Body Acceptance, Body Image, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Faith, Feelings, Friends, God, Hope

Love Living Life

I LOVE my life.  
I love LIVING my life.
God has blessed me with a beautiful 
LIFE.
LOVE. LIVING. LIFE.

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I love living life.  I haven’t updated this blog in nearly two weeks because I have been busy living my life.  I wish I could convey just how great it makes me feel to say I’ve been “living my life” but I don’t think any amount of words can express the joy I feel right now.  My heart is full, my life is wonderful, and I am happy.  Genuinely happy.  Two words I never thought I would put next to each other and truly mean them: genuine and happy.  But that is the truth in my life.  I have come to realize my life is amazing; even with its bumps and setbacks.

Yes, I am genuinely happy and feel like I could do a happy dance around my house right now just because I love my life, but that doesn’t mean bad things don’t happen.  I just choose to acknowledge God in those moments and keep moving forward.  I am human and I have human emotions (something else that is rather new to my life) so when something bad occurs I do get upset.  However, the magic happens in the moments following.  In the past I would get upset when I got bad news or if something did not go my way on a given day and I would get angry.  I would become angry with God for not giving me a perfect day and for not making my plans go perfectly or not providing for me the way in which He “promised.”  Then I would follow-up my anger with some self-hate, self-doubt, and eventually some seriously eating disordered behaviors in order to make things “better.”  All this did was lead to a negative attitude about my life and myself.  I’m not sure when the shift happened but a few weeks ago I began trying something different: acknowledging that bad things happen but it isn’t the end of the road because God still has a glorious plan for me and my life.

And you know what, when I started doing that I started feeling happier.  I started having a more positive outlook on my life and the things that happen in it.  So we didn’t get a paycheck on time, that’s okay because God is still providing for us.  I have a roof over my head, food in my refrigerator (wow!), clothes to wear, and gas in my car to get me where I need to go.  The basics are always covered.  Not only that, but I have a beautiful little girl who loves me with her whole heart and who makes me smile each day.  I have a husband who works many long hours to make sure I don’t have to work and get to spend every day with our daughter.  I have a God who loves me unconditionally, even when I don’t love myself and reject this life with which He has blessed me.  A few months ago I was driving to one of my outpatient treatment appointments in the city and heard this beautiful quotation (please note this is not exact) on the Christian radio station:

All the stressors I am managing are actually blessings. 

The full weight of that phrase did not hit me until a few weeks ago but it speaks absolute truth into my life.  I get stressed and upset when I am running late to an appointment or my car battery dies in the middle of the Kroger parking lot on a Sunday afternoon…but those are actually blessings.  I am blessed that I am able to be in eating disorder treatment and work with wonderful people who strive to see me happy and healthy in my life.  I am blessed that I have my own car to get to the grocery store and my appointments.  I am blessed that I have a grocery store where I can purchase food to fuel my body.  All of it, all the stressors, are actually blessings.  Perspective.

My “new” outlook on life has not only helped me feel happier and more grateful for every thing in my life but also for my body and my recovery.  As I sat down to type this post tonight I looked back at some journal entries from recent weeks and realized, not only have I grown happier but I have put more distance between myself and “my” eating disorder.  It is ironic I used the word “my” to describe the eating disorder because I have noticed the distance I have put between myself and it has come in the form of no longer referring to it as “mine” but simply “the eating disorder.”  I no longer hold a personal attachment to the eating disorder for any part of my identity.  My identity is completely separate from that of the eating disorder.  While this is something we learn and target often in treatment it has not been evident that the eating disorder is not part of my identity until now.  What is not ironic is how I have felt happier and more alive than ever with this new-found separation from the disease.

I am Lane.  Beautifully flawed but also beautifully blessed and blissfully happy.
My body is beautiful.  I am beautiful.  My life is beautiful.
Love. Living. Life.

I mean, how can I NOT be happy and love living my beautiful life when I get to wake up and spend every day with this face:

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With Body Love,
Lane

Body Acceptance, Body Image, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Faith, Feelings, Friends, God, Recovery

“Fat” Should Be A Feeling

“I feel fat.”
A few weeks ago I told my dietician, “Fat should be a feeling.”  Then, with those teacher-like eyes, she gave me a look that seemed to say, “Don’t be ridiculous, think about what you just said,” and told me to write that down and explore it.

