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

******

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

******

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

******

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

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

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

I’m going to call it:
bullsh*t

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

I WOULD BE SO HAPPY! 

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

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

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

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

With Body Love,
Lane

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

Hampering the Holidays

“But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
-I Cor. 10:13

******

The holidays can be a trying time for those in eating disorder recovery.  As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, recovery websites offer helpful tips and positive thoughts on a near daily basis to help those in recovery withstand relapse. Falsely, I thought I was going to make it through my first Christmas season completely unscathed this year.  I was close this year; closer than I have ever been, but the dominance of the eating disorder voice outweighed my own thoughts for a few hours Christmas morning.  In order to strengthen my recovery and remain on the right path without a lapse, I turned to the true reason for the season in order to remind me that I am more than a number…or in this case a (wrong) size.

I know I have bragged about my husband in previous posts and I am about to do it again.  Always thoughtful, positive, and full of joy, TJ looks forward to surprising me and putting a smile on my face.  He enjoys sending me flowers at various times, such as the beautiful arrangement he ordered from Hawaii for my re-birthday a few weeks ago, and finding the perfect gifts for Christmas.  He puts a lot of time and planning into his gifts and this year the eating disordered voice jumped in and made appear very ungrateful.  I hate that eating disorder voice and when it jumps in and becomes my voice.

re-birthday flowers

 This Christmas was a little different than in years past.  We, as a family, are preparing for a new adventure and our gifts were all centered around that new adventure.  Just as I put a lot of thought and time into what I got for TJ, he put a lot of time and thought into what he got for me.  The item that put the eating disorder volume on “extremely loud” was a beautiful, bright red Henri Lloyd sailing spray jacket.

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sporting my spray jacket and sailing gloves

Now, being completely honest and living out the radical acceptance of my body, I have wide hips.  This is a fact and it cannot be disputed.  It just is.  I just do.  Acceptance.   However, that does not mean that I don’t still get sad about it from time-t0-time. When I tried on that beautiful red jacket I suddenly became very sad and upset about my wide hips.  The jacket fit great…except for my hips.  Cue the tears, the eating disorder volume, and the self-loathing.  Then the waterfall of thoughts began…

“I’m too fat to sail.  I won’t be able to fit in the galley to cook food.  Any bigger than my current size and they wouldn’t even make spray jackets to fit me!  I NEED to lose weight.  I can’t eat today.”  

Poor TJ felt terrible, as he tried to console me while continuously apologizing for getting the wrong size; even though the jacket he bought is the same size as a coat he bought me last Christmas.  The difference being, the spray jacket is unisex and the coat is from the women’s department.  Two totally different styles/cuts/materials of clothing.  Of course I see the logic in this now, but in the moment all I could see were the cascading eating disorder thoughts; turning me into an ungrateful mess.  Once I gave myself some space, began to do some light Bible study, and focused inwardly on radical body acceptance my attitude changed.

The size of the jacket does not matter.  THIS is my body and yes, my body has wide hips, and that is okay.  The jacket can be exchanged and the size in the tag doesn’t matter because my body will be protected and warm, regardless of size.  My body is strong enough to sail and sailing doesn’t discriminate against body types.  God is gracious and forgives me when I “hate” the body He gave me.  TJ loves and supports me and knows the reaction wasn’t mine but one that comes from being overwhelmed by eating disorder thoughts and emotions.  In the end I know I am working on staying in sustained recovery, following my meal plan, and truly practicing radical body acceptance.  Speaking of…I even have BBA vinyl stickers for my car and other whatnots now.  See…I told you I have an amazing and thoughtful husband.

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**Oh, and just in case you were wondering, I did eat breakfast and I fully intend to continue eating throughout the day to celebrate the birth of the risen Savior.**

I hope you find body acceptance this Christmas Day and focus on self-care, self-love, and self-acceptance today and every day.

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, Social Media, Uncategorized, Weight

Crushed and Created: 1 year in recovery

I’m not the me that I started with/I’m freer and I’m wiser and I’m stronger
What I thought I could handle/What I thought I could take/ What I thought would destroy me
Leaves me stronger in its wake
Crushed and Created, Caitlyn Smith

*****

I entered Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) at The Center for Balanced Living one year ago today.  One year ago I was making some of the worst decisions of my life and completely living in my eating disorder.  I was engaging in eating disordered behaviors in front of my daughter, who I (foolishly) thought was not picking up on anything because she was only 17 months old.   I teetered on the edge of wanting recovery and wanting to remain exactly where I was and, had my daughter not been depending on me every day, I probably would have chosen to remain exactly where I was.  In many ways I owe Vivienne my life because she is the reason I chose recovery in the beginning.  I was doing it for her, for my husband, for my marriage, but not for myself; that came later.

