Body Image, Body Shape, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Postpartum Body, Recovery, Triggers, Uncategorized, Weight

ED, The Sneaky Devil

I found myself standing in the cold plastic surgery center; looking into a full length mirror while a doctor measured and pinched my very pale, saggy, three years postpartum abdomen.  I suddenly felt vulnerable, exposed, and insecure; incredibly aware that the eating disorder had found a small window of opportunity and taken it.

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If you have been reading my blogs long, you know I start my posts out with a quotation, usually of the inspirational variety.  Today, however, I started it out with my own words and my own experience.  I, Lane McKelvey, went to a plastic surgery center to get a consultation about my stomach; the one part of my body where true body acceptance is often so elusive.  The small eating disordered voice preyed upon that insecurity and in a moment of weakness I made a phone call and scheduled an appointment.  An appointment the healthy, wise-mind, recovery-oriented part of me rescheduled twice before I actually went.

Driving to the surgery center I was nervous, a little anxious even, contemplating whether I could even maintain this blog if I went through with the suggestions from the consultation or if I would be another sellout to society.  I mean, I had already rescheduled twice, wasn’t that proof enough that I wasn’t even certain I should go?  Apparently not. Apparently the eating disorder had the wheel and I was heading for the surgery center regardless of the nagging, healthy voice in the back of my head.

Upon arriving at the surgery center it was pouring down rain; the heavy afternoon rain that comes with the Lowcountry summer heat.  I ran inside and thought I might have been in the wrong place because the waiting room looked and felt more like a spa than a surgery center…except it was cold.  Why are doctor’s offices always so cold?  Glancing around I saw autographed photos from Miss USA contestants, models, and local “celebrities” thanking the good doctor for making them “perfect.”  The receptionist with her very perky breasts and nonexistent wrinkles gave me a nice welcome packet; which included a pamphlet about the services offered, a pen with the doctor’s well-chiseled face on it, a drink koozie bearing the logo and name of the surgery center (in case all my friends want to get some work done), a gift certificate for a free microdermabrasion (still not sure what that is exactly) and a magazine called New Beauty.  I suddenly felt like a fraud and I knew I had been duped.  I mean, the magazine even had an article in it called “Striving for Perfection”.  Yeah, this was not my kind of place.

Frantically I sent my husband a text telling him my insecurities about even being in such a place and contemplated walking out but it felt like it was too late, I had to go to the consultation.  I also conveniently left out the part where I felt like I had been tricked by the eating disorder and tricked him as well by saying I was going in to learn more about taking care of my belly fat, “since it squishes your organs and is so unhealthy” (quotation courtesy of the eating disorder).  I silently cursed myself for not catching it sooner–ED had been really sneaky this time.  Somehow that sly devil found a weak spot in my defenses and preyed upon it until that spot collapsed and I was standing in an office being pinched and told how my body could use some changes to be perfect.  I thought to myself, “Damnit, Allie was right.  This was ED all along and I didn’t believe her.  I thought I knew for sure this was just me trying to make myself a little healthier and it wasn’t all about the aesthetics.  I haven’t even seen myself in a full-length mirror in months, maybe even a year, and now I’m doing it with someone else.  What. The. Hell?” 

“You’re an excellent tummy tuck candidate,” the doctor said, snapping me back to the reality of the situation. “Sagging, excess skin and these pockets of fat could easily be taken care of with a tummy tuck procedure.”  Walking back over to the table filled with “before and after” images of women who have done everything from a tummy tuck to the latest trend of CoolSculpting to rid themselves of fat, the doctor also tells me I would be a great candidate for the hCG weight loss program.  “Oh sh*t, I’m in trouble now. Is it inappropriate to cover my ears?  Weight loss program?”  My healthy brain swirled but the eating disordered part was all ears; “A rapid weight loss program promising no less than 20 pounds lost in 40 days?  COUNT ME IN!”  I finally escaped the consultation with more handouts on the suggested procedures and the hCG weight loss program.  I couldn’t get to my car fast enough.

Sitting in my car in the rain I was extremely sad about what I had just done.  Not only had I been tricked and gone to a consultation with a plastic surgeon–something I am usually adamantly against–but now I felt like I was the worst looking woman in the world.  My body image tanked in a matter of minutes because I listened to ED without even realizing it. Doing the most responsible thing I could do, I drove to the nearest outlet mall and went shoe shopping to try to take my mind off the very tempting weight loss program offer…it didn’t work, but I did end up with some cute (and comfortable) wedges.

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I got back in my car and began researching the hCG diet.  I found the following:

The hCG diet consists of three stages. The hCG Diet stages are:

Loading — 2 days of eating fatty, carb-filled foods.
Burning — 26 to 43 days of a 500-calorie diet, depending on your goal.
Maintenance — 3 weeks of a starch/sugar-free diet.

Record your weight each morning, and if you have gained more than two pounds in any given day, you should skip a meal. This helps your body regulate your appetite and weight.

hCG can be administered as daily injections.

