Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, Forgiveness, God, Hope, Joy, Love, Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized

Faith and Forgiveness

“This is the body of Christ broken for you,” said the layperson, as I tore off a piece of bread from the communion loaf.  I took a few steps to the side, “This is the blood of Christ shed for you.” I dipped the piece of bread into the cup then put it in my mouth as I walked away.  “Surely the body and blood of Christ has calories,” my 13 year old, very eating disordered brain reasoned. I held the bread dipped in grape juice in my mouth until I walked back around to my seat, where I promptly spit it out into a tissue; feeling only slightly guilty. 

******

I grew up going to church; the same little Methodist church in which my mom was raised and where her entire family attended (still attends) church.  I liked the ritualistic, methodical nature of it all but I didn’t understand the deeper meaning.  While I believed in God I didn’t care to dig much deeper than the surface.  I didn’t read my Bible, in fact I didn’t have the slightest clue where the books where located much beyond Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy… five books.  I could easily locate the first five books and Psalms because it was somewhere smack dab in the middle.  While I believed in God and believed Jesus died for my sins, I was not finding my worth in Christ but in food, losing weight, and being thin.

A few weeks ago I was talking to my husband about my faith and why I am so silent and unwilling to openly share my beliefs.  I rarely write about them on this blog and I don’t openly share them on social media very often either.  I was afraid.  I feared judgment by others for my outward showing of faith because I lived most of my life in a less than Christian manner.  Quite honestly I feared the meme that sometimes circulates on social media would be what people thought about me:

E Card

Only my “wild” live-for-yourself days weren’t in high school but in college.  In many ways I put on airs; in front of large groups of people I was this demure, sweet girl from the middle of Amish country nowhere Ohio while secretly going to parties, and going beyond what any true Christian girl would with boys.  My dad walked out on my 17th birthday and instead of finding comfort in God and looking toward my heavenly Father I turned toward earthly comforts–most often found in the growling of my stomach and the attention of men.  I felt abandoned, unloved, and unworthy of being loved by my dad so I found it where I could.  When I went to college this pattern of beliefs and behavior was amplified by a culture where drunkenness and intense sexuality was widely accepted and eating disorders ran rampant.  Instead of really searching to find a church home, despite one of my closest friends always inviting me to her church and praying for me constantly, I found my own path to the bottom of alcohol bottles in place of food.  I exercised a lot because I knew that a thinner but still muscular physique would be attractive and I could feel wanted.

My brain suffered from my lifestyle.  As I’ve stated in other posts I lack memories from my 16 years in the eating disorder because my brain was starving.  My brain was starving, sleep deprived, and drunk.  I made a lot of mistakes and sometimes went to Catholic Mass with friends to feel better about what I had done before going back out on Saturday night and doing it again.  In reality my relationship with God was almost nonexistent because I was so angry with God for what had happened to my family.  I was a good faker about how I believed and loved God but in reality acted in any way but faithful.  My body became my enemy, despite the knowledge that my body is a temple for God, and the weapon of choice for God’s enemy to turn me against Him.  The war waged on with the eating disorder but instead of battling the eating disorder and trying to get better I was battling God.

After college I did what I used to do so well and ran from Michigan down to Savannah, GA where I was living with a man I met through a friend in the Army.   He, like me, was an Army officer and gave me so much attention it was easy to continue using my body as a weapon against God.  I continued in the eating disorder and continued to be sexually immoral.  He was a believer, but a believer like me–on the surface level.  It was easier and more fun to indulge in a lifestyle against the Bible than to follow as God commanded and save sex for marriage.  Before too long I realized his attention for me was a drive for control and he wanted to control me, my actions, and my career by advising me not to be the best officer so my career could tank and I could get out.  I got out, out of that relationship and moved to another state.

Enter my husband.  My husband who wasn’t just a surface level Christian but a true believer in the Bible and teachings of Christ.  TJ invited me to go to church with him and I did.  I started to go to church again and actually listen to the teachings.  I started to read my Bible like I never had before and started to realize the eating disorder was a weapon against myself and God but I wasn’t ready or able to stop it just yet.  I also realized that my actions over the previous four-and-a-half years could be forgiven.  I prayed for forgiveness for my actions often but never really forgave myself.  My past was a big, dirty, shameful secret.  A secret I shared with my husband before we got engaged and married but a shameful secret nonetheless.  I had treated my body poorly not only by starving it, purging food, and overexercising but by how I had allowed it to be something for the Devil to use to turn me against God and the teachings of the Bible that I had held true until I was 19 years old and in college.