Recently I found my meal logs I had to keep and bring with me to my intake assessment at The Center and I was astonished at what I was (not) eating.  I was a mess to say the least and continuing to burn as I kept falling further down.  Standing in my kitchen looking at the documentation of how sick I really was brought tears to my eyes because, the day I found those was the day after I had been told by my therapist I could step down to sessions every other week.  It was the day after my dietician told me we were beginning work on the final “layer” of my actual “food” recovery and committing to get me through my last fears and challenges.  In 12 months I did a complete 180 in my attitude toward food, my body, and my recovery.  Now I don’t put much thought into my meals and snacks, or the times at which I eat them, even though my “commitment to my health” still hangs on my kitchen cabinet.

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Looking back, this year has probably been the hardest year of my life.  I have been forced to face demons, misguided truths about myself, and memories from life experiences I never before allowed myself to face.  BUT it has all been worth it.  I am stronger, healthier, and more in love with my life than I have ever been.  I have learned to know and understand myself on a level many people never get to experience.  I’ve spent countless hours in individual therapy sessions, group therapy sessions, support groups, and at appointments with my dietician.  I have also been to the doctor more in the last year than any single year in my entire life because I actually care about my health now.  For the last year of treatment the expense has reached over $22,000 (thank God for insurance) for my outpatient appointments and IOP, but the benefits are priceless.  I understand my body and appreciate it more than I ever thought possible.  In the last year I have gone from sitting in a treatment center having my food monitored, watched while I ate, drinking Boost supplements to make up for food I didn’t eat, and even accompanied to the bathroom to ensure I wasn’t purging; to being nearly behavior-free for two months (I had a one-week slip two months ago or it would have been four months) and purge-free for so long I’ve lost count.  I have met women who will surely be life-long friends and others who came across my path when we needed each other most.  Women who were there to support me when I needed it, cheer me on in my successes, cry with me when I struggled, and laugh when we couldn’t handle the stress any longer.

I made the decision to take ownership of things that happened to me and things I have done.  I went from hating my appearance, hating my body, and not wanting anyone to see it…ever…to running this blog and subsequent Facebook page about accepting and learning to love my body.  I don’t hide my body from the world but wear what I want that shows it off.  My stretch marks tell a story and I am proud of them.  My body is a beast and it is awesome.  And I’ll let you in on a secret…so is yours.  I am proud of my body because it is a survivor.  I am a survivor. I am a fighter.  I’m a survivor of a long battle with an eating disorder, a survivor of sexual assault, and a survivor of self-hate.

Today I am thriving.  I am happy, joyful, and full of life.  While I wish I would have started “living” my life sooner, I am living it now.  I am enjoying life on a daily basis and experiencing true confidence, acceptance, and love.  My little family is moving forward with plans and dreams we had years ago, hindered by life events and my eating disordered challenges.  My husband is incredibly amazing because he married me and continued to love me when I was at my absolute lowest.  Now he gets to rejoice with me in discovering this “new” radiant woman.  For the first time in my life I am making complete wise-mind decisions; meaning the eating disorder thoughts aren’t part of my decision making.

So, here I go, plunging forward into a life where I am truly living instead of existing.
I have been crushed and created, melted and made, broken and built up.

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, Postpartum Body, Pregnancy, Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized, Weight

The Great Awakening

Awakening:
a recognition, realization, or coming into awareness of something

******

Earlier this week I had a “great awakening” regarding my body and recovery.  While I have experienced many  “awakenings” over the last year this one hit me right between the eyes.   The same eyes that still search for anything that could be used as a mirror (a full-length window, for example) to look at my body and see if it has changed; if it has puffed out or slimmed down.  Despite the knowledge my meal plan hasn’t changed, my clothes still fit the same, I’m not over exercising, and I am completely devoted to recovery.  Therefore, I know my body has not changed but my brain sure is trying to change how I view myself.

My friends are getting pregnant, nursing babies, and adding to their families.  So. Many. Pregnant/Second-Time-Mom. Friends.  Such is the nature of life when you’re nearing 30, your friends are married, and most of you already have at least one child.  While I was lamenting to a friend about how I sometimes get a twinge of jealousy when a friend tells me she is pregnant, posts photos of an adorable baby bump, or shouts to the world she has a new baby, I don’t think I could handle being pregnant ever again.  (Recalling memories of late night feedings, sleepless nights, bottles, puke, etc. also help me remember why I don’t want to do the infant thing again.)  I digress, we were talking about my friend’s adorable, beach-ball-perfect, make-you-want-to-get-pregnant baby bump.  I certainly didn’t have that when I was pregnant.  I often wonder if I got pregnant while in sustained recovery would it be any different? I sighed and told my friend it probably wouldn’t be different because I don’t have a lengthy torso.  Well, I’m just plain not lengthy in any regard (I stand a whole 5’4.25″) so a baby doesn’t have anywhere to grow but out…way out.

