Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Encouragement, Exercise, Feelings, Friends, Gratitude, Hope, Recovery, Triggers, Uncategorized, Weight

Challenge to Train

The therapist I saw during my years in graduate school would marvel at how I turned everything into a competition.  It doesn’t matter what, I made it a competition in my mind in order to be the best…to be perfect.  

Here I am, years later, a little–okay, a lot–less competitive.
However, all that has started changing.

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I joined a local gym in the fall and struggled to maintain a healthy focus while getting back into something that was once used as a tool against me by my eating disorder.  My thoughts quickly changed from having a healthy focus to an eating disordered focus rather quickly.  While I wasn’t spending an excessive amount of hours in the gym, I was severely restricting my food intake in combination with exercise; making my sole focus weight-loss.  Within a few weeks of joining the gym my behavior started to raise red flags with those who are close to me.  My track record of easing back into the gym is definitely not good.

Therefore, when I signed up for the Ruck to Remember 60 to 60 event taking place over Memorial Day weekend, I knew I needed to start with my head in the right place.  The event is a 60 mile ruck march where I’ll be carrying 40 pounds on my back.  While it takes place over three days, it will still be physically and mentally demanding.  I had considered signing up for this event for several months, but feared training for it because of the eating disorder’s ability to grab ahold of my brain in the gym.  That, and the last time I did a long ruck march was when I was in the Army very sick with an eating disorder, and ended up stress fracturing my pelvis from overuse and stress on weak bones.  Needless to say that was a less than pleasurable experience.  So, how to tackle training while keeping the eating disordered thoughts at bay?             

Reach out.  I’m training for this with a former Army instructor, turned friend, who will also be participating.  Accountability for training.  This instructor was with me when I got injured during the ruck march before and hung back with me at my painfully (literally) slow pace because I refused to quit.  Next, I e-mailed my former dietician to ask for help and guidance with the nutritional side of things.  I concluded the e-mail with, “I know this sounds like an eating disorder horror story…” Nutritional guidance for endurance training.  Finally, I found a training buddy here in Charleston.  A former Army infantryman has decided to run with me at 0400 in the morning (or in the afternoon, if I’m lucky) before he goes to work.  I’ve surrounded myself with accountability this time around.  Of course, I strive to be honest with TJ about everything, including the moments when the desire to hit the gym may not be motivated by healthy factors.

Instead of turning this into a competition with myself to be perfect or to lose weight and burn calories, I’ve turned this into a competition with myself for something good.  This is a competition to prove when I am healthy I can do more and be better than I ever was when I was sick.  I look back on several occasions when I was in the Army and find myself grateful nothing worse than a stress fractured pelvis happened to me as a result of the eating disorder.  Now I am out to prove to myself that training in a healthy body–a body that is far heavier than it was at any point during my time in service–can serve me better than my sick and broken body ever did.  For once I am taking my need to compete and putting it toward a recovery mindset instead of an illness centered one.

During my two years of treatment for the eating disorder, I learned to embrace mindful, slow exercises such as yoga and slow walking.  While these exercises are fantastic for the mind and my healing body, I appreciate their place and purpose, but there is something deep inside that yearns to leave everything I have on the pavement.  The Army instilled in me the need to compete with myself and I want to train with a purpose for something greater than just me.  Participation in the 60 to 60 event does just that.  It gives me a greater purpose and a reason to, once again, leave it all on the gravel.  My body is healthier and more nourished than ever before, as is my mind.  By the time Memorial Day rolls around I will be ready to participate, and my focus won’t be on calories burned or weight lost, but rather the lives that were lost protecting the freedoms we enjoy in this country.

I can already see a difference in how I treat my training times now versus six months ago.  Having a designated purpose for training makes all the difference to me and my recovery.

