Alcohol, Appreciation, Body Appreciation, Body Love, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Faith, Feelings, God, Hope, Journaling, Recovery, Sobriety, Social Media, Triggers, Uncategorized

Seeking Sobriety

Recovery teaches individuals to replace unhealthy behaviors for positive practices, coping mechanisms.  Often that means instead of purging after a meal, the individual is taught to do something such as coloring, knitting, etc. to help take the individual’s mind off the temptation to engage in harmful behavior.  However, there are times when an individual picks up another harmful habit to replace the original harmful habit.  In my case, I was starting to become a closet drinker to replace the emotions the eating disorder attempted to drown out.

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In my family there is a history of addiction.  Without throwing all the people under the bus, I will say my dad was an alcoholic.  He may not have admitted it, but he was; I believe it played a part in killing him.  To some degree, I believe I inherited his addictive personality.  The eating disorder was similar to an addiction in that it gave me a “high” when I restricted food or purged.  I used the eating disorder to cope with stress, loneliness, sadness…well, just about any emotion or feeling possible.  While I have not been using alcohol to fill all those voids, I was using it to cope with loneliness and stress above all else.

Living in a marina, I am surrounded by people who drink on an unhealthy level.  The ship store offers a wide variety of craft beers and wines that are easily accessible.  There are people who drink early in the morning and continue to do so all day long.  Smelling alcohol on someone’s breath at 10am is not abnormal.  I feel into the trap of thinking drinking every night was completely fine for me.  Perhaps for some people having a beer after work stops there, but for me, it became something that made me salivate.  Got in an argument? Grab a beer.  Feeling lonely?  Open up that wine.  Boat troubles got ya down? No worries, a rum cocktail should fix that right up.

Before I knew it, I was having a beer or two nearly every night and drinking them without eating much on top of that.  I had moments where I would want a drink so bad my mouth would water and I was having an all-out craving so I would walk up to the ship store and take care of it.  While I love living on the boat, the availability of alcohol when I lived on land in a house was not like it is now.  On land I would’ve had to drive 10-15 minutes to get to a store, buy the beer, then drive 10-15 minutes home.  By the time it was all said and done I didn’t think it was worth it, and at that time I was still in treatment so utilizing positive coping skills was easy.  Convenience is everything.

Over the years I thought I had found my balance with alcohol.  For example, I realized three years ago that I can’t drink vodka because it makes me incredibly angry and argumentative.  Just ask my old iPhone that got thrown down in a fit of vodka-fueled rage onto the pavement and shattered.  Wine makes my nose stuffy, but I drink it anyway because it is socially common since it “pairs well” with food.  Of course mimosas for breakfast and brunch; especially in the South.  Then there is beer.  Not your run-of-the-mill Anheuser-Busch beers, but the well-crafted, flavorful beers.  They come in all flavors now–cold brew coffee, PB&J, notes of citrus fruits–I could go on and on.  Lets not forget my Caribbean island favorite–rum…or rhum, depending on where it is from.  Just typing that all out makes my mouth water thinking about it.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been down this road.  The first time I ever went to therapy for the eating disorder, back in 2008, my therapist was concerned about my drinking.  Of course, at that time, I was a senior in college so drinking a lot and often was not uncommon.  Again, alcohol was and is an accepted societal norm.  I still have the charts from that therapist regarding “how much should you drink” based on your age, weight, and other factors.  At the time I didn’t think anything about drinking; even though I still feel bad about the one time I showed up for my appointment a little tipsy.  My reasoning?  It was St. Patrick’s day so Ann Arbor was full of green beer.

I’ve said the words, “I’m going to quit drinking” several times over the last few months to my husband.  I would try and it would last a few days, maybe a week then I’d be back at it again.  While my husband has been away on business I realized I really don’t think my behaviors toward alcohol are healthy.  My mindset isn’t simply having a drink with dinner, but having a drink to drown something out.  Quite honestly, the prevailing thoughts are similar to what made me want to restrict food to numb out feelings and get a high from it in the first place.  Either way, none of it is healthy.  Therefore, I’m calling myself out and making it public to work toward accountability.  I’ve been living my eating disorder recovery as an open book, so I’m adding this to it.

If you’re reading this and you want to offer me a drink next time you see me, please don’t.  Social drinking is so common and accepted that I struggle to say no.  I don’t want to be the odd duck; which makes me smile a little when you consider in high school I wouldn’t drink at parties, but instead would drink plain orange juice to try to fit in.  Alcohol is a socially accepted drug.  Heck, I studied that in graduate school.  Some people can have a drink and that is that; there is no deeper emotional reasoning behind it.

That person is not me.
I am the person who uses it to replace “my” addition of disordered eating.

Once again I find myself returning to tried and true coping mechanisms I learned in treatment, as it is obvious I still need them.  Finding my center and my ability to cope with loneliness and stressful situations in a healthy manner is of the utmost importance for my recovery and my future; therefore, I must give up alcohol.  I know this is not going to be easy, as I’ve said, it is socially common and acceptable; however, many before me have done it and I know it is what is best for me.

During a phone conversation with a friend and mentor the other day she said, “When you crave it is an opportunity to spiritually connect.  Discontinuation of a behavior is trusting in God’s power.”

If you need me, I’ll be crafting a little memo with that on it to post in my kitchen.

With Body Love,
Lane 

Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Friends, God, Gratitude, Hope, Joy, Love, Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized

Identity

“Identity cannot be found or fabricated but emerges from within when one has the courage to let go.”
-Doug Cooper

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 Identity.  This is a concept with which I have struggled in recent months.  For nearly two decades my identity has been wrapped up inside a neat little package I refer to as the eating disorder, and subsequently my recovery.  When the satin bow on that neat little package was untied it led to the contents spilling out over the table like puzzle pieces without an order.  Each facet of my life lay before me, upturned and mixed up, waiting for me to pick it up, examine it, and set it in its proper place; in hopes of uncovering my true identity somewhere in there, or perhaps when the puzzle formed a picture.