Finally, a few weeks ago, after TJ and I had this conversation about my fear of sharing faith I realized my prayers for forgiveness had been heard.  My sins during that time in college when I was a very lost, very ill sheep from God’s flock had been forgiven long time ago when I first asked and I didn’t need to hold it against myself anymore.  My forgiveness isn’t greater than God’s forgiveness.  I’m healthy now.  My body and brain are healthy and God was one of the biggest proponents for getting me through the eating disorder.  My faith grew stronger over the last two years and that means the secrets that continued to plague my mind and make me feel unworthy of being able to share my faith needed to be shared.  I might have grown up believing in God but I got lost along the way and turned my body into a weapon to wage war against myself and God.  I’m not perfect, I never was and never will be.

Striving for perfection nearly killed me and did kill my faith in the process for a few years.  My body isn’t a weapon but an instrument through which God uses me to spread His love and message of forgiveness.  I believe God has forgiven me for using my body against Him and for mistreating it for so many years.  I kept from my body the physical and spiritual nourishment needed for my survival.  I had forgiven myself for struggling with the eating disorder long ago; realizing it played a part in turning me away from God but He has since used it for His greater glory as well as the good of myself and others.  However, I had not truly forgiven myself for my sexual immorality until a few weeks ago.  It was a grudge I held against myself in silent shame and it was hindering me from outwardly sharing my love for Christ and my faith.  Judgment from others may come because people may not have forgotten my actions in college, but I know the greater truth:  God has forgiven me.

“The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving even though we have rebelled against Him.”
Daniel 9:9  

Forgiveness

My past holds no power over me now because I keep no secrets.  Everything I’ve done, experienced, and survived make up my story that God uses to show is unconditional love for His people.

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, Motivation, Recovery, Social Media, Uncategorized, Weight

Motivation

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

******

I found myself sitting in Starbucks a few days ago with a woman who is walking her own eating disorder recovery journey.  I respect all people who walk this journey, as they are courageous enough to fight a difficult fight, but this woman in particular.  She had never met me but reached out online and asked to meet up while I was in town.  Naturally, because I love sharing my story and learning about others walking a similar road, I agreed and found myself sitting across from her talking about our recovery road.  That is when she asked me the question I wasn’t quite sure how to answer, “What was your motivation?  I find myself wanting to give in sometimes and resorting to old behaviors.”

What was my motivation to recover?

My immediate answer was, “Vivienne, my daughter.”  At least Vivienne and TJ, my husband, were the initial motivators but upon further reflection after leaving Starbucks I began to dig deeper and remember my bigger motivators when I was in the depths of the disease.  Sometimes it is hard to recall what I was thinking at that time because my world was spinning so fast and I was working all day, every day to recover.  My motivators changed like the tides but I boiled it down to be concise enough to fit on this post.  So, to the woman I met in the coffee shop, I hope you see this post and know this is how I would answer your question if you asked me again.

External Motivation:  This was the initial motivation that got me into the doors of the treatment center; the motivation that made me reach out to a therapist and dietician in the first place.  I’ll admit, when I started working with Amy (therapist) and Anne (dietician) it was for external factors.  My doctor said I needed a therapist to help deal with postpartum depression and eating disordered behaviors; in order to appease TJ and my doctor, I found one that worked with eating disorders, too.  I knew I wasn’t being the wife and mother I could be and I needed help to figure it out.  So, off to therapy I went.  When I decided it was time to see a dietician I picked one that worked with eating disorders but I wanted lose weight, not necessarily deal with all the eating disordered behaviors.  My external motivators that got me through the doors of both outpatient and IOP were TJ, Vivienne, my desire to lose weight, and my desire to appease people in my life. While those are not the best motivations, they did start me on the path to true recovery.