With Body Love,
Lane

PS In case you are wondering, yes, the featured image is of me in 2007 during some Army training.   Here is another (that is me in the front):

HMMWV Pull

Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Shape, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Exercise, Feelings, Friends, Hope, Recovery, Triggers, Uncategorized

My “Friend” Gym

In the dark of the “Cardio Cinema” at Gold’s Gym I struggled to fight back the tears that started to come to my eyes.  My mind still isn’t healthy enough to do this, I admitted to myself in utter defeat.  The workout seemed easy enough but fighting back the demon that still plagues my mind is another story.    

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I found a rabbit hole and couldn’t resist the shiny object at the end:
thinness and weight loss. 
Instead of following my recovery mind, I followed the eating disorder right down that hole.  That stupid, big black hole. 

In a matter of weeks I could feel myself slipping and, once again, becoming a woman possessed by workouts, “clean” foods, and my body.  Things I thought were long gone and replaced by more enjoyable life experiences such as happiness, writing for BBA, and health.  I wanted to build my strength and cardio endurance so hoisting the sails on our floating home would be a little less tiring each time I did it; fully acknowledging the risks associated with entering a gym.  In my case the risks are not so much physical as they are mental and emotional, but I thought I put a good support system in place.  I didn’t hide my gym membership from my husband and I even decided to start going with a friend who is in excellent physical condition to help me get back at it.  We set a time limit, and often broke it, but had a plan for our time at the gym nonetheless.  I couldn’t just exercise endlessly without accountability.  That was my plan.  My plan had one major fault: my brain.

By entering the exercise arena again, I opened up a corner in my brain that allowed the eating disorder to slowly creep back into my life.  I could “hear”  it before I wanted to admit it was back.  The voice telling me not to eat because I had done such an excellent workout that I shouldn’t poison my caloric loss with more calories.  Red Flag.  Talking myself into eating over a grumbling stomach; knowing I had only eaten twice but now it was after 7pm so I shouldn’t eat anything more.  Red Flag.  My brain telling me to just make some green tea and sip on it until I am no longer hungry.  Maybe I should.  Maybe then I could actually lose some weight.  Red Flag.   I found myself obsessively looking in mirrors and reflective surfaces with a consistency I haven’t had in months, berating my body and appearance.  It took over my mind every time I saw my reflection with a vengeance for giving it up in the first place.  Red Flag. I found myself utilizing the same old excuses with family and friends who voiced concern over my return to the gym, reassuring them I knew what I was doing and I was ready for this.  Red Flag.

Red Flag.
Red Flag.
Bright, red, you-can’t-freaking-miss-it flag. 

My recovery mind was fading into the background fast; replaced with thoughts dominated by the eating disorder instead of the real me.  But why?  Why now?
I’ve been doing well for so long…

I returned to the gym during a period of high stress.  Mistake número uno.  My sister and the son of my Army Soulmate/BFF were having surgery and I was stressed.  I needed an outlet and I felt my life was too hectic to sit down and write.  Instead of utilizing safe outlets such as yoga, writing, and paddleboarding; I opted for one of my bigger triggers because I thought surely I was ready for a triumphant return.  

I traveled to Pittsburgh, PA to be with my sister and Army Soulmate for the surgeries; requiring I stay at a hotel.  Only I didn’t stay at a hotel.  I stayed at this quaint little place, Family House, for people who have loved ones at local hospitals.  Upon walking into the place it felt eerily like walking into an eating disorder treatment facility; a feeling that made me want to rebel against recovery with every fiber of my being.  The large kitchen with two industrial size refrigerators, large sinks, and multiple microwaves screams community meals.  The environment is meant to feel inviting, like a home, but instead feels like what it is–a place where people stay when something serious happens.  I stood in the oversized kitchen after both surgeries had been completed and I had been up for 18 hours, when my mind flashed back to my time at the Center for Balanced Living.  At least this time my food wasn’t being checked and re-checked for meal plan accountability and I wasn’t going to be watched while I ate.  I suddenly felt devious.  I could sit alone at a table where I could eat as slowly as I wanted and throw out food without the need to hide it first.  What I couldn’t believe was that I was even entertaining this thought.  I sat at the table, playing with my food, and eating it incredibly slowly; pushing the thought out of my mind that I might actually be starting to struggle again.  Despite being very busy while in Pittsburgh, I made time for exercise because I couldn’t “undo” all the hard work I had recently been doing.  