This was me, 7 months pregnant, the day before my grad school hooding ceremony…

Pregnancy Photo

Recalling a conversation I had when I was pregnant, I realized I showed so quickly and carried my daughter the way I did because she was squished in my short torso.  My friend with the adorable beach ball belly is much taller and her baby has more room to grow before protruding outwardly.  My body, my skin, stretched to accommodate the growing little life in the best way it could…and that is the great awakening.

A saying often stated in various articles, books, and by professionals, “each person and each pregnancy is different.”  My pregnancy and body are no exception to that saying.  So my belly sags and I have more stretch marks than I would like but that is my reality of pregnancy and my post-baby body.  That doesn’t make my body any less beautiful or less worthy of love and respect from myself or anyone else.  God allowed me to grow a human, to become a mother, and that is far more important than having a “perfect” body or one free from all signs of carrying my child.  My body looks exactly how God planned it for me at this stage in life.  My torso isn’t long and glamorous.  I didn’t carry my daughter in a way that would make the paparazzi chase after me…and that is okay.

Instead of having a body others would covet…
I carried a healthy baby for 40.5 weeks.
My body has been a battlefield of my own creation and it has carried one of God’s divine creations.
My body is mine; designed just for me and provided the perfect home to my daughter when she needed it.

So, I have some serious stretch marks, a scar from a c-section, and some saggy skin.  Oh well.  My body is still a beast and still worthy of my love, care, and respect.

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, Social Media, Uncategorized, Weight

Crossroads

Every morning we are born again.  What we do today matters most.
-Buddha

******

Every so often in eating disorder recovery I find myself at a crossroads.  I can choose to keep fighting or I can choose to give in and allow the eating disorder a prominent place in my life again.  Sometimes the two roads blur and I stall at the crossroads because neither route seems to be the clear path.  The longer I stand at the crossroads and stall, the harder the decision becomes.  I know recovery offers the freedom I so desperately want, but there is that part of me, however small, that is still afraid to completely give up the eating disorder; regardless of how much of the recovery freedom I have already experienced.  In order to choose the recovery path I have to break up with the eating disordered part of my brain…repeatedly.

A few weeks ago I found myself, once again, standing at this crossroads.

After two solid months without hearing the eating disordered voice in the back of my mind or engaging at all in eating disordered behaviors, I came upon that crossroads quickly.  I stalled so long that with each passing day it seemed more difficult to choose.  I knew recovery was the right path, the path I have wanted all along, and I had to force myself to take the first few steps down the disordered path again.  After a short time the disordered path again became comfortable, providing the emotional comfort for which I was longing, and setting me up to make it harder to get back on the recovery path.

I spent three days writing out the eating disordered thoughts, never reading them because I was afraid to look back.  I was afraid I would look at the words on the page and it would awaken the recovery warrior in me.  I was afraid the abusive eating disordered voice would jump off the page and snap me back into recovery.  But isn’t that what I’ve wanted for so long?  Recovery and the freedom it provides?  While the answer was, is, and always will be a resounding, “yes!” it did not change the fact I was afraid to look at what I had written.  After an additional day debating whether or not to read my own writing, I opened my journal and began to pour over all the hateful, negative, mean, and horrible things the eating disordered part of my brain told me in an attempt to regain control and go back to the eating disorder.  My heart broke because I allowed myself to take those vile words as truth for several days before the recovery warrior was again awakened within me.

What helped me make the decision to turn down the recovery path this time?  My husband.   After putting up with the clearly eating disordered mind he got out a plate, put veggies and chicken on it (while I was arguing at him because I didn’t want it) and put it in front of me.  He said he wasn’t going to let the eating disorder keep controlling me and the only way he would get his wife back was to feed her; nourishing her brain and body.  I love him.   He is my rock and always wants what is best for me, even when I don’t want it for myself.  Not only was he taking care of me but he was being Mr. Mom to our daughter while I was being selfish in the eating disorder.

I couldn’t have married a better, more supportive man.  He reminds me that my body is beautiful when I can’t see it because he sees the mother of his daughter and stretch marks that tell a story.
And you know what?
He was and is right.

My body is beautiful, my stretch marks do tell a story, as does the rest of my body.
It tells MY story.