Internal Motivation:  This is where my goals for myself, my family, and the dreams that extended beyond my body came to play.  These motivators weren’t present in the first half of my time in IOP but really started to show themselves during the second half.  Once my body was starting to replenish the much needed nutrients I began to untangle the web of myself.  The eating disorder started when I was so young that I didn’t really get the chance to figure out my true likes, dreams, and personality.  Once I started to see beyond the external motivating factors that got me into treatment I began to see the motivating factors within myself; my driving forces to recover.   During treatment I realized the primary emotion I ever let myself feel was anger; which, as I learned during an internship with recovering drug addicts, is actually a secondary emotion.  Anger always masks another feeling, and in my case anger seemed to mask every other emotion possible.  IOP helped me start to experience feelings of true happiness and I wanted more of it. I began to have more positive life experiences and started figuring out my goals and passions; such as my sense of adventure (I am an adrenaline junkie) and love of helping others.  Radical body acceptance was introduced and I ran with the idea of accepting my body and myself exactly as I was at any given moment.  I started to let myself dream again and one of those dreams was to move to an island in the Caribbean with my little family.  This was a dream my husband and I shared when we first got married, but as I drifted back to the eating disorder I slowly let myself forget about the Caribbean until I was near the end of IOP.  I wanted so much more than to be sitting in weekly appointments with a therapist and dietician for the rest of my life.  I wanted to be free to explore new countries, cultures, and not be afraid to try the ethnic foods of those cultures.  I wanted to truly enjoy my life instead of merely existing in it.  

Spiritual Motivation:  God is the center of my life and marriage.  I hold tightly to my Christian values and beliefs, and I believe with all my heart God is the primary factor that got me to this point where I can say I am recoverED.  While I do not discount my own hard work and diligence, I looked to Christ for my strength at the times when I was my weakest. My husband and dietician were adamant God was going to use me and this struggle for a greater purpose when I was stronger, and I see now they were right all along.  God has granted me with the ability to write well and the vulnerability to be completely honest about my journey; two things that, when combined, create a greater purpose for my struggle.  God lit a fire in my life when He led me to this path of recovery–a fire to live a life so full of purpose that now I can live it fully for Him.  I get to share this recovery story with anyone who reads this blog, follows BBA on Facebook, or meets me in person and give all glory to God in the process.  God gave me a passion for sharing my story with others and some extremely big dreams for my family that could only be carried out when I was in full recovery.  I am now in that place and those dreams are being fulfilled.  

Musical Motivation:  I’ve always been drawn to music and I love singing.   My mom told me ever since I was an infant I needed music to go to sleep, so it isn’t a surprise that I created multiple recovery playlists to help motivate me.  On the 45 minute drive to IOP, therapy, or appointments with my dietician I would have a recovery playlist blasting loudly through the speakers of my Honda Pilot.  Songs from several different musical genres all came together on my lists: Christian hymns, Christian pop songs, country, rap, SOCA, reggae, secular pop…I have a rather eclectic music collection.  Some of my favorites are as follows:

You Make Me Brave–Bethel Music and Amanda Cook (Christian)
Diamonds–Hawk Nelson (Christian)
Beautiful, Beautiful–Francesca Battistelli  (Christian)
Crushed and Created–Caitlyn Smith (pop/country)
Monster–Skillet (Christian Rock)
Fight Song–Rachel Platten (pop)
Lose Yourself–Eminem (rap)
Part of Me–Katy Perry (pop)
Hearts of Warriors–Casey Montana Rogers (country)
Cleanin’ Out My Closet–Eminem (rap)
Phenomenal–Benjai (SOCA)
Wild Child–Kenny Chesney (country)
Ah Feeling Mehself–Patrice Roberts (SOCA)
Soul of a Sailor–Kenny Chesney (country)
Surrender All–Matt Boswell (Christian, currently playing with post)

******

If I could re-answer the question about where I got my motivation I would say it was (and is) three-fold with a fourth bonus.
My main motivators were
external, internal, and spiritual
but musical motivation is always a bonus!

External motivation is what got me through the doors and into treatment but internal and spiritual motivation were what kept me there for the long haul. 

What motivates you in recovery and in life?

Find your fire, your passion and keep fighting for it! 

With Body Love,
Lane

Body Image, Body Love, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, Friends, God, Hope, Recovery, Triggers, Uncategorized, Weight

TrIgGeRs

“Whenever you get TRIGGERED...get curious.
Ask why.
Dive DEEP.
That’s where the beauty lies.”

******

Sometimes triggers feel like they can break me.  At the very least they shake me to my core and make me question my recovery; forcing me to examine my stance and stability–or lack thereof.  While I once had a running list of things that triggered me, those things now cease to exist and it is the random, small things that force me to dig deeper in recovery.

In the beginning triggers where the glaring, obvious things that often stand in the way of people trying to achieve solid recovery.  Some of those are still triggers for me and force me to step with caution in this dance I call life in recovery.  Triggers would often follow the “people, places, things” rule that those in recovery for substance addiction face.  However, triggers can often be other things such as songs, emotions, thoughts, feelings, and smells. Sometimes triggers are so random they sneak up on me and I feel like they are going to swallow me whole; forcing me to return to the “safety” and “security” the eating disorder once provided.