All these red flags and I kept ignoring them.  Excusing them away and dismissing them as paranoia.  I mean, when will I get my life “back” if I don’t start now?  I do enjoy the occasional run and the feeling of  being back in the gym, but I went too hard too fast.  The safeguards weren’t enough because I started out doing too much too soon. I didn’t ease back into the gym, I went at it like my mind and body were fully healed and not susceptible to relapse.

I was wrong.

Healing from an eating disorder doesn’t happen overnight.
Recovery and healing happens over years; marked by struggles, slips, and points of higher learning.
My experience in the gym is a point of learning.  Learning I am not able to exercise daily like I used to because my mind isn’t ready for it.
The trigger to return to the eating disorder is still there, lying in wait, for me to choose it.
I chose it.
I tried to ignore it but thankfully I’m stronger than that now.  My husband is stronger and knows when to call it to my attention.
Together we won’t let the eating disorder retake my life.

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On a similar, yet slightly different note, I hate myself a little for supporting a business that thinks posting crap like this is appropriate, but it is what it is.  Besides, I haven’t been a “girl” in quite some time…I’m almost 30!   

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I much prefer the cover image I’ve chosen from Women’s Running Magazine that both demonstrates and states that weight doesn’t matter.  Because it doesn’t. 

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

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

Challenges-Changes-Conclusions

“No Mud, No Lotus.” 
-Thich Nhat Hanh

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I find it hard to believe it has been a month since my last post and so many changes have occurred in such time that it was hard to find time to sit down to write!  I will try to condense them all into one post…but we all know I can be long-winded!

Challenges:
I love a good challenge (always have) and the last month has been chock full of them!  I’ve knocked a good three off my previous challenge list and even added an additional one.  As some of you more consistent readers may recall, I posted a list of challenges a few months ago that included things that are considered taboo for plus size people.  Well, I took three of those and turned them into positives.  While visiting Charleston, SC a few weeks ago I arrived wearing a tight fitting skirt, something I have never done.  It was certainly challenging, and I really like the skirt, but I have also realized it isn’t really my thing so I don’t know how often I will wear it but nevertheless, I did it and I survived.  I also wore bright patterned leggings not only out in public (challenge #5) but to a group workout class at Studio Barre (challenge #14)!  By the way, I LOVED Studio Barre!  Having a ballet and dance background (way back in the day) the elements of ballet combined with strengthening and conditioning really appealed to me, so when my sister-in-law invited me along I jumped at the chance.  At first my body image and eating disordered brain were definitely challenged, as the room has several floor to ceiling mirrors, but after using the wise-mind skills to talk myself through it I came to several very positive conclusions.  I didn’t need to stare in the mirror and compare myself to the other women in the room.  We were all there to better ourselves and the only real competition we have is within.  For me, the competition was to keep my focus during the class and challenge my body to use muscles I don’t use on a daily basis (boy, did I ever).  My secondary challenge was to not spend time focusing on my body, or that I was the only plus size woman in the room, but rather focus on my strengths.  Thanks to my yoga practice, I discovered I am actually quite flexible and I also realized my muscles are already pretty strong just from going about my daily life and incorporating a yoga practice.  I was really pleased with myself for going to the class and focusing on the positive aspects of my time there rather than paying attention to the nagging, doubting, and overly critical voice that comes with the eating disordered brain.