I started this blog when I was merely months in true recovery after leaving treatment, and it has provided an outlet for my thoughts as much as it has provided inspiration for people who read it.  Each day I grow stronger in my recovery and take more steps away from the life that once defined me; almost as if I am stepping out of my old body and life to move forward into a new one.  Taking off my mask and revealing my true self.  The eating disorder was the mask for so long and the space between the mask and my face formed the majority of my identity for the last two years–my recovery.

This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDAW) and usually I flood my social media accounts with facts, stories, and information about eating disorders, treatment, and statistics.  Not this year.  My choice to not participate wasn’t a conscious one, it just happened.  My newsfeed on Facebook and Instagram have been bombarded with NEDAW images, sayings, and statistics; yet I have not shared any of them.  It isn’t because I no longer care about individuals struggling with and recovering from eating disorders–not at all–but my identity is not longer wrapped up by the satin bow of recovery or the messy puzzle of the eating disorder.  I still greatly care about and pray for individuals who have not yet discovered the freedom recovery will bring.

I have found myself writing for BBA less and less over the last six months, as I have been stepping away from the eating disorder and recovery communities more and more.  Writing for BBA only once each month wasn’t a choice I made with logic or reason, but it one that has happened as my life is being lived.  Eating disorder thoughts no longer dominate my mind and a “proper” meal plan isn’t something that I cling to in order to give me normalcy while eating now.  My exercise isn’t obsessive or damaging to my recovery and my body does not define me.  I’ve started to leave the role of eating disorder recovery advocate and step with my whole heart, mind, and body into the roles of Christian, mother, and wife.

Earlier today I found myself sitting with a friend and discussing this very topic over coffee.  Identity can be confusing for adolescents and young adults, sure, but it can be equally confusing for adults; especially those impacted by trauma or mental illness.  My friend and I talked about finding our identity in Christ and what that actually means.  Whether or not you are a Christian, or have a Higher Power at all, your identity is found in your personality, beliefs, etc.  While I do not hold the answer as to what it means to have my identity in Christ, I know my “roles” fall under that identity.  My confidence comes from Christ and knowing I am created in His image.  Outward beauty holds no power over my heart and the acts of kindness I can perform for others.

Struggling with my identity 0ver the last several months culminated itself today when I realized my identity is found in more in my heart than anything else.  My identity is my calling and purpose.  Christ has given me a heart for people society tends to overlook or despise–inmates and individuals struggling with substance abuse–and how I focus my heart, energy, and attention speaks to my identity.  I still love and care about the eating disorder recovery community, as it helped form who I am today and I’m eternally grateful for the individuals God placed in my life to help get me here, but it isn’t the biggest identifier of who I am anymore.  My BBA posts may not be as numerous as they once were, but they will still show up every so often, as I wholeheartedly believe everyBODY is beautiful.  There are self-acceptance and body-acceptance lessons to be gleaned in every day life and when a lesson smacks me in the face, I’m going to share it.

My identity is in Christ and the courage I have to serve the community He placed in my heart many years ago.  My identity is found in the life I lead; not in my body, recovery, or past history of an eating disorder.  For me, this is not my identity anymore but a building block to help form who I’ve become.  I may live on a sailboat and enjoy sailing, but I don’t identify myself as a sailor to define who I am any more than formerly struggling with and in recovery from an eating disorder makes me a person with an eating disorder.

In the last six months I’ve found the courage to “let go” of the mask, and the space between the mask so my identity could emerge.  It has been there all along, waiting for me to realize that my identity is found in the calling Christ placed in my heart long before recovery was on my radar.

 Identity.

Yes, I struggled with an eating disorder for 16 years, and yes, I am in solid recovery after two years of ridiculously hard work, but neither of those things solely define me anymore.  Christ defines me.  The heart He has given me for the incarcerated and addicted population helps define me.  My role as a mother and wife are part of my identity.  I will continue to write for BBA but I no longer feel like my recovery or being a writer for BBA is the biggest part of my identity; a feeling that is even more freeing than recovery itself.  As my husband said when I explained all this, “I’ve waited for years to hear you say that.”

I’ve waited years to feel it.

With Body Love,
Lane

Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, Friends, Hope, Joy, Love, Postpartum Body, Recovery, Social Media, Triggers, Uncategorized, Weight

The Mountain and The Molehill

Two years ago I was ending my time in intensive treatment and facing outpatient treatment.  I was working hard identifying my triggers, creating a bank of coping skills, and spending more time at treatment-related mental health, medical, and nutritional appointments than I ever thought possible.  My life changed in many ways when I made the decision to finally get serious about getting better, and the mountain I thought I was facing has become nothing more than a molehill.

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Prior to entering treatment I knew I was staring  at a mountain before me.  I was preparing to have my way of life taken away in order to teach me how to face life in a healthy way.  At 28-years old my food was monitored and carefully portioned, followed by being watched by treatment professionals as I ate it all within an allotted time.  If my nutritional needs had not been met during the day I was given a Boost nutritional drink to supplement.  I was prevented from using the bathroom after eating, and told not to exercise.  My life was getting turned upside down, voluntarily, but it was anything other than pleasant.  I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to face life without the close “companionship” the eating disorder provided.  With each new challenge I conquered, I climbed a little higher up the mountain and toward full recovery.  I slipped and stumbled along the way, sliding back down the slope and often feeling like I was starting over.  However, with every slip I was never back at the bottom staring back up at the mountain in its entirety.

