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.

IMG_0836.JPG
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 

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

Faith and Forgiveness

“This is the body of Christ broken for you,” said the layperson, as I tore off a piece of bread from the communion loaf.  I took a few steps to the side, “This is the blood of Christ shed for you.” I dipped the piece of bread into the cup then put it in my mouth as I walked away.  “Surely the body and blood of Christ has calories,” my 13 year old, very eating disordered brain reasoned. I held the bread dipped in grape juice in my mouth until I walked back around to my seat, where I promptly spit it out into a tissue; feeling only slightly guilty. 

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I grew up going to church; the same little Methodist church in which my mom was raised and where her entire family attended (still attends) church.  I liked the ritualistic, methodical nature of it all but I didn’t understand the deeper meaning.  While I believed in God I didn’t care to dig much deeper than the surface.  I didn’t read my Bible, in fact I didn’t have the slightest clue where the books where located much beyond Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy… five books.  I could easily locate the first five books and Psalms because it was somewhere smack dab in the middle.  While I believed in God and believed Jesus died for my sins, I was not finding my worth in Christ but in food, losing weight, and being thin.

A few weeks ago I was talking to my husband about my faith and why I am so silent and unwilling to openly share my beliefs.  I rarely write about them on this blog and I don’t openly share them on social media very often either.  I was afraid.  I feared judgment by others for my outward showing of faith because I lived most of my life in a less than Christian manner.  Quite honestly I feared the meme that sometimes circulates on social media would be what people thought about me:

E Card

Only my “wild” live-for-yourself days weren’t in high school but in college.  In many ways I put on airs; in front of large groups of people I was this demure, sweet girl from the middle of Amish country nowhere Ohio while secretly going to parties, and going beyond what any true Christian girl would with boys.  My dad walked out on my 17th birthday and instead of finding comfort in God and looking toward my heavenly Father I turned toward earthly comforts–most often found in the growling of my stomach and the attention of men.  I felt abandoned, unloved, and unworthy of being loved by my dad so I found it where I could.  When I went to college this pattern of beliefs and behavior was amplified by a culture where drunkenness and intense sexuality was widely accepted and eating disorders ran rampant.  Instead of really searching to find a church home, despite one of my closest friends always inviting me to her church and praying for me constantly, I found my own path to the bottom of alcohol bottles in place of food.  I exercised a lot because I knew that a thinner but still muscular physique would be attractive and I could feel wanted.

My brain suffered from my lifestyle.  As I’ve stated in other posts I lack memories from my 16 years in the eating disorder because my brain was starving.  My brain was starving, sleep deprived, and drunk.  I made a lot of mistakes and sometimes went to Catholic Mass with friends to feel better about what I had done before going back out on Saturday night and doing it again.  In reality my relationship with God was almost nonexistent because I was so angry with God for what had happened to my family.  I was a good faker about how I believed and loved God but in reality acted in any way but faithful.  My body became my enemy, despite the knowledge that my body is a temple for God, and the weapon of choice for God’s enemy to turn me against Him.  The war waged on with the eating disorder but instead of battling the eating disorder and trying to get better I was battling God.

After college I did what I used to do so well and ran from Michigan down to Savannah, GA where I was living with a man I met through a friend in the Army.   He, like me, was an Army officer and gave me so much attention it was easy to continue using my body as a weapon against God.  I continued in the eating disorder and continued to be sexually immoral.  He was a believer, but a believer like me–on the surface level.  It was easier and more fun to indulge in a lifestyle against the Bible than to follow as God commanded and save sex for marriage.  Before too long I realized his attention for me was a drive for control and he wanted to control me, my actions, and my career by advising me not to be the best officer so my career could tank and I could get out.  I got out, out of that relationship and moved to another state.

Enter my husband.  My husband who wasn’t just a surface level Christian but a true believer in the Bible and teachings of Christ.  TJ invited me to go to church with him and I did.  I started to go to church again and actually listen to the teachings.  I started to read my Bible like I never had before and started to realize the eating disorder was a weapon against myself and God but I wasn’t ready or able to stop it just yet.  I also realized that my actions over the previous four-and-a-half years could be forgiven.  I prayed for forgiveness for my actions often but never really forgave myself.  My past was a big, dirty, shameful secret.  A secret I shared with my husband before we got engaged and married but a shameful secret nonetheless.  I had treated my body poorly not only by starving it, purging food, and overexercising but by how I had allowed it to be something for the Devil to use to turn me against God and the teachings of the Bible that I had held true until I was 19 years old and in college.