Now, it has been a month since my post about mirrors.  I realized part of my body image issues stemmed from constantly looking in the mirror and picking apart the image before me.  This challenge has been a bit more… challenging… than anticipated.  I did not realize just how much the eating disorder played a role in my nagging obsession to look in every reflective surface.  Giving up the mirror cold turkey proved to be a bit more than I could handle for the time being.  Quite honestly, for the first week it threw me for such a loop that I could feel a rising urge to engage in eating disordered behaviors in order to cope with “losing” the mirror.  As a result, I lessened the challenge for myself and decided I would look in the mirror as little as possible for 30 days.  Well, the 30 days are now over and I can honestly say it hasn’t been easy!  No, I do not look in the mirror multiple times a day; in fact, sometimes I look only once or not at all.  I have definitely become more aware of the amount of time I spend looking at my reflection and even more aware of the time I spend picking it apart.  Therefore, I am continuing with this challenge until I no longer feel the “pull” to look in the mirror at all.  This is definitely going to be a work in progress for me…

Changes:
In the past I have not handled changes, and the stress that typically accompanies them, very well.  My default coping mechanism has always been to restrict food or engage in other eating disordered behaviors.  This time has been markedly different.  We are preparing to move THIS. WEEK. and here is the real kicker–we are moving to a new state and don’t exactly have a place to live lined up.  Sounds ridiculous, right?  It is…just a little… BUT I’ve been relatively calm about it.  In my recovery life I’ve become very much “go with the flow” and significantly less “plan to make a plan…and multiple backup plans”.  While I still have moments where the uncertainty causes me to have some anxiety, I know it is in God’s hands and will all get figured out once we arrive.  We do have a place to say when we get there so I’m sure that plays into my ability to be more “go with the flow” about not having our new home figured out.

Conclusions:
Along with the changes that come with moving to a new state come the conclusions in our current place.  Some of the conclusions are cause for celebration and some are definitely bittersweet.  First of all, in case you don’t follow the BBA Facebook page, I have completely finished my outpatient eating disorder treatment!!  This is ABSOLUTELY cause for celebration, as it has been a long 18 months of hard work, but it is also bittersweet.  I have been fortunate enough to be blessed with an EXCELLENT treatment team and network of supporters, and some have filled both roles.  My husband, on whom I often brag, was my number one supporter through it all and the first to rejoice with me over the ending of treatment.  He was always there for me, even when he was far away for work, and took time to try to really understand what I was going through.  I could not have been blessed with a better partner for life.  He is an amazing and selfless man.

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Aside from my husband, one of my biggest supporters and someone who I consider to be my biggest professional advocate on my treatment team, is where the seriously bittersweet part of this comes into play: my dietician, Anne.  I couldn’t have been more blessed to randomly find her on the internet when I finally made the decision to add a dietician to my team.  Even though I made the first appointment and I went willingly, the eating disordered part of me was still VERY reluctant. Anne recognized this and worked with me very gently so I wouldn’t get spooked and take off; giving up on the nutritional portion of treatment.  She walked me though difficult days with a kindness and caring I had never experienced from someone who wasn’t family.  Countless hours in her office, at least 100 (seriously) e-mails, and many, many tears later I concluded my time of treatment with her last week.  It was hard, it was rewarding, but most of all it was bittersweet.  I’ve poured out much of my heart and soul to her over the last 18 months and she has listened to me without judgement.  She has guided me nutritionally and taught me weight is not indicative of health or worth.  I’m a beautiful, healthy, and wonderful woman regardless of body size or any stupid number on the scale.  I couldn’t be more thankful our paths crossed.  

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In order to celebrate all the changes and conclusions happening in my life, a friend gave me a bracelet with the quotation at the top of this page stamped on it:  “No Mud, No Lotus”.   Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE bracelets and this one has become a daily addition to my wrist; a constant reminder that I am like the lotus–beautiful and still opening–but I needed to get through the dark mud at the bottom before I could really bloom.

I’m still blooming.

I’m still finding mud to go through, but at least now I know I can get through the mud and become something beautiful because of it.