For the longest time I had to avoid Wendy’s fast food restaurant because in college I would go through the drive thru and order things off the dollar menu to eat and subsequently purge.  Wendy’s became a trigger for me once I started to move toward recovery my senior year of college, suddenly becoming off-limits.  A place could set me down the wrong path.

To this day the song Courage by SuperChick throttles me back in time to lying, hiding, and covering up my actions.  Telling everyone I was fine, I had eaten dinner before I arrived, or that I hadn’t exercised beyond the point of exhaustion more than once that day was a near daily occurrance.  I can still picture myself driving through the University of Michigan campus on my way to the Ann Arbor Center for Eating Disorders  for the Monday night support group listening to that song.  It was on my “triggering” playlist I kept on my old-school iPod Nano to spur me on toward a lesser caloric intake and unhealthy weight loss.

Numbers are still a trigger for me but it is no longer every number related to an eating disorder (weight, calories, numbers, etc.), just certain ones.  For example, I still avoid seeing my weight at the doctor’s office and I have no intention of returning to knowing it because, for me, it serves no purpose other than to instigate evil in my life.  Calories, however, no longer bother me as much as they once did.  Often I don’t even look at them unless they happen to be plastered on the menu at a restaurant, then it seems unavoidable.  When people rattle off their weight, pants size, or amount of time spent engaging in exercise I am often unfazed.  At least I no longer compare myself to others!

Sometimes I don’t have to dig very deep to figure out my trigger; I only have to HALT. I first learned about HALT in grad school when I was working under an amazingly brazen internship supervisor who was in long-term recovery for substance addiction.   She was seriously kick-ass–and still is!  Anyway, HALT was used to help those in substance addiction recovery figure out their triggers and I realized it applied to eating disorder recovery as well.  Never let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.  Most of the time what is triggering me fits into one (or more) of those simple categories.  Although, there is almost always more to it if the trigger is in the “angry” or “lonely” category.  A different internship supervisor in grad school always said anger is a secondary emotion so we need to dig deeper to find out what is really causing the problem.

However, I still have those random triggers that sneak up on me.

Today I had to dig a little deeper to find why something triggered me.  I had to ask myself why I was being triggered by something so seemingly small.  What was it?

A sore throat.

An absolutely random thing was triggering me to engage in an eating disorder behavior.  I swallowed a piece of the bread on my grilled cheese and it scratched my throat as it slid down.  The sensation was so eerily similar to the feeling of purging that I could feel the thoughts creeping in and encouraging me to go ahead and engage in that behavior.  The thoughts telling me to do it “just once” because I was already having an “off” day.  That’s when my recovery brain–MY brain–jumped in and thought, “Ah ha! There is the real issue; the ‘off’ day.”  But what about it had been so “off” anyway?  I started to think along the HALT line: I wasn’t overly hungry (since I was eating), I wasn’t tired, but I was feeling angry and somewhat lonely.

Realistically, one of my biggest triggers–if not the biggest–is anger.  Before going to treatment and learning how to feel and experience emotions again, all I ever felt was anger.  I would hold all my feelings inside until a situation that made me angry came along and I exploded; not usually on a person but on myself in the form of engaging in the eating disorder.  Makes sense right?  Not.  I allowed something someone else said/did to anger me (usually meaning I was hurt by their words/actions) and only hurt myself more instead of talking to that person.  I digress, I was feeling angry about things that made no sense to be angry about and determined it was really just feelings of frustration and stress instead of anger.

Aside from stress and frustration, I also felt a little lonely.  As I’ve stated before, we moved  to a new state and, even though we lived here once before, my family and my closest friends are still in Ohio (or Columbia, SC and Saint Vincent in the Caribbean…okay, I have a lot of friends but none in Charleston).  While I used to have almost weekly coffee dates with friends and a standing weekly lunch date in Ohio, I no longer have any of that.  I am usually quick to make new friends (as my sister says, I can make friends with a rock) but our current situation makes that a little difficult.  However, as I turned my mind toward the positives and reasons why none of this was worth throwing in the towel on recovery and allowing a lapse to creep into my life, I counted my blessings.

God is providing for our needs.
We have a place to temporarily stay while we finalize our new living arrangements.  We have food, shelter, and clothing.  We definitely are not “homeless” as I often lament to friends.

