother and her post-pregnancy body.  It was an article a woman I met through a mutual friend (and met once) posted to prove that women can get their “bodies back” (to a degree) and simply accept what doesn’t change.  Never mind the fact I already caught myself comparing my workouts to this person because she posted about running on the treadmill while her twins slept.  Heck, when Vivienne sleeps, this momma sleeps.  Posts like that–about mothers exercising instead of resting–made me feel like a terrible woman.  What kind of stay-at-home mom doesn’t take the time out of her day to run or exercise when her baby sleeps?  Seeing posts about pregnant women who were still lifting weights made me feel like I somehow screwed up when I was pregnant and that is the reason why I’m not the size I was before my daughter even two years after her birth.  Every post became a new measure for why I didn’t add up or couldn’t be a good wife, mother, Christian, etc.

My Facebook was not recovery friendly.  People often posted about their diets, how much they exercise, their weight-loss goals, and some even post about others in an attempt to fat or thin shame.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  Even people close to me, with whom it had been discussed about what triggers me, posted about “eating Paleo.”  Reading about someone who is already thin posting about eating Paleo triggered me enough to look up how to do it…then I realized it would never fly with my dietician since entire food groups are cut out.  My eating disordered brain was definitely frustrated and I felt angry and defeated.  Looking at Facebook turned me on to new diet tips and tricks that I can’t use in recovery because the tips and tricks are eating disordered but people don’t realize it.  While I can say the diets are eating disordered from a wise-mind standpoint in this moment, it was not always so easy when it caught my eye scrolling through my newsfeed.  Just like leading me to look up how to eat a Paleo diet, Facebook introduced me to many diets that don’t fit into a healthy meal plan.  It was exhausting fighting between my recovery and eating disordered mind when I signed into my Facebook account.

My Facebook increased my body checking/comparison behaviors. While my body checking began YEARS before Facebook was even developed, the booming social media site certainly didn’t help.  Friends I hadn’t seen in years would post bikini photos from vacation and I would immediately begin comparing my body to theirs.  My stomach wasn’t flat enough, my arms not toned enough, and don’t even get me started on my thighs….the comparisons went on and on.  I would then proceed to look in the mirror and pick apart everything I did not like about myself and point out how so-and-so was obviously more disciplined because her body looked better in a PHOTO.

My Facebook flat-out made me angry.  In case you weren’t sure, people are MEAN.  People love to tear down others in order to make themselves feel better and that makes me angry.  The amount of fat-shaming and refusal of acceptance I saw on a daily basis made me angry.  People so easily assume those of us who are categorized as “overweight” or “obese” are lazy and therefore shouldn’t show ourselves to society.  However, the shaming went both ways because I saw a fair amount of thin-shaming, too.  Our society is pretty screwed up when we have to sling mud at each other in order to build ourselves up to feel some semblance of confidence.  Not everyone who is overweight is lazy or wants to lose weight, just like not everyone who is thin is anorexic and needs to eat a sandwich.  When will women realize we have to stick together because together we are our biggest advocate?  At the rate Facebook shows, that answer will be never.

While I’ve only been without Facebook for about a week, it has been a pretty freeing week.  As far as recovery goes, I have felt better about myself and done less comparing than I have in a very long time.  I don’t wake up in the morning, reach for my phone, open my Facebook app, and proceed to check out my newsfeed; which means my day doesn’t start out with body comparison anymore.  My day starts out by waking up and thanking God that I get to see another sunrise.  My day starts out by getting up and doing yoga to become more in-tune and appreciate MY body; not anyone else’s.

Maybe the description of my social media sounds eerily familiar to yours.  Perhaps you, too, wake up and start your day by comparing your life and body to someone else you see on Facebook.  If you think it sounds familiar I encourage you to delete your Facebook (or twitter, instagram, etc.) and see how you feel about your body and yourself after just one week.  If you think one week sounds too hard, I challenge you to try it for one day.  Just one day without social media as the measuring stick for your body and life.  My guess is you will like the free feeling you get from just being yourself and not comparing your life and body to anyone else.

After all, you are beautiful because no one else gets to be you.

With Body Love,
Lane

Eating Disorder, Grief, Recovery

Strength in Recovery

Today was rough, but I held on.  
Today I could have taken the “easy” way out and used my comfortable coping mechanism, but I didn’t.  
Today I fought back and won. 

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A little background for those who don’t know me, my father passed away two years ago in January.  Yesterday was his birthday, he would’ve been 58 years old, and tomorrow is Father’s Day.  So, needless to say, this weekend is a little rough for me.  However, I thought I could “handle” it.  I thought I wouldn’t break down and cry.  I thought this would be the year that his death didn’t bother me on this particular weekend.  I could not have been more wrong.