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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, God, Gratitude, Hope, Joy, Love, New Year, Postpartum Body, Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized, Weight

Who I Am

“What would happen if I never tried to lose weight again?  What would happen if I never tried to ‘better’ myself or get ‘healthy’ again?”
-me

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This song is from my daughter’s favorite movie, The Pirate Fairy. After watching it several times I finally listened to the words and realized I actually really love this song.  Take a good listen and you’ll see why…it is all about embracing who you are and what you love.  This song has been my inspiration to be pretty bold with some decisions lately…

Yesterday I went to Ann Arbor, Michigan to meet up with some college friends for a girls afternoon.  I wore an outfit that challenged me: patterned leggings, a tighter fitting shirt, and boots.  I wanted to be comfortable for the drive but I also wanted to dress nice so this seemed like a feasible option.  Generally I felt comfortable walking around but I definitely had moments of insecurity.  Why am I telling you this?  Because I realized I happen to like patterned leggings even though they aren’t labeled “socially acceptable” for bigger ladies to wear in public as pants.  I also decided I don’t care.  It is all part of embracing myself and my likes in this new year while continuing to figure out what all those likes really are, regardless of societal stigmas.

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We went out to eat and I challenged myself to order something out of the norm for me.  Completely out of the norm.  While at a quaint Italian restaurant I ordered spaghetti (gluten free, of course)…and enjoyed it.  Typically in public I order a salad because that is “socially acceptable” for someone with a larger body, as it signifies a desire to get “healthy” and “lose weight” to better oneself.

I’m going to call it:
bullsh*t

On the drive home I was thinking about the challenges in the day and it hit me–hard–what would happen if I stay a size 16/18 forever and never lose weight again?  Usually this thought would freak me out and make me want to find a scale and weigh myself ASAP to make sure I’m not gaining weight and get my “head on straight” aka back to wanting to fit in with the societal norm of trying to lose weight to get “healthy”.  However, this time was different.  What if I never tried to lose weight again? Never tried to “better” myself and get “healthy” again?

I WOULD BE SO HAPPY! 

While I am generally a very happy person these days I still struggle with body image and being labeled “fat” or “plus size” by media and societal norms.  But really, what is so bad about that anyway?  Is that really the worst thing in the world to be?  The answer is no. 

I am more active than many women I know, including several who are much smaller than me.  Thanks to yoga I am flexible, strong, and have great breath control.  I sleep great and I feel great.  My body weight and size in no way hinder me from doing yoga.  Very rarely do I need to modify poses to accommodate my body and when I do it is usually a stability issue. (read: I am still not good at tree pose.  I am a very wind-blown tree.)  My body is healthy and strong enough to walk long distances, often while carrying or pushing my child.  Embracing my body at this size gives me freedom and happiness.  I don’t have it down pat.  I definitely still have days where I really struggle with that embrace factor.  However, if I eat spaghetti at a restaurant or a cookie at home the world won’t end.  Just because I am bigger than society finds acceptable doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to enjoy the little things in life.  I will never be a Victoria’s Secret model, or a model at all (not my thing) but that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to wear whatever outfit or swimsuit I want.  I determine what makes me feel comfortable and attractive.  If I want to wear leggings as pants…I’ll surely be comfy!  If I want to have dessert at a restaurant…so be it!  Although, for the record, the dessert at a restaurant piece is something on which I am still working.  

If someone wants to make a judgement about me based on my body size and food order I feel sorry for them because they have their own serious issues.  Health can come at any size and I am healthy.  I strive to be kind and compassionate toward others.  I am a dedicated and loving wife and mother. All of this is not determined by my body size.  It isn’t determined by the food on my plate.  All of these things are infinitely better than being thin, angry, and unhappy because I am trying to force my body to conform to an unattainable societal ideal.  

