Body Acceptance, Body Image, Eating Disorder, Friends, God, High School, Recovery, Reunion

High School Never Ends

“Still care about your hair and the car you drive//Doesn’t matter if you’re 60 or 35.”
-from “High School Never Ends” by Bowling for Soup

*****

So I might not be 35 or even 30, but I did just attend my 10 year class reunion over the weekend.  (Yes, that makes me 28 for those of you who are now thinking about my age.)  From the start of the reunion all I could think about was this song by Bowling for Soup because that is exactly how I felt.  Initially everyone who attended separated into their high school cliques and they met every stereotypical clique in the book.  Then, as everyone began drinking (perks of adulthood), the cliques began to mingle and the awkwardness subsided…for the most part.  However, we still fulfilled our “roles” from high school and, for the better part of the evening, my mind focused on just that.

 

Once the food was set out and people began to eat, I found myself falling back into my role rather quickly of the eating disordered girl.  I was one of the last people to get food, feeling anxious the entire time, and only eating half before tossing the rest in the trash.  It wasn’t until I found myself sitting in my “usual” spot among my friends where I sat during lunch in high school, (on the end, just like the photo, so I could easily leave to purge) contemplating purging the inexcusably small amount of food I ate when I realized high school never ends.  As I sat there drinking my beverage watching my friends eat their food and get seconds with nothing in front of me, I realized while I have made some significant changes and movement into recovery I still have a long way to go.  I still greatly care about what others think of me and my body. 

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My usual spot on the end of my friends

I realized when I was getting dressed for the reunion that I was extremely concerned about seeing people from school.  Not because of anything other than I am roughly 80 pounds, you read that correctly: 8-0, heavier than when I graduated.  That’s right, in 10 years I have gained 80 pounds.  Initially I was not going to write the number, as I try to refrain from numbers at all costs because they can be triggering, but I decided it was pretty important for my mindset prior to the reunion.  For those of you thinking, “I thought you don’t weigh yourself” let me just say, we all have our vices and mine is that dang number.  I am always trying to see what my dietician writes down after weighing me and, sometimes, I succeed. (Sorry, Anne!)  I tried on probably six shirts before I decided what to wear and even then I thought it made me look terrible.  My body acceptance and body image was pretty low when I went to the reunion.   I was so afraid of what people would think of me or say about me.  So concerned they would only see the weight I have gained and not the person I am.  

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A few class of 2005 members

My weight gain might be shocking to some, but to me it signifies my struggle but also my life being lived.  In those 10 years I’ve received my BA, MSW, found the love of my life, been an Army officer, had a beautiful baby girl, lived in three states, entered and completed eating disorder treatment, been at unhealthy low weights and as high as my current weight.  You know what ALL of that says about me?  NOTHING.  Just as my self worth is not defined by the number on a scale, I am also not my accomplishments.  While my accomplishments are something of which I can be proud, they do not define me.  My weight does not define me.  In that respect high school never ends.  Both in high school and now I am a Christian.  I love Jesus.  My morals and values define me.  I am a dedicated wife and mother.  I love and respect my husband and want to be an example for my daughter of a woman who is body positive and strong.  I am compassionate and seek to serve Christ by serving others.  I have my faults, my vices, but each day I strive to remain in recovery and to become stronger in my body acceptance and my faith.  That is what defines me.  

While my eating disorder did come up in three separate conversations, it wasn’t about how much I gained; people were glad to see my eyes looking bright and that I finally entered recovery. (The cover photo shows my sunken eyes with dark circles despite wearing make-up.  Most of my high school photos sport this look.)  My eating disorder was not a secret in high school.  Several of the people in the above photo tried to help me by telling teachers who would listen, as well as trying to get me to eat or following me to make sure I didn’t purge.  There are some great people in that photograph who saw the real me when I was sick and who saw the real me at the reunion.  I’m fortunate to know people who looked past my low weight and my high weight to see the real me.      