Fast-forward to one year ago when I was in outpatient treatment, still working diligently with my therapist and dietician to reach my nutritional and mental health goals.  One year ago I was close to ending my time in therapy while sorting through the remnants of my past trauma and striving to overcome anxiety.  I was struggling to eat in restaurants, sit with my back to the door, and go out in public to crowded areas.  I worked hard with my therapist to identify what made me anxious and how to cope with it when the symptoms of anxiety would arise.  At the same time I was working hard with my dietician to become comfortable eating in public and eating foods that were challenging to been seen eating (i.e.: pasta).  Nothing about recovery has been easy but it has been completely worth it–and the journey isn’t over yet because I am still learning.

Now, nine months discharged from all types treatment, I am still working to stay strong in recovery but these days the challenges don’t look like a mountain but more like a molehill.  While there isn’t a giant mountain for me to climb, I do stumble over the molehills from time to time.  I have to work hard not to fall on my face as a result.  For example, it took me a few months after moving on our boat to realize I wasn’t giving myself the time for self-care that I did prior to moving aboard.  Instead of crafting, journaling, or doing daily yoga and meditation I was constantly rushed with adjusting to life on the water.  As a result, I fell over that molehill and spent a few months on the ground in a relapse state.

My recovery is nowhere near complete, as I believe it is a life-long learning process, but what I have learned about myself is worth the fall.  I thought I didn’t need the amount of self-care and meditation that I once did, but that is the beauty of recovery–I am always evolving and proving myself wrong.  I thought I didn’t need intensive treatment in 2014…I was wrong.  The memory of my therapist and dietician talking on the phone, and coaxing me to call the treatment center while in a therapy session, will forever be burned in my memory.  Only after a month of intensive treatment did I realize I spent so many years of my life trapped in a disease and in need of recovery.  Then, as I continued to meet with my dietician even after ending treatment with my outpatient therapist, did I realize my thoughts surrounding certain foods and my body image still needed work.

Today, I love being in recovery and continuing to learn more about myself and this life.  There are times I wish I could talk to a therapist, but that is when I remember I harbor within me the ability and strength to pick myself up from stumbling over a molehill and learn from it.  I’ve come a long way from the scared woman I was in 2014 when I passed through the doors of the treatment center.  My triggers are fewer than ever before.  I mean, I am sitting here watching the Miss Universe pageant while I type this; something I couldn’t have done even last year.  (Which, by the way, Miss Canada was just interviewed about body shaming and loving who she is in her own skin. LOVE!)

Regardless of stumbling over a molehill a few times this year, I love myself more with each passing day.  I grow stronger with each new revelation about my body, myself, and my life in recovery.  Being confident in my body and who I am as a woman helps me enjoy life with a passion I’ve never before experienced.  My personality has grown and I’ve developed likes, dislikes, and favorites that I never had the opportunity to do before.  I may look vastly different from five or ten years ago (see photo below) but I feel more beautiful than ever.  I don’t often post photos from when I was sick, but in this case I look at the photos in amazement.  My eyes are brighter, my smile is genuinely happy, and I am truly living life instead of existing in it.

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L to R, Top to Bottom: 1. The absolute lowest point in my eating disorder; 2. Two weeks prior to entering treatment in 2014 (my eyes look hollow, sad; 3. June 2016;  4. July 2016–happy, healthy, strong, and confident 

My body is this beautiful, unique instrument with which I get to experience life and nothing, not even the eating disorder, can take that from me.  

With Body Love,
           Lane

Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, Hope, Journaling, Joy, Love, Motivation, New Year, Recovery, Triggers, Uncategorized, Weight

Happy Holidays

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough.  Each moment is all we need, nothing more.”
-Mother Teresa

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The holidays are challenging for people struggling with, and in recovery from, eating disorders and I don’t think it really matters how long a person has been in recovery–the holidays can be rough.  Food, and tons of it, at every gathering and family members who are either talking about their own diet and work out regimen or commenting on the progress of the person in recovery.  Sometimes it is difficult to tune out the diet talk or know how to handle comments about recovery, but that is why it is of the utmost importance to be mindful and present at all times.

Christmas is right around the corner, closely followed by New Year’s and those *wonderful* resolutions.  We are about to be spammed more than usual with diets, before and after photos of half naked people praising the latest boot camp style at home workouts, and the pushing of gym memberships.  Not only that, but this year my 30th birthday happens to be sandwiched between the two.  Yep.  The big 3-0 in two weeks.  Talk about time to practice being mindful and present at all times!  It can really be challenging to stay mindful but here are some tips on how I plan to do it and you can always use them too…

  1. Yoga, deep breathing.  These are always my go-to for mindfulness and bringing myself back to the present.  I live on a sailboat in South Carolina where the weather has grown chilly and doing morning yoga outside isn’t really an option and neither is doing yoga in a very small space; therefore I don’t get to do this one as often as I like anymore but even a few simple poses can help.  Take time on the morning of a gathering to do a quick 10-minute sun salutation to start your day and get yourself into the right frame of mind to deal with negativity and diet talk.  Clear your head and throughout the practice remind yourself that you are enough and you are beautiful exactly as you are in this moment.  Find things you appreciate about your body and speak them gently to yourself.  Once you reach the gathering take a few moments before going inside to breathe deeply for five breaths and again remind yourself that you are enough and there are many wonderful things about you.  If you find yourself struggling with anxiety during a gathering take a step back in a quiet room and repeat the deep breathing exercises.
  2. Power Playlist.  I love music.  It is huge motivator and mood changer for me so I have playlists ranging from caribbean/reggae, Christian, to recovery oriented positive playlists.  Depending on my mood I select something to help lift it.  Typically the recovery positive playlist is my go-to when driving to gatherings or places where I know anxiety will automatically increase.  Singing the songs in the car helps immensely to bring myself into the present moment.  Listening to my recovery positive playlist helps me feel empowered, strong, and prepared to deal with any eating disorder thoughts that pop in my head.
  3. Small Reminders.  I have a thin rubber bracelet that says “Beautiful Body Acceptance” on it that I wear often.  Earlier this week I received an e-mail from a treatment professional who said she loaned her BBA bracelet to a client over Thanksgiving to help bring about mindfulness in times of stress.  While not everyone has a BBA bracelet there may be a small piece of jewelry you can look at to remind yourself that you are beautiful, unique, and your body is something to be loved and appreciated.  Maybe it is a small silver wave ring or bangle to remind you to let the emotions roll over you like waves, acknowledging them but not being taken under by them.   The same could be said of an ocean blue colored piece of jewelry or something with sea glass.  However, the sea is not calming to everyone (I love it and practically live on it, as I live on a sailboat) but surely there is something that could help remind you to acknowledge the emotions but not be swept away by them.  Be creative!

