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Happy Holidays

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

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

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

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

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

With Body Love,
Lane 

Body Acceptance, Body Image, Eating Disorder, Exercise, Recovery, Social Media

Obsession

We have become a FitBit, extreme exercise, “healthy” eating, diet and weight loss OBSESSED society.

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The self-improvement obsession has reached nearly every facet of society; from the diet and body image obsessed teenager to the air waves of the Christian radio station.  The obsession over weight, body, and what is considered “healthy” is everywhere.  Lately I’ve noticed my attention turning toward these obsessions and finding my frustrations growing over how the these topics seem to be all anyone can talk about.  One of the most common things people comment on when trying to give a compliment is someone’s weight.  “Have you been losing weight?”  or “You look like you’ve lost weight.”  You can’t even purchase a new iPhone without having a pre-loaded app that tracks your daily steps and physical “stats” if you enter them.  Our culture is obsessed with trying to alter our image; trying to become someone different.

Almost always when people talk about what is “healthy” in regards to food they are talking about it because they are trying to lose weight.  Sometimes people change their eating habits because they generally want to feel better, but more often than not the motivation toward “healthy” or “organic” eating is purely for weight loss.  Thinking, “If I eat all organic food, I will lose weight.”  Not only that, but the loose research on what is considered healthy produces fads about certain foods that actually are not any better or worse nutritionally than the original product they are trying to replace.  The product that most comes to mind is the new fad obsession with PB2, which is powdered peanut butter.  Nutritionally it is not any better than the natural peanut butter you can already find in stores.  If you’re arguing with my statement in your head right now that’s okay, just know I work with a real-life dietician weekly.  I think it should be a health insurance requirement for all Americans to see a dietitian on a yearly basis because it would really help enlighten those who believe in the hyped up chatter about what foods are “healthy” and why we “shouldn’t” eat certain things.  My dietician has really opened my eyes to the fallacy that is the U.S. “healthy” obsessed culture.

Recently, while listening to the local Christian radio station, I was disappointed and a little perturbed by the extensive conversation and promotion of the “21-day no junk food challenge” many of the radio personalities are doing.  The lady describing the challenge went on and on about all the foods she “couldn’t” have during this challenge and how she really misses some of them.  So many specific foods were listed.  It felt like I was listening to my eating disorder voice on the radio.  She encouraged listeners to go on the website, check out how to do the challenge, and post about it on the radio station’s social media page.  I was so frustrated that I am in the process of drafting a letter about my disappointment to the radio station.  I listen to that specific station to be uplifted and encouraged while I am driving and instead I had to fight my eating disorder even harder because of the lengthy conversation about a food challenge.  Everyone is obsessed. (Okay, maybe not everyone, but most people are obsessed.)

What if our obsession turned toward greater things?  Such as helping others.  Stick with me for a minute, if we simply accepted ourselves exactly as we are in this moment, the amount of time spent obsessing over healthy eating, body image, weight, and exercise could be spent uplifting others.  I, clearly, am not immune to this self-obsessed society, as I spend an extraordinary amount of time thinking about my weight and body size.  However, I am on a path many in our society will never dare to take: a path of complete self-acceptance.

I am learning to truly love my flaws and accept my size may never be acceptable to our society.  It is a complete challenge in itself.  It isn’t a challenge that is part of a fad, in fact I imagine it really won’t catch on, but imagine if it did.  Realistically, I am healthy at this weight and size.  Others may look at me and think otherwise, but even my doctor agrees, I am healthy.  I am not hindered by my size…other than when shopping for clothes but thanks to Torrid, there is a remedy for that.  Once I can rid myself of this obsession plaguing the U.S. (and much of the world) I will have more space in my mind, heart, and life to help others.  Perhaps it is a false belief, but I would like to believe this blog is helping others now.  I know writing it helps me process the thoughts and frustrations that occur by living in this self-improvement obsessed society.

So, my challenge for you today is to say something positive about your body every time a thought enters your mind about how much you don’t like your body.  You might just be surprised how often you say something negative about yourself because now you will be replacing it with a positive.  For example, “I shouldn’t eat this _______. It will make me fat.”  could be replaced with, “I am strong and healthy and eating one ________ will not make me fat.” Yes it will take time, and yes, some of the negative comments will slip in without being noticed, but when you notice them, challenge them.  I will be challenging myself to do the same.

With Body Love,
Lane