So why do I still get upset about my body size?
Because I am human.
I get sucked into the poo the media peddles in hopes I will spend money to get thinner and embrace the “new year, new you” concept.  Not this time, diet and fashion industry.
New year, even more awesome me.
This year is all about embracing and celebrating the REAL me that already exists.  The me that doesn’t have to lose weight to be happy because I am already happy.  The me that is a million great things that have nothing to do with body size.  This year is about embracing my new found freedom to simply be myself, regardless of body size and weight.

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, God, Gratitude, Hope, Joy, Love, New Year, Postpartum Body, Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized, Weight

New Year, Embracing My TRUE Self

As 2015 finds its exit tonight, it leaves me with many memories, lessons, and victories.
It is also setting me up for success and realistic goals for 2016.
So bring on the new year!

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What a year 2015 has been!  I’ve learned more about myself in this year than I ever thought possible.  I didn’t know it was possible to be as happy as I have been and I am elated to discover I can continue to live my life this way–this happy.  Happiness is a choice and I am going to keep using my “wise mind” to choose to be happy just like I continue to choose recovery over relapse.  That being said…

So long, 2015!  Let’s review what you taught me: 

  1. I love the color PURPLE.  Seriously, purple is my color. Can’t. Get. Enough. 
  2. The lotus flower is pretty much my power symbol and represents my journey toward self-acceptance and self-discovery.  Just as the lotus flower must come up through deep, dark mud to bloom and become beautiful; the journey I have walked in recovery has turned me into this beautiful, blooming woman.
  3. Recovery, true recovery, is 100% possible!  Before I always thought people who wrote books about being completely recovered were full of poo but as I’ve walked this road for the last year I have come to understand I, too, can be completely recovered.
  4. I’ll let you in on a little secret…I’m kind of a hippy at heart. 
    1. I LOVE yoga, meditation, hemp products, and fair trade clothing
    2. Side note: favorite fair trade clothing companies: Soul FlowerFair IndigoOka-B, and LulaRoe (softest leggings ever)
  5. I love writing.  Kind of obvious but I didn’t realize just HOW much I love writing until this year.
  6. I enjoy burning incense and using essential oils.
  7. I CAN survive without knowing my weight.  Give it a try…I am certain you have it within you to survive without knowing that number, too!
  8. My clothing size absolutely does not matter.  It doesn’t determine my worth or whether or not people like me.
  9. I LOVE BEING A MOM.  Best. “Job.” Ever.
  10. I can appreciate my body and show it love…even when I’m struggling.

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I would say that is a pretty good list of self-discoveries I made in 2015!  I look forward to putting those discoveries to use in 2016.  For once my goals for the new year have nothing to do with worshipping the gods of thinness and everything to do with embracing my true self.  Curious?  Check them out!

Goals for 2016:

  1. Improve my daily body image.  While my body image is leaps and bounds beyond where it was at the start of 2015, I still have a long way to go.  Poor body image is everywhere and we are taught to dislike what we see, so working to change that will take time but I’m willing to put in that time. 
  2. Cease eating disorder treatment.  Not because I am ready to throw in the towel but because I obtain sustained recovery and no longer need treatment services.
  3. Yoga, yoga, yoga!! The movement I once found “worthless” has become part of my life on a (near) daily basis.  I’m ready to commit to my yoga practice more often and deepen my understanding of self through that practice.  (Hippy, I know.) 
  4. Finish the Beautiful Body Acceptance book I started a few months ago.  Writing a book is serious work; especially when my toddler comes first!  (Writers block is serious stuff, too.)  Hopefully I can carve out more time to work on writing it in 2016! 
  5. Grow the BBA “brand” this year. BBA is still a baby, my (second) baby, and nurturing this blog and book are on my list of goals.  I want more people to see their beauty and begin the journey of body acceptance! 

I hope you take time to reflect on the lessons you learned in 2015 and set goals for 2016 that don’t worship the gods of thinness and weight loss.
Set goals to embrace your true self and let your happy shine! 