There are so many ways to be mindful and bring yourself back to the present during the holidays.  The most important thing is to remind yourself that you need to take time for self care.  Constantly being around others can take a toll on anyone, but especially someone who is trying to recover from an eating disorder.  Anxiety, stress, worry, and the eating disorder voice and take over at any moment which is why it is so very important to remember to take time for mindfulness.  Experience joy this Christmas season by believing that you are worthy, loved, and beautiful just as you are.  Take time to breathe and remember why you are fighting so hard for recovery.

With Body Love,
Lane 

Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, God, Gratitude, Hope, Joy, Pregnancy, Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized, Weight

Faith, Food, and Faulty Thinking

“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are you’d never think a negative thought again.”

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Thoughts have the ability to determine our day, even our outlook on life.  Our thoughts, when verbalized, have the ability to shape the minds of children and support or break down others.  Thoughts, especially in conjunction with words, are the most powerful weapons in the human arsenal.  Sometimes thoughts feel so uncontrollable, so overwhelming and demeaning to ourselves that we act based upon those thoughts.  This is the case with me when eating disordered thoughts once controlled my life.  Sometimes the thoughts are still powerful and it takes all the remaining mental strength I have to reason with myself and convince myself that an eating disordered life is no way to live.  Due to my own faulty thinking regarding food and body image when I am being controlled by the negative eating disordered thoughts, I am able to recognize the potential dangers in others when they verbalize their faulty thinking.  

In September I was added to a group on Facebook that seeks to support women on their weight-loss and healthy eating journey though a biblically based plan.  In order to protect the women of that group I will not name the plan or the group but the basics are this: balance your blood sugar through different types food/fuel combinations; typically resulting in weight loss but at a minimum resulting in change in energy level.  The principles are solid and I have reaped some of the benefits of utilizing this notion in conjunction with the knowledge base I have from working with a dietician for 18 months.  I have more energy and I’m less sluggish when I follow the food combinations outlined by the plan but I have not, and will not, go “all in” as so many in the group say.  I see the faulty thinking in this.  Food becomes about rules, competition with self and others, and all too often becomes about the weight loss.  Daily in this group women post photos of their feet standing on a scale to show how much they weigh or body comparison photos demonstrating their weight loss over the last few months.  I shake my head because I know weight alone does not signify health.  In fact, multiple women in the group have commented that since starting the plan and going “all in” they have lost a significant amount of weight (in too short amount of time, in my opinion) and, as a result, are struggling with hair loss.  That raises a red flag to this woman in eating disorder recovery.  Hair loss in the land of eating disorders symbolizes a lack of nutrients, and potentially a serious caloric deficit.  In fact, when I was in treatment we had a lengthy discussion about weight loss and hair loss.  The body is preparing for starvation.  This is not something I want.  I happen to like my blonde hair and would prefer not to lose it.  

Women also post almost daily about being discouraged, hating their stomaches/thighs/etc, and begging for tips on how to make the plan really work for them to lose weight.  It seems very reminiscent to pro-ana discussion groups in which I once found “support” and encouragement.  However, this group does it to “glorify God” by taking care of their bodies, as they are a temple for God (1 Corinthians 6:19).  I am not mocking the faith of these women, as I believe in God and have a strong Christian faith, but I believe most of them are not doing it for this reason alone but also because they absolutely hate and are ashamed of the way they look.  Some women who utilize this plan have been urged by medical professionals to lose weight or death and disease will ravage their bodies and, as a result, lose weight and truly become healthy.  Everyone has their own motives but I know not everyone has pure intentions and use the group as a means for comparison, self-deprecation, and a motive to lose more weight.  

The most worrisome posts to me are the ones where emotions are clearly tied to weight and body size.  Women who say they cry because they gained two pounds instead of losing two or saying they “feel fat” because they aren’t dropping clothing sizes.  These are borderline eating disorder thoughts, especially when combined with the strict rules being followed when going “all in” on the plan.  So often the “rules” associated with the plan remind me of the rules I followed when I was living in the eating disorder, which is what scares me for these women.  The most disturbing trend I keep reading and seeing in this group deals with the children.  Women post selfies standing sideways in the mirror often but the photos that really rip at my heart are the ones where these women are posing with unhappy, self-loathing faces (words to match) and their child is standing beside them, silently observing the self-hate and learning these behaviors.  I’ll be the first to admit that I still fall into the trap of body-checking by standing sideways in a mirror (when I have access to one) to determine whether not I like how an outfit makes me look but I never, NEVER do it in front of Vivienne.  However, some day she may catch me doing it and it is for that reason I need to continue to strive to change my behavior.  I can still clearly picture the photo that hurt me the most and it is of a woman who is doing just as I described and her daughter, the same age as Vivienne, is standing beside her with a sad face, too, while clutching her blanket.  Is this really what we want to teach our children? 