I am staring to make new friends in the one area where I branch out.
The Charleston Community Yoga center is ah-mazing.  From my very first class I felt welcomed into the friendly atmosphere.  I started to become a “regular” at a few morning classes and, as a result, met a woman who has a child the same age as mine and we have started planning to have playdates.  Hopefully once we get plugged in at a good church in the area we will make even more new friends.

Finally…

Any day in recovery is better than even one moment in the disease!
Yes, I get frustrated and stressed that God’s timeline isn’t lining up with MY timeline but that doesn’t mean this is an “off” day.  It just means His timing for our living situation hasn’t been met yet.  Patience, Lane.  Seriously, this small amount of time is just that–small.

With Body Love,
Lane

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

No Mirror, No Problem…Or Is It?

“Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” 
-Ernest Holmes

******

While the above quotation isn’t exactly about a mirror I have come to believe the same idea applies to looking at oneself in a mirror.  The reflection is really a reflection of what we think we see.  Combine that trick, or distortion, with what the viewer wants to see and we can create a recipe for body image disaster.  The mind can play tricks on us in many ways and, for me, I’ve come to realize the mirror is just one way my mind tricks me on a daily basis.

I have a problem.  Even though I no longer struggle with food or eating disorder behaviors, I still have a problem.  My problem is with the mirror and how my reflection distorts and greatly impacts my body image.  Even though I no longer give the eating disorder power in my life, the struggle with negative body image and the power I give the mirror can still spell disaster for my body image on any given day.  In our society we are taught from an early age the mirror and the scale are not our friends but rather our frienemies.  Maybe you’re thinking, “Wait.  What?  The mirror and scale are absolutely my friends; they tell me how I look and whether or not I need to lose weight or change clothing in order to look better.”   To which I would reply, “No, no.  That is how the mirror and scale hold negative power over you.  Society wants us to believe we need these items in order to better ourselves and to ensure we look the best and hide our ‘flaws’ in the best possible way…but they are not our friends.”  From an early age we are taught to use these items to help us pick apart our bodies and find what we need to change.  Sometimes the obsession with the scale and the mirror can go too far, such is the case with me.

Sad Frog

While I haven’t owned a scale in 16 months, I still have mirrors in both bathrooms in my house.  Not only that, but windows and other reflective surfaces have become mirrors for me.  For the longest time I had the mirrors in my house mostly covered with collages and positive phrases.  I left a small little section at my face level uncovered so I could do my hair easily but that was it.  However, once we put our house up for sale I had to take down the mirror coverings and suddenly the little power I regained from the mirror was sucked away, as I again became a slave to checking my body and appearance.  I would feel fantastic about myself, my clothing choice, and my body only to look in the mirror and be greatly disappointed by what I saw.  My hips were too wide, my belly too large, my arms not toned enough…the list would go on until I walked away feeling dissatisfied and significantly less confident.  I was comparing my current body to the body I had when I was 21 and very much struggling with the eating disorder.  My mind was playing tricks on me.  My mind wanted me to see what once was instead of what is; therefore forcing me to relinquish my power and positivity and exchange it for negativity and loathing.  My mind then gives way to the remaining part of the ED by telling me I could be that image in my head again if… Which is the point where I have to remind myself my body has greatly changed and even with a rigorous gym schedule that could be will never be a reality again. The only reality that comes with that could be is a full blown eating disorder. 

The other day I decided to add up how much time I spent checking the size of my body in the mirror, as well as the amount of time I spent before I looked and after just thinking about my body size.  It was a shocking 30 minutes that I spend, on average, looking at myself and thinking about my body size.  THIRTY. MINUTES.  Now, I am a mother to a toddler so my time alone is very precious and oh the things I could do with 30 extra minutes!  That alone was enough for me to determine I need to take drastic action to break this bad body image habit for good.

I decided I am going to stop looking the mirror for the next 30 days.

On the rare occasion I decide to wear cosmetics I will use a very small (think the size of your hand) mirror to apply mascara so I don’t stab my eyeball.  I mean, I kind of like being able to see and all.  Other than that, no mirrors (or windows, cars, or any other reflective surface). It has only been 24 hours and I can already tell this is going to be a challenge that will, at least in the beginning, require a SIGNIFICANT amount of thought.  Have you ever tried brushing your teeth or washing your hands without even casually glancing up at the mirror?  It is really hard! However, I know I need to take this drastic action in order to reclaim my precious time and create an even more positive body image.  I am eager to continue to engage in this challenge and just see how my thought process plays out.  I can honestly say that even without looking at my appearance for 24 hours I already feel a little different–better–about my body.  I keep telling myself to “see what Jesus sees” when I start feeling the urge to look in the mirror.  I recount my many positive attributes to pass the time until the urge to check my appearance passes and, you know what, I actually come out feeling better about myself because I have to do this quite often right now.

