What happens when someone in recovery is terrified of gaining weight and sees someone who recovered and did just that? You get me.
There is something with which I’ve been grappling for several months now, this idea that people in recovery do not want to hear what I have to say because I am their worst nightmare. I am the woman who entered recovery and has gained a solid amount of weight as a result. My natural set point is much heavier than what is remotely deemed acceptable by society; to the point where even I wouldn’t have listened to what someone my size had to say about recovery when I was in the disease. Why? I wouldn’t have been able to see beyond the body size to listen to his/her story.
When I was in the disease my goal was to eat as few calories as remotely possible to sustain life. As a result, I went through periods where my body weight and size were much smaller than they are now, and yet I never “looked” like I was ill. Well, except for two truly memorable times when, looking back, I’m amazed and grateful my body didn’t give out on me. My body, my set point, were always heavier than a “normal” or an “average” woman for my age and height. That was invariably how God designed me…and I loathed it. I would be lying if I said I didn’t still struggle to accept this fact every now and again.
In fact, just today I was reflecting on this, as I recounted why I haven’t bothered finding a medical doctor in Charleston. When we moved from Ohio last year, I had an excellent eating disorder treatment team that I knew I could lean on to not judge me for my body weight or size. My doctor never belittled me because I am technically obese, she knew the struggle through which I walked and understood my body was trying to find its way. I fear the judgement of others. I can speak to myself in very realistic terms: I starved myself, purged, and overexercised for 16 years; wreaking havoc on my metabolism and body. Knowing this began when I was barely a teenager, my body never had a chance to mature and grow, or figure out the true weight and size it was meant to be. I jumped in and tried to hijack my body to manipulate it into what I wanted it to be. Ultimately, I sacrificed my body and my mind in order to live in fear of the judgement of others and living to please people.
Often, the eating disordered part of my brain still speaks to me and tries to tell me that no one can see beyond my body. What I have to say about my 16-year struggle, and the never ending road of recovery on which I walk, will fall on deaf ears because of my size. When someone with anorexia or bulimia sees me, s/he sees a nightmare: a woman who is overweight as a result of recovery. The positive is, I recognize that is my eating disorder speaking and not me. My reality lies with those who never fit the strict diagnostic criteria of anorexia or bulimia, according to the old DSM, but still struggled and felt unworthy of treatment because of weight and size. Just like I had to convince myself (with some help from TJ) that my life and body were falling apart and I needed help, I learned that I was worthy of love, respect, and self-acceptance.
My body might be someone’s worst nightmare, but it is my greatest reality.
Every day I wake up I am reminded that I am this size because I chose life.
I chose to fight for my life by choosing recovery.
Walking in recovery means walking in this body, at this size, knowing I am healthy despite what society says. No, you won’t catch me romping around in a bikini at Folly Beach this summer, but more power to the women society labels as “plus size” who are comfortable enough to do so. Sometimes, I am just grateful to be walking around without a stress fractured pelvis, heart palpitations, and an extreme dissatisfaction with life. Other days, I rock this thing called life and love the body in which I am living.
So, sometimes I see myself as a nightmare and other times, I see the reality of a life being lived in recovery–an ever-present struggle between fear of judgement and a disease, and being who I was meant to be–regardless of size.
I’m calling out my current demon for what it is: depression. While this isn’t directly related to body image, depression can indirectly impact my mood, self-worth, and all other aspects of my life. Until today I didn’t realize what was happening; until today I didn’t know to call my demon by its name.
Two years ago at this time, January 2015, I was in treatment at The Center for Balanced Living; chipping away at the emotional baggage that accompanied a 16 year battle with an eating disorder. I felt safe and surrounded by treatment professionals as I unloaded that baggage, learned my triggers, and exchanged all of it for pieces of my “new” personality and purpose in life. Two years ago The Center was helping me along by calling out my demons when I couldn’t and walking alongside me as I found my way through the dark.
One year ago, January 2016, I was still in treatment but on an outpatient level. Each week I drove to Columbus to see my outpatient therapist and dietician; further chipping away and the old and making room the new. When my demons came calling my team was there to help me call them out and cope with the subsequent feelings and negative thoughts. The hard work was getting easier and I felt more confident with each trial that came my way. Support meant steps toward success.
