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

Challenge to Train

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Body Love,
Lane

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

HMMWV Pull

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

My “Friend” Gym

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was wrong.

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

******

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

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

With Body Love,
Lane

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

Symbolism and Self-Acceptance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Body Love,
Lane

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

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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.  

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

Obsession

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Body Love,
Lane  

Body Acceptance, Eating Disorder, Exercise, Recovery

Warrior Dash vs. Recovery Warrior

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

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Over the weekend I completed the Warrior Dash with my husband and two friends.  It was definitely quite the feat for me, as I did not do any serious preparation or training due to the exercise restrictions still in place to help further my eating disorder recovery.  See that?  The latter part of the previous sentence should have been a red flag for me but it was not.  I wanted to run in the Warrior Dash, for which I signed up last December.  I thought sure by now I would be in this great recovery place and be able to do such exercise again…but I was wrong.  Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly proud of myself for completing all the obstacles and jogging from place to place a few times, but I did it and paid a rather high cost.

Prior to the event I could feel myself teetering on the edge of slipping.  I could feel myself wanting to engage in eating disordered behaviors but I could fight it off.  However, upon completing the 3.1 mile obstacle course the eating disordered voice started to win out.  We went to the car to eat lunch following the race and I struggled because I did not want to replace the calories I just burned.  It felt like wasted effort to eat food following something like that, because without food I could lose weight.  {The warped eating disorder logic nearly jumps off the screen right now.} My brain didn’t see the true logic: my body needed the nutrients to repair muscle and replenish depleted stores of fuel.  Regardless of my internal battle I still ate the pre-planned and packed meal even though I still felt hungry upon completion.  However, I just couldn’t allow myself to eat anything else because it hadn’t been planned or worked into my daily exchanges.  I couldn’t even truly enjoy the post-event beer participants (over 21, of course) receive because in my mind that meant more calories.  My mind was completely consumed with eating disordered thoughts and it was so difficult to try to fight them.  On the way home we stopped at a gas station and my friends purchased some candy to eat.  Even though I really wanted to buy some too, I mean, I did just do one heck of a race, the eating disordered voice won and I didn’t let myself indulge.  Instead I drank my diet caffeine free soda.  Oh, so delicious. (please note the incredible amount of sarcasm)  Even dinner that night was a struggle.

The lessons I learned from all this:

  1. My dietician knows me better than I know myself right now.  God bless that woman because she puts up with a lot of crap from me and this was no exception.  Little arguments during my appointments with her and ignoring her when she expressed concern for my participation in this event.  I thought sure she was overreacting.  This race was not going to throw me for a loop.  How silly.  This was just going to be a day of fun with my husband and a few friends.  Okay, I was wrong and she was right.  She knew I would become hyper-focused on the calories burned and weight loss potential of such an event and tried to share that concern with me.  I even admitted I thought about all that but figured on race day I could control it.  After living through a day-and-a-half of warped eating disorder logic taking over my brain I will wholeheartedly admit I was wrong.
  2. I cannot participate in 5Ks, Warrior Dashes, or anything of the sort. I would like to think this is only temporary but I cannot be sure.  The competitiveness of the events doesn’t make me competitive with other people but very competitive with myself and my eating disorder.  How many calories can I burn?  How little can I eat to avoid replenishing them?  What can I do to make sure this event helps me lose weight?  All these very, very warped thoughts are my red flags that I should not be participating in events like this.
  3. Running is a big no-no.  Similar to the previous lesson, running is also off-limits for now and potentially forever.  I can’t say I am terribly broken up about it, because after injuring my hip in the Army running never really has been the same for me, but I know my eating disorder sure is sad.
  4. I want to be a RECOVERY WARRIOR. This was a serious reminder that if I want to accomplish the goals I have set for myself and achieve living my dreams I need to be recovery focused.  Having a recovery focus means avoiding all the activities that have potential to set me back or allow me to even indulge in the eating disordered world for any amount of time (no matter how small).  Being a recovery warrior means taking care of myself all the time and constantly looking out for my healthy self, not defending the eating disordered self.  My goals and dreams are too important to throw out simply because I want to burn some calories or do something I know I should not be doing (ahem: running 5Ks and warrior dashes).

  For now (or forever) I will have to say “so long, competitive race events.”
My recovery will always come first and I can’t take a chance on a setback for something that will undoubtably be fun but will also turn into a form of punishment.

Here’s to recovery and admitting my dietician was right. Cheers. 

With Body Love,
Lane

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Seriously though, if I could do this in a healthy mindset sometime I would totally do it again!

Body Acceptance, Exercise, Recovery

Part I: The Exercise Equation

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Body Love,
Lane