“And I still don’t have the right look//And I still have the same three friends//
And I’m pretty much the same as I was back then…” 

High school never ends.  We are all pretty much the same ten years after graduating. The eating disorder is still a big part of my life but in a different way.  Instead of being obsessed with not eating I am obsessed with eating what is on my meal plan.  Body image is still a concern but body acceptance is even bigger than body image worries…most days.  And you know what, regardless of how much weight I’ve gained I still had fun and my friends are still my friends.  In the end I spent a lot of time worrying about something that does not remotely matter because if my weight matters that much to someone then they weren’t really a friend at all.

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We are still a little crazy

With Body Love,
Lane

Body Acceptance, Body Image, Eating Disorder, Exercise, Recovery, Social Media

Obsession

We have become a FitBit, extreme exercise, “healthy” eating, diet and weight loss OBSESSED society.

******

The self-improvement obsession has reached nearly every facet of society; from the diet and body image obsessed teenager to the air waves of the Christian radio station.  The obsession over weight, body, and what is considered “healthy” is everywhere.  Lately I’ve noticed my attention turning toward these obsessions and finding my frustrations growing over how the these topics seem to be all anyone can talk about.  One of the most common things people comment on when trying to give a compliment is someone’s weight.  “Have you been losing weight?”  or “You look like you’ve lost weight.”  You can’t even purchase a new iPhone without having a pre-loaded app that tracks your daily steps and physical “stats” if you enter them.  Our culture is obsessed with trying to alter our image; trying to become someone different.

Almost always when people talk about what is “healthy” in regards to food they are talking about it because they are trying to lose weight.  Sometimes people change their eating habits because they generally want to feel better, but more often than not the motivation toward “healthy” or “organic” eating is purely for weight loss.  Thinking, “If I eat all organic food, I will lose weight.”  Not only that, but the loose research on what is considered healthy produces fads about certain foods that actually are not any better or worse nutritionally than the original product they are trying to replace.  The product that most comes to mind is the new fad obsession with PB2, which is powdered peanut butter.  Nutritionally it is not any better than the natural peanut butter you can already find in stores.  If you’re arguing with my statement in your head right now that’s okay, just know I work with a real-life dietician weekly.  I think it should be a health insurance requirement for all Americans to see a dietitian on a yearly basis because it would really help enlighten those who believe in the hyped up chatter about what foods are “healthy” and why we “shouldn’t” eat certain things.  My dietician has really opened my eyes to the fallacy that is the U.S. “healthy” obsessed culture.

Recently, while listening to the local Christian radio station, I was disappointed and a little perturbed by the extensive conversation and promotion of the “21-day no junk food challenge” many of the radio personalities are doing.  The lady describing the challenge went on and on about all the foods she “couldn’t” have during this challenge and how she really misses some of them.  So many specific foods were listed.  It felt like I was listening to my eating disorder voice on the radio.  She encouraged listeners to go on the website, check out how to do the challenge, and post about it on the radio station’s social media page.  I was so frustrated that I am in the process of drafting a letter about my disappointment to the radio station.  I listen to that specific station to be uplifted and encouraged while I am driving and instead I had to fight my eating disorder even harder because of the lengthy conversation about a food challenge.  Everyone is obsessed. (Okay, maybe not everyone, but most people are obsessed.)

What if our obsession turned toward greater things?  Such as helping others.  Stick with me for a minute, if we simply accepted ourselves exactly as we are in this moment, the amount of time spent obsessing over healthy eating, body image, weight, and exercise could be spent uplifting others.  I, clearly, am not immune to this self-obsessed society, as I spend an extraordinary amount of time thinking about my weight and body size.  However, I am on a path many in our society will never dare to take: a path of complete self-acceptance.

I am learning to truly love my flaws and accept my size may never be acceptable to our society.  It is a complete challenge in itself.  It isn’t a challenge that is part of a fad, in fact I imagine it really won’t catch on, but imagine if it did.  Realistically, I am healthy at this weight and size.  Others may look at me and think otherwise, but even my doctor agrees, I am healthy.  I am not hindered by my size…other than when shopping for clothes but thanks to Torrid, there is a remedy for that.  Once I can rid myself of this obsession plaguing the U.S. (and much of the world) I will have more space in my mind, heart, and life to help others.  Perhaps it is a false belief, but I would like to believe this blog is helping others now.  I know writing it helps me process the thoughts and frustrations that occur by living in this self-improvement obsessed society.