With Body Love,
Lane

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

Symbolism and Self-Acceptance

Rising out of darkness, the lotus flower emerges to float on top of the water;
unstained by the mud that binds it.

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After a long weekend visiting family in a very health-conscious city (i.e.: people always running and biking regardless of the time of day, and gyms on every corner), I found myself really struggling with body image and wanting to return to eating disordered ways.  RED + FLAG.  For the last two months I haven’t really struggled with the eating disordered thoughts or body image nearly as bad as I did for the last few days.  Feeling in such an awful place about my body made me question why I am even running this blog and Facebook page.  However, last night I got some serious rest and this morning I woke up with a new frame of mind.  While I am still struggling I am ready to fight harder again because that is recovery: moments of fighting hard, tooth and nail, to remain in recovery and learning to love myself and my body along the way.

This is the official BBA logo, designed by Megan Anderson
This is the official BBA logo, designed by Megan Anderson

 I have also been thinking a lot about the symbolism behind the BBA logo and what it means for me in recovery and with my body acceptance.

The BBA logo is rooted in deep meaning and symbolism; everything from the lotus flower to the color scheme was chosen carefully and to represent something.  The lotus flower sits delicately, cleanly on top of the water after it comes up from the muddy bottom and murky water that holds it in place.  It is rooted firmly and opens with the rising sun.  A new day, a new beginning for the lotus flower.  The flower is unstained by the mud from which it rises. Beauty rises out of darkness.  Body acceptance is beautiful, especially when it comes from the darkness of self-doubt, self-hate, and struggle to love.  The lotus flower in the logo is not fully open, showing body acceptance and love is an ongoing journey.  It takes time, patience, and continuous effort to learn to love myself; just as recovery times time, patience, and continuous effort.  Neither body love or full recovery came instantly when I stepped into the sun and started living in the truth.  Like the lotus flower blooming in the sun, petals open slowly and each one is examined in truth (sun) before the flower is fully open and the heart is revealed for the world to see.  I am like the lotus flower not fully open.  While some petals have received the sunlight others are just beginning to open as I figure out what triggers me most and causes me to feel such dislike for my body.

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The blue and purple hues used in the logo also hold meaning for me.  Purple is my favorite color but, as I wrote in a previous post, I believe purple to be dreamy and daring.  The color blue, especially light blue, is calming and comforting to me.  While purple represents the side of me that dreams of full recovery and body love, blue represents the calm state of mind it takes to practice radical body acceptance.  

Finally, the water under the lotus and the droplet of water above it represent sustaining life and relaxation.  The ocean and water speaks to me and calms me.  Much like a lotus bobbing on the water and making ripples, becoming a body acceptance advocate also makes ripples.  It isn’t a commonly embraced concept, as we are a society fixated on changing our appearance.  BBA seeks to make waves.  Water is also sustaining.  We need water to survive and water helps give life.  The water droplet coming down on the lotus helps sustain it, such as food, water, and God help sustain me.

While the last few days have been a struggle, I needed to return to the root of why I started this blog.  It is an honest look at radical body acceptance through the lens of eating disorder recovery.  This is the honest side of it.  I still struggle; I haven’t perfected this process.  I have days when I don’t even remotely love my body and it is difficult to practice radical body acceptance and find the things I do like and appreciate.  There are days when I don’t want to fight for recovery because it might be “easier” in the moment to go back to eating disordered ways and just let go of the rope in this tug-of-war.  However, I don’t let go;  I keep pulling and practicing radical body acceptance no matter how difficult it is.   I find the things I do appreciate and hold on to those.  I see the sunlight as I am rising from the muddy, murky waters of the eating disorder and self-hate to examine my petals in truth.

This is the truth:
I don’t appreciate my body all the time, but I am learning.  I fight to find the things I do like, even when the eating disordered part of my brain says there is nothing to like or love about myself.  I appreciate that my body could take my daughter trick-or-treating last Saturday in that health-conscious town because I enjoyed living in the moment with her.  I also appreciate my brain and heart for fighting to fully recover from the eating disorder that bound them in hate for so long.  What is your truth today?