Do you think you could go 30 days without looking in a mirror?  
How about just 24 hours? 

I encourage you to give it a try and see what avoiding the mirror does for your body image just 24 hours after that last fateful glance at your body.  If you decide to try it, share your thoughts in the comments below,  I would love to hear what you think!

With Body Love,
Lane

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

Raw Honesty

“Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable.  Be honest and transparent anyway.” 
-Mother Teresa

******

In this post I am about to do something I have never done before on this blog.  That is a year of writing for BBA and I’m about to do something new.  While it isn’t mind-blowing and it isn’t anything exciting, it is more honest than anything I’ve ever written before (and I’m honest in every post).  I am going to share real thoughts, with images, from my journal.  My most secret weapon in recovery is about to be opened, unedited, for others to use as a tool for their recovery to realize they are not alone and show some serious radical body acceptance.  It’s about to get real, folks.  Am I a little nervous about being THIS raw and honest?  Yep.  Is it going to stop me?  Nope.  So, here it goes…

Last week I did something that absolutely terrified me and brought me to tears.  I had my body traced by my dietician.  I stood with my back against a wall and let someone trace my body so I could see more accurately the size I am.  I’ve known for quite some time that I don’t see myself accurately when I look in the mirror; my mind plays tricks on me from the remnants of the eating disorder.  Often it is similar to looking into a funhouse mirror.  One second I will think I look pretty good then I will turn to walk way from the mirror (or other reflective surface) only to catch a glimpse and it suddenly looks like I gained 20 pounds.  This is my real-life way of viewing myself when there is a mirror present and I’ve been working SO HARD to change it.  I mean, that’s the whole basis for this blog!

Before the tracing began my dietician handed me a piece of paper with the same images as the photo at the top of this post.  She directed me to circle the figure I thought most accurately represented my body and then set it aside.  Anyway, after the tracing was done I stepped away from the wall but I was afraid to turn around. I was afraid of what the outline would reveal about my body.  I was afraid it would be bigger than what I thought.  I was afraid it would be smaller.  I was just afraid in general.  Why was I so afraid?  Because if the outline of my body was not what I thought I saw then it would show me I still have a lot of work to do toward accepting my body and seeing myself accurately.   A difference in size from what I see in my mind would represent the eating disorder still having a heavy grasp on my body image and I didn’t want that to be the case.  I desperately wanted to see an accurate size portrayal to show myself that I am doing well in recovery and with accepting my body.

However, when I turned around all I could do was stare.

I had no words for the few few minutes.

My eyes darted to the different parts of my body outlined on the brown butcher block paper taped to the wall. 

Finally, I could bring myself to conjure up some words to express what I was thinking and feeling.  Initially I was disappointed.  There were parts that seemed larger than how I see them and shocked at the parts that appeared to be smaller than what I see.  Nothing seemed to be accurate.  My mind was reeling that the eating disorder could still have such a strong grasp on this part of my brain, but as I began to really process what I saw later that night, this is what developed…

IMG_6344

I wrote…a lot.  I thought…a lot.  And I went to the all-mighty Google to find the same images I saw earlier that depicted body sizes.  Once I found the same body size image I printed it.  I stared at it and realized I hadn’t been completely honest earlier in the day.  I knew I saw myself as larger than the image I circled, yet I desperately wanted my dietician to think I was significantly further along with my thoughts regarding my body than I figured I was.  So I decided to get completely honest with myself about what I thought before and after.  This was the result:

IMG_6343

As you can see, I decided by the end of writing that my body couldn’t accurately be depicted by just one figure because I am not made from a cookie cutter. Did ya catch that?  I AM NOT MADE FROM A COOKIE CUTTER. My body is as unique as my fingerprint because I was created in God’s image and He created us all uniquely.  I love it.  That was a pivotal point for me in this body image and body size acceptance journey.  Realizing that my body doesn’t look like any figure on a paper because I am unique hit me pretty hard.

I. Am. Unique.

Say it with me,

“I am unique.”

Yes, I am talking to you.

YOU are unique.

I challenge you to hang on to that.  You are unique.  You aren’t made from a cookie cutter.
You are not a cookie.
(But it is totally okay to eat a cookie.  mmmm….cookies.)