I know it isn’t what I want for Vivienne.   I don’t want her to look at her body after it has birth babies and hate what she sees because her stomach is no longer flat and her breasts aren’t perky.  We were all created unique in God’s image and that uniqueness extends to our bodies.  Some people are built to be heavier than others.  We aren’t all going to look like models, have well-defined muscles, or absolutely zero cellulite.  Sometimes we forget that while God created us with different personalities He also created us with different bodies, but all are still created HIS image.    All I can do is strive to take care of my body to the best of my abilities in this life I have been given.  I can’t get bogged down by playing the compare and despair game and I don’t want to pass that game on to my daughter.  

It is time to change the conversation.
We, as women, have a responsibility to the young girls in our communities to teach them to love who they are, regardless of body size.
We, as mothers, have the chance to change how our daughters look at themselves in the mirror and the dialogue they have about their bodies.
We, as Christians, have a responsibility to celebrate all bodies and the uniqueness God created.

No two people were created exactly the same and that is something we should celebrate!
It is time to quit playing compare and despair.  
It is time to teach our daughters that bodies change over time but their abilities should still be praised over appearance. 

With Body Love, 
Lane

Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, Friends, God, Gratitude, Hope, Joy, Love, Motivation, Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized, Weight

Motivation

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

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I found myself sitting in Starbucks a few days ago with a woman who is walking her own eating disorder recovery journey.  I respect all people who walk this journey, as they are courageous enough to fight a difficult fight, but this woman in particular.  She had never met me but reached out online and asked to meet up while I was in town.  Naturally, because I love sharing my story and learning about others walking a similar road, I agreed and found myself sitting across from her talking about our recovery road.  That is when she asked me the question I wasn’t quite sure how to answer, “What was your motivation?  I find myself wanting to give in sometimes and resorting to old behaviors.”

What was my motivation to recover?

My immediate answer was, “Vivienne, my daughter.”  At least Vivienne and TJ, my husband, were the initial motivators but upon further reflection after leaving Starbucks I began to dig deeper and remember my bigger motivators when I was in the depths of the disease.  Sometimes it is hard to recall what I was thinking at that time because my world was spinning so fast and I was working all day, every day to recover.  My motivators changed like the tides but I boiled it down to be concise enough to fit on this post.  So, to the woman I met in the coffee shop, I hope you see this post and know this is how I would answer your question if you asked me again.

External Motivation:  This was the initial motivation that got me into the doors of the treatment center; the motivation that made me reach out to a therapist and dietician in the first place.  I’ll admit, when I started working with Amy (therapist) and Anne (dietician) it was for external factors.  My doctor said I needed a therapist to help deal with postpartum depression and eating disordered behaviors; in order to appease TJ and my doctor, I found one that worked with eating disorders, too.  I knew I wasn’t being the wife and mother I could be and I needed help to figure it out.  So, off to therapy I went.  When I decided it was time to see a dietician I picked one that worked with eating disorders but I wanted lose weight, not necessarily deal with all the eating disordered behaviors.  My external motivators that got me through the doors of both outpatient and IOP were TJ, Vivienne, my desire to lose weight, and my desire to appease people in my life. While those are not the best motivations, they did start me on the path to true recovery.

Internal Motivation:  This is where my goals for myself, my family, and the dreams that extended beyond my body came to play.  These motivators weren’t present in the first half of my time in IOP but really started to show themselves during the second half.  Once my body was starting to replenish the much needed nutrients I began to untangle the web of myself.  The eating disorder started when I was so young that I didn’t really get the chance to figure out my true likes, dreams, and personality.  Once I started to see beyond the external motivating factors that got me into treatment I began to see the motivating factors within myself; my driving forces to recover.   During treatment I realized the primary emotion I ever let myself feel was anger; which, as I learned during an internship with recovering drug addicts, is actually a secondary emotion.  Anger always masks another feeling, and in my case anger seemed to mask every other emotion possible.  IOP helped me start to experience feelings of true happiness and I wanted more of it. I began to have more positive life experiences and started figuring out my goals and passions; such as my sense of adventure (I am an adrenaline junkie) and love of helping others.  Radical body acceptance was introduced and I ran with the idea of accepting my body and myself exactly as I was at any given moment.  I started to let myself dream again and one of those dreams was to move to an island in the Caribbean with my little family.  This was a dream my husband and I shared when we first got married, but as I drifted back to the eating disorder I slowly let myself forget about the Caribbean until I was near the end of IOP.  I wanted so much more than to be sitting in weekly appointments with a therapist and dietician for the rest of my life.  I wanted to be free to explore new countries, cultures, and not be afraid to try the ethnic foods of those cultures.  I wanted to truly enjoy my life instead of merely existing in it.  

Spiritual Motivation:  God is the center of my life and marriage.  I hold tightly to my Christian values and beliefs, and I believe with all my heart God is the primary factor that got me to this point where I can say I am recoverED.  While I do not discount my own hard work and diligence, I looked to Christ for my strength at the times when I was my weakest. My husband and dietician were adamant God was going to use me and this struggle for a greater purpose when I was stronger, and I see now they were right all along.  God has granted me with the ability to write well and the vulnerability to be completely honest about my journey; two things that, when combined, create a greater purpose for my struggle.  God lit a fire in my life when He led me to this path of recovery–a fire to live a life so full of purpose that now I can live it fully for Him.  I get to share this recovery story with anyone who reads this blog, follows BBA on Facebook, or meets me in person and give all glory to God in the process.  God gave me a passion for sharing my story with others and some extremely big dreams for my family that could only be carried out when I was in full recovery.  I am now in that place and those dreams are being fulfilled.  