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How many times have you looked at yourself in the mirror or thought to yourself at some point during the day, “I feel fat”?  I have said this many times and often multiple times each day as I looked at myself or thought about my appearance.  Unfortunately I spend an extraordinary amount of time thinking about my appearance.  In the absence of eating disordered behaviors, such as purging and restricting food, my thoughts about body size and weight have greatly increased.  To be quite honest, my body checking is somewhat out-of-control at times.  (Body checking is when I “size myself up” in the mirror, stare at my stomach or thighs while away from the mirror, or think obsessively about how much space my body is taking up.)  I body check excessively, to where it is sometimes hard to pay attention to what people are saying or focus on something important.  For example, I was sitting in a Bible study last night and, while I could focus a lot of my attention on what was being taught, I kept adjusting my shirt to make sure it wasn’t sticking to my stomach.  It took several times of adjusting and thinking “I feel so fat” before I stopped to think about what I was doing.

Fat is not a feeling.  Say it with me: fat is NOT a feeling.  For the last year I have listened to therapists and eating disorder treatment professionals drone on and on about how “fat” is not a feeling and I wouldn’t listen.  I desperately believed “fat” could be a feeling and it certainly felt like a feeling; especially when I was in treatment and had to eat “so much food” in a “short” amount of time.  (Lets be clear, I was not eating an excessive amount of food, just what was on my meal plan for that particular meal, AND the time was roughly 30-40 minutes.)  I certainly felt fat after all that, yet treatment professionals would not accept this as a true feeling.  It was not until recently, in particular last night, that I really evaluated my “I feel fat” phrase.  So here I am, exploring the feeling of “fat.”  I have explored it so much I discovered it is not real. Fat is not a feeling.  Allow me to explain:

When I was adjusting and readjusting my shirt to cover my stomach, or when I was sitting with friends looking at my thighs thinking they looked massive, what I was really feeling was insecure. I felt insecure about my body.  This a true feeling I experience almost daily.  Last night before the Bible study I packed my dinner and challenged myself to eat it in front of people I do not usually eat around.  One of the biggest challenges in my recovery has been eating in front of people, especially people I do not know very well.  This is why it took me several weeks, perhaps even a month or so, to feel comfortable eating lunch with my dietician on a weekly basis.  Anyway,  I was with three women when I ate dinner and my comfort level varied with each. Around the first woman I felt completely comfortable and confident while eating.  She has seen me eat before and knows many of the details surrounding my struggle with eating disorders.  The second woman was someone with whom I felt moderately comfortable; she is kind but I still worried about what she might think.  Finally the third woman made me nervous.  She is someone I do not know well and I was afraid she would think about how fat I looked and how I shouldn’t be eating at all.  This situation is what tipped me into the insecure “I feel fat” area.  It took me longer than it should have to eat my “safe” (an eating disorder voice approved meal for eating in public) meal, but I did it.

Throughout the entire meal I kept thinking about how fat I looked and how anyone who saw me would be judging me for eating in public, or for even eating at all.  My body checking and body insecurity was so high I could hardly focus on the conversation.  Not only was I feeling insecure but I was also feeling very anxious.  I put myself in an uncomfortable situation to help further my recovery and it caused my anxiety to skyrocket.  I felt fear.  Fear of being judged, fear of gaining weight, and fear someone would say something negative about my food choice.  I felt guilty about eating and wanted nothing more than to purge food that was completely in line with my meal plan because in that moment I was sure it would make me gain weight.  Looking back now I can see the errors in my thinking and where I need to be more diligent in choosing true feelings in the future.  In order to advance in my recovery I need to remove “I feel fat” from my vocabulary and replace it with a true feeling.

I now have new ammunition to fight my eating disordered brain when I think about saying, “I feel fat.”  I can feel a lot of things, and do on a daily basis, but I cannot feel “fat.”  Within the time it took to eat my dinner (in public) I felt insecure, anxious, fearful, and guilty but I did not feel fat.  I can have fat, which I do (we all do), but I cannot feel fat. Instead of allowing myself to dissect these feelings and explore them, I did as I so often do, and projected my feelings onto my body by summing them up into one word: fat.  I need to continue to put an end to the war with my body and start focusing on the feelings.  Once I learn to connect and feel my true feelings I can remove “I feel fat” from my vocabulary for good.

With Body Love,
Lane