Today, January 2017, I am out and “on my own;” having been completely discharged from treatment since April 2016. There are times, lately more often that not, that I question whether I was fully prepared to step out on my own when I did. At the time I felt healthy, strong, and emotionally able to knock down all my demons through positive thinking, coping skills, and Christ. However, today I am not so sure. Today, and nearly every day for the last six weeks, my demon has come to call and I’ve answered instead of fighting. I’ve allowed depression to seep back into my life through the unsecured cracks in my recovery walls. I stopped using coping skills, convincing myself I no longer needed things like journaling, yoga, or “me” time to decompress. I threw myself to the wolves and the wolves have been winning–but today I am calling myself out.
The week before Thanksgiving my husband lost his job. He was, at that time, the sole provider for our family; working weeks away from home in the oilfield. Then he lost his job and our world was turned upside down. I called the marina where we live to explain the situation and see if I could work there to help our family along while he figured out what was next for his career. Graciously, I was given a job as a dockhand doing physical labor for $10.50 per hour. Well, it was something, so I agreed in order to help support my family–benefits would not be included. Despite having two degrees I do not hold a social work license in the state of South Carolina, so finding something in a related field would be nearly impossible; for most other jobs my degrees rendered me “overqualified”. So now I find myself chipping oysters off cement pilings and washing dock boxes, lost in a sea of depression.
Each day I put on my happy face, staff t-shirt, and walk to work; returning at the end of the day exhausted and on the verge of tears. Much of my depression can be chalked up to anxiety. I constantly stress and worry over my much younger co-workers talking about me (doubtful), whether or not I’m making big mistakes (usually I’m not), and how long I can keep up this job before I have a breakdown in the employee bathroom (seriously, not much longer). I put my headphones in and listen to praise and worship music as I chip away at the oysters, begging God to help me handle this anxiety and depression that, at times, seems almost debilitating. Over the last few days some revelations have occurred during these oyster-chipping-worship hours, causing me to realize I have to confront my demons head-on and recognize where I am in life.
I took being a stay-at-home-mom for granted, as well as the ability to freely write whenever I wanted and now I’m mourning that loss. For the last three years I’ve been a full-time mother and more often than not I was frustrated by the end of that day that I wasn’t doing “more” with my life. I would clean up messes and meet up for playdates while wishing I could be doing something else. At the same time, I had the freedom to write and work on my future (hopefully) Kindle Single but rarely did because I was convinced I had writers’ block or something of the sort. Now I find myself wishing I could be the one running my daughter to school, dance, or a playdate at the park instead of soaking up the strong scent of bleach into my skin. Lately I’ve been praying for God to give me a second chance at both of those things, as He is the one who gives and takes away. I don’t always know His plans but I know He has a purpose for me being where I am in this moment and while I pray He changes it, I know He has me right where He wants me. Clearly there is a lesson to be learned in all of this.
Self-care and the use of coping skills is not a bunch of bologna. When we moved aboard our boat I stopped doing yoga every day. It wasn’t because I didn’t have time or space, we live on a catamaran so space isn’t really an issue; it was because I was convinced I no longer needed yoga to center myself and start each day balanced. I thought being on the water every day would be life-balancing enough but, until recently, I didn’t realize how wrong I was. I need daily yoga in my life for balance and mental health. The same goes for journaling. While I greatly enjoy writing for BBA and our family sailing blog–McKelveys on the Move–neither one can replace my trusty pen and paper journal for my mental health needs.
Wishing my life and current situation could be different won’t solve anything. Wishing for circumstances to change is a lot like crying over spilled milk; as you cry the spill seeps everywhere creating a bigger mess than the one with which you started. Right now my life looks a lot like spilled milk that I’ve been crying over instead of cleaning. Each day I wish my situation was different, that my husband had a good job again, and I would given back that time to write and play with my daughter every day. Wishing for all those things doesn’t change where I am but only seeks to further my depression and squander the time that I do have doing the things I love. So today, I’m going to stop crying over the spilled milk and start cleaning.
No where in the unfinished, utterly unwritten Book of Life does it say I have to love my job or be thrilled with my current situation. It also doesn’t say that I have to be happy go-lucky 100 percent of the time. What I am choosing to write in my Book of Life is this:
Depression comes and goes, the only thing that remains constant is Christ.