Musical Motivation:  I’ve always been drawn to music and I love singing.   My mom told me ever since I was an infant I needed music to go to sleep, so it isn’t a surprise that I created multiple recovery playlists to help motivate me.  On the 45 minute drive to IOP, therapy, or appointments with my dietician I would have a recovery playlist blasting loudly through the speakers of my Honda Pilot.  Songs from several different musical genres all came together on my lists: Christian hymns, Christian pop songs, country, rap, SOCA, reggae, secular pop…I have a rather eclectic music collection.  Some of my favorites are as follows:

You Make Me Brave–Bethel Music and Amanda Cook (Christian)
Diamonds–Hawk Nelson (Christian)
Beautiful, Beautiful–Francesca Battistelli  (Christian)
Crushed and Created–Caitlyn Smith (pop/country)
Monster–Skillet (Christian Rock)
Fight Song–Rachel Platten (pop)
Lose Yourself–Eminem (rap)
Part of Me–Katy Perry (pop)
Hearts of Warriors–Casey Montana Rogers (country)
Cleanin’ Out My Closet–Eminem (rap)
Phenomenal–Benjai (SOCA)
Wild Child–Kenny Chesney (country)
Ah Feeling Mehself–Patrice Roberts (SOCA)
Soul of a Sailor–Kenny Chesney (country)
Surrender All–Matt Boswell (Christian, currently playing with post)

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If I could re-answer the question about where I got my motivation I would say it was (and is) three-fold with a fourth bonus.
My main motivators were
external, internal, and spiritual
but musical motivation is always a bonus!

External motivation is what got me through the doors and into treatment but internal and spiritual motivation were what kept me there for the long haul. 

What motivates you in recovery and in life?

Find your fire, your passion and keep fighting for it! 

With Body Love,
Lane

Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Exercise, Faith, Feelings, Friends, Hope, Recovery, Uncategorized, Weight

Becoming A Diamond

“A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.”

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This is usually where I insert music that accompanies the post, but because we just moved and I don’t have my computer set up I just have to link the YouTube video to a song I just heard (and love) that goes with this post.  Please follow the link and give it a listen before reading the post. 

Diamonds by Hawk Nelson

I am working on becoming a diamond.  Even though I think I look pretty calm and collected on the exterior, I am actually stressing quite a bit these days about my life. While some of these stressors are inevitable when it comes to relocating and technically being “homeless” at the moment, how I handle these stressors says a lot about my recovery and how far I’ve come.  Pressure and heat form a diamond and well, I’m under a lot of pressure right now to finalize a new home and move out of our temporary housing and this house is definitely in the land of heat!  Therefore, I am becoming a diamond.  

On a weekly basis I receive messages from frequent readers who mention how much my openness helps them in their recovery or how much they glean from my willingness to share both my struggle and ways to cope with poor body image.  My point is not to brag on myself and my willingness to live life as an open book but to really point out that we aren’t alone.  We all deal with stressors in life and many women cope in much the same way–by turning to food related behaviors–previously eating disordered or not.  Some women choose to eat more when stressed, some eat less, while others choose other methods of coping that can lead down a slippery slope.  Just a few days ago a friend reached out to me asking if I had any suggestions or guidance to help her navigate some stressors and anxiety because she noticed some old eating disorder behaviors returning.  We are not alone.  We all have stress in our lives and we have to find better ways of handling it.  The question then becomes “How do I handle this stress?” rather than “Can I handle this stress?”    

While talking to my friend I told her about how our recent move has brought the temptation to handle stress by using my old friend ED (eating disorder) to the forefront of my options; reiterating she wasn’t alone and she can come up with a better way to handle it.  As soon as we moved I hit the ground “running” by enrolling in exercise classes and group yoga to keep my body going at an intense pace to help cope.  To some this doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, but to my husband it started sending up red flags right away.  Needless to say, I backed off the classes and reevaluated my reasoning for doing it.  Yes, it was a way to handle stress but for me it wasn’t the right way.  Yoga, when used correctly, is a great stress reliever for me and that is how I intend to use it from here on out.  Talking to my friend and listening to my husband forced me to see that the way I was handling the stress wasn’t right and it was heading down the slippery slope to becoming unhealthy.  I’ve come too far to turn back and go the old route now.  So I’m not.  

Together my husband and I came up with new ways for me to cope that will fit nicely into our new lifestyle.  I took those same principles and talked to my friend about applying them to her life.  You have to find what works for you; what protects your recovery or positive body image.  Maybe it is something non-physical such as reading a book or having an American Idol style sing off in your kitchen.  Find that coping skill and hold on to it.  Trust me, I’m taking my own advice on this one!  Until we are a little more settled and actually have our next home, I am staying away from group fitness classes and focusing on activities that make me happy: writing for BBA, riding bikes with my family, and simply being outside in the sunshine.  I found what makes me happy and helps me handle stress. I’m on my way to becoming a diamond.  Considering the making of a diamond takes anywhere from 1 billion to 3 billion years I think I’m doing alright.

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With Body Love,
Lane

Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, God, Hope, Joy, Love, Postpartum Body, Recovery, Uncategorized, Weight

No Mirror, No Problem…Or Is It?

“Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” 
-Ernest Holmes

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While the above quotation isn’t exactly about a mirror I have come to believe the same idea applies to looking at oneself in a mirror.  The reflection is really a reflection of what we think we see.  Combine that trick, or distortion, with what the viewer wants to see and we can create a recipe for body image disaster.  The mind can play tricks on us in many ways and, for me, I’ve come to realize the mirror is just one way my mind tricks me on a daily basis.

I have a problem.  Even though I no longer struggle with food or eating disorder behaviors, I still have a problem.  My problem is with the mirror and how my reflection distorts and greatly impacts my body image.  Even though I no longer give the eating disorder power in my life, the struggle with negative body image and the power I give the mirror can still spell disaster for my body image on any given day.  In our society we are taught from an early age the mirror and the scale are not our friends but rather our frienemies.  Maybe you’re thinking, “Wait.  What?  The mirror and scale are absolutely my friends; they tell me how I look and whether or not I need to lose weight or change clothing in order to look better.”   To which I would reply, “No, no.  That is how the mirror and scale hold negative power over you.  Society wants us to believe we need these items in order to better ourselves and to ensure we look the best and hide our ‘flaws’ in the best possible way…but they are not our friends.”  From an early age we are taught to use these items to help us pick apart our bodies and find what we need to change.  Sometimes the obsession with the scale and the mirror can go too far, such is the case with me.