With Body Love,
Lane

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

Symbolism and Self-Acceptance

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

******

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

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

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

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

images

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 

******

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.

IMG_3898

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

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

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

With Body Love,
Lane

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

Radical Body Acceptance Reality Check

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

******

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

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

IMG_3405

IMG_3466

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.

IMG_3632

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, Emotions, Faith, Feelings, Friends, God, Hope

Love Living Life

I LOVE my life.  
I love LIVING my life.
God has blessed me with a beautiful 
LIFE.
LOVE. LIVING. LIFE.

******

I love living life.  I haven’t updated this blog in nearly two weeks because I have been busy living my life.  I wish I could convey just how great it makes me feel to say I’ve been “living my life” but I don’t think any amount of words can express the joy I feel right now.  My heart is full, my life is wonderful, and I am happy.  Genuinely happy.  Two words I never thought I would put next to each other and truly mean them: genuine and happy.  But that is the truth in my life.  I have come to realize my life is amazing; even with its bumps and setbacks.

Yes, I am genuinely happy and feel like I could do a happy dance around my house right now just because I love my life, but that doesn’t mean bad things don’t happen.  I just choose to acknowledge God in those moments and keep moving forward.  I am human and I have human emotions (something else that is rather new to my life) so when something bad occurs I do get upset.  However, the magic happens in the moments following.  In the past I would get upset when I got bad news or if something did not go my way on a given day and I would get angry.  I would become angry with God for not giving me a perfect day and for not making my plans go perfectly or not providing for me the way in which He “promised.”  Then I would follow-up my anger with some self-hate, self-doubt, and eventually some seriously eating disordered behaviors in order to make things “better.”  All this did was lead to a negative attitude about my life and myself.  I’m not sure when the shift happened but a few weeks ago I began trying something different: acknowledging that bad things happen but it isn’t the end of the road because God still has a glorious plan for me and my life.

And you know what, when I started doing that I started feeling happier.  I started having a more positive outlook on my life and the things that happen in it.  So we didn’t get a paycheck on time, that’s okay because God is still providing for us.  I have a roof over my head, food in my refrigerator (wow!), clothes to wear, and gas in my car to get me where I need to go.  The basics are always covered.  Not only that, but I have a beautiful little girl who loves me with her whole heart and who makes me smile each day.  I have a husband who works many long hours to make sure I don’t have to work and get to spend every day with our daughter.  I have a God who loves me unconditionally, even when I don’t love myself and reject this life with which He has blessed me.  A few months ago I was driving to one of my outpatient treatment appointments in the city and heard this beautiful quotation (please note this is not exact) on the Christian radio station:

All the stressors I am managing are actually blessings. 

The full weight of that phrase did not hit me until a few weeks ago but it speaks absolute truth into my life.  I get stressed and upset when I am running late to an appointment or my car battery dies in the middle of the Kroger parking lot on a Sunday afternoon…but those are actually blessings.  I am blessed that I am able to be in eating disorder treatment and work with wonderful people who strive to see me happy and healthy in my life.  I am blessed that I have my own car to get to the grocery store and my appointments.  I am blessed that I have a grocery store where I can purchase food to fuel my body.  All of it, all the stressors, are actually blessings.  Perspective.

My “new” outlook on life has not only helped me feel happier and more grateful for every thing in my life but also for my body and my recovery.  As I sat down to type this post tonight I looked back at some journal entries from recent weeks and realized, not only have I grown happier but I have put more distance between myself and “my” eating disorder.  It is ironic I used the word “my” to describe the eating disorder because I have noticed the distance I have put between myself and it has come in the form of no longer referring to it as “mine” but simply “the eating disorder.”  I no longer hold a personal attachment to the eating disorder for any part of my identity.  My identity is completely separate from that of the eating disorder.  While this is something we learn and target often in treatment it has not been evident that the eating disorder is not part of my identity until now.  What is not ironic is how I have felt happier and more alive than ever with this new-found separation from the disease.

I am Lane.  Beautifully flawed but also beautifully blessed and blissfully happy.
My body is beautiful.  I am beautiful.  My life is beautiful.
Love. Living. Life.

I mean, how can I NOT be happy and love living my beautiful life when I get to wake up and spend every day with this face:

IMG_3231-1

With Body Love,
Lane

Body Acceptance, Body Image, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Faith, Feelings, Friends, God, Recovery

“Fat” Should Be A Feeling

“I feel fat.”
A few weeks ago I told my dietician, “Fat should be a feeling.”  Then, with those teacher-like eyes, she gave me a look that seemed to say, “Don’t be ridiculous, think about what you just said,” and told me to write that down and explore it.