So, my challenge for you today is to say something positive about your body every time a thought enters your mind about how much you don’t like your body.  You might just be surprised how often you say something negative about yourself because now you will be replacing it with a positive.  For example, “I shouldn’t eat this _______. It will make me fat.”  could be replaced with, “I am strong and healthy and eating one ________ will not make me fat.” Yes it will take time, and yes, some of the negative comments will slip in without being noticed, but when you notice them, challenge them.  I will be challenging myself to do the same.

With Body Love,
Lane  

Body Acceptance, Body Image, Eating Disorder, God, Recovery

Mirror, Mirror

Mirrors are liars.  They tell us what we expect to see.
-Susanna Fraser

******

Too many times I have looked in the mirror once and thought, “Wow, I look great!” Only to turn around not even five minutes later and think, “Crap.  I look like I just gained 10 pounds.”  How is that even possible?
It is simple: my mind, the mirror, and my eyes play tricks to create my perception of myself.

My Mind: The mind is powerful; dependent upon how we use it.  All too often I use my mind in its negative capacity instead of for the good of myself and others.  Prior to looking in the mirror I am already experiencing some sort of feeling, positive or negative, that will greatly impact how I view myself once I step in front of my bathroom mirror.  When I get dressed for the day or to go out on a date with my husband, I am telling myself I am confident, attractive, and on top of the world.  I’m not even thirty and I have accomplished much and been many places.  I am loved. I am beautiful.  I am a child of God and I am bringing up my daughter to know His love.  Even typing that now makes me sit a little taller in my (not so comfy) desk chair.  What I say to myself has the power to increase my confidence or break me down.  Once I see myself in the outfit I have chosen I usually step away to do something else, coming back to double check my appearance before leaving.  By the time I return to the mirror, which I realize I really need to NOT do as it is incredibly vain, doubtful thoughts have crept in and my perception changes. Whether I am consciously thinking the negative thoughts or not, they are there.  “Maybe this outfit doesn’t flatter my body.  Maybe I should change.  I will just go double check.”  For my mind, double checking spells doom for my mood and mindset.  Instead of feeling like the confident, successful, beautiful mother and wife I am, I find myself feeling frumpy, unhappy, and disgusted.   My mind plays tricks and I bet yours does too.

The Mirror: By definition a mirror is “a reflective surface, now typically of glass coated with a metal amalgam, that reflects a clear image.”  I am inclined to say I disagree with this definition.  While the mirror may truly be glass coated with some metal something-rather, the image is anything but clear.  The image is clouded by our judgements of ourselves.  It is merely a reflection of what we want to see, or what we think we see, and our mind makes the image unclear.  We do not accurately see ourselves because we are simply looking at a reflection; a trick made of glass and thoughts.  One lesson I am learning, over and over again, is to trust those around me.  I am learning to trust my husband when he says I am beautiful and I don’t see myself has he does, or as God does.  I am learning to trust my friend when she says I am beautiful because I care for others, I show love to people in my path, and I am an inspiration.  The mirror doesn’t reflect any of those things.  The mirror only reflects the outward appearance upon which my own harsh judgements and the judgements of those who do not know me are reflected.  

My Eyes: I always used to say my eyes were my best feature when asked what I liked best about myself.  However, I don’t find that to be true anymore.  While I still love their sapphire blue color, they are not the best part of me.  My eyes don’t speak to who I am as a person and they are part of what plays tricks on me. Lets review how the eye allows us to see things:

The Eye

How can something that takes a real-life object and turns it upside down in a normal setting show us anything close to reality when it is looking at an image on a metal coated piece of glass?  Simply put: I don’t think it can.  Now, I obviously do not have scientific proof of this but I believe it to be true.  While our eyes are amazing and they allow us to see the world around us, when it comes to seeing ourselves they aren’t much help.  We either have to look at the mirror or a photo, which still is not an accurate view of ourselves.  Our eyes play tricks. They work in conjunction with our preconceived thoughts and judgements to show us what we think we see.