My current situation isn’t the most favorable but it is part of the greater plan for my life. Aside from trusting God I can do my part to ensure the demon of depression stays at bay by committing to doing yoga, journaling, and appreciating each moment and opportunity for what it is. While that is often easier said than done, choosing to make a commitment to my mental health is important; no one needs to read about the woman who had a mental breakdown in the employee bathroom…but if I do, it won’t be the end of the world because this is my life and so much of it has yet to be written. This small paragraph in my book won’t last forever but there is always something to learn from every word.
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.
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. 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.
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!
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.
“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.
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:
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.”
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.
I found myself standing in the cold plastic surgery center; looking into a full length mirror while a doctor measured and pinched my very pale, saggy, three years postpartum abdomen. I suddenly felt vulnerable, exposed, and insecure; incredibly aware that the eating disorder had found a small window of opportunity and taken it.
If you have been reading my blogs long, you know I start my posts out with a quotation, usually of the inspirational variety. Today, however, I started it out with my own words and my own experience. I, Lane McKelvey, went to a plastic surgery center to get a consultation about my stomach; the one part of my body where true body acceptance is often so elusive. The small eating disordered voice preyed upon that insecurity and in a moment of weakness I made a phone call and scheduled an appointment. An appointment the healthy, wise-mind, recovery-oriented part of me rescheduled twice before I actually went.
Driving to the surgery center I was nervous, a little anxious even, contemplating whether I could even maintain this blog if I went through with the suggestions from the consultation or if I would be another sellout to society. I mean, I had already rescheduled twice, wasn’t that proof enough that I wasn’t even certain I should go? Apparently not. Apparently the eating disorder had the wheel and I was heading for the surgery center regardless of the nagging, healthy voice in the back of my head.
Upon arriving at the surgery center it was pouring down rain; the heavy afternoon rain that comes with the Lowcountry summer heat. I ran inside and thought I might have been in the wrong place because the waiting room looked and felt more like a spa than a surgery center…except it was cold. Why are doctor’s offices always so cold? Glancing around I saw autographed photos from Miss USA contestants, models, and local “celebrities” thanking the good doctor for making them “perfect.” The receptionist with her very perky breasts and nonexistent wrinkles gave me a nice welcome packet; which included a pamphlet about the services offered, a pen with the doctor’s well-chiseled face on it, a drink koozie bearing the logo and name of the surgery center (in case all my friends want to get some work done), a gift certificate for a free microdermabrasion (still not sure what that is exactly) and a magazine called New Beauty. I suddenly felt like a fraud and I knew I had been duped. I mean, the magazine even had an article in it called “Striving for Perfection”. Yeah, this was not my kind of place.
Frantically I sent my husband a text telling him my insecurities about even being in such a place and contemplated walking out but it felt like it was too late, I had to go to the consultation. I also conveniently left out the part where I felt like I had been tricked by the eating disorder and tricked him as well by saying I was going in to learn more about taking care of my belly fat, “since it squishes your organs and is so unhealthy” (quotation courtesy of the eating disorder). I silently cursed myself for not catching it sooner–ED had been really sneaky this time. Somehow that sly devil found a weak spot in my defenses and preyed upon it until that spot collapsed and I was standing in an office being pinched and told how my body could use some changes to be perfect. I thought to myself, “Damnit, Allie was right. This was ED all along and I didn’t believe her. I thought I knew for sure this was just me trying to make myself a little healthier and it wasn’t all about the aesthetics. I haven’t even seen myself in a full-length mirror in months, maybe even a year, and now I’m doing it with someone else. What. The. Hell?”
“You’re an excellent tummy tuck candidate,” the doctor said, snapping me back to the reality of the situation. “Sagging, excess skin and these pockets of fat could easily be taken care of with a tummy tuck procedure.” Walking back over to the table filled with “before and after” images of women who have done everything from a tummy tuck to the latest trend of CoolSculpting to rid themselves of fat, the doctor also tells me I would be a great candidate for the hCG weight loss program. “Oh sh*t, I’m in trouble now. Is it inappropriate to cover my ears? Weight loss program?” My healthy brain swirled but the eating disordered part was all ears; “A rapid weight loss program promising no less than 20 pounds lost in 40 days? COUNT ME IN!” I finally escaped the consultation with more handouts on the suggested procedures and the hCG weight loss program. I couldn’t get to my car fast enough.