Sad Frog

While I haven’t owned a scale in 16 months, I still have mirrors in both bathrooms in my house.  Not only that, but windows and other reflective surfaces have become mirrors for me.  For the longest time I had the mirrors in my house mostly covered with collages and positive phrases.  I left a small little section at my face level uncovered so I could do my hair easily but that was it.  However, once we put our house up for sale I had to take down the mirror coverings and suddenly the little power I regained from the mirror was sucked away, as I again became a slave to checking my body and appearance.  I would feel fantastic about myself, my clothing choice, and my body only to look in the mirror and be greatly disappointed by what I saw.  My hips were too wide, my belly too large, my arms not toned enough…the list would go on until I walked away feeling dissatisfied and significantly less confident.  I was comparing my current body to the body I had when I was 21 and very much struggling with the eating disorder.  My mind was playing tricks on me.  My mind wanted me to see what once was instead of what is; therefore forcing me to relinquish my power and positivity and exchange it for negativity and loathing.  My mind then gives way to the remaining part of the ED by telling me I could be that image in my head again if… Which is the point where I have to remind myself my body has greatly changed and even with a rigorous gym schedule that could be will never be a reality again. The only reality that comes with that could be is a full blown eating disorder. 

The other day I decided to add up how much time I spent checking the size of my body in the mirror, as well as the amount of time I spent before I looked and after just thinking about my body size.  It was a shocking 30 minutes that I spend, on average, looking at myself and thinking about my body size.  THIRTY. MINUTES.  Now, I am a mother to a toddler so my time alone is very precious and oh the things I could do with 30 extra minutes!  That alone was enough for me to determine I need to take drastic action to break this bad body image habit for good.

I decided I am going to stop looking the mirror for the next 30 days.

On the rare occasion I decide to wear cosmetics I will use a very small (think the size of your hand) mirror to apply mascara so I don’t stab my eyeball.  I mean, I kind of like being able to see and all.  Other than that, no mirrors (or windows, cars, or any other reflective surface). It has only been 24 hours and I can already tell this is going to be a challenge that will, at least in the beginning, require a SIGNIFICANT amount of thought.  Have you ever tried brushing your teeth or washing your hands without even casually glancing up at the mirror?  It is really hard! However, I know I need to take this drastic action in order to reclaim my precious time and create an even more positive body image.  I am eager to continue to engage in this challenge and just see how my thought process plays out.  I can honestly say that even without looking at my appearance for 24 hours I already feel a little different–better–about my body.  I keep telling myself to “see what Jesus sees” when I start feeling the urge to look in the mirror.  I recount my many positive attributes to pass the time until the urge to check my appearance passes and, you know what, I actually come out feeling better about myself because I have to do this quite often right now.

Do you think you could go 30 days without looking in a mirror?  
How about just 24 hours? 

I encourage you to give it a try and see what avoiding the mirror does for your body image just 24 hours after that last fateful glance at your body.  If you decide to try it, share your thoughts in the comments below,  I would love to hear what you think!

With Body Love,
Lane

Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, God, Gratitude, Hope, Journaling, Joy, Recovery, Uncategorized

Raw Honesty

“Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable.  Be honest and transparent anyway.” 
-Mother Teresa

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In this post I am about to do something I have never done before on this blog.  That is a year of writing for BBA and I’m about to do something new.  While it isn’t mind-blowing and it isn’t anything exciting, it is more honest than anything I’ve ever written before (and I’m honest in every post).  I am going to share real thoughts, with images, from my journal.  My most secret weapon in recovery is about to be opened, unedited, for others to use as a tool for their recovery to realize they are not alone and show some serious radical body acceptance.  It’s about to get real, folks.  Am I a little nervous about being THIS raw and honest?  Yep.  Is it going to stop me?  Nope.  So, here it goes…

Last week I did something that absolutely terrified me and brought me to tears.  I had my body traced by my dietician.  I stood with my back against a wall and let someone trace my body so I could see more accurately the size I am.  I’ve known for quite some time that I don’t see myself accurately when I look in the mirror; my mind plays tricks on me from the remnants of the eating disorder.  Often it is similar to looking into a funhouse mirror.  One second I will think I look pretty good then I will turn to walk way from the mirror (or other reflective surface) only to catch a glimpse and it suddenly looks like I gained 20 pounds.  This is my real-life way of viewing myself when there is a mirror present and I’ve been working SO HARD to change it.  I mean, that’s the whole basis for this blog!

Before the tracing began my dietician handed me a piece of paper with the same images as the photo at the top of this post.  She directed me to circle the figure I thought most accurately represented my body and then set it aside.  Anyway, after the tracing was done I stepped away from the wall but I was afraid to turn around. I was afraid of what the outline would reveal about my body.  I was afraid it would be bigger than what I thought.  I was afraid it would be smaller.  I was just afraid in general.  Why was I so afraid?  Because if the outline of my body was not what I thought I saw then it would show me I still have a lot of work to do toward accepting my body and seeing myself accurately.   A difference in size from what I see in my mind would represent the eating disorder still having a heavy grasp on my body image and I didn’t want that to be the case.  I desperately wanted to see an accurate size portrayal to show myself that I am doing well in recovery and with accepting my body.

However, when I turned around all I could do was stare.

I had no words for the few few minutes.

My eyes darted to the different parts of my body outlined on the brown butcher block paper taped to the wall. 