As I drove away I started contemplating what I just read.  A highly restrictive diet of 500 calories a day?  Skip a meal?  Was I really considering spending $600 to open Pandora’s Box and potentially undo the two years of hard work I’ve done?  Finally, my brain kicked in, “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!?  This is the anti-meal plan.  This is the anti-Anne, anti-CBL, anti-recovery plan.  You just spent two years learning you don’t have to cut out food groups and living on 500 calories is not only stupid, but deadly. DO NOT DO THIS.”   As I was having an internal debate, okay less civilized, an internal battle a song I hadn’t heard in a very long time started playing on my iTunes: Courage by Superchick.

I told another lie today
And I got through this day
No one saw through my games
I know the right words to say
Like, “I don’t feel well,” “I ate before I came.”
Then someone tells me how good I look
And for a moment, for a moment I am happy
But when I’m alone, no one hears me cry

I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Somedays I’m still fighting to walk toward the light

In case you hadn’t noticed by my usual musical background to my blogs, I am a very musically oriented person.  Courage is the song that is playing today.  As soon as the song began playing and the lyrics hit me I started to cry.  This is NOT what I want for my life.  I don’t want to go back to the eating disordered life.  I don’t want to tempt it by further considering this weight loss program as an option.  I have no desire to go back to treatment, to monitor every bite of food I consume, or sit in group therapy trying to figure out how to cope.  I don’t want to have weekly weigh-ins, therapy sessions, and the loss of trust from my family.  The secrets, lies, depression, anxiety, stress, struggle, and darkness that accompany the eating disorder are not what I want.  A 500 calorie diet and daily weigh-ins, even with the promise of hCG as an appetite suppressant, is too much like an eating disorder.

 It is an eating disorder.

Coming “clean” about this is somewhat embarrassing.  I thought I knew all the tricks in ED’s playbook…but I missed this one.  This shows that I am human and recovery is anything but perfect.  While the ED voice is almost nonexistent most of the time I still have to remain diligent to ensure he doesn’t get let back into my life.  Today was a little too close for comfort but this is recovery.  This is the very real struggle people in recovery, even solid, long-term recovery have to fight for life.  In a world where doctors make money preying on the insecurities of people, we must always remain diligent and true to who we are and the people we have become in recovery.

With Body Love,
Lane

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

Who I Am

“What would happen if I never tried to lose weight again?  What would happen if I never tried to ‘better’ myself or get ‘healthy’ again?”
-me

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

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

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

I’m going to call it:
bullsh*t

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

I WOULD BE SO HAPPY! 

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

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

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

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

With Body Love,
Lane

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

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, Social Media

Facebook Folly

I broke up with Facebook.
That’s right, I hit the delete button on 10 years of my social media life because it wasn’t helping me be happy.

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Over the years Facebook offered many things but happiness typically wasn’t one.  Facebook gave me a new method of comparison.  Comparison between myself, my friends, mothers I didn’t know, and people I met once.  Facebook helped change my view of myself because I didn’t “measure up” to the people on my newsfeed.  Sound familiar?

The reason I started this blog was because of an article I saw on my newsfeed about a mother and her post-pregnancy body.  It was an article a woman I met through a mutual friend (and met once) posted to prove that women can get their “bodies back” (to a degree) and simply accept what doesn’t change.  Never mind the fact I already caught myself comparing my workouts to this person because she posted about running on the treadmill while her twins slept.  Heck, when Vivienne sleeps, this momma sleeps.  Posts like that–about mothers exercising instead of resting–made me feel like a terrible woman.  What kind of stay-at-home mom doesn’t take the time out of her day to run or exercise when her baby sleeps?  Seeing posts about pregnant women who were still lifting weights made me feel like I somehow screwed up when I was pregnant and that is the reason why I’m not the size I was before my daughter even two years after her birth.  Every post became a new measure for why I didn’t add up or couldn’t be a good wife, mother, Christian, etc.

My Facebook was not recovery friendly.  People often posted about their diets, how much they exercise, their weight-loss goals, and some even post about others in an attempt to fat or thin shame.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  Even people close to me, with whom it had been discussed about what triggers me, posted about “eating Paleo.”  Reading about someone who is already thin posting about eating Paleo triggered me enough to look up how to do it…then I realized it would never fly with my dietician since entire food groups are cut out.  My eating disordered brain was definitely frustrated and I felt angry and defeated.  Looking at Facebook turned me on to new diet tips and tricks that I can’t use in recovery because the tips and tricks are eating disordered but people don’t realize it.  While I can say the diets are eating disordered from a wise-mind standpoint in this moment, it was not always so easy when it caught my eye scrolling through my newsfeed.  Just like leading me to look up how to eat a Paleo diet, Facebook introduced me to many diets that don’t fit into a healthy meal plan.  It was exhausting fighting between my recovery and eating disordered mind when I signed into my Facebook account.