Sitting in my car in the rain I was extremely sad about what I had just done. Not only had I been tricked and gone to a consultation with a plastic surgeon–something I am usually adamantly against–but now I felt like I was the worst looking woman in the world. My body image tanked in a matter of minutes because I listened to ED without even realizing it. Doing the most responsible thing I could do, I drove to the nearest outlet mall and went shoe shopping to try to take my mind off the very tempting weight loss program offer…it didn’t work, but I did end up with some cute (and comfortable) wedges.
I got back in my car and began researching the hCG diet. I found the following:
The hCG diet consists of three stages. The hCG Diet stages are:
Loading — 2 days of eating fatty, carb-filled foods. Burning — 26 to 43 days of a 500-calorie diet, depending on your goal. Maintenance — 3 weeks of a starch/sugar-free diet.
Record your weight each morning, and if you have gained more than two pounds in any given day, you should skip a meal. This helps your body regulate your appetite and weight.
hCG can be administered as daily injections.
As I drove away I started contemplating what I just read. A highly restrictive diet of 500 calories a day? Skip a meal? Was I really considering spending $600 to open Pandora’s Box and potentially undo the two years of hard work I’ve done? Finally, my brain kicked in, “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!? This is the anti-meal plan. This is the anti-Anne, anti-CBL, anti-recovery plan. You just spent two years learning you don’t have to cut out food groups and living on 500 calories is not only stupid, but deadly. DO NOT DO THIS.” As I was having an internal debate, okay less civilized, an internal battle a song I hadn’t heard in a very long time started playing on my iTunes: Courage by Superchick.
I told another lie today And I got through this day No one saw through my games I know the right words to say Like, “I don’t feel well,” “I ate before I came.” Then someone tells me how good I look And for a moment, for a moment I am happy But when I’m alone, no one hears me cry
I need you to know I’m not through the night Somedays I’m still fighting to walk toward the light
In case you hadn’t noticed by my usual musical background to my blogs, I am a very musically oriented person. Courage is the song that is playing today. As soon as the song began playing and the lyrics hit me I started to cry. This is NOT what I want for my life. I don’t want to go back to the eating disordered life. I don’t want to tempt it by further considering this weight loss program as an option. I have no desire to go back to treatment, to monitor every bite of food I consume, or sit in group therapy trying to figure out how to cope. I don’t want to have weekly weigh-ins, therapy sessions, and the loss of trust from my family. The secrets, lies, depression, anxiety, stress, struggle, and darkness that accompany the eating disorder are not what I want. A 500 calorie diet and daily weigh-ins, even with the promise of hCG as an appetite suppressant, is too much like an eating disorder.
It is an eating disorder.
Coming “clean” about this is somewhat embarrassing. I thought I knew all the tricks in ED’s playbook…but I missed this one. This shows that I am human and recovery is anything but perfect. While the ED voice is almost nonexistent most of the time I still have to remain diligent to ensure he doesn’t get let back into my life. Today was a little too close for comfort but this is recovery. This is the very real struggle people in recovery, even solid, long-term recovery have to fight for life. In a world where doctors make money preying on the insecurities of people, we must always remain diligent and true to who we are and the people we have become in recovery.
“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.”
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 purposewhen 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)
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!
“Whenever you get TRIGGERED...get curious. Ask why. Dive DEEP.
That’s where the beauty lies.”
Sometimes triggers feel like they can break me. At the very least they shake me to my core and make me question my recovery; forcing me to examine my stance and stability–or lack thereof. While I once had a running list of things that triggered me, those things now cease to exist and it is the random, small things that force me to dig deeper in recovery.
In the beginning triggers where the glaring, obvious things that often stand in the way of people trying to achieve solid recovery. Some of those are still triggers for me and force me to step with caution in this dance I call life in recovery. Triggers would often follow the “people, places, things” rule that those in recovery for substance addiction face. However, triggers can often be other things such as songs, emotions, thoughts, feelings, and smells. Sometimes triggers are so random they sneak up on me and I feel like they are going to swallow me whole; forcing me to return to the “safety” and “security” the eating disorder once provided.
For the longest time I had to avoid Wendy’s fast food restaurant because in college I would go through the drive thru and order things off the dollar menu to eat and subsequently purge. Wendy’s became a trigger for me once I started to move toward recovery my senior year of college, suddenly becoming off-limits. A place could set me down the wrong path.