I would like you to really listen to the song on this post.  My favorite lines are repeated over and over throughout it:

“Hey you in the mirror, I like you!”
“I’m feelin’ mehself!”
“Nobody don’t have to love me because I LOVE ME!”

I am the culprit of my own mood, good or bad, and as long as I stand in front of the mirror (as much I am trying to decrease that practice) and tell myself I am sexy, special, and love myself my mood is likely to be good….along with my confidence. 

With Body Love,
Lane

Body Acceptance, Eating Disorder, Exercise, Recovery

Warrior Dash vs. Recovery Warrior

Be your own warrior: 
Strong enough to effect and defend positive change
in your life

******

Over the weekend I completed the Warrior Dash with my husband and two friends.  It was definitely quite the feat for me, as I did not do any serious preparation or training due to the exercise restrictions still in place to help further my eating disorder recovery.  See that?  The latter part of the previous sentence should have been a red flag for me but it was not.  I wanted to run in the Warrior Dash, for which I signed up last December.  I thought sure by now I would be in this great recovery place and be able to do such exercise again…but I was wrong.  Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly proud of myself for completing all the obstacles and jogging from place to place a few times, but I did it and paid a rather high cost.

Prior to the event I could feel myself teetering on the edge of slipping.  I could feel myself wanting to engage in eating disordered behaviors but I could fight it off.  However, upon completing the 3.1 mile obstacle course the eating disordered voice started to win out.  We went to the car to eat lunch following the race and I struggled because I did not want to replace the calories I just burned.  It felt like wasted effort to eat food following something like that, because without food I could lose weight.  {The warped eating disorder logic nearly jumps off the screen right now.} My brain didn’t see the true logic: my body needed the nutrients to repair muscle and replenish depleted stores of fuel.  Regardless of my internal battle I still ate the pre-planned and packed meal even though I still felt hungry upon completion.  However, I just couldn’t allow myself to eat anything else because it hadn’t been planned or worked into my daily exchanges.  I couldn’t even truly enjoy the post-event beer participants (over 21, of course) receive because in my mind that meant more calories.  My mind was completely consumed with eating disordered thoughts and it was so difficult to try to fight them.  On the way home we stopped at a gas station and my friends purchased some candy to eat.  Even though I really wanted to buy some too, I mean, I did just do one heck of a race, the eating disordered voice won and I didn’t let myself indulge.  Instead I drank my diet caffeine free soda.  Oh, so delicious. (please note the incredible amount of sarcasm)  Even dinner that night was a struggle.

The lessons I learned from all this:

  1. My dietician knows me better than I know myself right now.  God bless that woman because she puts up with a lot of crap from me and this was no exception.  Little arguments during my appointments with her and ignoring her when she expressed concern for my participation in this event.  I thought sure she was overreacting.  This race was not going to throw me for a loop.  How silly.  This was just going to be a day of fun with my husband and a few friends.  Okay, I was wrong and she was right.  She knew I would become hyper-focused on the calories burned and weight loss potential of such an event and tried to share that concern with me.  I even admitted I thought about all that but figured on race day I could control it.  After living through a day-and-a-half of warped eating disorder logic taking over my brain I will wholeheartedly admit I was wrong.
  2. I cannot participate in 5Ks, Warrior Dashes, or anything of the sort. I would like to think this is only temporary but I cannot be sure.  The competitiveness of the events doesn’t make me competitive with other people but very competitive with myself and my eating disorder.  How many calories can I burn?  How little can I eat to avoid replenishing them?  What can I do to make sure this event helps me lose weight?  All these very, very warped thoughts are my red flags that I should not be participating in events like this.
  3. Running is a big no-no.  Similar to the previous lesson, running is also off-limits for now and potentially forever.  I can’t say I am terribly broken up about it, because after injuring my hip in the Army running never really has been the same for me, but I know my eating disorder sure is sad.
  4. I want to be a RECOVERY WARRIOR. This was a serious reminder that if I want to accomplish the goals I have set for myself and achieve living my dreams I need to be recovery focused.  Having a recovery focus means avoiding all the activities that have potential to set me back or allow me to even indulge in the eating disordered world for any amount of time (no matter how small).  Being a recovery warrior means taking care of myself all the time and constantly looking out for my healthy self, not defending the eating disordered self.  My goals and dreams are too important to throw out simply because I want to burn some calories or do something I know I should not be doing (ahem: running 5Ks and warrior dashes).