With Body Love,
Lane 

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

Symbolism and Self-Acceptance

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

******

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Body Love,
Lane

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

Self-Discovery and Encouragement

Encouragement: 
the act of giving someone support, confidence, or hope 

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All too often I talk to people I met in treatment who haven’t yet experienced this part of recovery:
 true self-discovery and the lack of eating disordered thoughts  

One of the most amazing aspects of recovery is it has opened my mind and given me time to think about more things than food, weight, and exercise.  My mind has been able to wander and critically think about what I like, what I want to do with my life, and where I want to be.  I’m not only unearthing a new appreciation for my body but also a passion and a purpose for my life.  I’m enjoying new experiences, trying new things, and loving with my whole heart instead of just the part that isn’t consumed by the eating disorder.

You know what I discovered a few months ago?  I love the color purple.  I always thought my favorite colors were light pink and light blue because blue brought out the color of my eyes and pink looked nice with my blonde hair.  I thought they were my favorite colors because they made me look good, not because I loved looking at them.  Purple is calm and relaxing to me, especially the darker hues.  When I think of the color purple it seems dreamy and daring all at the same time; much how I see myself these days.  I see myself as a dreamer, uncovering the thoughts that I have never allowed myself to think and daring by making plans and taking chances on my dreams.  In someways I feel like a new song that fits me is “Wild Child” by Kenny Chesney.  (Why, yes, that is the song you are hearing.)

I really like cooking.  Before recovery I always thought I hated cooking but in all honesty I never gave it a real try.  I had my “safe” and eating disorder “approved” foods, from which I would not often stray when cooking for myself.  If I allowed myself to cook when I was actively living in my eating disorder I might have liked it then and wanted recovery, which was not an eating disorder approved mindset, so I avoided cooking.  Since I’ve grown stronger in recovery I’ve really started experimenting in the kitchen, especially as of late.  I made homemade bread (more than once!), cinnamon rolls, and actually opened the cookbooks my mom gave me over five years ago.  I even bought enough ingredients to make 20 (yes, 2-0) freezer meals for my crockpot.  The crockpot we received as a wedding gift four years ago that I hardly used because “I didn’t like cooking.”  I even made a healthy, wise-mind decision to stop eating gluten (for legitimate health reasons) and have taken an active interest in cooking gluten free meals.  I must say, the gluten free veggie pizza I made the other night for dinner was ah-mazing!  It is definitely a learning process but I still really enjoy cooking even though I have to use really random flours now.

I hate running…and lifting…and zumba.  These are activities that never brought me true joy.  I did them in an effort to lose weight, tone up, or punish myself for calories eaten.  I have friends who love lifting and friends who love running…and those really crazy friends (just kidding) who love zumba…but that is not for me.  I have found the physical activities that make me happy, that I look forward to doing, and I stick with those.  Swimming.  I love swimming.  When I hit the water the world disappears.  I am alone with my thoughts to problem-solve, dream, and relax.  If I notice an eating disorder thought starting to creep in I stop swimming laps and start “mermaid swimming,” as my dietician calls it; which is really just playing around and lazily swimming.  Swimming is a safe place and the eating disorder thoughts that might still be lurking around in my head are not welcome when I am swimming; they don’t get to invade my safe place. Before recovery I liked swimming but rarely did it because I didn’t want anyone to see me in a swimsuit and judge me.  Now I just don’t care.

I love writing.  This one might seem obvious but I didn’t realize I loved it (or that I was any good at it) until I entered recovery.  Writing allows me to clear my mind, express myself, and encourage others.  When someone tells me they have been encouraged by my writing it makes me smile but makes me appreciate my recovery that much more.  I thank God for blessing me with this gift and being patient with me until I was ready to use it.  I only hope He continues to use my writing to help encourage others.

I love being a stay-at-home mom.  I have said before I did not fully appreciate Vivienne for the majority of her life, but now I do.  I wasn’t thankful for the opportunity to be home with her on a daily basis because all I could see was the money I “wasted” on graduate school because I wasn’t using my degree; completely forgetting degrees don’t expire and I can always have a career later.  Now I love playing with Vivienne and structuring her days at home.  Mozart Mondays, Witness Wednesdays (we do random acts of kindness around the community), and Field Trip Fridays maximize my time with her and allow me to teach her about our faith and to be a good servant for Christ.  She is my “career” and my main “mission field” for Christ.