My Facebook increased my body checking/comparison behaviors. While my body checking began YEARS before Facebook was even developed, the booming social media site certainly didn’t help.  Friends I hadn’t seen in years would post bikini photos from vacation and I would immediately begin comparing my body to theirs.  My stomach wasn’t flat enough, my arms not toned enough, and don’t even get me started on my thighs….the comparisons went on and on.  I would then proceed to look in the mirror and pick apart everything I did not like about myself and point out how so-and-so was obviously more disciplined because her body looked better in a PHOTO.

My Facebook flat-out made me angry.  In case you weren’t sure, people are MEAN.  People love to tear down others in order to make themselves feel better and that makes me angry.  The amount of fat-shaming and refusal of acceptance I saw on a daily basis made me angry.  People so easily assume those of us who are categorized as “overweight” or “obese” are lazy and therefore shouldn’t show ourselves to society.  However, the shaming went both ways because I saw a fair amount of thin-shaming, too.  Our society is pretty screwed up when we have to sling mud at each other in order to build ourselves up to feel some semblance of confidence.  Not everyone who is overweight is lazy or wants to lose weight, just like not everyone who is thin is anorexic and needs to eat a sandwich.  When will women realize we have to stick together because together we are our biggest advocate?  At the rate Facebook shows, that answer will be never.

While I’ve only been without Facebook for about a week, it has been a pretty freeing week.  As far as recovery goes, I have felt better about myself and done less comparing than I have in a very long time.  I don’t wake up in the morning, reach for my phone, open my Facebook app, and proceed to check out my newsfeed; which means my day doesn’t start out with body comparison anymore.  My day starts out by waking up and thanking God that I get to see another sunrise.  My day starts out by getting up and doing yoga to become more in-tune and appreciate MY body; not anyone else’s.

Maybe the description of my social media sounds eerily familiar to yours.  Perhaps you, too, wake up and start your day by comparing your life and body to someone else you see on Facebook.  If you think it sounds familiar I encourage you to delete your Facebook (or twitter, instagram, etc.) and see how you feel about your body and yourself after just one week.  If you think one week sounds too hard, I challenge you to try it for one day.  Just one day without social media as the measuring stick for your body and life.  My guess is you will like the free feeling you get from just being yourself and not comparing your life and body to anyone else.

After all, you are beautiful because no one else gets to be you.

With Body Love,
Lane

Body Acceptance, Recovery

Body Transformations and Bologna

Social media might be one the biggest barriers in eating disorder treatment and true recovery.

I constantly scroll past people posting photos and status updates about their “body transformations” and how well they are doing with “healthy eating” or their latest attempt at a diet. Recently I was scrolling and came to before and after photos of an acquaintance. The photos of this (already thin) woman were accompanied by a caption talking about her 21 day body transformation, how she has worked her “booty off,” and been eating “healthy” in order to do it–oh and if anyone wanted to do it to ask her how.  It was only a few days ago she posted about P90X and T25 as methods to work off her booty. The eating disordered part of my mind immediately jumped in, berating and comparing my body to hers. Playing the dangerous comparison game when there really is no comparison. I have hips, a butt, and yes, a belly. We are built differently, I was never and will never be her size unless I am seriously ill.  This realization is something I would not have seen even a few months ago. The counter thought to the comparison is what prompted me to think deeper about her post.

Honestly, these “21 day transformations” are only the latest version of any other fad diet. They are not sustainable. Unless the individual is willing to follow a strict diet and exercise regimen for the remainder of his/her life it will not last. The weight will come back (maybe more) and the toned limbs will lose their taught appearance. It isn’t a sustainable, healthy life style if it requires that much dedication each day. The “transformations” are another “quick-fix” aimed to perpetuate the multi-billion dollar diet industry…and it works. People buy into the diet and exercise routine, giving it 100 percent effort initially but lose steam; only to become dissatisfied with the program and move on to the next fad.

Recently on Facebook I made an announcement to my friends to stop adding me to their “healthy living” groups.  At first I was frustrated by the burden of going into the groups to remove myself permanently, while also choosing not to allow anyone to add me again. My eyes, without trying, always managed to catch the titles of the fads such as, “Rich Food, Poor Food” and “Tips on Healthy Eating.” As tempted as my eating disordered brain was to follow the links and see what I could do to lose some weight, I resisted. I countered the temptation by feeling sorry for the people that buy into the diet industry’s empty promises in hopes of feeling better about themselves. I wanted to be blunt and ask, “Are you a dietician? Are you telling me what to do under the guidance of one? No? Okay, then stop bothering me because I already have one and I am learning TRUE balanced eating.” However, I simply made a more polite post and continued to be thankful for my awareness. By having an eating disorder I am learning more about food and “healthy living” than any book the diet industry publishes can promise.

I leave you today with a challenge.
Next time you see a post about a new diet, cleanse, or other product offering a quick-fix body transformation, ask yourself if it is sustainable. 

Chances are, it is not.

With Body Love,
Lane