  For now (or forever) I will have to say “so long, competitive race events.”
My recovery will always come first and I can’t take a chance on a setback for something that will undoubtably be fun but will also turn into a form of punishment.

Here’s to recovery and admitting my dietician was right. Cheers. 

With Body Love,
Lane

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Seriously though, if I could do this in a healthy mindset sometime I would totally do it again!

Eating Disorder, God, Recovery

Godly Love

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrong doing, but rejoices with the truth.  
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV

My eating disorder does not fit any of the godly qualities of love.  In fact, my eating disorder does the exact opposite of everything that represents godly love.
So why have I spent so much time trying to love my eating disorder and trying to get it to love me in return? 

~~~~~~

I rarely write about my faith on this blog.  I don’t write about how putting God first in my recovery often leads to better days and weeks on this road than when I don’t put Him first.  I don’t write about how I try to start each morning reading my bible, listening to contemporary Christian music, and praising God for giving me yet another sunrise.  However, as I was reading my bible this past Wednesday, I was focusing on 1 Corinthians 13 and the verses at the top of this post are what jumped out.  Love, and how love manifests itself here on earth, got me thinking that the “thing” I have spent the most time loving over the last 16.5 years hasn’t shown me any of the earthly manifestations of godly love.  So, today, I am writing about my faith and how reading the above verses has turned my thought process.

I once heard, I think it was in a Christian movie, to find the man worthy of marriage see if he fits the qualities of love found in 1 Corinthians 13.  This is something I intend to teach my daughter when she grows up and starts dating and it is something that has really stuck with me.  But you know what, I couldn’t quote the qualities if you asked me.  I didn’t have them memorized but I knew where to find them.  Terence, or TJ as most know him, is my amazing and supportive husband…AND he fits the qualities of godly love.  He shows me how to live and love.  He is teaching me how to live out the manifestations of love by practicing them with me and our daughter daily.  Terence is truly my inspiration when it comes to learning to love.  I love him with all my heart and I am inspired by his love for God and desire to live a life pleasing to The Lord.  However, my other “love” does not fit any of the 1 Corinthians 13 qualities.

My other “love” does the exact opposite of love.  My other “love” is my eating disorder and it breathes nothing but hate, defeat, and envy into my life.  Patience and kindness are things my eating disorder knows nothing about.  It does nothing but hurry me along on my destructive journey.  Often telling me to lose weight faster, work harder, and stop listening to my support people around me.  My eating disorder is rude…to the people who are trying so hard to help me.  It is rude to my friends when it tries desperately to rebuild the walls I have broken with God’s love and the support of my team.  My eating disorder absolutely insists on its own way.  All the time.  Everyone trying to help me is wrong…or so my eating disorder wants me to believe.  My eating disorder always rejoices in wrongdoing.  It rejoices in engaging in physical activity that I know is off-limits.  It rejoices when I see my weight while sitting in my dietician’s office, even though I know I don’t need to be looking at her paper to see it.  My eating disorder is arrogant; telling me I am nothing and no one can make me beautiful except my eating disorder.  Lies.  I currently am, and always have been, beautiful in God’s sight because He made me.  God made me unique and beautiful.

{For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. -Psalm 139:13-14}

It is exhausting “loving” something that never shows love in return.  My eating disorder never shows love–but always shows hate.  Reading the 1 Corinthians 13 passage the other day brought about an awakening that I have been wasting too much time and too much of my love on something that will never show love in return.  So my goal is to stop “loving” my eating disorder. I am going to stop indulging the unloving, evil thing by rejoicing in wrongdoing with it and start loving God, my husband, my daughter, my family, and friends more.  I am going to worship God with more love in my heart because some “love” isn’t siting in reserve for something that doesn’t deserve my love.

Do you have something or someone in your life that doesn’t fit the 1 Corinthians 13 definition of love?  
If so, what can you do to remove that from your life and allow more room for godly love? 

With Body Love,
Lane