Finally, a few weeks ago, after TJ and I had this conversation about my fear of sharing faith I realized my prayers for forgiveness had been heard.  My sins during that time in college when I was a very lost, very ill sheep from God’s flock had been forgiven long time ago when I first asked and I didn’t need to hold it against myself anymore.  My forgiveness isn’t greater than God’s forgiveness.  I’m healthy now.  My body and brain are healthy and God was one of the biggest proponents for getting me through the eating disorder.  My faith grew stronger over the last two years and that means the secrets that continued to plague my mind and make me feel unworthy of being able to share my faith needed to be shared.  I might have grown up believing in God but I got lost along the way and turned my body into a weapon to wage war against myself and God.  I’m not perfect, I never was and never will be.

Striving for perfection nearly killed me and did kill my faith in the process for a few years.  My body isn’t a weapon but an instrument through which God uses me to spread His love and message of forgiveness.  I believe God has forgiven me for using my body against Him and for mistreating it for so many years.  I kept from my body the physical and spiritual nourishment needed for my survival.  I had forgiven myself for struggling with the eating disorder long ago; realizing it played a part in turning me away from God but He has since used it for His greater glory as well as the good of myself and others.  However, I had not truly forgiven myself for my sexual immorality until a few weeks ago.  It was a grudge I held against myself in silent shame and it was hindering me from outwardly sharing my love for Christ and my faith.  Judgment from others may come because people may not have forgotten my actions in college, but I know the greater truth:  God has forgiven me.

“The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving even though we have rebelled against Him.”
Daniel 9:9  

Forgiveness

My past holds no power over me now because I keep no secrets.  Everything I’ve done, experienced, and survived make up my story that God uses to show is unconditional love for His people.

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

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

15 Things I WILL Do in 2016

CHALLENGE
a call to take part in a contest or competition

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So, I’ve been absent from both the BBA blog and Facebook page as of late and here it is–almost a month since my last post! For those who don’t know me personally, we (my little family and I) have been getting ready to move and have been SUPER BUSY getting our house ready for our next endeavor.  However, I have not forgotten about the BBA community and what I sometimes call “my second child” when I refer to the blog.  In fact, I’ve been creating a challenge for myself (and you, if you’d like to join) and it is finally time to share that challenge! Are you ready?  Please say yes because I am EXCITED and ready to dive in head first for this one!  

On my birthday my amazing husband took me to a bookstore in Columbus.  Not just any bookstore, a bookstore with OVER 30 ROOMS of books!  Now, I am somewhat of a bookworm, a nerd, a person who loves to get lost in some literature so this was a great birthday gift; especially when I walked away with Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls by Jes Baker.  It is an amazing, empowering, and completely-body-positive read that I HIGHLY recommend to each and every one of you but especially for those who fill the “plus size” category.  Throughout the book Jes gives readers little challenges that are from her blog post “25 things fat people shouldn’t do” .  Intrigued by this, I decided to develop my own list of challenges, as some of hers didn’t exactly apply to be (because I either already do them or they aren’t really my thing anyway).  Are you ready?  Drum roll please….

  1. Wear bold patterns
  2. Wear bright colors
  3. Wear bikinis
  4. Eat dessert in public
  5. Wear leggings/skinny jeans as pants
  6. Wear horizontal stripes
  7. Wear a tight fitting dress
  8. Dance
  9. Follow their dreams and be successful
  10. Be happy and confident in themselves and their appearance
  11. Do cartwheels
  12. Swing into the water (rope swings)
  13. Swing on a swing set
  14. Do yoga (**for me, in a group setting**)
  15. Jump

This list was derived from things I found on the internet that fat people, particularly women, “shouldn’t” do, as well as the list Jes posted.  Well guess what, I am going to do them.  I am going to do all 15 of them in the calendar year 2016.  While some of these I already have done, I am challenging myself to doing them a little differently.  For example, wearing leggings.  If you follow BBA on Facebook you know I love leggings and even have some that are bright patterns; however I have one pair of leggings that will be particularly challenging for me: red leggings with pieces of cake on them.  Yes, the design looks like little squares of cake.  I thought they were cute but of course my brain says, “You can’t wear those!  You look like all you do is eat cake all the time and then people will think the same thing.”  Um, newsflash dear brain, people will think all I do is eat cake if they want to regardless of what my leggings have on them; therefore I will wear these leggings in public sometime soon!

As I embark on this new *challenging* adventure I’m asking you to take this journey with me!  If you decide to accept this challenge, join me in posting your challenge photos on the BBA page as you complete them.  Share your photos on Instagram using #BBAChallenge.  Make some of your own challenges that fit you and share those with the BBA Community on social media.  I look forward to seeing people step out of their comfort zones and step into a challenging, confident new direction!

 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