Today my friends got married; which was by all accounts, very joyous.  It was a beautiful occasion, I was happy, and felt so confident in the dress I picked out.  (It was a bright coral dress with tan stiletto heels.  Let me tell you, I NEVER wear heels anymore.)  I felt like a million bucks with my make up, dress, shoes, and an evening out without my toddler tagging along.  I was enjoying the festivities until the time for the ceremonial dances came during the reception.  Since my dad’s passing I’ve made a habit of asking the bride of weddings I attend what song she is dancing to with her father, just so I can be prepared.  (I didn’t do that for one wedding four months after my dad died and it was disastrous.)  At least that was a habit until this wedding.  For some reason it didn’t cross my mind to ask my friend this time.  Well, it didn’t much matter because they did  the mother-groom dance first and the song they chose was “Simple Man,” by Lynard Skynard.  We played that song at my dad’s calling hours because he loved it so much.  While it made me tear up, I managed to sit through it.  Then it was time for the father-bride dance.  That did not turn out so well for me.  “Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle was the song.  It was the song I danced to with my dad and the song my friend was dancing to with hers.

I didn’t handle that as well.  The tears welled up and began to fall.

All I wanted to do was stop the tears and “handle” the situation in the best way I knew how: by running to the bathroom to purge.  As if purging would somehow make everything instantly better.  As if purging could make the emotions, the pain, the hurt, and the anger go away.  In my mind if I purged everything could go back to the happy moment it was before the songs began to play.  But purging wouldn’t solve anything.  It wouldn’t make this weekend no longer Father’s Day weekend.  It wouldn’t make the hole in my heart instantly fill back up with a father.  Purging wouldn’t solve a single thing.  This was the reality I had to accept as I stood in the hallway trying to decide if I would make a left and go into the bathroom or walk straight ahead and step outside.  I knew even though the bathroom was a “safe place” to hide away from any eyes who might wonder why this grown woman was crying in the middle of a beautiful wedding reception, it would mean giving in and slipping up.  If I set foot in that bathroom I would purge and it would be game over.  In that moment the words from the Priest who delivered the Homily at the wedding came to mind: “Everything you do with your body should reflect that it belongs to God.”  It was at that moment I decided to keep walking forward.  I decided not to turn left.  I decided to let people judge me for crying at a wedding reception because my recovery has to come before my pride.  God is my Heavenly Father who can fill that hole in my heart but I have to let Him.  I have to choose to fight my eating disorder and find my strength not only in recovery, but in moments like this, with Him.

At the risk of sounding arrogant, I am so proud of myself for that decision.  It is probably the best, and toughest, decision I have had to make regarding my recovery in several weeks, but it was well worth it.  I allowed myself to be human.  I allowed myself to feel.  Several weeks ago I was trying to describe to a friend why emotions seem to be so difficult for me, as well as others in recovery.  This was my best description:

Learning to feel again means feeling every thing.  Not managing the emotions we don’t want and trying to find the ones we do, but EXPERIENCING it all.  And the emotions are STRONGER and more INTENSE than people who have been feeling for their whole lives because we don’t know HOW or WHAT it is to feel.

So, I say all that to remind myself that feeling and experiencing my feelings and emotions is all part of recovery.  It is all part of this imperfect process.  I also think I will be reminding myself of the following for some time to come:

My recovery has to come before my pride.

With Body Love,
Lane

   

Body Acceptance, Eating Disorder, Recovery

Make Memories. Be Real. Be You.

I wasn’t sure what to write tonight.
I felt I had nothing profound to share, therefore I shouldn’t spend time typing a new post.  However, that is when I realized sometimes a post doesn’t need to be profound, it just needs to be real.

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This last week has been a struggle.  A struggle to eat, a struggle to accept my body, and myself as a person.  My meal plan went to hell in a hand basket over the last week, which is frustrating because I can see the direction that leads.  I also nearly stepped on the scale forward facing at my dietician’s office this week because I decided I just didn’t care anymore.  (Thankfully I have always been a strict rule-follower so I decided not to challenge her authority.)  I found myself questioning whether or not recovery is really worth it because, lets face it, I am burned out.  I am burned out from constantly figuring out my exchanges (the method which most eating disorder treatment professionals use to help clients with food rather than counting calories) and following all the “rules” that are set in recovery.  I find myself wishing to be nothing more than “normal.”  To me, being normal means I don’t have to take time away from my daughter to see a dietician, a therapist, and attend support group.  Being normal means eating what I want and not worrying about whether or not it will make me “over” in an exchange area and the guilt and embarrassment of admitting that to my dietician.  However, I needed to remind myself that most of society isn’t “normal” when it comes to food.  Most people have some sort of skewed view of food and an obscure relationship with it.  I’m learning to do something most people don’t accomplish in a lifetime–eating balanced meals allowing myself to have everything in some capacity.  On the days when I want nothing more than to be normal, I realize I don’t want that at all.  I want to be recovered, which is a much greater accomplishment I think.