Radical body acceptance is a journey on which anyone can embark.
So why not start today?

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.

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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, Eating Disorder, Exercise, Recovery

Warrior Dash vs. Recovery Warrior

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

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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!

Body Acceptance, Exercise, Recovery

Part I: The Exercise Equation

I thought it would be difficult to write a post this week, but I was mistaken.
I thought my blog always needed to be upbeat and positive, but it doesn’t.  Life isn’t always upbeat and positive.  This post will be in two parts, one today and another tomorrow.  Truth is a big part of my body acceptance, and the truth is I haven’t been able to accept my body at this size lately.   I’ve also been struggling with not being allowed to run or participate in 5Ks, as it is summer and prime 5K season.

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In eating disorder recovery land, exercise is severely limited and closely monitored in an attempt to put an end to the exercise equation.  The exercise equation is this: (low calories + exercise = weight loss…quickly)   Now, I am not a math person (never have been), but this equation makes sense to me.  In eating disorder recovery land exercise becomes “movement” and is used for self-care and clearing the mind, not weight loss or burning calories.   The exercise equation still exists in the part of my mind that is controlled by the eating disorder.  This equation is why I sat in my dietician’s office this week, in tears, as I desperately tried to explain why I should be permitted to join the local YMCA.  “I am the biggest I have ever been and the least active I have ever been at the same time, and the combination is crushing me.”   I mean, it is not that I am too thin and can’t afford to lose weight, I am technically OBESE. (This was the main point of my argument while trying to get her to acquiesce.)

For someone like me, who ran cross country, was in the military, and has always been active; eating disorder recovery land movement doesn’t amount to much.  I never viewed yoga as an acceptable form of exercise movement because it couldn’t possibly burn enough calories to do any good.  The same mindset can be applied to walking.  Hatha yoga (not hot or fast yoga) and walking, coincidentally, are the most acceptable forms of movement in recovery land.  So, as you can imagine, I need to re-work my thoughts on exercise…movement.  I need to work on removing the equation from my mind that exercise is only worth something if it allows me to burn a significant amount of calories that will aid in weight-loss.   Learning to accept that movement has a new intended purpose is anything but a fast process.  Each time I am allowed to start adding more movement into my life, my eating disordered brain takes off and I find myself right back in the middle of the exercise equation.  Once I am back in the exercise equation I have to step back and stop movement so I can focus again on recovery.  The cycle is beyond frustrating.

Learning to accept my size and that the exercise equation can’t be part of my life is difficult.  While movement can be healthy and help with overall physical health, it is a fine line for me.  I can quickly slip from mindful movement to the exercise equation and not even see it.  My eating disorder begins to step in, “Just __ more minutes.  Burn __ more calories before you stop.”  The abuse quietly comes in and I see it as my competitive nature, not a problem.  Before I know what is happening, I am restricting my calories and manipulating what I eat in order to burn more calories and lose weight faster.  I have to stop competing with myself and allow the movement to do its intended purpose: clear my mind and help me de-stress.  This is probably one of the hardest lessons I am learning in eating disorder recovery land, as our country applauds competition and pushing the limits.

So, just in case you were wondering, I am allowed to join the Y but I have some heavy restrictions and what I do will be closely monitored to make sure my mind doesn’t end up back in the exercise equation.  I will have to really try to focus on movement being for self-care and mindfulness. I will have to try to focus on appreciating my body for the movement I am able to do.  I may not necessarily like my body right now but it is the vehicle for my movement that will help clear my mind.   Thankfully I have a treatment team to help me figure out if I start to cross that line back to the exercise equation.  However, I am willing to try to re-work my focus in order to be allowed time for mindful movement.  

I leave you today with this question:
Are you stuck in the exercise equation or are you engaging in mindful movement?

With Body Love,
Lane