Bad dreams are ghosts of our fears and worries haunting us while we sleep.
Food dreams. The dreaded food dreams. Most people who have struggled with an eating disorder at any point in their lives know exactly what I am talking about. For those who are fortunate enough not to know about food dreams here is a brief description: Often while I was in the grip of the eating disorder I would have crazy, vivid, and sometimes scary dreams about food. I always said I never dreamed, at least I could never remember them, unless they were about food. My food dreams were more realistic and memorable than any other dreams I might have had. The food in the dreams might have been something I was not allowing myself to eat, such as sweets, or any food at all if I was really struggling with restricting. I realize (now) my body was trying to tell me it was starving; that it wanted and needed food more than sleep. Once I began to follow my meal plan and truly nourish my body the food dreams stopped. I haven’t experienced a food dream in several months and I can only attribute that to keeping my body nourished instead of starved. However, I was completely caught off-guard the other night when I woke up suddenly after experiencing a weight dream.
Immediately I felt a little bit of fear because I believed my brain was replacing my food dreams with weight dreams. I feared my sleep would now become haunted with weight dreams frequently. Instead of speaking to the physical deficit nutritionally, my brain seemed to be speaking to the emotional deficit I have regarding my body weight and size acceptance. When this dream happened we were on vacation. The entire trip I had not experienced any negative thoughts or feelings toward my body until the day the dream occurred. For some reason, earlier that day, I began struggling with the negative emotions regarding my size and weight. I was struggling to find the radical body acceptance and only saw the the weight I’ve been carrying since having my daughter. Looking back at photos from the week I began to harshly critique my body in all of them. I found every thing I thought was a flaw and picked it apart. It was as if I had forgotten every bit of radical body acceptance I had been practicing over the last several months. Instead of seeing the joy I felt while digging in the sand with my daughter or the on-top-of-the-world feeling I experienced while standing on the Point Udall sign in St. Croix, USVI, all I saw was my physical body…and I hated it.
Not only was I just seeing my physical body and hating it, but I was not appreciating it. Earlier in the week we hiked in the rainforest, in 93 degree heat, and I carried our daughter most of the way. However, when I saw the photograph of us after the hike I zoomed in on the parts of my body I thought looked terrible and wanted to make sure that photo never saw the light of day. What I didn’t see in that moment is that my body is a beast. If I had tried to carry her in heat like that last year, when fully engaged in eating disordered behaviors, I would have been wiped out for the remainder of the day. My body is amazing. I have worked too hard on radical body acceptance to let photographs take me back to self-hate. A photograph can only show a still-life image of a moment in time but it cannot show the joy, love, laughter, and life being lived in that moment. It is not a realistic representation of the moment.
What I realized while looking at those photos was that I needed a radical body acceptance reality check. Since when was my physical appearance more important than my physical ability? When did that become number one again? My body is a machine, a work of art, and the vehicle to help me achieve my dreams. I love my life and I really love my life being lived in recovery. I love being able to hike while holding my daughter, to laugh while digging in the sand, and to experience joy looking out over God’s beautiful creation. When I place importance upon physical appearance instead of physical ability and appreciation, I lose sight of body acceptance. I lose sight of all the things I am able to experience by living in this very body; this very unique body. So this is my radical body acceptance reality check.
Do you need to conduct your own radical body acceptance reality check today?
With Body Love,
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