To this day the song Courage by SuperChick throttles me back in time to lying, hiding, and covering up my actions. Telling everyone I was fine, I had eaten dinner before I arrived, or that I hadn’t exercised beyond the point of exhaustion more than once that day was a near daily occurrance. I can still picture myself driving through the University of Michigan campus on my way to the Ann Arbor Center for Eating Disorders for the Monday night support group listening to that song. It was on my “triggering” playlist I kept on my old-school iPod Nano to spur me on toward a lesser caloric intake and unhealthy weight loss.
Numbers are still a trigger for me but it is no longer every number related to an eating disorder (weight, calories, numbers, etc.), just certain ones. For example, I still avoid seeing my weight at the doctor’s office and I have no intention of returning to knowing it because, for me, it serves no purpose other than to instigate evil in my life. Calories, however, no longer bother me as much as they once did. Often I don’t even look at them unless they happen to be plastered on the menu at a restaurant, then it seems unavoidable. When people rattle off their weight, pants size, or amount of time spent engaging in exercise I am often unfazed. At least I no longer compare myself to others!
Sometimes I don’t have to dig very deep to figure out my trigger; I only have to HALT. I first learned about HALT in grad school when I was working under an amazingly brazen internship supervisor who was in long-term recovery for substance addiction. She was seriously kick-ass–and still is! Anyway, HALT was used to help those in substance addiction recovery figure out their triggers and I realized it applied to eating disorder recovery as well. Never let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Most of the time what is triggering me fits into one (or more) of those simple categories. Although, there is almost always more to it if the trigger is in the “angry” or “lonely” category. A different internship supervisor in grad school always said anger is a secondary emotion so we need to dig deeper to find out what is really causing the problem.
However, I still have those random triggers that sneak up on me.
Today I had to dig a little deeper to find why something triggered me. I had to ask myself why I was being triggered by something so seemingly small. What was it?
A sore throat.
An absolutely random thing was triggering me to engage in an eating disorder behavior. I swallowed a piece of the bread on my grilled cheese and it scratched my throat as it slid down. The sensation was so eerily similar to the feeling of purging that I could feel the thoughts creeping in and encouraging me to go ahead and engage in that behavior. The thoughts telling me to do it “just once” because I was already having an “off” day. That’s when my recovery brain–MY brain–jumped in and thought, “Ah ha! There is the real issue; the ‘off’ day.” But what about it had been so “off” anyway? I started to think along the HALT line: I wasn’t overly hungry (since I was eating), I wasn’t tired, but I was feeling angry and somewhat lonely.
Realistically, one of my biggest triggers–if not the biggest–is anger. Before going to treatment and learning how to feel and experience emotions again, all I ever felt was anger. I would hold all my feelings inside until a situation that made me angry came along and I exploded; not usually on a person but on myself in the form of engaging in the eating disorder. Makes sense right? Not. I allowed something someone else said/did to anger me (usually meaning I was hurt by their words/actions) and only hurt myself more instead of talking to that person. I digress, I was feeling angry about things that made no sense to be angry about and determined it was really just feelings of frustration and stress instead of anger.
Aside from stress and frustration, I also felt a little lonely. As I’ve stated before, we moved to a new state and, even though we lived here once before, my family and my closest friends are still in Ohio (or Columbia, SC and Saint Vincent in the Caribbean…okay, I have a lot of friends but none in Charleston). While I used to have almost weekly coffee dates with friends and a standing weekly lunch date in Ohio, I no longer have any of that. I am usually quick to make new friends (as my sister says, I can make friends with a rock) but our current situation makes that a little difficult. However, as I turned my mind toward the positives and reasons why none of this was worth throwing in the towel on recovery and allowing a lapse to creep into my life, I counted my blessings.
God is providing for our needs. We have a place to temporarily stay while we finalize our new living arrangements. We have food, shelter, and clothing. We definitely are not “homeless” as I often lament to friends.
I am staring to make new friends in the one area where I branch out.
The Charleston Community Yoga center is ah-mazing. From my very first class I felt welcomed into the friendly atmosphere. I started to become a “regular” at a few morning classes and, as a result, met a woman who has a child the same age as mine and we have started planning to have playdates. Hopefully once we get plugged in at a good church in the area we will make even more new friends.
Any day in recovery is better than even one moment in the disease!
Yes, I get frustrated and stressed that God’s timeline isn’t lining up with MY timeline but that doesn’t mean this is an “off” day. It just means His timing for our living situation hasn’t been met yet. Patience, Lane. Seriously, this small amount of time is just that–small.
“A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.”
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” -Ernest Holmes
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.
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!