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Finally, I love how resilient my body is when it is healthy.  I love how clearly I can think when my judgement is not clouded by eating disordered behaviors.  Decisions that, in the past, would have been made with great difficulty seem easy now.  I am so thankful for my body’s ability to heal itself.  While my brain is still making new pathways and erasing old habits like a bad mixed-tape (you know you remember making those), I am consistently reinforcing recovery oriented behaviors because the choice is easier.  Most days I don’t even have to think about eating all my meals and snacks because I actually want them now.  There is no debate about whether or not I should eat, I want to eat.  My body is beautiful and amazing all the same time.  I look at myself now and my thoughts are not dripping with disdain for my body but with positivity and joy.      

Recovery has allowed me to discover parts of myself I never knew before because my personality and my likes/dislikes were masked by the eating disordered brain.  I know myself better than I ever thought possible and I have days where the eating disorder doesn’t even cross my mind.

Recovery, and days without the eating disorder taking over your every thought, are absolutely possible
.
You can do this.  You can recover. ❤

With Body Love,
Lane

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

Radical Body Acceptance Reality Check

Bad dreams are ghosts of our fears and worries haunting us while we sleep.
-Maria Snyder

******

Food dreams.  The dreaded food dreams.  Most people who have struggled with an eating disorder at any point in their lives know exactly what I am talking about.  For those who are fortunate enough not to know about food dreams here is a brief description: Often while I was in the grip of the eating disorder I would have crazy, vivid, and sometimes scary dreams about food.  I always said I never dreamed, at least I could never remember them, unless they were about food.  My food dreams were more realistic and memorable than any other dreams I might have had.  The food in the dreams might have been something I was not allowing myself to eat, such as sweets, or any food at all if I was really struggling with restricting.  I realize (now) my body was trying to tell me it was starving; that it wanted and needed food more than sleep.  Once I began to follow my meal plan and truly nourish my body the food dreams stopped.  I haven’t experienced a food dream in several months and I can only attribute that to keeping my body nourished instead of starved.  However, I was completely caught off-guard the other night when I woke up suddenly after experiencing a weight dream.

Immediately I felt a little bit of fear because I believed my brain was replacing my food dreams with weight dreams.  I feared my sleep would now become haunted with weight dreams frequently.  Instead of speaking to the physical deficit nutritionally, my brain seemed to be speaking to the emotional deficit I have regarding my body weight and size acceptance.  When this dream happened we were on vacation.  The entire trip I had not experienced any negative thoughts or feelings toward my body until the day the dream occurred.  For some reason, earlier that day, I began struggling with the negative emotions regarding my size and weight.  I was struggling to find the radical body acceptance and only saw the the weight I’ve been carrying since having my daughter.  Looking back at photos from the week I began to harshly critique my body in all of them.  I found every thing I thought was a flaw and picked it apart.  It was as if I had forgotten every bit of radical body acceptance I had been practicing over the last several months.  Instead of seeing the joy I felt while digging in the sand with my daughter or the on-top-of-the-world feeling I experienced while standing on the Point Udall sign in St. Croix, USVI, all I saw was my physical body…and I hated it.    

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Not only was I just seeing my physical body and hating it, but I was not appreciating it.  Earlier in the week we hiked in the rainforest, in 93 degree heat, and I carried our daughter most of the way.  However, when I saw the photograph of us after the hike I zoomed in on the parts of my body I thought looked terrible and wanted to make sure that photo never saw the light of day.  What I didn’t see in that moment is that my body is a beast.  If I had tried to carry her in heat like that last year, when fully engaged in eating disordered behaviors, I would have been wiped out for the remainder of the day.  My body is amazing.  I have worked too hard on radical body acceptance to let photographs take me back to self-hate.  A photograph can only show a still-life image of a moment in time but it cannot show the joy, love, laughter, and life being lived in that moment.  It is not a realistic representation of the moment.

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What I realized while looking at those photos was that I needed a radical body acceptance reality check.  Since when was my physical appearance more important than my physical ability?  When did that become number one again?  My body is a machine, a work of art, and the vehicle to help me achieve my dreams.  I love my life and I really love my life being lived in recovery.  I love being able to hike while holding my daughter, to laugh while digging in the sand, and to experience joy looking out over God’s beautiful creation.   When I place importance upon physical appearance instead of physical ability and appreciation, I lose sight of body acceptance.  I lose sight of all the things I am able to experience by living in this very body; this very unique body.  So this is my radical body acceptance reality check.  

Do you need to conduct your own radical body acceptance reality check today?  

With Body Love,
Lane

PS: BEAUTIFUL BODY ACCEPTANCE IS NOW ON FACEBOOK!  If you are on Facebook follow the link and “like” our page to help fill your newsfeed with body positive and body acceptance posts!  Be sure to check out the official BBA logo and cover photo art designed by Megan Anderson.