Finally, I could bring myself to conjure up some words to express what I was thinking and feeling.  Initially I was disappointed.  There were parts that seemed larger than how I see them and shocked at the parts that appeared to be smaller than what I see.  Nothing seemed to be accurate.  My mind was reeling that the eating disorder could still have such a strong grasp on this part of my brain, but as I began to really process what I saw later that night, this is what developed…

IMG_6344

I wrote…a lot.  I thought…a lot.  And I went to the all-mighty Google to find the same images I saw earlier that depicted body sizes.  Once I found the same body size image I printed it.  I stared at it and realized I hadn’t been completely honest earlier in the day.  I knew I saw myself as larger than the image I circled, yet I desperately wanted my dietician to think I was significantly further along with my thoughts regarding my body than I figured I was.  So I decided to get completely honest with myself about what I thought before and after.  This was the result:

IMG_6343

As you can see, I decided by the end of writing that my body couldn’t accurately be depicted by just one figure because I am not made from a cookie cutter. Did ya catch that?  I AM NOT MADE FROM A COOKIE CUTTER. My body is as unique as my fingerprint because I was created in God’s image and He created us all uniquely.  I love it.  That was a pivotal point for me in this body image and body size acceptance journey.  Realizing that my body doesn’t look like any figure on a paper because I am unique hit me pretty hard.

I. Am. Unique.

Say it with me,

“I am unique.”

Yes, I am talking to you.

YOU are unique.

I challenge you to hang on to that.  You are unique.  You aren’t made from a cookie cutter.
You are not a cookie.
(But it is totally okay to eat a cookie.  mmmm….cookies.)

With Body Love,
Lane

Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, Friends, God, Gratitude, Hope, Joy, Love, Recovery, Uncategorized

Mess, Stress, but I’m BLESSED

“It is not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” 
-Lou Holtz

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My life for the last 14 days has been utterly defined by mess and stress.  My house was nothing but a giant mess for most of those 14 days, as I vigorously cleaned, organized, and de-cluttered on a daily basis in order to prepare our house for the market.  The realtor came today to take photographs and I couldn’t be more relieved that part is over.  In the last 14 days I’ve moved furniture around the house and out of the house. I’ve given away more stuff than I ever thought possible, and realized my house contained A LOT of dog hair.  Seriously, I probably could’ve made a third dog from all the loose hair I cleaned up in random places…and trust me, I vacuum on a regular basis.  What does all this have to do with my body?  Everything. 

Stress can make or break me in recovery.  When I was in high school, college, and even in the Army I told myself I liked being stressed; I wasn’t really living my life if it wasn’t stressful.  It saddens me that I truly believed that until I started really uncovering the truth about my eating disorder in recovery.  I learned that stress was a way for my eating disorder to make me believe I need it in my life.  The truth is stress is the mask my eating disorder uses to get into my life.  It creeps in when I’m overloaded and before I know it I am engaging in behaviors and slipping up left and right.  Well, not this time.  Don’t get me wrong, the last 14 days haven’t all been sunshine and rainbows; my meal times have been off and I’ve broken down crying more than once thinking I would never get everything done in time.  It is moments like that–the crying, utterly overwhelmed moments–when I used to throw in the towel and run back to the eating disorder to “get me through” the tough times.  I used to think, “I’ll only do this until this stress passes.”  Believe me, the temptation was there, “I could use ED and coffee to just get me through the next few days then I can quit.”  However, I’m smart enough now (and strong enough) to know it never works that way.  I can never “just” do it for a short amount of time.  That rabbit hole is closed and I have no desire for it to be open again.    

Even though I didn’t turn to behaviors to get me though the last two weeks I also didn’t exactly take care of myself either.  I stopped doing yoga.  I started going to bed well past midnight (usually 0100 or later) and getting up at 0730 with my toddler to do it all over again.  Oh, and that 0730 was negotiable as she hasn’t been sleeping well with all my stress, anxiety, and the constant changes so several night she woke up at 0430 and wouldn’t go back to sleep.  Talk about one sleep deprived Momma!  I slept more than that when she was an infant! I actually think I slept more than that in the Army. Needless to say, not only was my house a mess but I was a complete mess.  I wasn’t taking care of my mental well-being and, as a result, my physical well-being suffered too.

Without yoga to relieve tension my body began to ache.
I carry stress in my back and when I got on my mat tonight, (for the first time in almost 21 days) I felt it.

Without sleep I became irritable and easily angered.

Even though I was sticking with my meal plan, albeit at odd times and random food combinations, I was also stress eating certain “once forbidden” foods and that was adding to my stress.  I was CONVINCED I was gaining a ton of weight and my dietician got more than one late night (think 0100 0r later) e-mail about it.  (For the record, I actually have no idea whether or not I’ve gained weight over the last few weeks and tonight I realized it doesn’t matter.)

Even though I’ve been very stressed and I am also very blessed.

I’m blessed that I’ve been able to live in such a beautiful home for the last 2.5 years.
I’m blessed that I’m in solid recovery and I can realize when I’m not treating myself well.
I’m blessed that I have a wonderful husband who tells me to slow down and take care of myself.
I’m blessed that I have a loving family who offers to watch my toddler for a few nights so I can sleep and put the finishing touches on the house.
I’m blessed by that toddler who, without knowing, makes me take breaks for playtime and cuddling at bedtime.
I’m blessed that I’ve discovered yoga is the link to taking care of my mental health and centering myself.

While the next few months could continue to be stressful, as we *hopefully* find buyers for the house, go into contract, and move, I know I need to absolutely make taking care of myself a priority.
Yoga needs to happen.  Sleep is a necessity.  Nourishment is a must.

All the stressors I’ve been managing are really just blessings in disguise.
That will be my mantra for the weeks and months ahead as I move forward in recovery and life.  

With Body Love,
Lane

P.S. For those who were wondering how the house turned out…it looks GREAT!  My dogs, however, are unimpressed with the new yoga location in the basement:

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