******

How many times have you looked at yourself in the mirror or thought to yourself at some point during the day, “I feel fat”?  I have said this many times and often multiple times each day as I looked at myself or thought about my appearance.  Unfortunately I spend an extraordinary amount of time thinking about my appearance.  In the absence of eating disordered behaviors, such as purging and restricting food, my thoughts about body size and weight have greatly increased.  To be quite honest, my body checking is somewhat out-of-control at times.  (Body checking is when I “size myself up” in the mirror, stare at my stomach or thighs while away from the mirror, or think obsessively about how much space my body is taking up.)  I body check excessively, to where it is sometimes hard to pay attention to what people are saying or focus on something important.  For example, I was sitting in a Bible study last night and, while I could focus a lot of my attention on what was being taught, I kept adjusting my shirt to make sure it wasn’t sticking to my stomach.  It took several times of adjusting and thinking “I feel so fat” before I stopped to think about what I was doing.

Fat is not a feeling.  Say it with me: fat is NOT a feeling.  For the last year I have listened to therapists and eating disorder treatment professionals drone on and on about how “fat” is not a feeling and I wouldn’t listen.  I desperately believed “fat” could be a feeling and it certainly felt like a feeling; especially when I was in treatment and had to eat “so much food” in a “short” amount of time.  (Lets be clear, I was not eating an excessive amount of food, just what was on my meal plan for that particular meal, AND the time was roughly 30-40 minutes.)  I certainly felt fat after all that, yet treatment professionals would not accept this as a true feeling.  It was not until recently, in particular last night, that I really evaluated my “I feel fat” phrase.  So here I am, exploring the feeling of “fat.”  I have explored it so much I discovered it is not real. Fat is not a feeling.  Allow me to explain:

When I was adjusting and readjusting my shirt to cover my stomach, or when I was sitting with friends looking at my thighs thinking they looked massive, what I was really feeling was insecure. I felt insecure about my body.  This a true feeling I experience almost daily.  Last night before the Bible study I packed my dinner and challenged myself to eat it in front of people I do not usually eat around.  One of the biggest challenges in my recovery has been eating in front of people, especially people I do not know very well.  This is why it took me several weeks, perhaps even a month or so, to feel comfortable eating lunch with my dietician on a weekly basis.  Anyway,  I was with three women when I ate dinner and my comfort level varied with each. Around the first woman I felt completely comfortable and confident while eating.  She has seen me eat before and knows many of the details surrounding my struggle with eating disorders.  The second woman was someone with whom I felt moderately comfortable; she is kind but I still worried about what she might think.  Finally the third woman made me nervous.  She is someone I do not know well and I was afraid she would think about how fat I looked and how I shouldn’t be eating at all.  This situation is what tipped me into the insecure “I feel fat” area.  It took me longer than it should have to eat my “safe” (an eating disorder voice approved meal for eating in public) meal, but I did it.

Throughout the entire meal I kept thinking about how fat I looked and how anyone who saw me would be judging me for eating in public, or for even eating at all.  My body checking and body insecurity was so high I could hardly focus on the conversation.  Not only was I feeling insecure but I was also feeling very anxious.  I put myself in an uncomfortable situation to help further my recovery and it caused my anxiety to skyrocket.  I felt fear.  Fear of being judged, fear of gaining weight, and fear someone would say something negative about my food choice.  I felt guilty about eating and wanted nothing more than to purge food that was completely in line with my meal plan because in that moment I was sure it would make me gain weight.  Looking back now I can see the errors in my thinking and where I need to be more diligent in choosing true feelings in the future.  In order to advance in my recovery I need to remove “I feel fat” from my vocabulary and replace it with a true feeling.

I now have new ammunition to fight my eating disordered brain when I think about saying, “I feel fat.”  I can feel a lot of things, and do on a daily basis, but I cannot feel “fat.”  Within the time it took to eat my dinner (in public) I felt insecure, anxious, fearful, and guilty but I did not feel fat.  I can have fat, which I do (we all do), but I cannot feel fat. Instead of allowing myself to dissect these feelings and explore them, I did as I so often do, and projected my feelings onto my body by summing them up into one word: fat.  I need to continue to put an end to the war with my body and start focusing on the feelings.  Once I learn to connect and feel my true feelings I can remove “I feel fat” from my vocabulary for good.

With Body Love,
Lane