In the middle of this week of struggle, the days in Ohio have been hot; weather I thoroughly enjoy.  The hot weather is something my daughter seems to really enjoy too, so I have been trying to live in the moment with her to get my mind off my own selfish struggles.  That means taking her to the pool and wearing my swimsuit in front of people, even though I feel self-conscious because my daughter wants to swim with me.  She grabs my hands, pulls me into the water with her and proceeds to get me to play.  And you know what, when I am in the water playing with her I am not thinking about my body.  I’m not even thinking about myself.  I am thinking about the fun we are having and the memories we are creating.  Along the same lines, I took her down to the creek at the back of our property last night and we picked wild mulberries.  Okay, I picked the mulberries, my daughter ate them as quickly as I could pick them!  Her innocence is so pure, sweet, and refreshing.  She isn’t thinking about if the berries will impact her body or not, all she knows is they taste sweet and delicious and she wanted more!

Adding to the memory making with my daughter, a true test for me came last night when she got in the snack cabinet.  She rummaged around for a few minutes and pulled out an applause packet for herself…and one for me.  Even though I had just eaten my snack in accordance with my meal plan, I was presented with an opportunity to set an example for my child: to eat a snack with her when she offers me food.  This was a chance to show her food isn’t an enemy.  Guess what?  I took that opportunity.  I not only showed my daughter food isn’t an enemy, I also showed my eating disorder that I am back in charge and it doesn’t get to win.  And you know what?  Today I have been back on point with my meal plan and tracking my exchanges.  After that seemingly small victory last night, I have a renewed hope for my own recovery and getting to a place in recovery where I am not only intuitively eating but also enjoying food with my family no matter what time of day.

My challenge for myself this week (and for you) is to live in the moment.
Make memories.  Eat a random snack offered to you by a toddler.
Swim without regard to what others might think.
Sunbathe. Pick berries. Sing.
Be you.

With Body Love,
Lane

Eating Disorder, God, Recovery

The Thistle, The Root, and The Eating Disorder

An eating disorder is like a thistle:
Deeply rooted and full of stickers to keep support people away.
But the stickers also keep someone else very important away:
me

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We are all familiar with thistles. They are green, obnoxious, incredibly prickly, fast-growing and ALWAYS seem to be thriving. That is, they are always thriving unless the person tending to the weeds gets them out at the root. One cannot rid a flowerbed of thistles simply by snapping the prickly leaves and stem off at the ground level. No, the person tending to the weeds must pull harder, wiggle gently at the base, and sometimes dig out a trusty trowel from their toolbox in order to the get root. Once the root has successfully been removed there is a void in the ground, or sometimes a gaping hole from the use of a trowel, that needs to be filled. If the void isn’t filled with nutrient dense soil and a fruitful seed it is likely the thistle will return and the process will need repeated. This is how weeding my flowerbed became symbolic of my journey through recovery.

Much like the description of a person tending to weeds in a flowerbed, I am tending to the weed in my life: my eating disorder. My eating disorder is big, though not as big as it was, and full of prickly stickers that seek to keep me away. Though I have managed to snap off some of the leaves, a thick, prickly stem and root remain. While I don’t often engage in eating disordered behaviors they still exist, to a degree, in my life. Therefore, that is why I say there is still a thick stem because every now and then a leaf will sprout out as I choose to use a behavior because it seems easier than reaching out and touching the prickly stem. However, the biggest concern is still the root. The root is evil. The root is the heart of the thistle and until I take the necessary steps to remove it, the stem and leaves will continue to thrive in my life. After so long the stickers become so large I am afraid to go close, afraid to explore what is at the root of my eating disorder. In my 16 years of fear the root has grown deeper and is harder to pull. Unwilling to experience the pain of touching the stickers, I allow the eating disorder to grow; continuously clipping the leaves and trimming the stem, all while ignoring the root of the evil in my life. I have been completely unwilling to explore what is at the core of my eating disorder. Until I decide to go close, experience the pain of touching the prickly stickers and get to the root, the weed will always return because it was never truly gone.

That being said, in recent weeks I have decided it is time to touch the stem. It is time to experience the pain of that exposure and start wiggling, pulling, and potentially digging to get the root out. I’ve been given the trowel and gloves in the form of my therapist, and my dietician has provided me with the nutrient dense soil to help a new seed grow. As I work to remove the root I am creating more space for a new seed to be planted but I need to make sure I get the entire root or the thistle can easily return; wrecking havoc in my life.

What new seed will I plant? How will I fill that void–or gaping hole–in my life? Those questions barely crossed my mind because the seed has actually already been planted, now I just need to give it room to thrive in the nutrient dense soil of God’s Word. Once I remove the root, the seed can take a firm hold and begin to truly fill the void my eating disorder filled for so long. The seed, my friends, is God. Giving God that place in my life and the nutrient dense soil means He can help a beautiful flower to grow in the thistle’s place.

It is high time to roll up my sleeves and truly begin to dig out the root.
I am ready to fully recover.
[Are you?]

With Body Love,
Lane